PSUV vice-president Diosado Cabello has lost a libel suit against the Wall Street Journal after a U.S. court affirmed the cases’ dismissal in a ruling issued earlier today. The ruling relates to a 2015 article by the newspaper that cited U.S. government sources as saying that Cabello was under investigation over his alleged involvement in a major drug trafficking operation based out of the Venezuelan government.
After accusing the newspaper of having fabricated the story, Cabello sued the publication in 2016 for libel.
In August of last year, a U.S. court ruled in favour of the newspaper, finding that Cabello had not provided any evidence to suggest that the Wall Street Journal had in fact made up the story. Cabello appealed the decision, which is what the court ruled on today.
In his appeal, Cabello argued that the Wall Street Journal must have made up the story, because there was no possible way that a U.S. government official could have leaked the information found in the 2015 article that named him as the target of an investigation by drug enforcement authorities. Cabello argued that the newspaper had either made up the sources entirely, or that it had not properly vetted the individuals who made the claims against him.
In today’s ruling, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals was terse in dismissing Cabello’s appeal. The three-judge panel ruled:
His general theory—that any investigation into his activities simply could not have been leaked by government authorities—is patently unbelievable.
The judges also found Cabello’s appeal to be “illogical”, even by his own argument.
Fearing More Arrests, Chevron Evacuates Executive Staff
Oil giant Chevron evacuated its executive staff from Venezuela today out of a fear that the Maduro regime will jail more of its workers, following the arrest of two of the company’s executives last week.
On April 16, regime authorities arrested two Chevron executives in Puerto la Cruz. Reuters reports that the two individuals are likely to be brought to trial on charges of treason after the pair refused to sign a contract with the state-owned PDVSA oil company under duress.
Citing “four sources familiar with the matter”, Reuters reported today that approximately 30 Chevron staff participated in the evacuation.
Opposition Calls for National Protests on April 27
The Frente Amplio (FA) opposition group held a press conference today in which it called on Venezuelans around the country to protest this coming Friday April 27 in their respective communities against the Maduro regime.
During the press conference, Nicmer Evans, one of the members of the FA, gave one reason for protesting:
Our salaries aren’t enough–they [the regime] has cut into our salaries over the past few years–[while] there are political gangs that are making themselves rich, yet the work that we do is worth nothing.
National Assembly deputy Jorge Millan also spoke during the conference, and reiterated the FA’s call for protest by saying:
We’re inviting all Venezuelans to dedicate two hours of their lives starting at 7:00 AM on Friday April 27 and all through the day, to protest against that which hurts them the most, to demand their rights, and to show their indignity.
The FA is the latest in a series of opposition blocs to attempt to mount an effective challenge to the Maduro regime. Created in early March, the FA appears to be the successor organization of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), which is made up of opposition political parties.
Following the conclusion of the 2017 anti-government protests, the opposition movement in Venezuela appears to be experiencing a prolonged period of lethargy, likely spurred on my the demoralizing defeat that it suffered at the hands of the regime last year.
Authorities: 200,000 Colombians in Venezuela Have Returned
Felipe Muñoz, a Colombian official who heads the country’s administrative control over the border with Venezuela, told RCN yesterday that approximately 200,000 Colombian citizens who lived in Venezuela have returned home due to the crisis in the country over the past two years.
According to Muñoz, many of the returning Colombians had been living in Venezuela “for the past 20 or 30 years” in search for respite from the conflict that was gripping Colombia at the time. He explained:
Venezuela gave them shelter in a generous and positive manner, but now many of them–given the situation in the country–are coming back to Colombia with their children and their families, so we have to open our doors to them so that they can reintegrate quickly into society.
Muñoz also said that the influx of returning Colombians has forced Bogota to deploy extra resources to ensure that the migrants are registered in a timely fashion, with the goal of ensuring that they are able to acquire all of the paperwork needed to resume their lives.
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