By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- The two Venezuelas were more visible Wednesday than ever before: while opposition leaders agreed to a plan for a post-Maduro -- without Maduro -- Venezuela, the President promised to throw “conspirators” in jail.
It certainly did not help Nicolas Maduro’s credibility any that his plans for a “Special Emergency Justice Plan” were leaked by a government-friendly journalist hours before the official announcement.UNITY
The MUD coalition of opposition parties announced Wednesday that it had agreed to a “Unitary Commitment for Governability”, emboldened by the votes of 7.6 million Venezuelans that rejected Maduro’s government Sunday in a plebiscite -- which the Maduro regime is not recognizing, but the U.S. and most of the international community do recognize.
As part of the agreement, the next opposition Presidential candidate will be chosen in MUD-wide primary elections and he or she “must renounce immediate reelection”, opposition lawmaker Henry Ramos Allup said Wednesday during an event presenting the agreement.
“After getting rid of the present government, democratic leadership will have the responsibility of creating a broad, democratic government,” Allup said. Priorities for the new government will be the humanitarian crisis hitting Venezuela right now, specifically in the areas of food and medicine shortages and health care.
“We will create a national reconstruction government, broad, pluralistic and inclusive,” Allup said.
The next steps will be 1) a nationwide strike on Thursday; 2) the Friday appointment of 33 new Supreme Court justices by the opposition-held National Assembly to replace the existing ones; and 3) a nation-wide protest Saturday to provide public support for the new justices.SCOOPING MADURO
The editor of a Friend of Maduro owned pro-government newspaper asked that opposition leaders be rounded up to counter U.S. threats, hours before President Nicolas Maduro announced a similar plan on state television.
Wilmer Poleo Zerpa, the editor of “Ultimas Noticias”, a paper whose ownership is not exactly known (but involves a British asset manager named Robert Hanson and his Hanson Asset Management) but that follows the pro-Maduro line, outlined in a series of tweets Tuesday a security strategy eerily similar to the one Maduro would announced Tuesday night.
“If we have to shut down the media, block social networks and arrest opposition leaders we will have to do it, but right now,” Poleo tweeted hours before Maduro announced a “Emergency Justice Plan” to “search for and capture all of these conspirators and for an exemplary punishment.”
After U.S. President Donald Trump promised “swift and strong economic actions” against Maduro if the President fraudulently empowers a Constituent Assembly, Poleo wrote Tuesday in a separate tweet: “Faced with an economic blockade the moment has arrived to radicalize the conflict. All of the opposition leaders must be detained right away.”
That was hours before Maduro said on television that he was implementing a new “Special Emergency Justice Plan” aimed at the “search and capture of conspirators” that are behind the current, massive protests rocking the oil rich nation. “We will start applying exemplary justice,” Maduro said, by “taking the necessary measures to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Venezuelan state and administer justice and peaceful protection to the people of Venezuela.”
Maduro has announced and implemented several new security plans after 110 days of continuous protests, which have resulted in 116 killed, the vast majority of which are demonstrators. However, protests continued apace Wednesday in Caracas, with demonstrators again blocking main intersections to little or no police action. Similar protests took place all over Venezuela.
Like Poleo, Maduro said the new measures were going to be taken to counter a US threat.
Poleo later deleted the tweets. But not before the main journalists’ union in Venezuela, SNTP, and other NGOs denounced them. “Can’t accept that a journalist and editor of a newspaper such as @Wilmerpoleo even presents
the possibility of shutting down media outlets,” SNTP tweeted.
The government is already exerting heavy censorship, SNTP and others have denounced, on and offline.