The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) opposition bloc issued a press release this afternoon in which it recognized its failure to mount a proper challenge to the Maduro regime this year. The press release, issued on the occasion of the end of 2017, also warns that 2018 will likely be a “difficult and history moment” for Venezuela as the country gears up for presidential elections.
The release begins with a grim tone:
Never before in its republican history has Venezuela ended a year with so much sadness and pain, only to begin another that is so difficult and dangerously uncertain. From a social standpoint, Venezuela is speeding towards the abyss. The daily lives of Venezuelans worsen each day in a desperate struggle to achieve the minimum standards of survival.
In admitting its political failures this year, the MUD begins by saying that the start of 2017 was marked by “a population that was politically lethargic and confused”, and proceeds with an account of the nationwide protests that marked much of the year. Once the regime succeeded in outliving the months-long protests, the release explains:
It was at this time in the year that the [MUD] committed serious errors and omissions that are necessary to acknowledge with humility and objectivity. For starters, [the MUD] failed at properly communicating to Venezuelans that the electoral battle was a continuation of the same battle that had been waged throughout the year to stop [the regime] from stealing the country away from us as the streets protesters came to a temporary end. Also, [the MUD] underestimated underestimated the level of control that the government obscenely wields over the electoral process, and overestimated the organizational capacity of our workers and machinery (…)
The MUD also makes clear what it considers to be its most serious failure: its apparent abandonment of the Venezuelan in recent weeks. The release reads:
Finally, we have not known how to accompany the suffering of the people in a clear and overwhelming manner during these past several weeks, [a suffering that] will worsen their already difficult living conditions.
MUD: 2018 Will Be “The Most Difficult Year”
Looking ahead to next year, the MUD claims that 2018 will be “the toughest and most difficult year that Venezuelans have every faced”, and warns that the economic and social crises will only worsen in the coming months. The bloc also sees more violence like that which marked this year due to the regime’s unwillingness to allow dissent:
A third element of the coming [year] is the certain and inevitable increase in social conflict, which will be a product of the inevitable worsening of the economic and social crisis.
This scenario will be faced by a regime that is limited only to quashing dissent, one that is incapable of solving any of the Venezuelan peoples’ problems, that will privilege remaining in power over governance. [The regime] no longer governs: it remains in power and represses.
In the same release, the MUD promises to run a single candidate in the presidential election next year.
The release ends with the following paragraph:
In 2018, we will live through a crucial and difficult moment as part of this historic process for a new national independence. The battles to come are larger and more difficult [than any before]. But [the MUD] has sworn to never rest until we can achieve a political solution to this tragedy. If we act together and intelligently, the country will not die before our eyes, and we can safe the he difficult [year] ahead successfully in order to turn it into a prelude for events that will place us closer to our goal of political change. That is our challenge.
Ortega Diaz Calls for Unity Against “Tyranny”
Former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz released a video on her Twitter account today in which he calls on all Venezuelans to “fight decidedly against the tyranny” in 2018. Calling 2017 “the worst year” in the history of Venezuela. Ortega Diaz stressed the importance of taking immediate action against the Maduro regime lest the country be lost for generations to dictatorial rule.
In a comment that is sure to strike a chord with the sizable Venezuelan diaspora, Ortega Diaz put the scope of the struggle into context by saying:
We are debating whether to become a people without a land or to reconquer Venezuela. Let us not allow this gang of rulers to steal from us the place that we all love, as they did during this sad and dark Christmas.
To the millions of impoverished Venezuelans who depend on the regime for a rapidly-drying trickle of handouts, the former attorney general said:
Citizen, it is not a sin to receive a social benefit [from the government]: it is your right, and you cannot be manipulated by receiving it. [The government] is making you miserable, and that is how Nicolas Maduro and his criminal gang want to keep you.
Ortega Diaz was a attorney general from 2007 to August of this year, and served faithfully under Chavez as one of his closest allies. She fell out of favour with the Maduro regime after speaking out against its atrocities earlier this year, and was removed from office in August of this year. Having become a threat to the legitimacy of the regime, Ortega Diaz was forced to flee Venezuela under mounting pressure and now resides in Colombia.
Ortega Diaz ends the video with the following:
Let us organize ourselves to demand our rights and defend the constitution. External and internal pressure will defeat the tyranny. Making 2018 a happy year is within all of us, within all of us. We will save Venezuela.
Regime Formally Accuses Former PDVSA Head of Crimes
Attorney General Tarek William Saab formally accused former PDVSA head Rafael Ramirez of corruption today, alleging that he told at least $4.8 billion from the state-owned oil company between 2006 and 2014. Saab’s allegations mark the first time that the Venezuelan government has accused Ramirez, once a prominent official, of wrongdoing.
Ramirez was arguably one of Chavez’s closest allies, and was the longest-serving member in Chavez’s cabinet. After serving as president of PDVSA from 2004 to 2014, Ramirez was named ambassador to the United Nations, and remained in the position until earlier this month when he was unceremoniously removed from the post after he began publicly speaking out against the Maduro regime.
In his accusation, Saab claimed that Ramirez operated a corruption scheme that simultaneously saw PDVSA lose revenue in order to benefit companies under his name through a PDVSA office in Vienna, Switzerland.
Ramirez was quick to reply to the accusations, saying:
The accusations made by the attorney general are not only false, but they also demonstrate great ignorance of the matter. The office in Vienna (which is the headquarters of OPEC) was established to verify the selling price of Venezuela oil (…) The attorney general does not know what he is saying. He is lying. That office in Vienna does not sell oil.
Having been removed from his position at the United Nations following his fall from the regime’s grace, Ramirez’s whereabouts are currently unknown.
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