Venezuela’s Regime Tortured Suspected Plotters

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By Tsvetana Paraskova

A day before Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro will be sworn in for a second six-year term in office, Human Rights Watch and Venezuelan non-governmental group Foro Penal said on Wednesday that Venezuela’s intelligence and security forces had detained, tortured, and abused military personnel accused of “treason” and “instigating rebellion”.

“The Venezuelan government has brutally cracked down on members of the military accused of plotting against it,” José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

“Not only are intelligence agents detaining and torturing members of the military, in some cases they are also going after their families or other civilians when they can’t find the suspects.”

According to HRW, these are not isolated cases: instead, they point to a systematic practice by the Venezuelan security forces since 2014.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Maduro will be sworn in on Thursday for a second term as president of the country whose economic and social meltdown defies belief. According to the IMF, Venezuela’s economy will have collapsed by 18 percent in 2018, while the 2019 annual inflation rate is expected to be 10 million percent.

More than 3 million Venezuelan people have fled the country amid an aggravating humanitarian crisis and an extreme poverty rate of 40 percent.

The economic collapse adds to years of mismanagement and underinvestment in the oil industry to further complicate attempts in Venezuela, one of OPEC’s five founding members, to stop the steep decline of its oil production.

According to OPEC’s secondary sources, Venezuela’s crude oil production continues to plunge—by another 52,000 bpd from October to stand at 1.137 million bpd in November. To compare, Venezuela’s oil production averaged 2.154 million bpd for 2016 and 1.911 million bpd for 2017.

The U.S. sanctioned on Tuesday seven Venezuelan individuals and 23 entities involved in a corruption scheme designed to take advantage of the Government of Venezuela’s currency exchange practices, generating more than US$2.4 billion in corrupt proceeds.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov warned the “hotheads” in the U.S., as TASS news agency put it, against a military scenario in Venezuela.

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