November 27, 2015
Venezuela’s ruling PSUV party plans to file a formal lawsuit against the secretary-general of an opposition-aligned Democratic Action party for accusing that PSUV members were behind the death of an opposition politician, a leading party official announced Thursday.
Luis Manuel Diaz, who was affiliated with the Democratic Action, or AD party, was killed Wednesday during a campaign rally in the town of Altagracia de Orituco. AD’s Secretary-General Henry Ramos Allup Ramos immediately took to Twitter claiming Diaz had been killed “by armed PSUV gangs from a vehicle.”
However, Ramos has been unable to provide any evidence to back his assertion. Instead, a preliminary investigation by Venezuelan authorities revealed that the attack on Diaz may have been carried out by criminal groups with whom he had dealings with.
Jorge Rodriguez, a senior figure within the PSUV, or United Socialist Party of Venezuela, said his party will visit the office of the attorney general Friday to submit its complaint against Ramos for libel and slander.
“Luis Manuel Diaz was unfortunately well known for his long record of criminal activity in the state of Guarico. He was the last member of a criminal gang called the Plateados (silver plated), which was involved in extortion, contract killings, and kidnapping in that state,” Rodriguez said.
“In an irresponsible way, in a deceptive way, Mr. Ramos Allup points to (alleged) armed PSUV groups. It would be very important for him to tell us and he would have to show how it can be determined that members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela committed such serious acts,” said Rodriguez.
Private media outlets and the U.S. government have been quick to condemn the killing of Diaz, parroting the claims made by the opposition that the homicide was aimed at intimidation.
Government supporters have highlighted the sharply different reactions of the media and foreign governments to the news of Diaz’ killing to those of murders of hundreds of Indigenous activists, rural leaders, and pro-government unionists, as well as various PSUV leaders, such as legislator Robert Serra last year.
President Nicolas Maduro has repeatedly warned there is a concerted and orchestrated campaign to de-legitimize the upcoming parliamentary elections Dec.6.
The opposition coalition has refused to commit to recognizing the results, leading to speculation that they may cry fraud should they fail to win.