Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s (EU) foreign affairs representative, said today that the organization was ready to “react” if the April 22 presidential election goes ahead as planned. Mogherini made the comment during a press conference today, in which she was asked about the upcoming presidential vote.
Mogherini said that while she believes that while the April 22 presidential election does not appear to be set up as a free, fair and transparent process, there could still be time for the Maduro regime to change course. She said:
… there is still time to take formal decisions, which is why we are waiting for things to move in the direction of obtaining guarantees for credible elections.
When pressed by reporters to describe what actions the EU might take if the election goes ahead as planned, Mogherini said that she did not want to comment further on the case given the fact that Venezuela is living through “critical hours”.
The EU has placed two sets of sanctions against the Maduro regime. The first came in November, when it banned the sale of weapons and other tools of repression to Caracas; the second came in January, when it seized the financial assets and banned the entry of seven regime officials.
Uruguay Concerned About Presidential Election
Rodolfo Nin Novoa, the Uruguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs, said today that Montevideo was concerned about the upcoming April 22 presidential election, given that as it stands the vote will be held under unfair conditions . Nin Novoa said:
Would Uruguay hold elections while there are political prisoners in jail? Would it go to elections with a judicial branch that obeys orders from the executive, with outlawed political parties? I do not think so, and that which do not want for ourselves we cannot want for others.
Nin Novoa also said that the Venezuelan presidential vote will be “a nearly one-party election”, signalling that the PSUV’s aggressive persecution of political dissenters over the last several years has had the effect of making the results of the election a foregone conclusion.
The minister’s comments come a day after his Chilean counterpart, Heraldo Muñoz, voiced similar concerns about the Venezuelan presidential vote.
Colectivos Armados Voice Support for Maduro, Hold Rally
Members of Venezuela’s colectivos armados (literally “armed groups”) have voiced support for Maduro’s presidential run and staged a rally in Caracas today in support of the president.
The video below was allegedly recorded yesterday, and shows a man named Valentin Santana–alleged to be the leader of the La Piedrita colectivo of Caracas–voicing his support for Maduro. Note that while the men with Santana appear to be uniformed, they are not members of any police or state security force:
Santana: … we are here putting into practice the security ring of our commander, Hugo Chavez [sic] with our motorized colleagues, the popular movements, the [clan?], the [Boliva-Chavez Battle Units, a militia], the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, and the colectivos, which send out a message of solidarity and absolute loyalty to our president, Nicolas Maduro.
Today, we are defending our homeland. Today, tomorrow and forever. On [April 22], we will defend it with our votes, and today we’re defending it with our. Onward towards victory, always, colleagues! Homeland or death!
Below, an image of the colectivo concentration in Caracas today:
Colectivos armados are armed pro-regime militias that spawned from community organizations of the Chavez era called Circulos Bolivarianos [“Bolivarian Circles”]. Today’s colectivos armados play a key role in the regime’s repression of protests and dissent. Last year, colectivos killed approximately 27 protesters at anti-government demonstrations all throughout the country.
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