Posted tagged ‘Maduro’

Rouhani Calls for Formation of Tehran-Caracas Joint Economic Commission

September 10, 2017

Rouhani Calls for Formation of Tehran-Caracas Joint Economic Commission, Tasnim News Agency, September 10, 2017

Iran and Venezuela enjoy a high level of diplomatic ties and are known as allies, as both are opposed to the US policies.

While street riots and anti-government protests have escalated in Venezuela in recent months, Iran has voiced backing for Venezuela’s democratically elected government, saying Tehran supports talks between the government and the opposition for peaceful resolution of differences.

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TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said formation of a joint economic commission would greatly help expand Tehran-Caracas relations.

“The establishment of a joint economic commission between the two countries is an important step to further strengthen mutual cooperation (between Iran and Venezuela),” Rouhani said in a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on Sunday ahead of a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

He also underlined the importance of more consultations among oil exporting countries, saying efforts by OPEC and non-OPEC countries, Venezuela in particular, have played an important role in balancing the global oil price and production.

In his turn, Maduro called for enhanced ties between Iran and Venezuela in various fields and said, “The formation of a joint economic commission could prepare the ground for (the two nations) to explore new opportunities and strengthen their cooperation.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, he noted that the Venezuelan nation would never buckle under US pressure and sanctions, saying, “We will resist foreign pressure (and sanctions) by maintaining our unity”.

Iran and Venezuela enjoy a high level of diplomatic ties and are known as allies, as both are opposed to the US policies.

While street riots and anti-government protests have escalated in Venezuela in recent months, Iran has voiced backing for Venezuela’s democratically elected government, saying Tehran supports talks between the government and the opposition for peaceful resolution of differences.

Predictably, Maduro Charges Political Opponents With Treason

August 31, 2017

Predictably, Maduro Charges Political Opponents With Treason, Hot Air, Jazz Shaw, August 31, 2017

Maduro is expanding his militias and consolidating his power. Soon, the remaining leaders of the old government who are willing to speak out against these atrocities will be imprisoned as traitors, no doubt send a chill down the spines of anyone else who was thinking of speaking up. Short of an armed revolt by the starving civilian population, it looks increasingly as if Venezuela is a lost cause.

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The dictator of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, continues to follow the basic instructions left by previous tyrants. Having dispatched with any semblance of representative government, there are still a large number of political opponents out there who remain vocal critics of the new order. How to deal with them?

Maduro is opting for a rather direct “solution” to the problem. He’s reportedly going to bring them up on charges of treason, followed by some sort of kangaroo court show trial and almost certainly terminal imprisonment if not outright execution. (Vice News)

Venezuela’s embattled government lurched closer toward dictatorship Tuesday as the country’s new national assembly voted to hold trials of opposition leaders for treason.

Hours after the vote, the United Nations issued a report condemning President Nicolas Maduro’s use of violence and torture against his opponents.

Venezuela’s national assembly, stacked with allies of President Nicolas Maduro, unanimously approved a decree instructing the country’s chief prosecutor’s office to immediately begin investigating “traitors” from the opposition accused of supporting U.S. sanctions against Venezuela.

At first glance you might think that the opposition leaders would at least be able to stay alive because Venezuela abolished the death penalty by constitutional decree more than 150 years ago. But the new national assembly is currently rewriting all the rules as they go, taking their instructions directly from Maduro. (They’re also on track to rewrite the constitution anyway, but that’s really a technicality at this point.) All they’ll need to do is issue a new order allowing the murder of “traitors” for “crimes against the state” and that will likely be that.

Can anything be done about this? Unlikely. At the same time that all of this was going on, the United Nations issued a condemnation of the Maduro regime for what amounts to crimes against humanity. (Reuters)

The United Nations on Wednesday said Venezuela’s security forces had committed extensive and apparently deliberate human rights violations in crushing anti-government protests.

The actions indicated “a policy to repress political dissent and instil fear”, the U.N. human rights office said in a report that called for further investigation.

It called on the government of President Nicolas Maduro to release arbitrarily detained demonstrators and to halt the unlawful use of military courts to try civilians.

Raise your hands if you think that Maduro will give one flying fig about any condemnation from the United Nations. He’s got China as an ally at this point, making sure that cash is still flowing into his coffers and they’re not going to go along with any additional sanctions against him. I had hoped for a brief time that the military might rise up in disgust and put him out of office, but there are no signs of that thus far beyond a single incident of a few dozen people raiding an arms depot.

Maduro is expanding his militias and consolidating his power. Soon, the remaining leaders of the old government who are willing to speak out against these atrocities will be imprisoned as traitors, no doubt send a chill down the spines of anyone else who was thinking of speaking up. Short of an armed revolt by the starving civilian population, it looks increasingly as if Venezuela is a lost cause.

Right Angle – A Self Inflicted Tragedy in Venezuela

August 15, 2017

Right Angle, BillWhittleChannel via YouTube, August 9, 2017

(Is it Socialism or Communism, and does it matter? — DM)

Treasury Sanctions the President of Venezuela

August 1, 2017

Treasury Sanctions the President of Venezuela, U.S. Department of the Treasury via Global Security.org, July 31, 2017

As a result of today’s actions, all assets of Nicolas Maduro subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from dealing with him.

“Yesterday’s illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people. By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy,” said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. “Anyone who participates in this illegitimate ANC could be exposed to future U.S. sanctions for their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela.”

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Washington — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro Moros, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13692, which authorizes sanctions against current or former officials of the Government of Venezuela and others undermining democracy in Venezuela. These sanctions come a day after the Maduro government held elections for a National Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente, or ANC) that aspires illegitimately to usurp the constitutional role of the democratically elected National Assembly, rewrite the constitution, and impose an authoritarian regime on the people of Venezuela. As such, it represents a rupture in Venezuela’s constitutional and democratic order. The Maduro administration has proceeded with the ANC even though Venezuelans and democratic governments worldwide have overwhelmingly opposed it as a fundamental assault on the freedoms of the Venezuelan people. The creation of the ANC follows years of Maduro’s efforts to undermine Venezuela’s democracy and the rule of law.

As a result of today’s actions, all assets of Nicolas Maduro subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from dealing with him.

“Yesterday’s illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people. By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy,” said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. “Anyone who participates in this illegitimate ANC could be exposed to future U.S. sanctions for their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela.”

Nicolas Maduro was elected President of Venezuela on April 14, 2013, following the death of former President Hugo Chavez. Maduro held previous roles in the Venezuelan government, including as Executive Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Under Maduro, the Venezuelan government has deliberately and repeatedly abused the rights of citizens through the use of violence, repression, and criminalization of demonstrations. At his direction, the regime’s security forces have systematically repressed and criminalized opposition parties through arbitrary detention, military prosecution of civilians, and the excessive use of force against demonstrators. Any member of the opposition or critic of the regime risks being detained, imprisoned, assaulted, tortured, and assassinated.

In addition to committing widespread human rights abuses, Maduro’s regime has mismanaged the economy and engaged in systemic corruption. Despite having among the world’s largest oil reserves, tens of millions of Venezuelans are going hungry because the Government refuses to import sufficient food for the Venezuelan people, engages in rampant corruption around currency and the exchange rate regime, and rejects offers of humanitarian aid.

Treasury undertook the action, in consultation with the State Department, pursuant to Executive Order 13692. The U.S. government and democratic governments worldwide continue to call on the Venezuelan government to halt the ANC process and allow Venezuela’s democratic processes and institutions to function as intended. We urge those who were elected to the Constituent Assembly to decline to take office.

Venezuela Is Now Either Cuba Or North Korea

July 31, 2017

Venezuela Is Now Either Cuba Or North Korea, Hot Air, Jazz Shaw, July 31, 2017

Sometimes I really hate it when I’m right. The “vote” in Venezuela yesterday went largely as expected, with the government of tyrant Nicolas Maduro claiming that upwards of eight million people voted to essentially wipe out the elected legislature and replace it with some window dressing which essentially makes him dictator of the country. This is a condition which could last for his entire life unless his people manage to find a way to oust him from office.

The vote was, of course, largely a sham. And as NBC News was reporting throughout the day, many of the polling places were frequently empty as Maduro’s many opponents boycotted the bogus proceedings.

Many polling stations were largely empty and more than 70 percent of the country was opposed to the vote in the first place, according to opinion surveys. Critics called it a naked power grab by President Nicolas Maduro.

As protesters clashed with police across the increasingly volatile country, only about 9 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, Delsa Solórzano, a prominent leader of the opposition party Un Nuevo Tiempo, said at a news conference Sunday night.

The country’s election authorities, meanwhile, put the number of voters at 8.1 million, equaling a 41.5 percent turnout.

Noticing something of a disparity there? Nearly three quarters of the country was opposed to and sitting out the vote according to recent polls. Election monitors put the turnout at 9% (which actually might be on the low side) and yet Maduro’s “election officials” said it was over 40%. Even if that was a valid figure, that’s still pretty low for something this historic in terms of completely reshaping the country’s government structure.

CNN describes just how much power Maduro has now and also grimly notes that the body count went up as even more protesters – including two teenagers – were slaughtered by his militias.

The election will allow Maduro to replace Venezuela’s current legislative body — the National Assembly — with the new assembly, which would be made up 545 members, all nominated by his administration.

Deadly clashes between protesters and police marred Sunday’s vote, which followed weeks of violent street protests in which many people have been killed or injured. On Sunday the death toll rose sharply with at least six people — including two teenagers — killed at protests and a National Guard officer also reported dead by the attorney general’s office.

More than 8,089,000 people or about 41.53% of registered Venezuelan voters cast ballots Sunday, according to Venezuela’s National Electoral Council.

Now the rest of the world has to decide what, if anything, to do about it. As far as the United States goes, our U.N. Ambassador, Nikki Haley immediately declared the vote to be “a sham” and said that the United States “would not accept the results.” Our State Department put out a statement condemning the results as well and promising a “strong and swift response”, though in somewhat gentler terms. But what does that mean? More sanctions? I’m not sure Maduro particularly cares at this point.

Unless there’s a drastic (and probably violent) change in course, the stage seems to be set. Maduro has completed his takeover and will now be able to rule essentially as a dictator. He’ll probably gather the support of a few other authoritarian regimes, but even that will be limited until he can get his oil production back up. (Assuming he can manage it.) For now, Venezuela will likely become a hermit kingdom, much in the style of either Fidel Castro’s Cuba during the early years or North Korea’s present regime. And the real losers in all of this will be the Venezuelan people. They are currently starving while living on some of the richest farmland on the continent and their government is almost bankrupt while sitting atop some of the largest proven crude oil reserves in the world. These are the fruits of socialism. Watch closely if you are cheering for similar policies in the United States.

What are Venezuela’s huge protests really about?

June 13, 2017

What are Venezuela’s huge protests really about? American Thinker, Javier Caceres, June 13, 2017

CARACAS — With 65 dead in the last 60 days of marching in the streets, it’s worth looking at what these protests are really about: a constitutional crisis that strikes at the heart of rule of law in Venezuela. This is more important than the food shortages, the dissident harassment, the crime and corruption or any of the other factors that also fuel the protests. Basically, freedom itself is at stake.

Venezuela’s constitution, which is the basis of its rule of law, is under fire as never before.

To take one example, Venezuela’s attorney general declared a Constitutional Court sentence unconstitutional, and thus ruptured the country’s long constitutional tradition. After that usurpation of power, the constitution was effectively rewritten on President Nicolas Maduro’s intervention, putting an end to the separation of powers that has always been integral to rule of law in Venezuela.

For that alone, Venezuelans are protesting, and Maduro finds himself rejected by 80% of Venezuelans according to polls.

But the constitutional crisis has more than one dimension. Despite the judicial meddling described above, Maduro also proposed drafting an entirely new constitution even though a simple reading of three of the articles of the present one do not let him do it unauthorized. But, Venezuela’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court confirmed he can do it on the grounds that “he is the people.”

It shows that Venezuela’s constitutional crisis has come a long way from its orgins as an apparently normal document. How did it come to this?

It happened when the late President Hugo Chávez in 1999 first asked Venezuelans if they wanted a new constitution and held a referendum about it. In that vote, the people said ‘yes’ and after it was drafted there was an Approval Referendum. Because the people said ‘yes’ again, that is how the current constitution came to be.  Then in 2007, when Chávez submitted changes to the 1999 Constitution, in another approval referendum, the people said ‘no’ to his proposal. Whatever its merits, it worked tolerably well institutionally.

There are three constitutional articles at stake in this current crisis:  Article 5 that says the power belongs to the people by their votes and it’s not transferable.   Article 348 says the president has the initiative to ask people if they want a new constitution accompanied by basic considerations such as how many people are going to be elected to the Constitutional Assembly, or the time they are going to be deliberating among other matters.  Then a third article, number 347, says the people are the ones who decide if they want a new constitution. Only after people say ‘yes’ to a Consultation Referendum, can the process continue.

The president changed all of these norms when he said he did not need to ask people if they wanted a new constitution. After the Electoral Board’s silence, the seven Magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, the judges who interpret the constitution, sided with the president, ruling that the president represents the people so there is no need to ask.  After this decision, the attorney general asked the magistrates to clarify and explain how they interpret the constitution so as to transfer the power of the people’s voting rights to decide to draft a new constitution to the president. There is little chance the magistrates are going to respond because they are not obligated.

The two constitutional breaches described are so ridiculous that even fifth-grade elementary textbooks, which currently say that to have a new constitution there must be two referenda, one to ask the people if they want a new one and another to get their approval with the draft, will need to be rewritten.

Maduro’s route was to go directly to the Electoral Board, which is in theory an independent branch although it has significant ties to the government, asking them to go ahead with his proposal.  The board said ‘yes, Mr. President let’s do it,’ failing to use their criteria and powers to block the president’s wish because he wasn’t asking the people first, just as any fifth grader would have been taught.

Making things worse, Maduro said that after he got the changes he wanted, there would be a Consultation Referendum instead of an Approval Referendum, the difference being that the first is not binding in case people say ‘no.’

People are not dumb. They know Maduro is backed by a bought-and-paid-for military directed by Cubans and another army of seven magistrates of whom nobody knows how they got their law diplomas, their masters’ degrees, and their doctorates.

This is why at least 50% of the 80% of the people that are against Maduro have gone out at least one day during the last two months to protest in the streets and many have gone out much more. What’s at stake now is the last chance to keep Venezuelans’ freedom and not be another Cuba or communist-style country. Venezuela’s protestors don’t want a country whose contitutions can be manipulated and changed at will, and where the only solid reality is that the country’s rulers are chosen by Cubanized party elite inside the government. That is a privilege that belongs to the people alone, and by their marching, the Venezuelans are showing that they know it.

Javier Caceres is the editor of notiven.com, a leading opposition Internet site located in Caracas, Venezuela.

Don’t Allow Lobbyist And Deceiving Voices Conceal The Truth About Venezuela

May 25, 2017

Don’t Allow Lobbyist And Deceiving Voices Conceal The Truth About Venezuela, Center for Security Policy, Luis Fleischman, May 25, 2017

More than fifty days after mass civil disobedience began in Venezuela, more than 50 people have died at the hands of the government.

People have lost fear and the government is resorting to more measures that are repressive to subdue the population. The idea is to make every effort to stay in power regardless of human casualties. Thus, the Venezuelan government is launching the so-called “Plan Zamora,” an unclear plan and has not been published in a written form. This makes the plan even more unpredictable and dangerous. So far, “Plan Zamora” has been applied on three Venezuelan states, Táchira, Carabobo, and now Barinas (Chavez birthplace).

“Plan Zamora” consists of a military-civic coalition that includes national guards, the military, militias, and para-military groups. The purpose is “to prevent a coup d’état” and “to restore order” in the face of protests. This means increasing repression, assassination of protestors, and SA-style elimination of opponents.

Indeed, in the last several days, five protestors were treacherously murdered under the plan. It is a system aimed at intimidating protestors to the point of dissuading them from further joining demonstrations.

Maduro has also proposed a constitutional reform aimed at eliminating the National Assembly, currently dominated by the opposition. A new constitution would be drafted by a new constituent assembly elected by the local city halls and by community groups, carefully picked as stooges of the Maduro regime. The move would secure power consolidation in the hands of Nicolas Maduro.

The United States has once again increased its sanctions on Venezuela’s chief Supreme Justice and seven other members of the Supreme Court. Such step was taken in reaction to their decision last month, to strip the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Those sanctions will freeze their assets within U.S jurisdiction and no U.S citizen will be allowed to do business with them.

This is an important step as it discourages government officers from obeying illegal and unconstitutional orders. However, it remains insufficient given the magnitude of the regime crimes. From now onwards every military officer, every security official, and every government official that follows the government must be sanctioned. Likewise, every single individual involved in the drug business, which is today a huge government business. The purpose of these measures should be to encourage desertion from the government.

Furthermore, the Trump Administration should not compromise with lobbyists or with members of Congress that have been lobbied by the Venezuelan government. Most such lobbying is conducted through CITGO, the U.S based company associated with the Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA. So far, CITGO has scored incredible successes, which are scary in terms of how foreign agents can corrupt Washington. Former Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) effectively prevented the Senate from passing sanctions legislation against Venezuelan government officials in 2014. Former Congressman Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) was in charge of Citizens Energy, a non-profit organization that distributed heating oil provided by CITGO to U.S poor neighborhoods, to buy the good will of the U.S establishment.

The same applies to U.S business interests that, so far, have prevented full sanctions against CITGO and PDVSA. This step is also long overdue that could have devastating consequences for the Maduro regime.

Trump’s campaign promises included the curbing of such lobbyists and we hope and expect that the president makes good on his promises.

Additionally, Venezuela has its own conscious and unconscious accomplices in its disinformation campaign in the United States. This week the Rev Jesse Jackson warned the Trump Administration not “to help get rid of a regime it does not like,” as if Venezuela were not a huge violator of human rights or the number one sponsor of international transnational crime. He praised the regime founded by Hugo Chavez as one that brought about reduction of poverty and improvement in health care services, as if Venezuelans were not facing hunger now or as if they were any safer in the face of government-sponsored violence. Worse, Jackson criticizes the old elite that ruled Venezuela before Chavez and forgets the new class of billionaires that the Chavez regime created by allowing them to benefit from dubious businesses, government connections, and plain corruption. This includes his own vice president, who in his early forties has accumulated a fortune of 3 billion dollars in a supposedly socialist and egalitarian regime.

Jackson accuses the United States of mobilizing the Organization of American States (OAS) against Maduro, when in fact the person taking the lead is the OAS Secretary and former Foreign Minister of a Uruguayan president with strong left-wing credentials. Jackson forgets that OAS members are appalled by the violations of the organization’s democracy charter and human rights commitment. Furthermore, countries of the region such as Brazil and Colombia are concerned that drug cartels are receiving Russian weapons from Caracas, including MANPADS, a shoulder-launched surface to air missile. The Swedish government also confirmed that such missiles were found in a camp ran by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Last but not least, Jackson called to follow the initiative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean country that has accused the OAS of being a “weapon of destruction” against Venezuela. But Jackson does not mention that St. Vincent as well as other Caribbean countries benefitted from Venezuelan oil largesse in exchange for political support. Furthermore, as I wrote a few years ago, several Caribbean countries that are part of Venezuela’s political Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) have issued passports to Iranians, presumably at the request of Venezuela.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines itself produced unreliable travel documents, where anybody may obtain a new passport and easily change their names. It is reasonable to assume that Iranians could have taken advantage of this vulnerability. Likewise, St. Vincent forged an alliance with Iran, who sent the island US $7 million for social projects.

The Trump Administration, as well as the media and the public, must be aware of these facts and politically fight obstacles that prevent us from carrying out the obligation to protect our national security, the security of the region, and the values for which America stands.

Diplomatic and economic efforts must continue until Venezuela recovers its democracy.