Friday, March 14, 2014

Follow-up: Top Venezuelan Diplomat Blasts “Murderer” Kerry

Yesterday we examined the Congressional testimony of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who urged the Venezuelan government to end their “terror campaign” against the population and warned that the White House was considering enacting sanctions. On Friday several Venezuelan officials pulled no punches in responding to Kerry’s statements.

“Mr. Kerry, we denounce to the whole world, you encourage the violence in Venezuela … We denounce you as a murderer of the Venezuelan people,” declared Foreign Minister Elias Jaua.

Jaua also alleged that every time Kerry makes a public declaration on Venezuela, violence flared up in the “main areas” of unrest in the South American country.

“You saw it on Wednesday (when) Kerry made comments and that evening there was an increase in the number of deaths including a captain of the National Guard,” said Jaua.

In addition, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed that the unrest over the past month that has officially left twenty-eight people dead “unclothed” the “real politics” of the U.S. State Department.

“It is more than evident today that the U.S. government is desperate for intervention (in Venezuela).  If they are successful and our regime were ousted, then Latin America will face its worst economic instability" in the region's history, Maduro said at a press conference this afternoon.

Aside from Kerry, Maduro blamed a “Miami lobby” of politicians for attempting to influence White House policy on Venezuela.  Similarly, Venezuela’s attorney general lashed out at the U.S. Senate for approving bipartisan resolutions condemning the Maduro regime and seeking $15 million in funds to “defend human rights in Venezuela (and) support democratic civil society organizations."

 “They’ve asked for money.  Undoubtedly it’s to finance violent activities that have been occurring in Venezuela,” said Luisa Ortega at a press conference in Geneva outside of the U.S. Human Rights Council.

Ortega also rejected any “outside interference” in Venezuela’s “internal affairs,” accused the U.S. of acting as the “government of the world,” and threatened to sanction the U.S. for “actions in Guantanamo, the invasion of Vietnam, the invasion of Afghanistan“ amongst others.

Three people died on Wednesday on the one-month anniversary of clashes following an anti-government protest in Caracas.  Aside from the aforementioned National Guard member, a university student demonstrator and a 42-year-old man painting his house were killed amidst the violence in Carabobo state. Maduro mentioned that six people were arrested in connection to the death of the guardsman while Information Minister Delcy Rodriguez tweeted that Maduro supported the intensifying of security operations in areas where violence has erupted.

Amnesty International issued a statement yesterday calling on the Venezuelan government and opposition to “commit to fully respecting human rights” and “roundly condemn any acts of violence against political opponents”.  Yet getting both sides to calm the unrest stemming from years of deep political division likely won’t happen any time soon:
“We don’t want dialogue if there are dead students,” said Christy Hernández, 21, a protester who saw (killed demonstrator Daniel) Tinoco fall and went to find a car to take him to the hospital. She said demonstrators, many of whom want President Nicolás Maduro out of office, would keep up the pressure on the government despite the cost. “We already lit the fuse,” she said. “It’s now or never, and we’ve decided it should be now”…

While Mr. Maduro has said he wants dialogue, he often speaks with a fiery anger about the protesters in daily television appearances, labeling them fascists and conspirators. His government has begun holding a series of meetings, often televised, that it terms a national peace conference, but most prominent opposition figures have boycotted them, as have student protest leaders.
At the same time, his government has continued to clamp down on the rallies and other protests.
Video Source – YouTube users afpes and John Eastborough (Thirty people were detained in Caracas on Thursday as part of a crackdown on a student protest.  One of the women who was accosted by police at the end of the video filmed her arrest and that footage can be seen here).

Online Sources- ABC News; El Tiempo; euronews; The New York Times; Amnesty International; New York Daily News;; El Nacional

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