The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) revealed today a list of its demands that it wants met before the presidential elections of next year are held. The list was made public by Carlos Ocariz, the mayor of the Sucre municipality of Caracas and member of the Primero Justicia (PJ) party.
The demands presented by Ocariz on behalf of the MUD are:
- The appointment of a new Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) with the goal of removing political partisanship from the body.
- The updating of the country’s electoral roll to include Venezuelans living outside of the country so that they may vote in the presidential elections. The updating of the electoral roll must also include a thorough review, since the the MUD considers the current roll to be “profoundly corrupt” to the benefit of the PSUV.
- Elections to choose electoral workers for election day, as well as to elect the electoral workers who help prepare for the elections at the regional level.
- The elimination of the “Electoral Centre Coordinator” position, which the MUD believes is staffed predominately by members of the PSUV.
- A blanket amnesty for all politicians who have been banned from running for and/or holding office, a measure that has been used extensively against opposition figures.
- Allowing national and international electoral observers to participate in the elections.
- Ensuring the full audit of all ballot boxes, electoral books, and voting machines.
- Banning Puntos Rojos [literally “red points”] from being set up near voting centres. Puntos Rojos are rallying points for PSUV members and supporters that often come up near electoral centres on voting day, a measure that the MUD considers to be clearly aimed at intimidating voters.
- “Controlling” the use of state resources in electoral campaigns [Note: It is not entirely clear to me what this means. I believe that the MUD is demanding that the PSUV stop using state resources to fund the campaigns of PSUV candidates, a practice that has been commonplace in Venezuela since the Chavez era].
- Allowing both opposition and PSUV candidates equal access to both public and private media for campaign purposes.
Ocariz said that the list would be presented to the PSUV during the talks that are scheduled to take place in the Dominican Republic on December 1 and 2.
While Constitutional term limits demand that presidential elections be held next year, critics believe that the Maduro regime’s control over the country’s electoral apparatus is so overwhelming that a PSUV victory is a foregone conclusion.
National Assembly deputy Jose Manuel Olivares also said today that the MUD would ask that the PSUV acknowledge that there is a humanitarian crisis underway in the country, and that it allow international aid to flow into the country.
Olivares explained that the MUD will propose two different options to the PSUV: that the Maduro regime request aid directly from the World Health Organization, or that it request aid from international non-government organizations and other countries. Olivares said that if the PSUV prefers the latter option, aid could even come to the country from the Venezuelan diaspora:
We’ve already spoken to [some] NGOs so that they form a group headed by Caritas de Venezuela so that Venezuelans and other organizations abroad can help.
Seven Arrested in Ledezma Escape Aftermath Released
Following the escape of former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma from Venezuela last week, the regime’s political police–the SEBIN–arrested eight people who were suspected of facilitating the escape. Today, the SEBIN released seven of those individuals without charges, while the eighth remains in the SEBIN’s Caracas headquarters.
The news came from Joel Garcia, who is a lawyer with Ledezma’s defense team. Garcia said that the eight detained individuals were arbitrarily arrested and were not presented before a judge in violation of Venezuelan law. Garcia said:
These people were arrested without any type of warrant. They were not brought before a judge within 48 of arrest which is what the law says, and they were released after being told that they were witnesses–in other words, witnesses were arrested for more than 96 hours.
Garcia also revealed that SEBIN officers “are in possession” of Ledezma’s home in Caracas, even though there is no judicial order to seize the home. He said that the officers are preventing all access to the home, a measure he considers to be arbitrary.
Ledezma was one of the Maduro regime’s most famous political prisoners until he escaped the country and fled to Spain on November 17.
New Passport Applications Halted Indefinitely Due to Lack of Materials
The Servicio Administrativo de Identificacion, Migracion y Extranjeria [Identification, Migration and Foreign Administrative Service] (SAIME) announced today that it will not process any application for a new passport effectively immediately, citing a lack of materials with which to make the document.
Over the past several months, SAIME has been facing chronic shortages of passport printing paper and other materials, which Venezuela imports from Germany. Starting on November 1, SAIME began granting expiration extensions to Venezuelans whose documents would expire within two years as a way to mitigate the material shortages.
SAIME has not announced when it will be able to begin processing passport applications again.
Regime Announces New Expiration Date for Bs. 100
The Maduro regime announced a new date for the expiration of the Bs. 100 bill: January 20.
The announcement is one in a long series of similar measures to come from the Maduro regime over the past year. On December 11 2016, Maduro announced during a televised address that the bill–which was by far the most common in circulation at the time–would become obsolete a mere 72 hours later. That announcement set off a wave of panic throughout the country that devolved into looting sprees that resulted in at least five deaths.
Chavez’s Cousin Appointed Head of Citgo
Chavez is the cousin of the late Hugo Chavez, and was the Minister of Oil and Mining for eleven months from 2013 to 2014.
Along with assigning Chavez to his new title, Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez provided more details about yesterday’s arrests. Rodriguez said that the arrested executives were involved in “sabotage” and “espionage” against the Venezuelan oil industry, and that they had direct connections to opposition leaders. He also warned that the executives would “pay” for violating the “honour, loyalty and trust placed in them by president Nicolas Maduro”.
Rodriguez provided no evidence for any of his claims.
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