Attorney general Tarek William Saab held a press conference today during which he announced his formal request that the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), Venezuela’s top court, declare the Voluntad Popular (VP) opposition party a terrorist organization.
During the televised address, Saab argued that VP has “migrated to national and international terrorist violence”, and accused it of organizing a series of crimes including “bringing mercenaries to Venezuela” and “stealing the wealth of the country abroad”. Saab said:
Voluntad Popular politicians and their minions have made a business out of attacking the Venezuelan people.
VP is one of the largest and most popular opposition parties in Venezuela, and currently holds 15 seats in the National Assembly. Its headed by Leopoldo Lopez, who was a clear contender for the presidency in Venezuela up until his arrest in 2014 over charges stemming from the anti-government protests that took place that year. Lopez’s arrest and subsequent incarceration were universally condemned by human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.
Most recently, VP made headlines as the party to which Juan Guaido belonged until he left it in early 2020 to focus on his role as the head of the country’s opposition forces.
VP’s popularity and that of its members have long made it a target of regime repression, as was evidenced by the “farce” trial against Lopez in 2014 and 2015.
Lopez reacted to the news through his Twitter account in a series of tweets during which he lamented the fact that the Maduro government and some of its officials are “known as and wanted abroad for drug trafficking”, and called Saab’s move was a desperate attempt to eliminate the party.
El Aissami Welcomes Iranian Oil Tanker
Minister of Oil Tareck El Aissami welcomed the Fortune, an Iranian oil tanker, at the El Palito dockyard in Carabobo state earlier today. The vessel is one of a group of five, four of which are still currently on their way to Venezuela, which are carrying precious fuel to the gas-strapped nation.
At El Palito, El Aissami said:
This ship, the Fortune, will long remain in the historic memory of our people. We’re so luck to be able to count on Iran during these times. The Venezuelan people are so lucky to be respected by the international community. How lucky we are to be able to tell the world that we are a free people! That is a fortune that perhaps other people do not enjoy.
The collapse of the Venezuelan oil sector has made the country dependent on foreign aid in order to feed its fuel consumption. Venezuela–which was at one point a world leader in oil exploitation, production and refining–has in recent weeks experienced widespread gas shortages.
The second Iranian tanker, Forest, is expected to arrive in Venezuela later today.
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