Photo: El Oriental

After the raids in the homes of lawmakers Juan Requesens and Julio Borges in Caracas, and of councilman Julio Mora in Táchira, Minister Jorge Rodríguez announced on Twitter that at noon, he’d offer “new findings” about the drone flight, adding: “A confession, no need for evidence, they say.” 63 hours of lawmaker Juan Requesens’ enforced disappearance had passed, after he was arbitrarily arrested by SEBIN officers, Rodríguez showed a video allegedly extracted from lawmaker Requesens’ interrogation, without the presence of his lawyers and without taking the detainee before court.

What did Requesens say?

Arbitrarily arrested late on Tuesday, August 8 and isolated since then, the lawmaker introduces himself and establishes August 9 as the date for the recording, then says: “Several weeks ago, I was contacted by Julio Borges who asked me the favor to help a person cross from Venezuela to Colombia. The person is Juan Monasterio. I got in touch with him through messages. I was in San Cristóbal. I immediately wrote to Mauricio Jiménez, immigration supervisor. I asked him for the favor and he immediately got in touch with Monasterio to help him cross from San Antonio (Venezuela) to Cucuta (Colombia). I was in San Cristóbal, I had no physical contact with Juan Monasterio, I only fulfilled the request through messages.” In summary, Requesens admits that he facilitated a contact for a person allegedly involved in last Saturday’s incident. A detail: the Constitution establishes in article 49 that “no person can be forced to confess guilt of testify against himself.”

From financier to accomplice

The Communications Minister claimed that the degree of lawmaker Requesens’ involvement is of necessary accomplice, contradicting (a frequent practice in him) the statement issued just this Thursday by Minister Néstor Reverol, who said that the investigations showed that lawmakers Borges and Requesens had worked as financiers. In any case, Rodríguez’s role was interpreting the “evidence” (being the same person who denied the National Guard’s stampede) and that’s why he claimed that Requesens confessed his complicity and denounced that he did it on Julio Borges’s orders: “What else is Julio Borges going to say now, that Requesens is lying?”, he said, and then added that they have records of an “infinity” of meetings between Borges and former President Juan Manuel Santos, which according to him, helps establish Santos’s responsibility in the drone flight.

What else did Rodríguez say?

He said that the government requested a red alert against Julio Borges because he’s considered to be the mastermind behind the alleged assassination attempt, so he called him “murderer”. He also said that there are 19 detainees and they’re looking for 18 more; that they have more evidence as logistical support for the “assassins”; that they’ll start showing the representatives of political groups that supported the action; that they demand that the Colombian government extradite Rayder Russo and Mauricio Jiménez Pinzón. They also demand that the United States extradite Osman Delgado Tabosky. There’s a strange detail: one of the drones “was remotely triggered from the U.S.,” and notably, he refused to answer the question about the judicial decision regarding Citgo.

Denigrating

After the press conference, a video started making the rounds, showing lawmaker Juan Requesens naked, following instructions to face the camera and the turn his back on it, covered with what seems to be feces. The video was first shared by @AlbertoRodNews, who claimed that it was sent by “angry SEBIN officers,” an unlikely theory. Sharing it only contributes to humiliate the lawmaker, breaking his integrity, as if accusing him of an assassination attempt wasn’t enough, after violating his constitutional and procedural rights, not to mention the prerogatives he should enjoy as a parliamentarian. Requesnes didn’t confess to any crime in the video shown by Minister Rodríguez, but with this second video, SEBIN did show the serious violation of a lawmaker’s human rights. The second stage of offense against Requesens was that after five hours of waiting in court, without any explanations, in continued violation of due process, his preliminary hearing was postponed and he was taken back to SEBIN El Helicoide, without allowing his lawyers to see him or to access his file.

Briefs and serious

  • Maracaibo suffered another blackout and Minister Luis Motta Domínguez blamed it on “an induced event,” denouncing the fire in an oil depot in the Rafael Urdaneta Bridge, between columns 21 and 23. Without explaining what’s wrong with military custodians who don’t do the jobs, Motta Domínguez said that he’d cautioned about more “attacks” against the national electric system. Journalist Sheyla Urdaneta (@surdaneta on Twitter) said that this is the ninth blackout in Maracaibo since December 2017.
  • Juan Carlos Escotet said that during the first 90 days of Banesco’s takeover, they had to address hundreds of requirements of the National Unit of Finance Intelligence, the Administrative Board and SUDEBAN. Calling Banesco the “Pan corn flour of Venezuelan banks,” he said that he wants to talk with the ruling clique, and he thinks this second phase of the takeover will be quick and short. Notably, he criticized the Banking Association of Venezuela for lacking a solid stance.
  • This Friday, the price for each black market dollar was Bs. 4,910,623 and Bs. 5,991,448 for each euro. Remember that the minimum wage is Bs. 3,000,000.

Abroad

  • Yesterday, Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo made President Iván Duque’s decision to pull out of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) official. By the way, Colombia hasn’t received the request to extradite lawmaker Julio Borges, but Holmes said that if they receive it, it’ll be studied.
  • The nomination of Chilean former President Michelle Bachelet for the post of High Commissioner for Human Rights, was approved by the UN General Assembly. Bachelet thanked Guterres’s trust and confessed she was profoundly honored.
  • The European Union demanded an exhaustive and transparent investigation about the drone flight and “expects the recognition of the National Assembly’s constitutional powers, including the full respecto for its prerogatives regarding the parliamentary immunity of its members.” Foreign Minister Arreaza denounced the EU’s “irrational rhetoric” in his protest note.
  • The Brazilian government condemned lawmaker Juan Requesens’ imprisonment and the arrest warrant against Julio Borges, remarking “the Venezuelan State’s international obligations with representative democracy.”

Why believe a government that lies regularly? Why believe Jorge Rodríguez after so many discrepancies found in the statements of other official spokespeople? An alleged assassination attempt demands an independent and autonomous investigation, without Executive involvement, without this eagerness to make a show with what should be evidence and without this obscene need to rub the nonexistence of public power independence on our faces.

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