Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Latin Demagogue (12/01/15)

I've never been impressed by Nicolas Muduro as President of Venezuela because he's acted like a demagogue if you ask me, by deliberately encouraging a personality cult around his predecessor Hugo Chavez which has more to do with mumbo jumbo than modern democratic politics.

In this article from the BBC web site, President Maduro threatens to deport Leopoldo Lopez, an elected opposition politician who has been held in custody for almost 12 months but has yet to be convicted of any crimes, yet the country's President feels free to portray him as a guilty 'monster' live on national TV. 

US rejects Venezuela's offer of prisoner swap for Lopez
Leopoldo Lopez handed himself in to the authorities on 18 February amidst anti-government protests

The US has ruled out a prisoner swap to secure the release of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Mr Lopez has been in prison since last February on charges of inciting violence during mass anti-government protests held at the beginning of 2014.

On Sunday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he would free Mr Lopez in exchange for the release of a Puerto Rican nationalist held in the US.

A US official said on Monday that the two cases could not be compared. Lengthy sentence

During a televised speech on Sunday, President Maduro said that "the only way I would use my presidential powers [to release Mr Lopez] would be to put him on a plane to the United States, to leave him there, and that they hand over Oscar Lopez Rivera - man for man".

President Maduro called Mr Lopez "the monster of Ramo Verde" after the prison where the politician is held

Lopez Rivera, 72, was convicted in 1981 of seditious conspiracy for seeking to secure Puerto Rican independence from the US.

In 1999, he rejected a conditional offer of clemency which then-US President Bill Clinton offered him and a dozen fellow members of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) armed group.

According to US officials, the FALN was involved in more than 100 bombings in New York, Chicago and other US cities.

Lopez Rivera was sentenced to 55 years. Another 15 years were later added to his sentence for attempting to escape from prison.

At the time of his clemency offer, President Clinton argued the sentences given to FALN members were out of proportion with their offences.

According to his lawyer, Lopez Rivera rejected the offer because it had not been extended to all jailed FALN members. 

'No comparison'

US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the case of Mr Lopez and Lopez Rivera could not be compared.

She also stressed that the US had "repeatedly requested the release of all political prisoners" and lamented that "President Maduro proposes to send into exile opposition figures instead of having a discussion about the real concerns and problems confronting Venezuela".

Leopoldo Lopez of the opposition Popular Will party handed himself in to the authorities on 18 February amidst a wave of anti-government protests.

The government says Mr Lopez was key in whipping up the protests in which more than 40 people from both sides of the political divide died.

Supporters of Mr Lopez say he is a political prisoner who is being punished for his opposition to the government of President Maduro.

Fascists, Assassins, Murderers (21 March 2014)

I can't say I'm surprised that events in Venezuela seem to be spinning out of control with members of the Government, up to and including the President Nicolas Maduro, stoking things with their use of angry rhetoric and inflammatory language.

In recent weeks the country's protesters (mainly students) have been described regularly as "fascists" and now the President has started to accuse members of the American administration of being "assassins" and "murderers".

Bizarre behaviour, but perhaps no more strange than some of the other things that Nicolas Maduro has got up to during his short reign as President such as his claim that the image of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, miraculously appeared on a construction site wall.  

Venezuela president urges US to join 'peace commission'

President Nicolas Maduro warned he could send his forces to dislodge opposition protesters

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has urged the United States to discuss "peace and sovereignty" in a high level commission mediated by the Union of South American Nations (Unasur).

Mr Maduro also asked President Obama not to heed US factions that he says want to kill the Venezuelan leader.

Venezuela blames the US for the anti-government protests that have left 28 people dead in the past month.

The US says Venezuela is using it as a scapegoat for its internal problems.

Earlier, thousands of government supporters marched through the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, to thank the country's security forces for their policing of the recent unrest.

Mr Maduro and several military leaders held speeches praising the "civic-military" partnership.

He also proposed the creation of a "high-level commission" to discuss "peace and respect to the sovereignty" in Venezuela.'Humble bus driver'

The Venezuelan president said he wanted the head of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, to negotiate with a "high-level officer" of the US administration under the auspices of Unasur.

Thousands of government supporters and members of the armed forces marched through Caracas
There were renewed clashes between police and protesters in the Caracas neighbourhood of Altamira
A leader of the opposition said the pro-government march had been 'ordered by Cuba'

"President Obama: give peace, and respect, a chance and let's set the foundation for a new type of relations between the US, Venezuela and if possible, Latin America and the Caribbean," he told the crowd in a speech broadcast on radio and TV.

Mr Maduro also warned Mr Obama against agreeing to alleged plans to kill him, put forward by "extremists" in the US administration.

"It would be the worst mistake in your life to authorise the assassination of President Nicolas Maduro and fill [Venezuela] with violence," he told the crowd, adding he was a "humble president and bus driver" who like Mr Obama also had "African grandparents".

The opposition has called for further protests on Sunday against "Cuban repression" in the country and criticised the government's march.

"We know soldiers and officials are against this act ordered by Cuba," Maria Corina Machado, an opposition leader, wrote on Twitter.

On Saturday, there were renewed clashes in the Caracas neighbourhood of Altamira, where protesters have been occupying a square for days.

Earlier, Mr Maduro had vowed to disperse the crowd even if that took the use of force.

On Friday, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Elias Jaua accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of inciting violence and called him a "murderer".

Mr Jaua was reacting to comments by Mr Kerry, who accused Venezuela of waging a "terror campaign against its own people" in its response to protests.

The American Congress is considering sanctions on the oil-rich nation.

The current wave of protests started in the western states of Merida and Tachira at the beginning of February by students demanding more security in the region.

The opposition says it will continue to protest against Venezuela's high inflation, food shortages and violence levels until there is a change of government.