The national coordinator of the Voluntad Popular (VP) opposition party, Juan Andres Mejia, said in a press conference today that the Venezuelan opposition is well aware that the upcoming presidential election will be rigged in favour of the Maduro regime. Mejia pointed out that, for example, opposition parties will not be able to hold primaries to elect their presidential candidates given the sudden and ambiguous nature of the election. He said:
How can we talk about primaries when we don’t even know when the election is?
On Tuesday, the Constituent Assembly approved a measure calling for a snap presidential election to be held no later than April 30. The Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) has yet to formally announce the date of the vote.
Mejia also lamented the fact that the Maduro regime has cracked down with increasing ferocity against opposition leaders in recent months, and reminded reporters that VP’s own head, Leopoldo Lopez, has now been imprisoned for four years. On the challenges of participating in an election under these conditions, Mejia said:
How can we have a candidate if they keep taking out leaders and parties?
Without committing to not participating in the election, Mejia said that VP “would not play along with an electoral farce”, suggesting that he still had hoped that the regime could take steps to guarantee a truly free and fair election.
While the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) opposition bloc has yet to formalize a response to the snap election and the adverse conditions in which it is likely to be held, it announced yesterday that it would not attend a round of talks with the ruling PSUV party that were scheduled to take place in the Dominican Republic next week.
The announcement came from National Assembly deputy Luis Florido, who is one of the lead negotiator for the MUD in the talks. Florido said in a message posted on his official account that the announcement of the snap election was evidence that the Maduro regime “is not interested” in engaging in a serious dialogue with the opposition.
Spain Retaliates, Expels Venezuelan Ambassador
The government of Spain has formally retaliated against the Maduro regime’s expulsion of its ambassador in Caracas yesterday by doing the same to his Venezuelan counterpart in Madrid.
Madrid’s decision affects ambassador Mario Isea, who must now leave Spain.
In announcing the expulsion, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Alfonso Dastis said that his government “lamented” the Maduro regime’s decision from yesterday, and stressed that in expelling Isea it was responding with “strict adherence to the principle of reciprocity”.
UNICEF Concerned About “Clear Signs” of Child Malnutrition
The Untied Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued a press release today calling for “coordinated national action” to address the worsening food crisis, particularly as it affects Venezuela’s youngest residents.
The press release begins by pointing out that “a growing number” of Venezuelan children suffer from malnutrition, and that exact figures are difficult to come by due to “very limited official health or nutrition data”. Still, the release continues, there are “clear signs” that children in the country are suffering from the food crisis.
According to UNICEF, while the Venezuelan government has in fact taken some steps to mitigate the effects of the food shortages on children,
… more needs to be done to reverse the worrisome decline in children’s nutritional wellbeing.
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