National Assembly deputy and lead negotiator Julio Borges spoke last night on the opposition’s decision to extend ongoing talks with the Maduro regime into next week, following what appeared to have been the death of the effort yesterday.

Borges said that the MUD opposition bloc and the ruling PSUV party have made important advances on key issues like the chronic food and medicine shortages crippling the country, and that few details had still to be ironed out. Speaking on opposition supporters who believe that talks with the regime are a waste of time and that no deal will be reached, Borges said:

A lot of people say that they somehow feel hopeless because we have yet another meeting [with the PSUV], and I want them to understand the following: the worst thing that we can do is (…) improvise. It is much better to adhere to our firm positions and build solutions (…) rather than simply find easy solutions.

Minister of Communication and leading PSUV negotiator Jorge Rodriguez echoed Borges’ comments, saying that the two sides agreed “on the vast majority of the issues”, but that more work had to be done on others. Still, Rodriguez said that he was “certain” that a final deal would be reached when the two sides meet again in the Dominican Republic on January 18.

Vente Venezuela (VV) leader Maria Corina Machado–arguably the harshest regime critic of all of the country’s opposition leaders–reacted to news of the extension of the talks through he Twitter account yesterday. Machado called the dialogue “false”, and said that the PSUV was interested only in buying time for itself while Venezuelans starve. Below, the tweet along with my translation:

They’re laughing at you.

Once more, the regime has gotten what it wanted: TIME. This is NOT the way.

Hunger’s time descends upon the false dialogue.

PROTEST is the only option.

22 Businesses Looted in Calabozo

Yesterday’s food unrest in Calabozo, Guarico state left 22 businesses looted and “several” people detained. The unrest–which gripped the city as a result of chronic food shortages–involved National Guard soldiers firing tear gas at residents and deploying a helicopter to disperse crowds.

Below, some more images of yesterday’s unrest, including an image of a business with a hole through its wall:

El Nacional has images of the looting of a government warehouse here.

State TV Personality Accused of Running Over 4 Firefighters

Oswaldo Rivero, a television personality who appears on the state-owned VTV network, was arrested last night after allegedly running over four firefighters in Barquisimeto, Lara state. Rivero–who goes by the nickname “Cabeza de Mango” [Mango Head]–is a presenter on Zurda Konducta, a television show in which he and other presenters launch attacks against opposition leaders and their supporters.

The firefighters were taken to the Antonio Maria Pineda hospital, where they are receiving treatment.

According to El Impulso, Rivero was intoxicated and driving at a high rate of speed when he struck the firefighters on a street corner. Rivero allegedly attempted to flee the scene, but was prevented from doing so by witnesses to the crime.

Eye witnesses also claim that Rivero attempted to bribe the police officers who responded to the scene into letting him go, but that he was nevertheless still taken into custody.

According to El Universal, Rivero was carrying a piece of I.D. that identified him as a member of the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), the regime’s brutal secret police.

Rivero is universally reviled by regime critics, given his uncritical stance on the Maduro government and the toxicity with which he attacks the opposition. Known for appearing at opposition rallies and harassing people while recording the interactions for his television show, Rivero led a mob of regime supporters in a brutal attack of the National Assembly on July 5.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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