Maduro was in Minsk today where he met with Belorussian president Alexander Lukashenko. The two leaders held meetings throughout the afternoon, which a Belorussian press release characterized as being centered on international and economic cooperation between Minsk and Caracas.
Lukashenko is the first president of Belarus, and has been in power since 1994. He is widely considered to be Europe’s last dictator.
While in Minsk, Maduro took time to visit the city’s Victory Square, which contains a monument commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
The image below shows the two leaders shaking hands this afternoon:
Below, images of Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, alongside Lukashenko in Minsk earlier today. The Venezuelan delegation inaugurated a plaza in the city to honour Simon Bolivar:
Supreme Court Rules on Candidate Substitution Case
The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) issued a ruling this evening on a case involving the process to substitute candidates on voting ballots for the October 15 gubernatorial elections. The case stems from the registration process for the elections and the opposition candidate primaries that took place on September 10.
In the weeks leading to the primary vote, opposition candidates registered with the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), the regime-controlled electoral body, in order to be considered in the running for the October 15 election. On September 10, opposition supporters voted in primary elections to choose candidates to run against the PSUV in the country’s 23 states. After the primary election, those opposition candidates who lost their respective primaries dropped out of the running in favour of the primary winner.
The case reached the TSJ because the CNE has refused to substitute candidate lists to reflect the opposition primary winner, and to reflect the fact that many opposition candidates have dropped out of the race.
The CNE’s refusal to allow for the candidate substitutions means that ballots on October 15 will feature the names of opposition figures who are no longer running in the election. Anyone voting for these non-candidates will be effectively throwing away their vote, likely without knowing it.
The TSJ ruled today that the CNE had not violated any laws by refusing to carry out the candidate substitutions, meaning that the candidate lists will not be changed prior to next week’s election.
National Assembly vice president Freddy Guevara reacted to the ruling this evening by calling it “a trick” by the Maduro regime to force opposition voters to throw out their votes unwittingly, thereby favoring PSUV candidates.
Actor Arrested in Corruption Probe
Manuel “Coco” Sosa, an actor who has starred in popular Venezuelan telenovelas, was arrested yesterday in connection to a corruption probe involving the embezzlement of $2 million through two oil companies. According to El Nacional, Sosa is accused of having received the money from two companies connected to the country’s oil industry by overcharging for services through at least two companies under his name.
Aside from being an actor, Sosa is the president of a company called “Suministros Gramal”, but it is not clear if this company is connected to the corruption allegations. A Google search for the name suggests that the company is in the importing business.
Sosa was arrested in the affluent neighbourhood of Las Mercedes in Caracas yesterday afternoon.
Sosa is a prominent chavista who often used his high profile as an actor to proselytize for the ruling PSUV party.
In the undated video below, Sosa speaks at a regime event hosted by Maduro on the virtue of the Bolivarian Revolution and the value of work:
Sosa: … and I say these things because I feel them. I’ve dedicated my entire life to honest work, and to gain things by myself. No one has given anything away to me. I’ve also dedicated myself to a very beautiful line of work that I’ve grown to love, which is acting. I’ve spent a lot of time working, learning and sharing with lots of colleagues, many of whom are sitting here today. I believe that we have spoken about a lot of issues, like disarmament, which I think is a really extraordinary decision. And I am proud that this will be approved. I don’t want any of my colleagues to…
Sosa also frequented the company of high ranking PSUV members. In the images below, Sosa can be seen with Maduro (left) and Maria Gabriela Chavez (right), Chavez’s daughter:
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