The Rendon Group Snapshot Report – 16 November 2015

by TRG Alerts Admin on November 23, 2015

The Rendon Group


Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at or +1-202-745-4900.

Parliamentary Election Campaign Begins in Venezuela


 Opposition members hold face cutouts depicting jailed Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, during a campaign group rally for congressional candidates, in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.

Photo: Fernando Llano, AP

This week’s snapshot focuses on the official kick-off of the parliamentary election campaign in Venezuela.  The process for the 06DEC legislative elections enters the final stretch with the formal start of the campaign in the midst of a complex economic crisis, concerns regarding the health of the electoral and justice system, and a recent scandal involving two nephews of first lady Cilia Flores on U.S. drug trafficking charges.

News summary of events during the week of 09NOV15 – 16NOV15

  • 09NOV:  The opposition launched #Don’tLetAnyoneVoteForYou (#QueNadieVotePorTi), a campaign to prevent vote rigging. (PanAm Post)
  • 09NOV: As advocacy groups seek to gain a louder platform from which to scrutinize the government, the U.N. Human Rights Council accepted President Maduro’s request to address the 47-member panel. (AP)
  • 09NOV: Venezuelan diplomat Bernardo Álvarez, who was expelled from the US in 2010 when he was his country’s ambassador to Washington, made his first speech as the new chairman of the permanent council of the Organization of American States, where he is his country’s new ambassador. (McClatchy)
  • 10NOV: Jailed dissident Leopoldo Lopez said Venezuela’s opposition is seeking to oust President Maduro by mid-2016. (AFP)
  • 10NOV: The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) strongly criticized the head of Venezuela’s electoral board, saying authorities were failing to ensure fair elections. (Reuters)
  • 10NOV: Mauricio Macri, the front-runner in Argentina’s impending presidential runoff, expressed concern for opposition leaders in Venezuela who have been jailed under President Maduro’s administration. (AP)
  • 10NOV: Two nephews of the wife of President Maduro were arrested in Haiti and flown to the US where they face drug trafficking charges. (NYT)
  • 11NOV: Sources reported that negotiations between the two arrested men and an undercover agent focused on getting a plane and pilot to fly the drugs to Honduras for their eventual transport to the US. (AP)
  • 11NOV: A group of Venezuelan opposition figures announced their request for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to probe President Maduro and other officials for “crimes against humanity.” (AFP)
  • 12NOV: The two nephews of the first lady were identified in an indictment unsealed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, which includes charges of conspiring to transport cocaine to the US. (NYT)
  • 12NOV: More than 150 lawmakers from Latin America and the US signed a letter addressed to President Maduro, which called for the release of jailed opposition leaders and urged him to allow international observers to monitor next month’s legislative polls. (BBC)
  • 13NOV: With the official start of the election campaign, opposition parties honed into the newly discovered drug scandal while government officials kept silent on the issue. (AP)
  • 13NOV: In a 45-minute speech, President Maduro defended Venezuela’s human rights record in Geneva after the top UN rights official voiced serious concerns about the country’s judiciary and harassment of his critics. (Reuters)
  • 13NOV: In a televised event in Venezuela, President Maduro addressed President Obama, saying “your agencies of the power establishment are breaking the basic rules of coexistence among nations… Tie down your crazies, Obama.” (AP)
  • 15NOV: Independent polling companies in Venezuela report that if the 06DEC national assembly elections are fair, President Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is likely to lose several seats. (WSJ)

Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the first week of Venezuela’s election campaign

Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the first week of Venezuela’s election campaign

Miguel Vivanco, Director, Human Rights Watch’s Americas division

“Venezuela should not be allowed to use the [UN Human Rights] council as a vehicle for self-promotion,”

  • ‘Dispatches: Don’t Let Maduro Use UN Body for Shameless Self-Promotion,’ HRW, 11NOV15

Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Council of the Americas

“All of this may be weighing on some of the people in the military and elsewhere in the government who are concerned about the sustainability of the government, You’ve seen some people already trying to separate themselves…What makes this particularly interesting is the allegation that drug trafficking goes right up to the very top of the government.”

  • ‘U.S. Arrests Two Relatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Drug-Trafficking Charges,’ WSJ, 11NOV15

Kevin Casas-Zamora, Director, Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program, Inter-American Dialogue

“[If Maduro uses the arrests as a pretext to declare a state of emergency and postpone elections,] It will be a real mess because you would be leaving the opposition with no institutional alternative to challenge the government…It will raise the odds of violence in the streets.”

  • ‘U.S. Drug Investigation Reaches Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro’s Inner Circle, FP, 12NOV15

Jason Marcazk, Deputy Director, Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center

“Whenever the U.S. takes some actions against Venezuela, high-level leaders, or those closely associated with those leaders in Venezuela, the government tries to use it as an opportunity to claim they’re under attack by a meddling United States.”

  • ‘Arrest of Maduro’s nephews highlights Venezuela’s growing role in U.S. drug trade,’ Fox News Latino, 13NOV15

Mike Vigil, Former Head of International Operations, D.E.A.

“There’s people at all levels of that government that are engaged in the drug trade…Maduro is unlike most leaders in the world, where if there’s allegations of corruption or involvement in the drug trade you would think that those allegations would be investigated rather than denied.”

  • ‘Drug Charges for Nephews of Venezuela’s First Lady Could Add to Public Distrust,’ NYT, 13NOV15

Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the first week of Venezuela’s election campaign

1. Venezuelan leader to address UN body on human rights

Media: Associated Press

Byline: N/A

Date: 09 November 2015

GENEVA (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will deliver a relatively rare address by a head of state to the U.N. Human Rights Council at a time when the South American country’s record has come under scrutiny from advocacy groups.

Re-elected by the U.N. General Assembly as a council member last month, Venezuela requested the opportunity for Maduro to address the 47-member panel on Thursday, just weeks before elections in Venezuela.

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2. OAS chief says conditions don’t ensure fair Venezuela vote

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 10 November 2015

Washington (AFP) – The Organization of American States’ chief questioned Tuesday whether legislative elections next month in Venezuela will be transparent and fair.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said in an 18-page letter to the head of the Venezuelan election commission that conditions for the vote “do not ensure transparency and electoral justice.”

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3. Maduro must go by 2016, says Venezuelan opposition leader

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 10 November 2015

Caracas, Nov 10, 2015 (AFP) – Venezuela’s opposition is seeking to oust President Nicolas Maduro by mid-2016, jailed dissident Leopoldo Lopez said Tuesday as the country headed toward legislative elections that the ruling socialists risk losing.

“This can’t wait until the presidential elections in 2019,” Lopez said in a message datelined from his prison cell and posted to a Twitter account managed by his wife.

“Political change has a date in Venezuela and it is the first half of 2016.”

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4. Venezuela leader snubs ‘reckless accusations’ at UN

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 12 November 2015

Geneva, Nov 12, 2015 (AFP) – Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday lashed out at those making “reckless accusations” against his country in an address at the UN Human Rights Council, a speech the US called “an affront” to the body.

Maduro’s comments came a day after a group of Venezuelan opposition figures asked the International Criminal Court to probe him and others over crimes against humanity, but the president made no mention of any specific allegations in his remarks.

His appearance at the council — an irregular event requested by Caracas despite the chamber being out of session — was fiercely criticised by rights groups who claimed he was trying to clean up his battered image less than a month before legislative elections.

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5. Venezuela Drug Scandal Reverberates as Elections Kick Off

Media: Associated Press


Date: 14 November 2015

It’s the story of the year or no story at all, depending on where one falls on Venezuela’s hyper-polarized political spectrum.

Venezuelan officials kept silent Friday on the arrest this week of two nephews of first lady Cilia Flores on U.S. drug trafficking charges.

The South American country’s opposition leaders, meanwhile, made the news the focus of their rallies to mark the launch of the campaign season for crucial Dec. 6 congressional elections.

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