The European Union (EU) issued a statement today in reaction to yesterday’s Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) rulings against four opposition deputies, the latest in a years-long campaign by Venezuela’s top court against the opposition-led National Assembly.
The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, called the TSJ’s rulings “arbitrary” and said that they were motivated by the regime’s desire to neutralize “the only democratically elected body in Venezuela”. Mogherini also said:
The solution to the Venezuelan crisis can only come from a process of negotiation, guided by free and credible presidential elections.
Padrino Lopez Warns of “Fifth Column” Inside Army
Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez said today that a fifth column inside the National Bolivarian Armed Forces is trying to “destroy” the institution.
A treasonous, treacherous fifth column is siding with the cowardly, wretched political minority, [and] is looking to destroy the Armed Forces. First, it wants to divide [and] fracture, and then bring an end to it. It’s looking to destroy the Armed Forces, and then all of Venezuela.
While Padrino Lopez did not provide any specific details for any of his comments, they come on the same day that the New York Times published an article outlining how the Maduro regime has been resorting to torture and persecution of dissenters inside the military to keep it aligned with the regime.
The article points out the fact that the armed forces have brewed at least five attempts to either assassinate or overthrow Maduro in the past two years along, while the regime claims to have discovered a dozen more plots to do the same:
Top military leaders have repeatedly declared their allegiance to the Maduro administration. But over the past two years, as the oil-rich economy crumbled and a majority of Venezuelans were left without sufficient food and medicine, factions within the security forces have staged at least five attempts to overthrow or assassinate the president.
According to the article, there are 217 retired and active army officers in regime prisons, and at least 250 documented cases of torture against military officers.
Venezuela’s information ministry did not respond to detailed questions about torture allegations sent by The New York Times for this article. The attorney general’s office, which handles criminal and human rights investigations, declined to comment. In the past, the government has denied accusations of systematic torture, blaming specific cases on isolated excesses committed by rank-and-file agents.
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