A trio of tweets written and deleted almost simultaneously suggest that the talks between the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) and the ruling PSUV party have ended in failure. The two sides met in the Dominican Republic on Thursday and Friday with the goal of finalizing a deal to bring an end to the political crisis in the country.
The tweets, sent by MUD negotiation representatives, suggest that the two sides were unable to reach a compromise, and place blame squarely at the feet of the PSUV. The tweets were captured by a journalist named Victor Amaya. Images of the three tweets can be seen below, along with my translation:
Juan Manuel Rafalli: The government’s attitude is unfortunate. It will not recognize the national catastrophe and it is not willing to guarantee free and clean elections. We did everything that was possible…
Asdrubal R. Oliveros: There is no deal. The government will not agree to the issue of setting guarantees for elections. We will not accept this. It is better to have no deal than a bad deal. The crisis worsens as the indolent government refuses to accept a constitutional solution.
Jorge Roig Navarro: As was expected, there was no deal. The perverse combination that is the government and [international mediator Jose Luis Zapatero] decided that there will not be free elections. The nay-sayers who said that [the opposition] would recognize the Constituent Assembly were wrong.
The tweets were deleted just a few minutes after they were posted, suggesting that a last-second effort to reach an agreement came to fruition. When a Twitter user asked Oliveros why he had deleted the tweet, Oliveros replied:
This is not over yet. There are new developments.
The MUD and the PSUV have been engaged in talks since December. The opposition demands are that the government allow international aid to flow into the country to lessen the effects of the economic collapse, that it release all political prisoners, and that it lay out guarantees that the upcoming presidential elections will be free, fair and transparent. The PSUV demands include that the opposition recognize Maduro’s Constituent Assembly as a legitimate body, and that it cease the so-called “economic war” against the regime.
By the late afternoon, Venezuelan news outlets began to report that the sides had agreed to meet once more in the Dominican Republic on January 18.
Food Warehouse, Stores Looted in Guarico
National Guard soldiers fired tear gas and rubber pellets at hungry Venezuelans who overwhelmed the perimeter of a warehouse in Calabozo, Guarico state in search of food.
Below, a video of the confrontation in Calobozo earlier today:
The National Guard also deployed a helicopter in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Based on videos shared on social media, the helicopter appears to have been used to intimidate people on the streets by hovering above them:
Below, two videos of the helicopter in action in Calabozo earlier today:
A warehouse, which was owned by the government, was ransacked:
Residents also looted other establishments in the city in search of food. Below, a video showing the looting of a store in Calabozo earlier today:
In the video below, the man recording reports that store owners are throwing rocks at the crowd in order to prevent looting:
Man Recording: The business owners are defending El Peladero [this is likely the name of an area in the city] with rocks! They’re not letting the looters in. Things are getting ugly here in Calabozo! I’m here, but the business owners didn’t let themselves get looted, so they’re throwing rocks at the looters. Things are getting ugly here. People are going to get killed!
Chronic food shortages in Venezuela have been a sad reality of life since at least 2013. However, in recent weeks the shortages appear to have intensified, as looting sprees in areas all around the country have been a daily occurrence so far in 2018.
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