Venezuelan justice, in line with the regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro, confiscated the building that houses the headquarters of Nacional, the main Venezuelan newspaper, at the end of this Friday afternoon.
The measure comes as part of the enforcement of the moral damages sentence handed down in favor of Chavismo strongman Diosdado Cabello – last month the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) ordered the newspaper to pay US $ 13.4 million to the Chavist leader. The action cites a report republished by Caracas’ more mainstream daily on suspicion of Cabello’s involvement in drug trafficking.
Jorge Makriniotis, managing director of the newspaper, posted a video with the police sealing the building, according to the court order. “After 78 years of history, defending freedom of expression, the National is invaded and confiscated. It is an attack on democracy,” he said.
The episode occurs just as the regime was showing signs of willingness to engage in dialogue with the opposition led by Juan Guaidó, now backed by the United States under Joe Biden. In recent weeks, Maduro had taken decisions interpreted as gestures of goodwill by some international actors, including the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, human rights bodies and the Group. international contact.
The measures included the selection of two non-Chavista members for the National Electoral Council, the release (for house arrest) of six Citgo (oil company) executives and the determination to allow World Food Program assistance for malnourished children. .
Maduro also said he would be “ready to talk” with Guaidó. “With the help of the European Union, the Norwegian government, the Contact Group, when they want, where they want and how they want.”
Guaidó, who had been criticized by other sectors of the opposition, was supported by the US government through Julie Chang, Undersecretary for the Western Hemisphere of the State Department. “We support Juan Guaidó and the efforts of the Venezuelan opposition to peacefully restore democracy in Venezuela through free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections,” he said.
The dialogues, which will be followed at the international level, aim to organize free regional elections at the end of the year.