Two firefighters who were arrested in September for making a short video clip mocking Maduro by comparing him to a donkey received conditional releases today after spending 48 days in prison. 

Carlos Varon and Ricardo Prieto, both firefighters from Merida state, were arrested on September 14 after a video in which they spoke to a donkey as if he were Maduro went viral on social media. The pair were arrested by agents from the General Directorate for Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM). 

Varon and Prieto were initially charged with “inciting hatred”, a crime which could have sent the pair to prison for up to twenty years. The charge is used often by the Maduro regime against political dissenters. 

According to the Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad de Los Andes [Los Andes University Human Rights Watch], the two were released on the condition that they appear before a judge at regular intervals

Colombia Agrees to Accept Asylum Requests from Regime Officials

In a meeting in Bogota, Colombia today, the Lima Group agreed that Colombia will accept asylum request from any Venezuelan politician elected after 1998, opening the door for granting political refuge to Maduro regime officials should they ask for it.

The move is likely aimed at making it easier for any dissident officials to flee the country, a measure that could act as a catalyst for the collapse of the Maduro regime. 

During the same meeting, the Lima Group also agreed that Colombia would make it easier for Venezuelans whose passports have expired to apply for visas.

The Lima Group is made up of regional countries that are concerned about the Venezuelan crisis. The Group occasionally meets to establish common ground and coordinate policies related to Venezuela. 

While membership fluctuates, the Group includes a core of 13 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Saint Lucia. 

Trailblazing Politician Teodoro Petkoff Dead at 86

Teodoro Petkoff, an influential national politician and journalist, died today at 86 years of age

Petkoff burst onto the Venezuelan national consciousness in the early 1960s as a leading figure in the the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN) [National Liberation Armed Forces], a leftist guerilla group that sought to install a socialist government in Venezuela. Petkoff’s stance against the Venezuelan governments at the time landed him in jail on three different occasions from which he twice escaped.

In 1971, Petkoff abandoned arms and founded the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party, and then served in the cabinet of president Rafael Caldera in the mid-1990s.

In the year 2000, Petkoff founded a newspaper called Tal Cual, one of the last remaining and most important independent media outlets in Venezuela. 

Petkoff’s death was announced by Xabier Coscojuela, the director of Tal Cual. He said:

It is with great sorrow that I announce the death of Teodoro Petkoff, at this time I can only be thankful for having shared these years with him at TalCual

Americo Martin, a politician and former leftist guerrilla fighter, eulogized Petkoff in the following way:

Teodoro’s death is a double and undeserved punishment, because the best of us die at the worst of times. Teodoro was one of the most important figures in Venezuelan political life because, in these times when the task of doing politics appears so dark and Venezuela experiences a terrible regression, Teodoro reminds us that doing politics is a high art, a calling, a commitment with the country. Today, a man creator, an innovator that clearly understood politics not only in practice but in theory, says goodbye.

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

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