The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) opposition bloc announced today its refusal to take part in a set of talks with the ruling PSUV party that was set to resume in the Dominican Republic on Saturday. The talks, which have been going on since December under the auspices of the island’s government, appear to be teetering on the edge of failure this week following the extrajudicial killings of Oscar Perez and six of his companions on Monday.
While the PSUV delegation–headed by Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez–did travel to the island today in anticipation for the talks, the opposition delegation did not. Instead, the MUD issued a statement outlining its reasons for dropping out of the talks.
In the statement, the MUD said that it would not participate in new talks until Minister of the Interior Nestor Reverol “rectified” comments he made on television on Tuesday suggesting that MUD leaders had given up Oscar Perez’s location. The MUD soundly rejected the suggestion shortly after Reverol made it. The MUD also cites the inability of some regional observers to make it to this round of talks due to scheduling conflicts, as well as the fact that the PSUV has yet to make good on undisclosed agreements reached in the earlier stages of the talks.
Below, my translation of that statement:
The [MUD] wishes to inform the country and the world that it will not attend a negotiation meeting today January 18 that was scheduled in the Dominican Republic
The decision was taken for the following reasons:
We reject the statement made by Nestor Reverol, who falsely asserted that he received information about inspector Oscar Perez from the [CICPC] during the last round of talks, we demand that those statements be rectified [sic].
The presence of the foreign affairs minister is indispensable for this to continue, which is why for a new meeting to take place they should all be there.
The government has not untied the knots that were left over from the last meeting regarding very important issues for the country when it comes to electoral and institutional matters. We insist that they meet the minimum required conditions in order to move forward.
We reiterate our willingness to continue to participate in this negotiation when the aforementioned points are met, [once] our negotiating team is respected and [once] there is a serious commitment with the country to move this process forward.
News of the MUD’s unwillingness to continue to take part in the talks at this time was followed by a statement from Hugo Beras, the spokesperson for the the the Dominican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Beras said that while some expected the dialogue to bring immediate results, the fact that “progress has been made at every stage” is proof enough that the talks are bearing fruit. Beras also said that the Dominican government would now coordinate with observers from regional partners in order to set a new date for talks.
Bodies of Perez, Companions Reportedly Cremated Against Wishes of Relatives
There are conflict reports this evening regarding the status of the bodies of Oscar Perez and his six companions, all slain in El Junquito on Monday.
Starting in the mid-afternoon, journalists began to report that the that the bodies of Oscar Perez and at least one of his companions have been cremated against the wishes of their relatives. Other reports indicated that the bodies had not been cremated yet, but that the authorities were threatening the relatives into agreeing to cremation.
The news first broke though Deivis Ramirez, who tweeted the following message:
[The authorities] decided to cremate the bodies of Oscar Perez and Jose Alejandro Diaz Pimentel, the two leaders of the rebel group. This information comes unofficially from an inside source.
Elyangelica Lopez followed Ramirez’s tweet with the following revelation:
#NOW [National Assembly] Deputy Winston Flores says that the families of the members of the Oscar Perez group are being forced to sign a document to cremate the bodies. And they [the bodies] have been wrapped in transparent paper in order to accelerate their decomposition. This comment came from the deputy through an audio [message].
National Assembly deputy Delsa Solorzano told El Nacional that the authorities are attempting to force the relatives into agreeing to cremation by falsely claiming that the bodies of their loved ones have already decomposed.
Fears that the regime might try to cremate the bodies in order to destroy incriminating evidence of how Perez and his party died began to spread on Tuesday.
Venezuelan law prohibits the cremation of any body that is part of a criminal investigation because it is considered destruction of evidence.
Hungry Residents Line Up to Rummage Through Trash at Caracas Restaurants
Images of a large group of people rummaging through the trash of a Caracas restaurant spread through social media late this afternoon, yet more evidence of the chronic food shortages affecting the country.
According to El Nacional, the crowd was observed lining up in order to be able to access the refuse in an orderly fashion.
Below, images of the event:
The Maduro regime is loathe to admit that the food shortages are the direct result of its failed economic policies, and instead blames the country’s political opposition for instigating an “economic war” against the country for nefarious purposes.
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