Former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz told VPItv in an article published today that she was pressured by PSUV vice-president Diosdado Cabello into jailing opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez back in 2014.
Arguably Venezuela’s most popular opposition figure, Lopez played a key role in organizing the start of the 2014 anti-government protest wave, which swept through the country from February to about June of that year. When protest violence claimed the lives of three people in Caracas on February 12 2014, the Maduro regime was quick to blame Lopez for the killings and issued a warrant for his arrest. Lopez turned himself in to the authorities a few days later, and was sentenced to thirteen years in prison at the conclusion of his trial in 2015.
Diaz, who was attorney general of Venezuela at the time of Lopez’s trial and arrest, was heavily criticized by regime critics and international human rights organizations alike for her leading role in what was widely understood to be a political trial with no basis in reality. Diaz’s comments today appear to confirm these critiques, as they are evidence of direct political manipulation of the Lopez case.
Diaz told VPItv:
I was pressured into saying that one responsible for the deaths of Bassil da Costa and Juan Montoya was Leopoldo. I was pressured by Diosdado Cabello.
Diaz also said that “even Nicolas Maduro” himself called her on her telephone to pressure her into prosecuting Lopez.
Diaz made a public break from the Maduro regime in March of last year. She immediately became the target of vicious attacks from the PSUV establishment, and was even accused of having gone insane by senior party officials. Diaz was removed from her position in August of last year, and was forced to flee Venezuela under mounting pressure from regime forces that same month.
Maduro Will Still Attend SOA Despite Un-vitation
Two days ago, the government of Peru announced that it would not welcome Maduro to the Summit of the Americas, which is taking place in Lima in mid-April. The measure was taken as part of increased pressure from the international community on the increasingly authoritarian Maduro regime.
Maduro reacted to the news today by stating simply that he would still travel to Lima whether he was welcomed there or not. Speaking to international journalists at a press conference earlier today, Maduro taunted Peruvian authorities, and said:
Do you fear me? You don’t want to see me in Lima? You’re going to see me. Because come rain or shine, by air, land, or sea, I will attend the Summit of the Americas
Maduro’s planned visit to the country puts him at an impasse with the Peruvian government, which stated through a top cabinet Minister that Maduro could not “enter the land nor Peruvian airspace because he is not welcome”.
Opposition to Set Position on Presidential Election This Weekend
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) opposition bloc will announce this weekend whether or not it will participate in the coming presidential election set for April 22. News of the pending announcement came from Henry Ramos Allup, the leader of the Accion Democratica (AD) party, who revealed the fact during a televised interview this afternoon.
Allup said that the MUD’s decision would be an important one, since he hopes that it will set the stage for this phase of the struggle against the Maduro regime. Allup explained that were the MUD to announce that it will not participate in the election, then no candidate aligned with the bloc should run, even as an independent.
Either we all go in together and participate [in the election] under a single candidate, or we all decide that the conditions [for a free election] are not present and that we cannot participate.
The MUD is currently in a difficult position regarding the question of participating in the presidential election. While it is the MUD’s stated position that the election will be neither free nor fair, not presenting a candidate would guarantee Maduro’s victory on April 22.
Venezuelan Student Killed in Parkland Shooting
A 17-year-old Venezuelan teenager named Joaquin Oliver was one of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida yesterday.
News of Oliver’s killing broke through a journalist Maria Alesia Sosa, who wrote:
It is with immense pain that I wish to inform that Joaquin Oliver, Venezuelan, was murdered during the school shooting in Florida this Wednesday. This is without a doubt one of the most difficult stories that I have covered. May his soul rest in peace, and may his family find strength.
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