Carlos Andres Garcia, a city councilor from the Guasdualito municipality in Apure state, died late last night while under police custody. According to a spokesperson from Garcia’s party, Primero Justicia (PJ), Garcia suffered from a stroke back in August, but was not given medical treatment. Garcia’s captors “only took him to a medical centre once there was no possibility of intervention”, the PJ spokesperson said.

Garcia was being held in the Apure state regional headquarters of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN), the regime’s political police. He was arrested in 2016 after the regime accused him of fomenting unrest, a common charge used by the Maduro regime to arrest opposition politicians.

The PJ spokesperson also said that a judge had granted Garcia house arrest two days ago, but that the SEBIN had refused to obey the order and instead kept him in detention at their headquarters.

Reaction to Garcia’s death from opposition politicians has been pouring in to Twitter throughout the day:

The dictatorship unjustly incarcerated Councillor Carlos Garcia. Today he died of a stroke, the #MurderousRegime denied him medical attention!

RIP, our justice-seeking colleague Carlos Andres Garcia, Guasdualito councilor and the regime’s prisoner since December.

The murder (yes, murder) of councilor Carlos Garcia at the hands of the regime is extremely grave. I will re-tweet messages from PJ where they explain the situation.

Alfredo Romero, a lawyer, human rights activist and head of the Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum] (FPV), qualified Garcia’s death as yet another example of a regime torture tactic, which is the denial of medical care to political prisoners:

#17Sep The case of the death of Councillor Carlos A. Garcia is another example of illness and lack of medical attention [used as] a kind of torture towards #PoliticalPrisoners

The secretary general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, also spoke on Garcia’s death through Twitter:

We condemn the flagrant violation of human rights by the regime in #Venezuela, which caused the death of Councillor Andres Garcia

National Assembly deputy Tomas Guanipa announced late in the evening that PJ would bring Garcia’s case to the attention of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Human Rights Court.

TSJ Calls Opposition Leaders “Irresponsible”, Claims Garcia Died of Mystery Illness

The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), Venezuela’s top court, issued a statement today in which it asked the opposition leadership to stop “making irresponsible [and] false statements” regarding the death of Carlos Garcia.

According to the TSJ, Garcia died of a “presumed infectious immunodeficiency disease”, but it’s not clear what disease specifically or how the TSJ came upon the information.

Defying Judicial Order, Leopoldo Lopez Calls Maduro a Liar

During a televised address yesterday, Maduro said that the opposition has engaged in “dozens” of secret talks with his PSUV party since last year, and named jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez as one of the individuals who has participated in the talks.

Lopez, who has been jailed since 2014 over his alleged role in the protests of last year, has been serving house arrest under strict conditions since July of this year. After being briefly re-incarcerated in August, Lopez was returned to house arrest with new conditions, including a ban on communicating with the outside world, including through the use of Twitter.

In defiance of the ban, Lopez logged on to his official Twitter account last night and sent out a string of messages refuting Maduro’s claim, and calling for an honest and transparent dialogue between the two sides if such an act could result in a solution to the Venezuelan crisis.

Below, Lopez’s message from last night:

Venezuelans, I have taken the risk to clearly send you and the international community my thoughts.

@NicolasMaduro, you know well that I have not attended any meetings. I am unjustly incarcerated, first in a military prison and now in my home.

I will repeat the same thing that I told you [Nicolas Maduro] on July 8: I am willing to talk, respectfully, in order to find an exit to the crisis that every Venezuelan lives.

The talks should happen without manipulation, and transparent and respectful towards the country and the international community.

#IAmVenezuela as is everyone else, and I am convinced that we will achieve democracy sooner rather than later. Faith and strength, Venezuelans!

Colombian VP Speaks On Cartel de Los Soles

In an interview published in El Tiempo today, Colombian Vice President Oscar Naranjo confirmed the existence of the Cartel de Los Soles [The Sun Cartel], a drug organization long rumoured to operate inside the Venezuelan state under the direct leadership of high-ranking members of the Maduro regime.

Naranjo was asked specifically about Venezuela’s increased prominence as a drug trafficking hub. Below, the relevant exchange between Naranjo and the newspaper:

El TiempoWhat can be done [about Venezuela and drug trafficking]?

Naranjo: We’re hoping that international justice can process the so-called cartel de los Soles, which has been participating in cocaine trafficking on a large scale.

El Tiempo: What is the Los Soles cartel?

Naranjo: We understand that it is a criminal organization made up of high ranking officials of the Venezuelan army, which for the last several years has been under watch by North American authorities.

El Tiempo: But we have knowledge that this is not the case?

Naranjo: We have always suspected that this was the case.

The cartel is called “Los Soles” [The Suns] because Venezuelan army officer ranked at or above brigadier general wear an insignia on their uniforms that looks like a small sun.

The largest ever cocaine bust in French history occurred on September 13 2013, when authorities at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport found 1.3 tonnes of cocaine inside an Air France flight from Caracas. The cocaine is rumoured to have belonged to the Los Soles cartel.

David Smolansky Meets with Tony Blair in New York City

Fugitive opposition mayor David Smolansky is in New York City today where he met with an unknown number of foreign dignitaries, including former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair. Smolansky said that Blair had expressed “complete solidarity” with the victims of the Maduro regime’s persecution.

Smolansky, who was removed from his seat as mayor of El Hatillo last month and sentenced to 15 months in prison, spent over a month underground before re-surfacing in Brazil last week.

Below, a tweet from Smolansky that captured the meeting:

I had a meeting with Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom. He expressed “complete solidarity” with the [political] prisoners, the torture victims and the exiled.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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