Venezuela: Prisoners at La Planta penitentiary end violent standoff
Inmates allow the government to close a Caracas penitentiary, opposition parties agree on ‘Tarjeta unitaria’ design for presidential ballot, and Venezuelan GDP grows 5.6% in first quarter
Inmates at La Planta stop hostilities and agree to move to other prisons
After three weeks of violent confrontation, detainees of La Planta – a prison located in a residential neighborhood in Caracas – have accepted the government’s decision to relocate them, as the prison is permanently closed.
The Minister for Penitentiary Affairs, Iris Valera, and the National Guard Commander for the 5th region, General Antonio Benavides Torres, reached an agreement with the prison’s leaders on Thursday 17 May to begin transferring with immediate effect.
A total of 1,693 inmates were transported in buses overnight to the Rodeo and Yare penitentiaries, both of them located on a rural area two hours away from the capital, in neighbouring Miranda state.
During the three-week battle for the control of La Planta, periods of extended shootouts were interspersed with explosions inside the building. No official information has been released on the number of wounded among the prisoners or the national guards involved in the riots. It has been reported that stray bullets from the confrontation killed one citizen and wounded seven others.
Opposition chooses ‘Tarjeta unitaria’ scheme for the presidential ballot
Opposition parties decided on Thursday 17 May to show their support of Henrique Capriles Radonski candidacy in the presidential ballot under the ‘Tarjeta unitaria’ instead of the ‘Tarjeta única’ scheme.
The agreement allows parties to choose between campaigning under the banner of the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (Democratic Unity Table – MUD) – a right-wing coalition – or under their own particular symbols.
The opposition candidate celebrated the decision, which he believes promotes the idea that the Venezuela is not a ‘one color, or one line of thought’ nation, but a place that fosters plurality.
The alternative ‘Tarjeta única’ design called for all political organisations that wished to back Capriles to forgo their own colours, and instead show their endorsement through adopting the universal MUD symbol.
Centre parties Alianza al Bravo Pueblo (ABP) and Acción Democrática (AD) believed that not tying down Capriles’ candidacy to each of the opposition parties’ boxes could help the governor to seize the vote of independents as well as some of Hugo Chávez disenchanted followers.
However, representatives of centre right Primero Justicia (PJ) and centre left Podemos insisted on showing their support for Capriles through the ‘Tarjeta Unitaria’, which they think will help expose the candidate’s ample political base.
Venezuela’s economy experiences quickest expansion in 4 years
The Minister of Finance, Jorge Giordani, and the president of Venezuela’s Central Bank, Nelson Merentes, announced on Thursday 17 May that the country increased its GDP by 5.6% for the year’s first quarter.
Giordani expressed satisfaction with the fact that the growth was accompanied by decreased inflation, which reached 3.5% on the same quarter.
According to the two officials, the GDP increment is a direct result of a rise in the oil revenue and the investment done by the government in social programs and infrastructure. Meanwhile, the reduction of the inflation index comes from the passing of a law of fair pricing, sanctioned by the National Assembly last April.