Dissident chavista Miguel Rodriguez Torres, arrested yesterday at a hotel in Caracas by agents from the regime’s political police, was transported to the Fuerte Tiuna military base in the capital this afternoon where he is set to appear before a military tribunal. The tribunal is expected to formally charge Rodriguez Torres with a range of conspiratorial crimes, all of which revolve allegations that he was attempting to overthrow the Maduro regime.
Yesterday afternoon, the Maduro regime issued a statement on Rodriguez Torres’ detention, and vaguely alleged that he was part of a conspiracy against the regime. The regime’s statement partially reads:
The Bolivarian Government informs that Mr. Miguel Rodriguez Torres was arrested in a Caracas hotel, who was previously Minister of the Interior and Director of the DICIP [the predecessor of the SEBIN], who was wanted for authorities for participating in activities against peace and public calm, and in plots and conspiracies that attempted to undermine the monolithic unity of our National Bolivarian Armed Forces.
The criminal actions planned by this gentleman and his accomplices included armed acts and conspiracies against our constitution.
Rodriguez Torres served as Minister of the Interior under Maduro from 2013 to 2014. After leaving government, he became critical of the Maduro regime, and quickly became a pressing threat against his rule. Rodriguez Torres served loyally under Hugo Chavez for his entire presidency, and even fought alongside him during Chavez’s failed 1992 coup attempt.
Fuerte Tiuna is a military base located in southern Caracas. It has traditionally housed residences for top-ranking military and regime officials.
Because Rodriguez Torres was head of the Venezuelan police forces in his capacity of Minister of the Interior during the 2014 protests, his arrest yesterday has sparked a fierce debate in Venezuela. While some consider him to be another victim of the Maduro regime’s relentless oppression of dissent, others are less sympathetic, given the brutality with which he himself oppressed dissenters in 2014.
The image below, created by a caricaturist named EDO, captures the essence of the debate. The image shows an executioner being led away by two others. The man whose head is in the guillotine looks on and says, “have mercy!”:
VP Pence to Speak on Venezuela at OAS
U.S. vice-president Mike Pence will speak at a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) on March 21, where he is expected to comment on the ongoing Venezuela crisis. Alyssa Farah, a spokesperson with Pence’s office, made the announcement today by saying:
The vice-president will take advantage of the opportunity to condemn the illegal actions by president Maduro in no uncertain terms.
Farah provided more details on Pence’s OAS speech, saying:
[Pence] will ask all member nations to increase pressure on the regime for it to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, free all political prisoners, carry out free and fair elections, and restore democratic institutions.
As it stands, Pence’s speech will mark the first time that a U.S. vice-president has spoken at the organization since Al Gore did in 1994. However, this will not mark the vice-president’s first public comments on Venezuela. In August of last year, Pence appeared beside Trump at a public event in which he said:
We’re simply not going to tolerate seeing Venezuela collapse into dictatorship (…) President Trump has made it clear – we’re simply not going to stand by while Venezuela crumbles.
Pence will make the comments before the OAS’ Permanent Council.
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