Bolivia's right-wing fails to create unified coalition against MAS

La Paz, February 4 (RHC)-- Right-wing parties in Bolivia have failed to create a unified bloc to contest former president Evo Morales' party Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) in the upcoming general election in May.

During a meeting promoted by the Pro Santa Cruz Committee, presidential candidates from the right recognized that it will be difficult to reach an agreement in order to face MAS in the next election.  Among them were coup leaders Jeanine Añez, from Alliance Together; Carlos Mesa, from Citizen Community; Luis Fernando Camacho, from We Believe; Chi Hyun Chung, from Front for Victory, and Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga, from Free 21.

At the meeting, de facto Minister of Interior Arturo Murillo, Fernando Camacho, and Añez exchanged accusations regarding continuous attempts of blocking support on each others campaigns.  The candidacy of Añez was also debated among the candidates, reflecting the division between the right-wing parties that supported the coup against Evo Morales last November.

So far, every organization that supported the coup against Evo has presented its own candidate, and the coup leaders have not been able to find the way together as the coup itself was an “enemy of my enemy” sort of arrangement.

Not being able to find consensus for a coalition, they finally agreed to not attack each other, maintain a "clean and peaceful electoral" campaign, and presenting a common front in the next Plurinational Legislative Assembly to be elected, among others.

Currently, MAS has the strongest support in terms of voting intentions with 26 percent.

Edited by Ed Newman
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Dominica's High Court rejects opposition attempt to stop election

Dominica's High Court denied a request from the opposition for an injunction to stop Friday's General election from going forward.

Judge Bernie Stephenson ruled that since the president of Dominica, Charles Savarin, had already issued a writ to hold the elections, the high court could not intervene.  The petition was filed by the Concerned Citizens Movement, or CCM, a group that reflects the views of the UWP opposition party.  Lawyers for the CCM have already said that they will appeal the decision, this may bring the case to the Caribbean Court of Justice in Trinidad and Tobago.

Earlier, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addressed the nation and called on opposition leaders and supporters to stop trying to prevent Friday's Elections, he went on to say that the opposition had fed a false narrative to external forces and the OAS.

Referring to the latest opposition protests, the prime minister said the security forces would act with restraint, but would not let things get out of hand.   Skerrit also said that the opposition is desperate as it stands to lose the elections and that the UWP leadership is unfit to lead Dominica.

Edited by Ed Newman
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Opposition Strategy Affects Venezuelan People, Analyst Asserts

The subversive strategy implemented by sectors of the right wing and their adventurous maneuvers to take political power affects all Venezuelans in equal terms, assured analyst and journalist Jose Vicente Rangel.

At his program Jose Vicente Today, broadcast by TeleVen, former Venezuelan Vice President considered that, due to the failure of seditious actions, the December 9 municipal council elections are a favorable opportunity to retake the democratic path.

In this sense, he indicated that destabilizing actions of the right not only harm the left-wing militancy and the government, which is facing an economic war provoked by these sectors, but also the rest of the society.

'When will they abandon subversive and adventurous politics? It's a failed strategy that affects all Venezuelans,' he questioned during his usual television program.

On the other hand, Rangel stressed the need to strengthen institutions in order to generate appropriate responses to the demands of civil society and political organizations.

The functioning of democracy and its institutions is also a key factor,' he emphasized.

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Venezuela Omdusman Slams 'Dangerous' Rise in Politically Motivated Hate Crimes

At least 86 people have died since opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the government began.

Venezuela’s ombudsman, Tarek William Saab, denounced on Sunday the rise in far-right hate crimes as the opposition calls for an escalation of protests against the government that have claimed the lives of over 80 people.

RELATED: Venezuelan Youth Burned for 'Being Chavista' Dies from Injuries

"Hate crimes, like lynchings, motivated by political reasons advance dangerously and with impunity in the country," Saab said.

He published a series of videos showing how a group of people protesting in the Tamanaco Commercial Center, CCCT in the capital city of Caracas tried to attack a woman and chased her down the mall. She was mistaken for Marlene de Andrade, the wife of Winston Vallenilla, the president of the state-run television station, TVes.

"We are struggling to change a country, where there is tolerance and all of us who think differently can live and facts like these do much harm. The lady here is a worker who was just doing an errand and she did not deserve this aggression," an unknown person is heard saying next to the woman in another video, in what appears to be bathroom inside the mall.

"What would have happened if the mob that chased this lady in the CCCT had managed to lynch her? Applauding this is condemnable," said Saab on Twitter.

At least 86 people have died since opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the government began, despite calls by President Nicolas Maduro for dialogue with opposition sectors. On May 1, President Maduro invoked the legal mechanism allowing him to call for a Constituent Assembly as a means to quell the unrest through a process that would include citizens in the writing of a new constitution for the South American nation. 

In addition to those killed, over 1,200 have been injured in the protests.

RELATED: Opposition Violence Suspected Behind Killing of Venezuelan Judge

Saab also accused the country's right-wing opposition of being behind recent attacks and threats against his family last week. He said some 30 people carrying flags of the opposition party Justice First attacked his family and threatened to burn their house down.

"Seeking aggression with intentions to injure or kill a human being because of their ideological stance is disgusting," Saab wrote on his Twitter account. "The justice system has can stop this despicable phenomenon that if it were to continue with impunity, would be the prologue of a civil war."

Saad denounced last week that opposition sectors have attacked eight of the headquarters of the Ombudsman's Office across the country, including an incident on Saturday when a "group of hooded men sprayed gasoline" at the headquarters in the city of San Cristobal "and attacked it with blunt objects."

Among the most shocking case of hate crime was the lynching of Orlando Figuera, who was burned alive on May 20 in affluent Caracas neighborhood of Altamira, reportedly because opposition protesters suspected that the 21-year-old Black man was a government supporter.

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Venezuela Top Court Confirms Constituent Assembly Will Go Ahead

Venezuela's electoral authority has signaled that elections to select the National Constituent Assembly representatives will take place July 30.

Venezuela’s top court rejected Monday an appeal filed by the country’s attorney general, confirming that the National Constituent Assembly called by President Nicolas Maduro to rewrite the Constitution will continue as planned.

INTERVIEW: Venezuela Socialist Speaks on Challenges to Bolivarian Process

"The Electoral Chamber declared inadmissable the legal action exercised by the Attorney General of the Republic for inept accumulation of claims," Venezuela's Supreme Court announced on its Twitter account to 81,400 followers. 

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz filed an appeal Thursday to the Supreme Court calling on justices to halt the National Constituent Assembly, deepening tensions between her office and the Maduro government. 

Together with her appeal, Ortega Diaz urged Venezuelans to reject the constituent assembly process, arguing that it went against the legacy of late President Hugo Chavez, who oversaw the creation of the counry's current 1999 Constitution, regarded as one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. 

Members of Maduro's PSUV party have accused Ortega Diaz, long considered an ally of the socialist government, of acting with bias. 

Maduro called the National Constituent Assembly last month in a move to promote dialogue amid an ongoing wave of opposition protests that have increasingly turned violent. The announcement has further ignited flared tensions, as opposition leaders have refused to back the process. 

The National Constituent Assembly's 545 members, including regional and sectoral representatives, are set to be elected on July 30. Maduro has vowed that the new Constitution resulting form the constituent assembly process will be approved in a referendum. 

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Venezuela Opposition 'Escalates' Anti-Government Protests, Remains Silent on Right-Wing Violence

President Nicolas Maduro has accused right-wing opposition leaders of being complicit in fatal violence with their silence. 

Right-wing leaders in Venezuela have called for an escalation of protests as a fresh set of marches for and against the government are set to hit the streets Monday and political tensions continue to run high after nearly two months of opposition demonstrations aimed at forcing President Nicolas Maduro out of office.

RELATED: Venezuelan Opposition Mob Beats Retired National Guard to Death

Opposition groups will march in Caracas towards the Ombudsman’s office Monday, while government supporters will head toward the Miraflores Presidential Palace under the banner of “Peace, Life and Constituent Assembly.”

Ahead of the latest round of opposing demonstrations, opposition leader and vice president of the National Assembly, Freddy Guevara, called on supporters to “get ready for an escalation,” saying anti-government groups will “significantly” increase “pressure” in the streets against Maduro.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Henrique Capriles, head of the opposition Justice First party who lost the last two presidential elections while representing the opposition MUD coalition, stoked the opposition protests — which have increasingly spilled over into violence — by accusing the government of being responsible for violence.  

“The government’s hand is behind the burned buses, the barricades, the acts of vandalism,” Capriles said, according to Venezuela’s El Universal.

A total of 51 buses were burned last week in an attack on a transport company in Puerto Ordaz. Capriles took to Twitter after the incident to blame the government, writing, “They burn, loot, destroy everything to try to detract from the legitimate protest of the people.” On the other hand, the ruling socialist party governor in the state of Bolivar, Francisco Rangel, slammed as an opposition “terrorist act” on his Twitter account.

Maduro called on the opposition Sunday to condemn such “terrorist acts,” accusing right-wing leaders of generating violence.

“The opposition, by silence, is complicit in criminal terrorism that murders innocent people in the streets,” the president said in his weekly program, arguing that it has been already made clear that the opposition is to blame for violence. “The ultra-right is held hostage by terrorist groups that they themselves created.”

RELATED: Venezuelan Women Debate Constituent Assembly Proposals

More than 60 people have been killed in incidents linked to protests since the opposition launched an ongoing wave of anti-government demonstrations at the beginning of April, according to government officials. In the latest violent incident, a former member of the National Guard was beaten to death by an opposition mob Saturday in the state of Lara in what Maduro condemned as a “hate crime … by a group of criminals, murderers, violent protesters.”

Although the dozens of people killed amid protests have died from a range of different causes — including at least 18 shot by assailants during protests, 13 killed during looting, eight killed at violent barricades, and five killed by police — right-wing leaders have painted the death toll as the result of a violent crackdown on the opposition marches by government forces.

Monday’s opposition march claims to be in memory of those “fallen” in recent weeks of protests, but leaders have failed to condemn the violence that has repeatedly broken out in the ranks of its supporters during demonstrations.

“Today May 29 begins another stage of greater constitutional pressure,” Capriles wrote on his Twitter account. “We Venezuelans want answers and solutions to the crisis!”

The opposition has rejected Maduro’s national Constituent Assembly — called to initiate a democratic process to rewrite the country’s constitution and promote dialogue as solution to the intense political deadlock. Instead, right-wing leaders have called for an “escalation” of protests against the socialist government.   

Maduro described the Constituent Assembly Sunday as a process of "revolutionary change" and a "great power" for a "new stage" in Venezuela.

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Violent Opposition Protest Burns Hugo Chavez's Childhood Home

A day of heated protests in the western Venezuelan city of Barinas took aim symbols of the socialist Bolivarian Revolution.

Opposition protesters in Venezuela attacked the childhood home of former President Hugo Chavez and destroyed five statues commemorating the late leader in a day of increasingly hostile anti-government demonstrations that spilled over into violence and led to the death of at least one person.

RELATED: Most Victims of Fatalities in Recent Venezuela Violence Weren't Protesters: Government

Demonstrators set ablaze Monday the house in the western Venezuelan city of Barinas where Chavez, a native of the neighboring town of Sabaneta spent his teenage years.

Anti-government protesters, who have been in the streets for more than 50 days of protests aimed at forcing the government of President Nicolas Maduro out of office, also set fire to public buildings, including the National Electoral Council, lawmaker Pedro Luis Castillo reported. Five statues commemorating Chavez and the headquarters of the Regional Housing Institute were also vandalized. There were also reports of looting in parts of the city.

Amid the hostile protests, 19-year-old Yorman Bervecia was shot and killed. The Venezuelan Attorney General's office ordered an investigation into the deaths of two people during the protests and promised to prosecute those responsible for the attacks. 

According to Venezuelan authorities, the death brings the total of fatalities to at least 60 since large opposition protests against the Maduro government began in early April.

RELATED: Here’s Your Guide to Understanding Protest Deaths in Venezuela

The opposition called for a strike by health workers in Barinas in the southwestern part of the country, and several main roads in the city were blocked in the morning.

Ernesto Villegas, Minister of Communication and Information, criticized the opposition for attempting to blame the dozens of deaths on the government, arguing that the right-wing leadership "uses the pain of relatives to plant a truth that can not be reversed."

The government has also condemned a series of violent acts by the opposition, including burning down public transport units, attacks on public and private property and looting, and has called for a "Great March for Peace, Life and Coexistence" in Caracas.

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Venezuela’s opposition seeks chaos, not election to depose Maduro – Constituent Assembly director

Venezuela’s major opposition is not interested in taking part in free general elections, but instead, seeks ways to create chaos and violently oust President Nicholas Maduro from office, the head of the commission for the newly introduced Constituent Assembly told RT.

“They are not interested in taking part in the elections when the situation is politically, economically and socially stable. Now they are not planning to run for elections at all, but initially they wanted the election to take place amid economic and social chaos in the country, thus they could have won by creating a mess in our society,” Elías José Jaua Milano, who was appointed president of the commission for the National Constituent Assembly, said in an interview with RT Spanish.

 

“This is their goal. They are not striving for elections taking place in normal conditions so that our people could freely express their political will,” Jaua Milano noted.

Protests have gripped the country since March 29, after the Supreme Court ruled to take over the duties of the National Assembly, a ruling many saw as undemocratic. Although the Supreme Court repealed the decree three days later, it was not enough to assuage anti-government protesters.

The opposition has demanded the government hold fresh general elections as soon as possible, while the government believes that holding a constitutional convention instead, is the only proper way to national reconciliation.

“We believe that President Nicholas Maduro must complete his legal [presidential] which expires in January 2019, and the presidential elections should be held in 2018,” the head of Constituent Assembly said.

After a month of violent street protests which has claimed the lives of at least 39 people, so far, Maduro invoked article 347 of the Bolivarian Constitution, which allows for the convening of a national constituent assembly with the aim of “transforming the state.”

Maduro also urged for a national dialogue. He has asked the Constituent Assembly to cooperate with all representatives of the opposition – many of whom themselves disagree with the actions and methods chosen by the senior opposition members representing the elite, according to Jaua Milano. The idea of all-inclusive talks have been supported by a number of Latin American nations as well as the Vatican.

“Nicholas Maduro decided to seek advice from the sovereign people’s government so that the legally elected members of the assembly could establish grounds that would allow for an elementary understanding and mutual respect between the parties to the conflict,” Jaua Milano explained to RT.

As public disorder in Venezuela enters its second month, some members of the Venezuelan opposition has refused to participate in the National Constituent Assembly convened in order to hear the voice of the people, and if necessary, amend the constitution.

Critics of Maduro say that his intention to negotiate with the opposition is in fact an attempt to delay regional and municipal elections slated for this year.

Maduro’s government, in turn, accuses the opposition of refusing to engage in talks but instead looking to oust him by any means necessary.

“They are rejecting taking part in a dialogue and in the elections because they actually don’t want to resolve this conflict through elections. They are trying to depose President Nicholas Maduro,” Jaua Milano said.

The Venezuelan people, including those opposing the government, are against violence, but opposition figures are deliberately pushing for an escalation of the conflict, Jaua Milano believes.

“Venezuela’s top opposition officials are acting on the instruction of most radical parts of the US government… and are carrying out the White House’s request to start a kin-on-kin war in Venezuela,” he said.

Speaking of the underlying reasons for such actions, Jaua Milano said the United States is trying to “punish people who dared to be independent” since Washington “can’t let true democracies to exist.”

“Those from the United States who are trying to ignite this conflict should have…more carefully analyzed the scale that the civil war in Venezuela could achieve,” Jaua Milano said, warning that such a war could set the entire region on fire.

 
© Christian Veron

The head of the Constituent Assembly stressed that authorities are not resorting to lethal weapons and are not responsible for the mounting death toll in the ongoing protests.

“In Venezuela, representatives of law enforcement agencies are not allowed to shoot at protesters. And although [the protesters] have already resorted to the use of firearms, the commanders of special forces still have orders to use only water cannons and tear gas,” Jaua Milano told RT.

“The death of people during the riots was often caused by the actions of the rioters themselves. They either walked into the crosshairs of the opposition snipers or found themselves in chaotic situations that led to their death.”

The goal of the opposition is to present the government as an oppressor that violates human rights, and to depict a failed state by encouraging chaos that leads to casualties, Jaua Milano said.

“This is a war in which dramatic pictures attracts most attention: Nudists, standing in front of police. People throwing themselves into the river as a result of alleged police harassment,” he said.

“This is a comprehensive strategy aimed at creating chaos in state institutions, in society, provoking clashes among the civilian population in order to prove the state’s failure and justify a foreign military invasion.”

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