Maduro returned to Venezuela today from a four-day tour of Eastern Europe in which he visited Russia, Belarus and Turkey. Maduro called the trip “a total success”, and said that the agreements that he had reached with his homologues overseas would greatly benefit the people of Venezuela in ways that he did not explain.
Upon arriving at the Maiquetia airport this afternoon, Maduro said:
This trip to the New World [sic] has been a total success from a political, diplomatic, economic and financial point of view. [The trip] has opened doors to help with the recovery of the country, from an energy, industrial, and agricultural point of view.
Maduro also suggested that the ties he was working to build with Russia, Turkey and Belarus could be seen as the foundation of a new world order:
From now on, the world cannot be one of threats and war. It must be a world of dialogue and togetherness. That’s the international policy of Bolivarian Venezuela.
On his way back from the last leg of his trip–Turkey–Maduro made an unannounced stop in Algeria, making this the fourth time in three weeks that Maduro has been in Algeria.
University Students Forced to Attend Regime Rallies for Monthly Stipend
The Observatorio de Derechos Humanos-ULA (ODH-ULA) [Human Rights Watch at the University of Los Andes] denounced today that the school’s students are being forced to attend PSUV rallies and chant pro-Maduro slogans in exchange for a monthly stipend.
The organization claims that in exchange for actively participating in regime rallies on the university campus, the students receive a sum of Bs. 12,000 per month.
According to the organization, a group of students were forced to attend a rally in support of the PSUV candidate for the Miranda governorship on September 29. The students were ordered to remain at the rally site from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM, and were forced to yell pro-regime slogans throughout the day. If the students did not comply with their handlers’ demands they were denied the Bs. 12,000 stipend, ODH-ULA claims.
At the current black market exchange rate (Bs. 26,749.28/USD), Bs. 12,000 is approximately $0.45.
Journalists Arrested Attempting to Sneak Into Prison
The National Syndicate for Press Workers (SNTP) announced today that three journalists were arrested yesterday in Aragua state for attempting to sneak into the Tocoron prison.
The SNTP said that two of the journalists are Italian citizens, while the third is Venezuelan. The Italian journalists are named Roberto di Matteo and Filippo Rossi, while the Venezuelan journalist’s name is Jesus Medina. The three are being held by the National Guard at the Detachment 421 Headquarters.
According to the SNTP, the trio were working on a story when they were arrested. The National Guard tweeted the following image of the three journalists in detention, along with the equipment they were carrying when they were detained:
The Tocoron prison–the formal name of which is the Aragua Penitentiary–is located in the town of Tocoron, just south of the state capital of Maracay.
The prison was built in 1982 to house a maximum of 750 inmates, but the prison population was at 7,000 as of last year.
Three Political Prisoners Released
El Nacional reported last night that three political prisoners held since 2014 were released yesterday. The prisoners’ names are Efrain Ortega, Vasco da Costa and Jose Luis Santamaria.
According to the newspaper, Ortega and Santamaria had spent the last three years in the Rodeo II prison in Miranda state, while Da Costa had been held in the Tocuyito prison in Carabobo state.
The three were arrested during the last round of anti-government protests, which shook the country from February to July of 2014. At the time of their arrest, they were accused of conspiracy to commit murder and fabricating explosives. As with other political prisoners, the accusations against the men stagnated before an indifferent justice system.
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