Venezuela Rejects US State Department Stance on Jailed Politician

Venezuelan accused the State Department of “imperialism” after it called for the immediate release of jailed politician, Daniel Ceballos.

By Rachael Boothroyd

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PSUV Vice-President Diosdado Cabello (archive)
PSUV Vice-President Diosdado Cabello (archive)
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Caracas, August 29th 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The Venezuelan government has accused the US State Department of imperialism after it released a statement calling for the release of jailed rightwing politician, Daniel Ceballos.

On Sunday, US State Department spokesperson John Kirby made public a memorandum expressing the department’s displeasure at the transfer of Ceballos from house arrest to prison over the weekend. 

According to the statement, the US government body considers the move to be “an effort to intimidate and impede the Venezuelan people's right to peacefully express their opinion September 1,” when opposition demonstrators have said they will stage a “takeover of Caracas” in protest at the government. 

“We condemn it (the transfer) and call for Mr. Ceballos' immediate release,” reads the communiqué. 

Ceballos, a former mayor of the border city of San Cristobal, was detained by Venezuelan security forces in March 2014 and transferred to house arrest in 2015. He is accused of aiding and abetting violent protests in San Cristobal as part of the deadly opposition barricades of 2014, which led to forty-three deaths. The Ministry of Justice affirms that it decided to move Ceballos to a secure prison facility after discovering that the former politician planned to escape and “coordinate acts of violence” in this week’s upcoming demonstration. 

The US State Department makes no reference to the alleged escape plan in its Sunday press release, and instead accuses the Venezuelan state of attempting to “bully, intimidate, and silence the political opposition”. 

The allegations were met with derision by Venezuela’s Vice-Ministery for North America, which accused the US administration of “attempting to give orders to a free, sovereign and independent nation, in flagrant violation of internal law”. 

The dispatch went on to lambast the communique for emboldening anti-democratic and violent elements of the Venezuela opposition and accuse US President Barack Obama of attempting to sow destabilisation in the South America country. 

The Vice-president of Venezuela’s ruling socialist party (PSUV) and elected legislator to the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, was also quick to react on Sunday. He said that the statement is evidence of Washington’s “active participation in the state coup currently underway” for September 1st. 

The lawmaker went on to compare the State Department’s current position to its stance in 2002, when it is documented to have supported a brief military coup against the elected socialist president of the day, Hugo Chavez. 

“Just as in 2002, North American imperialism is taking its mask off, neither one nor a thousand empires will be able to overcome the children of Bolivar and Chavez,” he tweeted. 

Despite opposition from the US government, Cabello vowed that Chavismo would beat its opponents “once again”, presumably in the upcoming recall referendum early next year, when Venezuelan voters will decide whether to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office. 

Chavismo has previously beaten its opponents in a recall referendum in 2004 under the leadership of Hugo Chavez. Nonetheless, it is widely anticipated that Maduro would lose a recall referendum amidst falling popularity levels and an economic crisis.