French President Emmanuel Macron met today with a trio of Venezuelan opposition leaders in Paris to discuss which measures the European nation can take against the Maduro regime. In attendance were Voluntad Popular (VP) political coordinator Carlos Vecchio, former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, and Primero Justicia (PJ) head Julio Borges.

The opposition figures said after the meeting that Macron had expressed concern over the current situation in Venezuela, and in particular over the irregularities surrounding the upcoming May 20 presidential election. They also said that they would continue to reach out to governments and organizations around the world in order to co-ordinate more targeted financial sanctions against regime officials.

In the image below, Borges shakes hands with Macron. Vecchio and Ledezma stand in the background and foreground, respectively:

Below, the four men posing for a picture (from left to right: Vecchio, Macron, Ledezma, Borges):

Of the three opposition figures, Borges is the only one who still lives in Venezuela. Vecchio was forced to flee the country under regime pressure in 2014. Ledezma escaped the country via Colombia in November of last year after spending nearly two years under detention while he underwent a trial in which he stood accused of conspiring to overthrow the Maduro regime.

Military Court Acquits “Golpe Azul” Officers

A military court has thrown out the prison sentences of five military officers and three civilians accused of planning a coup d’etat against Maduro back in February 15. The alleged coup attempt became known in Venezuelan media as the Golpe Azul (Blue Coup), because the officers involved belonged to the National Bolivarian Air Force, whose officers’ uniforms are blue.

The announcement came from Alfredo Romero, a human rights lawyer who heads the Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum]. Romero tweeted the following message:

#April2 today we formally found out that the ruling in the “Blue Coup” [case] has been ANNULLED, which means that the sentences of the 8 political prisoners are now without effect. Yet they are stilled detained unjustly.

The individuals were first accused of planning the coup during a televised address by then-National Assembly president and PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello on February 12, 2015. During the address, Cabello said that at the time of their arrest, the suspects had maps that identified key government installations as targets of the coup, and that the operation would have involved bombing runs from rebellious aircraft.

During the same televised address, the then-mayor of the Libertador municipality and current Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez said that National Assembly deputy and opposition figure Julio Borges was working closely with the rebels to stage the coup.

After nearly two years in detention, the eight accused were found guilty of rebellion, and sentenced to prison during an overnight hearing on January 12, 2017. The accused were sentenced to sentences of varying lengths, ranging from eight to ten years.

Today’s ruling means that the sentences handed to the eight accused have been tossed out, and that they must be released from prison immediately.

The Maduro regime routinely accuses opposition figures and dissidents from planning coups. From his election to the presidency in March 2013 to September 2016, Maduro announced the existence of 21 coup d’etat attempts against him.

Merida Hospital Sees Hundreds of Resignations Over Last 6 Months

Doctors at Merida’s Instituto Autononmo Hospital Universitario de Los Andes (IAHULA) staged a protest yesterday over the poor conditions at the institution, as well as the fact that the hospital has seen hundreds of resignations from nurses, doctors and staff over the past six months.

Doctor Estrella Uzcategui, the director of the IAHULA, said that 30 resident doctors and 74 specialists have resigned from the institution since November as a result of the destitution at the hospital, product of the ongoing healthcare crisis. Uzcategui also said that 480 nurses have resigned over the past four months for the same reason.

According to El Nacional, the lack of resources allotted to healthcare under the Maduro regime result not only in poor wages for medical professionals, but also in the “advanced decay” that the hospital is experiencing.

The IAHULA is tasked with serviving approximately 900,000 people.

Video Captured Caracas Subway Train Failure

A video shared on social media this morning captured the instant that a Caracas subway train experienced a mechanical failure, sending sparks into the air while the vehicle was stationary in the Palo Verde station.

Below, the video:

Once testament to Venezuelan engineering, the Caracas subway system now experiences daily outages and vehicle failures due to years of mismanagement and lack of investment.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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