Bolivia presented its case against Chile regarding maritime sovereignty to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) this morning.
The Bolivian delegation, headed by former president and current Ambassador Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé and Chancellor David Choquehuanca, has brought the issue to The Hague in hopes that the principal judicial organ of the United Nations would resolve the sovereignty question. Veltzé and Choquehuanca are to present documents to the international court defending Bolivia’s maritime access rights.
Bolivia is calling for control of disputed ports accessing the Pacific Ocean along 400km of coast that it claims to be rightfully Bolivian although currently dominated by Chile.
Choquehuanca said: “Bolivia has resorted to this international meeting convinced that peace should come first between our nations.” He added: “Bolivia is looking to re-establish the rights of a country unjustly cloistered and confined to a sovereign exit to the sea after over 100 years.”
International lawyer and ex-government minister of Bolivia Wilfredo Chávez explained the importance of the issue to Venezuelan news agency teleSUR, stating, “We are convinced that this claim is just. It is transcendental… this is a central issue for all Bolivians. It is not a political concern–it is a state matter… We are united in this claim, we know that it is a difficult matter, but we are completely united.”
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera’s government has announced its confidence that the ICJ will reject the Bolivian claim and affirm Chile’s sovereignty over the port.
As the case is processed through the ICJ, Chile will be invited to present a counter statement against the claims presented this morning by Bolivia. After this is done, with the cooperation of both sovereigns, the international court will set deadlines for submission of written documents regarding claims to the ports and later hold official hearings.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday criticizing UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, saying he lacks neutrality.
The statement said Damascus would stop cooperating with Brahimi unless he severs his ties with the Arab League. “Brahimi’s report (on April 19) to the United Nations Security Council was marked by (a tone of) interference in Syria’s internal affairs and a lack of the neutrality required by his mission as international mediator,” the statement said.
Brahimi said at a closed-door session of the Security Council that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not have the right to run for president in the upcoming election scheduled for next year.
“Syria has cooperated and will cooperate with Brahimi only as UN envoy, because the Arab League is complicit in the conspiracy against Syria,” the statement read.
“If Brahimi wants his mission to succeed, we expect him to start working to stop the violence and terrorism along with the parties concerned, and to expose the roles played by France, Britain, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which finance and arm Al-Nusra Front’s terrorists,” it added.
As part of their escalatory steps against Turkish interests in Lebanon, families of the Lebanese abductees in Syria protested Thursday near the Turkish airlines in Beirut.
The abductees’ kin cut the road near the Turkish airlines in downtown Beirut, and assured they will take further steps to close Turkish centers and stop the work of Turkish airlines.
Spokesman of the abductees’ families, Adham Zgheib, stated that “we have exhausted all peaceful efforts, and each day we will take more actions,” and indicated that “we will reach our voice with our blood. This has become close, and the country brought us to this point.”
Zgheib further said that “Parliament members are required to give priority to the abductees’ case,” adding: “We will vote with our shoes in the coming elections to these PMs who have not recognized us.”
Addressing PM Nabih Berri, Zgheib said “we have met with you before and proposed our case, and you should take action,” considering that “the Lebanese state is pushing us to kidnap Turkish citizens, and as we said before, this is not what we want.”
Maracaibo – Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced Thursday that it would carry out an audit of 100 percent of the votes in last Sunday’s presidential elections.
CNE President Tibisay Lucena made the announcement in a nationwide broadcast this evening, after the Capriles campaign formally submitted a request for a full recount on Wednesday.
A random audit of 54 percent of the votes is routinely conducted immediately after the polls close on election day, and was done without any discrepancies on Sunday evening.
However, opposition leaders have refused to recognize the official results, and demanded a full recount of 100 percent of the votes.
Protests erupted around the country demanding a recount after Capriles refused to recognize the outcome, and resulted in various deaths and dozens wounded. Yet the Capriles campaign did not formally request a recount as stipulated by law until yesterday evening.
The CNE’s decision will not be a full recount of the votes as the opposition has demanded, but rather an audit of the remaining 46 percent of the votes that were not audited on the night of the elections.
“We will select a sample that will be audited for 10 days and a report of the results will be emitted. This procedure will be repeated every 10 days for 30 days in the presence of witnesses from both camps,” said Lucena.
Lucena said that 400 ballot boxes would be audited per day, and that the start date of the audit process will be announced next week.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles immediately responded by accepting the CNE decision, and claimed that the full audit would reveal the elections were fraudulent.
“Sooner or later the truth will come out, and not only will it come out but it will have real consequences,” he said.
Capriles claimed that according to their analysis the problems with the vote count are in the 46 percent of the ballot boxes that were not audited on Sunday night.
“Our calculations show that it is about 12,000 ballot boxes. We know where the problems are. They are in those 12,000 boxes,” he said.
However, given that the initial audit on election night of 54 percent of the ballot boxes is a random hot audit of half the ballot boxes in each voting center, it is extremely unlikely that any fraud attempts would not have been detected by the initial audit.
In addition, the examples of irregularities in the vote count given by Capriles so far have all been shown to be false.
There also seemed to be some confusion about the extent of the audit. Capriles insisted that it would be a complete review of voter rolls, vote tallies, and paper receipts. However, the CNE audit is strictly a comparison of paper receipts to vote tallies to make sure they match.
Capriles called on his supporters to continue protesting against the government, and called for activities to protest President Nicolas Maduro’s swearing-in ceremony on Friday.
Referring to the wave of violence in recent days, including attacks on government health clinics and PSUV political party offices, Capriles accused the government of committing the attacks themselves, and did not acknowledge the violent deaths of several government supporters in recent days.
- Protests, Disturbances, and Violence Continue in Venezuela, General Strike a “Failure” (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Capriles Falsifies Evidence in Order to Claim Fraud in Venezuela’s Elections (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Maduro Wins Venezuelan Presidential Election with 50.66 Percent of the Vote (alethonews.wordpress.com)
A delegation of National Lawyers Guild (NLG) election monitors visited polling sites in five Venezuelan states on April 14 and found that the Venezuelan presidential election process was fair, transparent, participatory, and well-organized.
With over 78 percent voter turnout, Nicolas Maduro Moros was declared Venezuela’s new president with a 50.66 percent share of the 99.12 percent of votes counted.
“The U.S. would do well to incorporate some of the security checks and practices that are routine in Venezuela to improve both the level of participation and the credibility of our elections,” said NLG attorney Robin Alexander. She added, “The six polls I visited in the state of Carabobo were calm and well-organized and lines were short.”
The five-member NLG delegation formed part of a larger team of over 130 people, which included former presidents of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, electoral commission members, journalists, and representatives of human rights organizations from across the globe. Election monitors traveled to polling places throughout the country on Election Day.
The NLG delegation found the following: advanced voting procedures that prevent fraud through multiple fingerprint and voter ID certifications; accurate and efficient digital and manual vote calculation; active participation by party witnesses and national and international observers.
In addition, the NLG monitors found a reliable system in which 54 percent of all votes are randomly audited on Election Day. NLG monitors witnessed one such audit in Caracas in which the paper ballots matched perfectly with the electronic votes.
As a U.S. organization, the NLG emphasizes that the margin of victory for Nicolas Maduro, while small, is comparable to close elections in the U.S., such as the margins of victory for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and for George W. Bush in 2004.
The NLG calls upon the U.S. to honor the Venezuelan election as the nations of the world honor U.S. elections without question. Moreover, as recognized by Jimmy Carter, Venezuela’s election infrastructure, with its secure electronic system backed by paper ballots, is “the best in the world,” and therefore deserves at least as much respect as our own.
As NLG member and international human rights law professor Daniel Kovalik states: “In the end, it is the Venezuelans who must decide their own future and leaders and the U.S., in the interest of democracy, must honor that decision.”
NLG President + 1 212 679 5100, ext. 15
On the ground in Venezuela:
Nicole Phillips Esq.,
+1 510 715 255, firstname.lastname@example.org
Camilo A. Romero,
+1 510 717 4227
+1 412 335 6442
+1 602 796 7034
+1 412 716 1696
- Capriles Falsifies Evidence in Order to Claim Fraud in Venezuela’s Elections
- Protests, Disturbances, and Violence Continue in Venezuela, General Strike a “Failure”
The Zionist entity’s vaunted Iron Dome anti-missile system failed to intercept at least two rockets fired from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The two rockets hit the occupied Red Sea resort town of Eilat early on Wednesday with no casualties reported.
Israeli military sources said the vaunted Iron Dome anti-missile system, which was recently deployed around Eilat, did not engage to intercept the rockets.
“We’ve found two explosion sites in the city, we’ve also closed off the airport as a precaution,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP, saying one landed in “an open area close to one of the neighborhoods.”
He said the sirens had sounded but that there were no initial reports of casualties. “Bomb disposal experts are searching the area,” Rosenfeld said.
The military spokesman said both rockets had struck open areas.
“There were two rockets fired from Sinai, both landed in open spaces,” he said. Later on, Israeli website, Haaretz, reported that the airport in Eilat reopened.
Egypt denied that rockets were fired from its territories, and senior military official said troops were “investigating” the incident.
Hours later, a Salafi group called the Mujahedeen Shura Council posted a statement online saying its militants had “managed to target occupied Eilat with two Grad rockets” without saying where they were fired from.
- 5th Iron Dome Battery Deployed in Eilat as ‘Precaution’ (algemeiner.com)
Merida – This afternoon president Maduro said the opposition’s call for a general strike today had “failed”. He also blamed the losing candidate in Sunday’s elections, Henrique Capriles, for the seven deaths last night.
Maduro said last night’s violence was part of a plan “to take Venezuela off the road of democracy”, and called on the people to be peaceful and not “fall for provocations”.
He also declared “the coup d’état defeated”, and inaugurated a health centre in Miranda state. However he said it seemed the “destabilisations will continue”. Though there has been no direct attempt to overthrow the government, some government authorities have referred to the opposition’s refusal to recognise the election results as a “coup” or part of an attempt to bring about a coup.
President of the National Electoral Council (CNE) Tibisay Lucena said yesterday that the electoral system functioned “perfectly” on Sunday. She urged Henrique Capriles, who has not recognised the results, to use legal methods to present his complaints. 54% of the votes were audited on Sunday in the presence of booth witnesses from both political parties, and no problems were found, but opposition protestors are demanding that 100% of the votes be recounted.
Telesur reports that according to CNE norms, the opposition have “twenty [working] days to contest the results, they can do it through the Supreme Court, or the CNE, but they should formalise it, and not do it through the media”.
“Majority is majority, and should be respected under a democracy, they shouldn’t seek ambushes and invent things in order to make popular sovereignty vulnerable… that has just one name, “coup-ism” [golpismo],” Maduro said yesterday.
Last night seven people were killed as a result of opposition violence; two in Caracas, three in Ojeda, Zulia, one in Cumana, and one person in San Cristobal.
The opposition set fire to 18 Central Diagnostic Centres (CDIs – part of the Barrio Adentro health mission), and 3 subsidised food markets (Mercals). They also attacked the director of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena’s house, and the Telesur and VTV offices.
There are also unconfirmed reports of four attacks on housing mission buildings in Miranda, with seven people killed and ten injured.
The governor of Carabobo state, Francisco Ameliach, reported that 8 CDIs were “besieged” and Cuban doctors were attacked in his state. He said 64 people were detained inside the CDI, and “should go to jail, because we’re not going to tolerate a coup d’état here”.
In Merida, around 700 mostly young opposition students protested outside the CNE, as well as in four other places in the city. Venezuelanalysis.com observed that police presence was light, and most police unarmed. Many of the students armed themselves with rocks and glass bottles however, as though hoping something would happen. There were similar such protests outside most of the country’s main CNE headquarters.
Many people have posted photos around social networks, claiming they are of the CNE disposing of Sunday’s ballot boxes, though they are in fact of the CNE disposing of 2010 voting boxes, as the law requires. Media like La Patilla and RCTV have also used the photos.
Further, pundit Nelson Bocaranda tweeted that the “CDI in La Paz, Gallo Verde, Maracaibo is hiding some electoral boxes and the Cubans there won’t allow them to be removed”. Opposition television station Globovision has been arguing that “if they don’t want to count the votes, they must have something to hide”.
Capriles called for marches around the country to each state’s head CNE office for today, and for a large march lead by him tomorrow to the headquarters of the CNE in Caracas.
President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, reported through Twitter that he will propose an investigation to the assembly against Capriles for the acts of violence. Luisa Ortega said the public prosecutor’s office will investigate the seven confirmed deaths.
Further, the suspension of the right to carry arms in place during the election, as is the custom, has been extended to this Saturday 6.00pm, following last night’s violence.
State, municipal, and national police are also confined to barracks until Saturday. Police need permission from the National Bolivarian Armed Forces strategic operational command to intervene or act on any of the violence taking place.
- Maduro Wins Venezuelan Presidential Election with 50.66 Percent of the Vote (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Opposition Intensifies Campaign against Venezuelan Electoral System (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Capriles Attacks Venezuelan Electoral Council, Refuses to Sign Document (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Maracaibo – Nicolas Maduro has won the Venezuelan presidential election with 50.66 percent of the vote against 49.07 percent for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski. Maduro gave a victory speech immediately after, while Capriles initially refused to recognize the results.
The “first bulletin” results were announced by the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, at around 11:20 p.m. Venezuelan time, with 99.12 percent of the votes totaled, enough to give Maduro an irreversible victory.
Nicolas Maduro received a total of 7,505,338 votes, against 7,270,403 for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, a difference of 234,935 votes. Total turnout was 78.71 percent of the electorate.
Given the closeness of the vote, Maduro’s speech focused mostly on assuring the validity of his victory, and the reliability of the electoral body.
“If they want to do an audit, then do an audit. We have complete trust in our electoral body,” he said from outside the presidential palace.
“We have the only electoral body in the world in which 54 percent of the total votes are audited,” he added.
Maduro also noted that in other countries presidents often win by slim margins, and that it is recognized as a victory, and said to opposition sectors that “this is no reason to create violence”.
CNE Rector Vicente Díaz immediately requested that 100 percent of the electoral results be audited in order to make the results more transparent.
“This tight result has lead me to request that the CNE conduct a citizens’ audit of 100 percent of the ballot boxes. The country needs it,” he said.
Maduro immediately accepted the request, and assured there was no problem in doing a complete audit.
“Let’s do it! No problem. Perhaps they will find that my victory will be larger,” he said.
Maduro supporters had gathered at the presidential palace to await the results, and remained to celebrate the victory after Maduro’s speech.
Meanwhile, opposition supporters awaited in the Caracas neighborhood of Bello Monte to hear their candidate’s concession speech.
Initial comments from various opposition leaders appeared to indicate that they were confident they had won, and that they would not accept defeat.
Capriles wrote on his Twitter account hours before the official results were released that the government was planning to “change the results”.
“We warn the country and the world that there is the intention to change the will [of the people],” he wrote.
Upon the release of the official results, Capriles held a press conference in which he claimed that the victory was “illegitimate” and refused to recognize Maduro’s victory until all ballots are audited.
“I don’t make pacts with those who are corrupt or illegitimate,” said Capriles, assuring he would not agree to accept the results.
“The one who has been defeated is you and everything you represent,” he said referring to Nicolas Maduro.
Capriles claimed that the results are not truly representative of the Venezuelan population, and assured that the Maduro government was “completely illegitimate”.
MANAGUA – Nicaraguan naval forces and Russian drug enforcement agents seized 100 packages of cocaine on the high seas, state media reported, citing military spokesmen.
The seizure was made 30 nautical miles from Quitasueño key in the Caribbean waters administered by Colombia for 84 years until an International Court of Justice ruling on Nov. 19, 2012, restored sovereignty over the area to Nicaragua, armed forces spokesman Col. Orlando Palacios said.
The cocaine was being smuggled in a two-engine boat and arrests were made, Palacios said, without specifying how many suspects were detained.
Nicaragua’s Caribbean region provides a natural smuggling corridor for drug traffickers moving narcotics from Colombia into the United States.
The Nicaraguan armed forces seized 6,870 kilos of cocaine, arrested 143 people and confiscated 52 boats in 2012, the government said.
Nicaragua and Russia signed an agreement to fight drug trafficking.
Russian officials placed the cornerstone for an anti-drug training center in Managua in March.
- Nicaragua, Russia Break Up Drug-Trafficking Ring (rferl.org)
The Iraqi Cabinet announced an amendment to the De-Baathification law on Monday that would allow thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein’s now-defunct Baath party to serve in the public sector and receive pensions.
The proposed amendment would allow former Baath party branch chiefs to rejoin the public sector and provide pensions to members of Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary group once operated by Saddam’s eldest son, Uday Hussein. The amendment must still pass through the Iraqi parliament, which is expected to provide opposition to the proposed changes.
The changes are believed to be aimed as concessions to protesters who have accused the Shiite led government under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of unfairly restricting Sunni rights.
Iraq set up a De-Baathification Commission in 2003 with the approval of the US-run Coalition Provisional Authority, and its early agenda was removing members of Hussein’s Baath party from positions of power in the Iraqi government, prompting the forced removal of nearly 30,000 Baathists from public life. In February 2008 the Accountability and Justice Law was approved by Iraq’s three-member Presidency Council. In January 2008 the Iraqi parliament approved a bill allowing most members of the Baath party to be reinstated to public life.
Lebanese army troops have thwarted a smuggling plot by a group of armed men to deliver weapons to ‘extremist groups.’
In a statement released on Sunday, the Lebanese army announced that it had received information indicating that “some people were preparing to smuggle arms to extremist groups”.
Media reports said an army unit was accordingly dispatched to Ain Zhalta village in the Chouf district of southwestern Lebanon late on Saturday and foiled the weapons delivery attempt.
The operation led to a shootout between Lebanese army forces and the gunmen. An armed man was killed in the gun battle, while another was injured. The wounded man was arrested along with seven other gunmen after the clashes.
Meanwhile, a Lebanese soldier was wounded in the fierce exchange of fire. A military vehicle also sustained damage.
The eight detainees are being interrogated by Lebanese judicial authorities.
The seized arms haul included heavy-, medium- and light-caliber weapons, and a large amount of munitions of various types.
Venezuelan democracy is about to be tested, once again. On April 14th, just weeks after the regrettable and untimely death of widely popular Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias (1954 – 2013), voters will decide who is to govern during the 2013-2019 period Chavez was elected to late last year. For the country’s socialist majority, who secured Chavez 8.1 million votes (55%) in the 2012 election, Interim President Nicolas Maduro is their candidate. Meanwhile, the US-backed opposition, who for years assured voters that “Chavismo without Chavez” was next to impossible, has again chosen right-wing politician Henrique Capriles Radonski to represent them at the ballot box.
Having lost to Chavez by over a million votes, Capriles is now running on a campaign aimed at dividing pro-Chavez forces and discrediting the country’s democratic institutions, something his political career depends on.
BORN INTO WEALTH
Son of Cristina Radonski Bocheneck and Henrique Capriles Garcia, 40-year old Capriles comes from one of Venezuela’s wealthiest families. The Radonskis own, the country’s largest chain of private movie theaters, while the Capriles own numerous private media outlets (Cadena Capriles) and are said to have important investments in industrial and real estate holdings. Among other things, his parents’ wealth allowed Capriles to study law at Caracas’ private Andres Bello Catholic University and participate in numerous international student exchange programs in Italy and the United States.
In 1995, a freshly-graduated Capriles dove into Venezuelan politics by acting as legal counsel to his cousin and then lawmaker Armando Capriles. Serving his cousin during the closing years (1995-1998) of the so-called Fourth Republic (1958-1998), Capriles got his taste for politics just as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won the ﬁrst (1998) of many electoral victories to come.
Eager to represent his family and social class at a time of heated national debate surrounding President Chavez’s proposal for a Constitutional Assembly, Capriles accepted a backdoor nomination from Venezuela’s right-wing party, Social Christian Democrats (Copei), and won a seat in the ﬁnal Congress (1998) convened during the Fourth Republic.
Not exactly illegal, Copei placed Caracas-based Capriles on the ballot to represent Maracaibo, capital of Zulia, where the party had a strong base of support at the time. A trained lawyer, he was sure to respect existing electoral laws by renting an apartment in Maracaibo during the course of the election.
According to investigative journalist Eva Golinger, in 2001 Capriles’ nascent Justice First party was the principal beneﬁciary of funds spent in Venezuela by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and International Republican Institute (IRI). That year alone, the latter spent $340,000 “training” members of Justice First and others of the country’s anti-Chavez minority on, among other things, “external party communication and coalition building”.
From 2000 to 2008, Capriles served as Mayor of the wealthy eastern Caracas neighborhood of Baruta. During the short-lived 2002 coup against President Chavez, anti-communist protestors gathered outside the Cuban embassy (located in Baruta), cutting both water and electricity and threatening to storm the building. In response to requests by embassy staff for police protection, Capriles joined the protestors and forced his way into the embassy by climbing over its perimeter walls.
As Golinger notes in her book, The Chavez Code, Capriles “violated diplomatic law by forcing entry into the embassy, where he attempted to persuade Cuban Ambassador German Sanchez Otero to turn in Vice President Diosdado Cabello and other Chavez government ofﬁcials whom the opposition believed were taking refuge in the embassy”.
“Though Ambassador Sanchez Otero permitted Capriles Radonski on the premises to engage in dialogue”, explains Golinger, “he made it clear that the actions were violating diplomatic law”. Capriles “attempted to force a search of the inside of the embassy by threatening the ambassador that the situation would only worsen if a full search were not allowed. When the ambassador stood ﬁrm, Capriles Radonski left the embassy”.
The right-wing mayor allowed protests to continue as they were, abandoning the Cuban diplomats and their request for help. Fortunately, for embassy staff and Venezuelan democracy, massive pro-Chavez demonstrations reversed the short-lived coup before things got worse.
FROM GOVERNOR TO “LEADER”
Taking advantage of his family’s wealth, access to the press, and personal contacts, in 2008 Capriles moved up the political ladder by winning the governorship of Miranda, a state with some 2.6 million inhabitants. In 2012, the opposition coalition chose Capriles to “lead” their failed attempt to defeat President Chavez at the ballot box.
The Washington backed Capriles lost the election by over a million votes but kept his political career alive by returning to win Miranda’s gubernatorial race just two months later in a regional election that saw socialist candidates win 20 out of 23 governorships.
On March 10th, as the Venezuelan people were in the midst of mourning the loss of President Chavez, Capriles held a rushed press conference in which he accused Interim President Nicolas Maduro and others in Venezuela’s socialist leadership of “lying to the public about Chavez’s health”. Among other things, he claimed Chavez’s family and the country’s National Electoral Commission (CNE) had “planned with milli-metric detail” the March 5th announcement of Chavez’s passing as well as the now pending April 14th election. His strategy, it seems, is to try to divide the pro-Chavez majority while preparing for what is sure to be another electoral defeat.
Though he currently is the opposition’s most well-known elected ofﬁcial, a recent poll by Venezuela-based Datanalisis found only 34.8% of voters intend to vote for Capriles. The same poll found 49.2% of voters intend to elect socialist candidate Nicolas Maduro. The International Consulting Service (ICS) found 58.2% of voters intend to vote for Maduro, 17% more than the 40.5% that plan to elect Capriles. The Venezuelan Institute for Data Analysis (IVAD) found the gap to be even wider, with 53.8% of voters planning to vote for Maduro and 31.6% for Capriles, a difference of 22%.