France announced today that the opposition and the ruling PSUV party would engage in a new set of talks aimed at defusing the political crisis in the country starting tomorrow, with the first meeting set to occur in the Dominican Republic.
According to Reuters, the announcement of the talks came via French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian after he met with his Venezuelan counterpart, Jorge Arreaza, in Paris this afternoon. Le Drian said:
I was happy to learn that dialogue with the opposition would restart tomorrow in the Dominican Republic.
Le Drian also said that the dialogue would involve the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, and former Spanish prime minister Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who is best known in Venezuela for his previous efforts to build bridges between the regime and the opposition.
When asked what he told Arreaza, Le Drian said:
I reminded him of the risk of European sanctions and the need to rapidly see evidence from Venezuela that it is ready to relaunch negotiations with the opposition and engage in a sincere and credible process.
Previous dialogue efforts between the two sides have not been fruitful. Most recently, the Vatican brokered talks between the two sides at the end of 2016, but the dialogue collapsed after the regime broke its promise to release every political prisoner in the country by the end of that year.
ICJ Releases Report Calling Supreme Court “Arm of the Authoritarian” Maduro Regime
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), a human rights NGO comprised of renowned judges, lawyers and legal scholars from around the world, is holding an event today called “Venezuela’s Rule of Law Crisis” during which a set of speakers will discuss the ongoing Venezuelan crisis from a judicial perspective.
According to El Nacional, the ICJ also released a report on the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), Venezuela’s Supreme Court, in which it called the organization “an arm of the authoritarian Executive [Maduro]”. The report, which is titled “The Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela: an instrument of the Executive Power“, can be downloaded here.
Reuters reported that the Secretary General of the ICJ, Sam Zarifi, said today that the TSJ had effectively staged a “coup d’eat against the Constitutional order and have ushered in a new reign of arbitrary rule”, in essence helping to turn Venezuela into an authoritarian dictatorship. The ICJ also pointed out that TSJ magistrates tend to be active, open members of the ruling PSUV party or former members of the Maduro regime.
Today’s ICJ event, which took place place in Geneva, Switzerland, is set to coincide with this week’s meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in the same city. So far, the Council’s meetings have featured a vociferous renunciation of the Maduro regime’s systemic human rights abuses. During his intervention at the Council yesterday, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said that he believed there was evidence that Maduro regime officials had committed “crimes against humanity” with their brutal repression of political dissent in the country.
The ICJ also released a report on the Venezuelan crisis on August 22 called “Venezuela: Rule of Law and Impunity Crisis Deepens”.
CNE Announces Gubernatorial Election Date
Yesterday evening, the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) finally announced the date for the gubernatorial elections: Sunday, October 15.
The elections were originally scheduled to take place by the end of last year in accordance with constitutional term limits, and would have seen Venezuelans voting for their governors, state legislators, and mayors.
However, the CNE postponed the elections without explanation in October of last year for a period of six months, and later failed to adhere to its own deadline. Moreover–and also without explanation–the CNE later announced that the elections would only be for governorships, leaving the vote for state legislators and mayors for another date. The decision means that mayors and state assembly representatives continue to hold their positions beyond the term limits set in the constitution.
The CNE also announced yesterday that there were a total of 18,096,065 electors registered to cast ballots in the October 15 vote.
MUD Squabbles Over Aragua Primary
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the country’s opposition bloc, is on the brink of dissolution as two of its largest constituent parties engaged in a bitter squabble over the results of yesterday’s primary vote in Aragua state.
The MUD recognizes that National Assembly deputy Ismael Garcia won the candidacy in Aragua state during Sunday’s primary. However, yesterday, the Primero Justicia (PJ) party, one of the MUD’s largest, accused Garcia of committing fraud and said that it would not recognize the primary results in Aragua, claiming instead that its own candidate–Jose Ramon Arias–won the vote. Through a press release issued yesterday, PJ said:
We will not abide by the fraud that Ismael Garcia is trying to pull on the residents of Aragua. We won that elections, and we will defend it on the streets.
Garcia is a former member of PJ, but decided to run Sunday’s primary election as the joint candidate for the Accion Democratica (AD) and Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) parties.
The head of the AD party, Henry Ramos Allup, weighed in on the fight today by calling for solidarity within the MUD, saying:
Ismael Garcia is supported by all of the MUD’s parties, and Jose Ramon Arias’ candidacy is supported only by PJ, which is something that is very responsible.
Allup also pointed out to the fact that election observers on Arias’ team did not file any objections or make any complaints regarding Sunday’s vote:
We’ve got 100% of the [voting results] from Aragua. Nowhere is there an objection from Jose Ramon Arias’ witnesses. If you [PJ] do not agree with the results, you can challenge them according to what is established in the [electoral] regulations. What you cannot do is cause a ruckus and discredit a colleague and call him a monster for winning the election.
Garcia also reacted to PJ’s statements today, saying:
We went to the primaries, and there we participated in a very demanding two-week campaign. We never got into name-calling because [with Jose Ramon Arias] because we think that Aragua has enough problems. We were surprised that yesterday [PJ] suggested that it would file a complaint with the primary electoral committee. Last night after a discussion, four out of the five [main parties of the MUD] are clear in that Primero Justicia does not have grounds for a challenge based on the electoral records.
Delcy Rodriguez Gives Contentious Interview to Al Jazeera
Three days ago, former foreign affairs minister and current president of the Constituent Assembly Delcy Rodriguez gave a contentious interview to the Al Jazeera network in which she defended the regime’s systemic human rights violations and continued mismanagement of the country.
The interview featured the gamut of regime talking points, including the unfounded assertions that opposition leaders “repeatedly” called for violent protests and that the Venezuelan state is made up of impartial institutions that do not work to actively suppress dissent.
The interview, which is 25 minutes long, can be seen below:
Maduro Returns from Overseas Trip
Maduro returned to Venezuela today after leaving the country on Saturday night for Astana, Kazakhstan, where he attended the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. On his way back from Kazakhstan, Maduro stopped in Algeria where he met with government officials there to discuss oil policy.
Upon his arrival to Venezuela today, Maduro wrote on Twitter:
We are back in our Beloved Fatherland after an international tour to consolidate work and cooperation relationships [sic]…. Total Success… Stay tuned….
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