Miguel Rodriguez Torres, a high-profile political dissident and former cabinet minister, was arrested this afternoon in a hotel in Caracas by officers with the regime’s political police, the SEBIN.
Torres was a lifelong Chavez ally, and even fought alongside him in the February 1992 coup d’etat. When Chavez came to power in 1998, Torres joined his administration, and was heavily involved in the creation of the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), the body that arrested him today.
Torres served as Minister of the Interior under Maduro from 2013 and 2014. After leaving government, Torres became an outspoken critic of the Maduro regime, and positioned himself a leading figure in the anti-government movement. Torres’ impeccable credentials as a loyal Chavez ally made him a formidable opponent to Maduro.
Most notably, Torres came out strongly against Maduro’s Constituent Assembly last summer, saying that it would “not solve Venezuela’s problems”, a point that directly contradicted Maduro’s repeated assertions that it would.
According to Univision journalist Elyangelica Lopez, Torres asked the officers to provide him with his arrest warrant at the time of his detention. The officer in charge of the arrest–General Serrano Diaz–allegedly replied that he did not have the warrant with him, but that he was nevertheless under arrest because of “orders from above”.
The image below shows Torres in the blue shirt atop the stairs as he’s led out of the Hotel President in Caracas to custody:
Below, a video of Torres being escorted into a SEBIN vehicle by officers before being taken away to an undisclosed location:
It is not clear at this time what the justification for Torres’ arrest was, and he is believed to be held in the SEBIN’s Plaza Venezuela headquarters.
Torres Arrested While Giving Presentation On Venezuela’s Political Future
El Nacional is reporting that Torres was arrested while giving a presentation in the Hotel President about the political future of the country. Torres’ presentation was part of a day-long conference at the hotel on the role of women in the country, and was organized by a group called Mujeres del Movimiento Amplio Desafio de Todos [Women from the Wide Front Everyone’s Challenge]. Judging by the name, the group is likely a splinter of the Frente Amplio Venezuela Libre, a new opposition initiative.
The newspaper reports that Torres began his presentation today by saying that it was time for Venezuelans to “start building a different society” from the one currently in place.
Towards left the presentation after making the following statement:
I’ve just received a piece of news that requires me to leave urgently. We’ll tell you [about this] and explain it later.
The organizer of the event, Indira Urbaneja, was also arrested.
Regime Sends Delegation To Request UN Participation in Election
Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez announced today that a delegation from the country traveled to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City today to formally request that the organization send an electoral observer mission to the country to participate in the May 20 elections.
According to Rodriguez, the Venezuelan delegation is made up of presidential candidate Henri Falcon and diplomat Manuel Moncada.
The move from Caracas follows a previous rejection to establish an electoral observer mission from the United Nations. That rejection came on Thursday, when UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, who said in a press conference that the Secretary General of the organization did not have the power to assign electoral missions without a mandate from either the General Assembly or the Security Council.
NTN24 reports that while the delegation requested a meeting
BCV Announces New Bs. 100,000 Bill
The Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) unveiled a new Bs. 100,000 note today with security features to make it more difficult to forge. The new bills are scheduled to go into circulation starting tomorrow, but will not replace the old bills which are currently in circulation.
Below, an image showing the new bill’s features:
The new bill contains a watermark image off Simon Bolivar, as well as two raised dots.
The Bs. 100,000 note is the highest in circulation, and was unveiled in November of last year.
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