The Latest: Venezuelan media not covering opposition events
The Associated Press
Dec. 08, 2015
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Here's the latest on developments following Sunday's historic opposition victory in Venezuela's congressional elections (all times local):
TIME 7:10 p.m.
Opposition leaders spent the day in front of cameras giving election updates and outlining their plans for the new congress.
But Venezuelans had to go to YouTube to find them. No national channel was broadcasting the opposition's statements.
Venezuelan media have almost completely blacked out opposition events. In response, anti-government parties created a special YouTube channel for the elections.
On Sunday night, after the opposition swept the polls in an unprecedented victory, state television briefly broadcast the celebratory press conference. But then it was back to pro-socialist party roundtables and reality TV shows about social safety net programs
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has sent a message of support to Nicolas Maduro after the Venezuelan leader's governing socialist party suffered a sharp defeat in legislative elections.
Ortega's letter praises Maduro's party and his predecessor, the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. It adds that "as difficult as the horizon may appear, we have no doubt" that other victories are in the future.
Ortega's letter Monday says this is "a day to think of new battles" and explore "paths to many new victories." He offers that the fortunes of a country, "like the ways of the Lord, are mysterious paths."
Nicaragua is one of many countries in the region that have benefited from Venezuelan oil on preferential terms.
And Ortega's example may offer a little comeback hope to his Venezuelan ally.
Ortega led his country from 1979 to 1990, after the Nicaraguan Revolution ousted dictator Anastasio Somoza. He lost the presidency in a 1990 election, but was voted back into power in 2006.
Venezuelan opposition spokesman Jesus Torrealba says his coalition has won a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly in Sunday's national election. That could pave the way to major changes in the socialist country.
Elections officials have not yet released full results, but say the opposition coalition won at least 99 seats in the incoming 167-seat legislature. The ruling socialist party won 46 seats. But 22 of the remaining races still have not been called.
Torrealba said Monday the opposition had won 112 seats, and was fighting for four more.
With a two-thirds majority, the opposition could call an assembly to rewrite Venezuela's constitution and would have the power to fire Supreme Court judges.
With a smaller three-fifths majority, the opposition could begin to dismantle the socialist party's hold over other state institutions, by censuring and removing ministers and vice presidents.
A simple majority in congress will not allow the allow it to do much aside from annoy the administration by doing things like holding up budgets and refusing permission for foreign trips.
Cuban President Raul Castro has sent allied Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a message of support, tacitly accepting the defeat of Maduro's party in legislative elections.
Castro's brief message was published on the front pages of Cuban state media Monday.
He says he's followed Maduro's "extraordinary battle" and adds: "I'm sure that there will be new victories for the Bolivarian, Chavista movement under your leadership."
Venezuela supports Cuba with billions of dollars a year in oil sold at highly subsidized prices in exchange for medical services from Cuban doctors sent to Venezuela. Cuba has worked closely with both Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has issued a conciliatory statement congratulating Venezuela for a peaceful and democratic election.
President Nicolas Maduro criticized U.S. meddling in Latin America during his speech Sunday night recognizing the opposition's landslide victory.
The country was still waiting for final election results Monday, uncertain about how big an advantage the opposition will have in the National Assembly.
Kerry said voters had "expressed their overwhelming desire for a change in the direction of their country."
He called for dialogue among all parties, and urged a quick release of the final election tally.
There's at least a glimmer of good news for President Nicolas Maduro following Sunday's historic setback for his party in Venezuelan congressional elections. His acknowledgement of defeat has helped blunt questions about the democratic credentials of his socialist government.
Argentina's President-elect Mauricio Macri said in recent weeks he'd try to remove Venezuela from the Mercosur trade bloc due to a lack of democracy.
But on Monday, his designated foreign minister says that's changed.
Susana Malcorra says there's now no reason for that effort. In her words, "We have to recognize that the government very clearly recognized the results."