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July 31, 2017

U.S. CALLS VENEZUELA CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY VOTE A SHAM; SAYS IT WILL NOT ACCEPT RESULTS 

     
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK--   The election for a new constitutional super-body being held in Venezuela under President Nicolas Maduro is a "step toward dictatorship" and the United States will not accept an illegitimate government in Caracas, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday. Haley offered Washington's first official response to Sunday's ballot as deadly protests rocked Venezuela where voters broadly boycotted the election, which Maduro has vowed would begin a "new era of combat" in the crisis-stricken oil-producing nation.

     "Maduro's sham election is another step toward dictatorship," Haley said in a message on Twitter. "We won't accept an illegit govt. The Venezuelan ppl & democracy will prevail." Anti-Maduro activists wearing hoods or masks erected barricades on roads, and scuffles broke out with security forces who moved in quickly to disperse demonstrators who denounced the election as a naked power grab by the president. Authorities said seven people were killed in the confrontations. The opposition said the true death toll was around 12, which would make Sunday one of the deadliest days since massive and sustained protests started in early April.

     Maduro, widely disliked for overseeing an unraveling of Venezuela's economy, has promised the assembly will bring peace by way of a new constitution after four months of opposition protests in which about 120 people have been killed. But opposition parties sat out the election, saying it was rigged to increase Maduro's powers, a view shared by governments including those of Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Panaama, Argentina and the United States.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO ASKED PRESIDENT TRUMP TO IMPOSE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS ON VENEZUELA

 

        WASHINGTON, D.C.   -
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio today called on US President Donald Trump to impose economic sanctions on the Venezuelan government, expand those targeted at individuals who have committed human rights violations and ignore the results of the National Constituent Assembly. In a statement, Rubio said that US "Should not recognize" the "fraudulent" Constituent Assembly that has been chosen this Sunday in Venezuela, an initiative to which the Government of Trump has already expressed its rejection, and threatened Maduro with more sanctions.

    "I am confident that President Trump will respond promptly and decisively. “I encourage you to extend the sanctions to individuals who have committed or supported the violation of human rights and democratic order," said the legislator for Florida of Cuban origin. "I also urge you to impose economic sanctions on the Maduro regime, which will not harm the people of Venezuela but will deprive the regime of Maduro of the resources it needs to remain in power," Rubio added. According to government sources, the Wall Street Journal said that US Is studying to announce on Monday a new round of sanctions aimed at the Venezuelan oil industry, although a embargo on imports of crude oil is not on the table for now.

    Those sanctions would be added to those imposed by the US Executive this week on thirteen Venezuelan officials and former officials for human rights abuses, corruption and actions to undermine democracy. Venezuela tyesterday lived a critical day in which was elected elected the National Constituent Assembly that drives the Maduro Government, a process in which only part of Chavismo participates with the massive rejection of the opposition, the Catholic Church and part of the international community. Nine people had died during the day, according to the Venezuelan prosecutor's office. The election of the Constituent Assembly also takes place under a wave of anti-government protests that last almost four months and which, with today's deaths, has increased to 115 dead.

MORE GOVERNMENTS DISMISS VENEZUELAN ASSEMBLY VOTE

           UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK    --A growing number of countries are vowing not to recognize the results of Venezuela's divisive election of a constituent assembly that could dramatically reshape the South American nation's government. Officials from Argentina, Peru and the United States said Sunday that their governments would not recognize the vote, following similar statements from Colombia and Panama. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has tweeted that the vote a "sham election" that takes Venezuela "another step toward dictatorship." Peru's government says the vote violates the Venezuelan constitution and deepens already significant divides within society.

    Venezuelans appear to be abstaining in massive numbers in a show of silent protest against a vote to select a constitutional assembly giving the government virtually unlimited powers. Across the capital on Sunday, dozens of polling places were empty or had a few dozens or hundreds of people outside, orders of magnitude less than the turnout in recent elections. An Associated Press reporter toured more than two dozen polling places in neighborhoods across the capital, including many traditional strongholds of the ruling socialist party in southern and western Caracas. Virtually all the polling places had seen hours-long lines of thousands of people in the elections of the last two decades of the socialist administration.

     One site, a sports and cultural complex known as the Poliedro, had several thousand people waiting about two hours to vote, many having traveled from opposition-dominated neighborhoods where polling places were closed. Of the dozens of others sites seen by the AP, two in the loyalist-heavy neighborhood of El Valle had lines of approximately 200 to 400 people. All the others had at most a couple of dozen voters, and many had less than a half-dozen or were completely empty. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is asking for global acceptance as he casts an unusual pre-dawn vote for an all-powerful constitutional assembly that his opponents fear he'll use to replace the country's democracy with a single-party authoritarian system similar as the one established by the Castro brothers in Cuba.

July 30, 2017

VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR A NATIONAL "TRANCAZO" FOR TODAY

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA --   Opposition leaders, grouped in the Bureau of Democratic Unity, made this Friday a call to citizens to stay on the streets in protest in the so-called "Trancazo against the Cuban Constituent", while announcing that on Sunday they will concentrate In the main road arteries of the country in rejection of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) convened by Nicolás Maduro for that date. "On Sunday we call on the people who want to change to concentrate on the main thoroughfares of the nation," said Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles.

     Capriles said that in the case of Caracas the concentration will be carried out on the Francisco Fajardo highway and explained that the regional offices of the MUD will announce the roadways where the opponents will concentrate in the 23 states of the interior "because there are going to be two photos , The empty electoral center and the main avenues and arteries of the country full, "he said. He urged citizens to dress in white or with the national tricolor and participate in this protest "peaceful, democratic and constitutional" that seeks, remarked, reject the election of the ANC, which he called an "internal" vote of the party of Government.

     "On Monday we will continue fighting, and on Tuesday we will continue fighting, I am not at all pessimistic in the face of the situation in my country," affirms Capriles after ruling out a boycott of the polls. For his part, the first vice president of the National Assembly, Freddy Guevara, invited Venezuelans to stay on the streets in the protest called "’Trancazo’ against the Cuban Constituent", which will extend for 18 more hours. "These locks will extend 18 more hours until noon tomorrow, where we will make new announcements," Guevara said.

RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO LEFT VENEZUELA SAD AND DISAPPOINTED TO SEE THAT THE OPPOSITE PARTIES DID NOT YIELD

 

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA   -
Only diatribes characterized the meetings between government envoys and representatives of the MUD, so that in the PSUV, PPT and opposition parties see an increase in social confrontation in the coming hours, when the elections of the constituent assembly approach. Former Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Jorge Rodríguez and Elías Jaua said during the first meetings of July 25 and 26 that President Nicolás Maduro could suspend the constituent for 45 days if in exchange the MUD registered its candidates, via a decree of the Electoral Power.

     The opposition rejected the idea because they believed that Maduro intention was to endorse a constitutional fraud, and proposed instead changing the basis of the election and accept a people consultation on the ANC. Miraflores said no. Then a group of the MUD proposed general elections in the first quarter of 2018, with a new CNE (two presidents postulated by the ruling party, two by the MUD and a fifth by common accord). "the recommendation was ruled out," party sources said. Since Miraflores did not agree to extend the ANC vote, the MUD leaders did not continue talking and Rodríguez Zapatero left Caracas last night, fed up and disappointed, sources said.

    "Maduro has to recognize the National Assembly, make general elections and release political prisoners, among other demands. In conclusion, if they want to negotiate they have to withdraw the constituent, because, in fact, there is already a political conflict that will increase. The last meetings showed the disagreements and, unfortunately, the confrontation is total and indefinite. There is the determination on the part of Popular Will, Primero Justicia, the Progressive Movement, ABP and La Causa R to risk their life with the people. In the next few hours we will decide what to do, it will be a debate inside AD and UNT, "they said. The refusal of the governor of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, to negotiate with Miraflores, prevents any dialogue approach, despite the fact that Julio Borges assists and hears the parties recommendations, they said.

COLOMBIA LEADER WON'T RECOGNIZE VENEZUELA CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

           BOGOTA, COLOMBIA   -- Colombia's president says he will not recognize the results of Sunday's election in Venezuela for a special assembly to rewrite the struggling nation's constitution. President Juan Manuel Santos said Friday that the constituent assembly is of "illegitimate origin" and therefore will not be recognized. Santos says he will continue advocating for a peaceful resolution to Venezuela's nearly four months of political upheaval that has left at least 113 people dead. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is known to level frequent barbs at his Colombian counterpart, casting him as a slave to imperial foreign rule.

     Colombia's finance minister earlier Firday told a local radio station that his nation would sanction the same 13 current and former high-level Venezuelan officials cited by the U.S. government earlier in the week. The White House says U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has spoken with Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez about the political unrest wracking the South American nation. A statement says Pence delivered a message Friday on behalf of President Donald Trump that the United States stands with the Venezuelan people.

     It says Pence also repeated Trump's pledge to respond quickly with further economic actions if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro goes through with elections Sunday to choose a national assembly to rewrite the constitution. The statement says Pence also praised Lopez for his courage in defending democracy even while under house arrest. The opposition leader was recently free from prison and transferred to house arrest. Sunday's election for a constituent assembly to overhaul the country's charter has drawn international outcry and opposition protests. The constitution would replace the one crafted by Chavez in 1999 in a previous constituent assembly, considered one of his legacies.

July 29, 2017

VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR MORE PROTESTS UNTIL THE VOTE ON SUNDAY

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA --   Despite the ban on rallies, opposition to the Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro has called for a protest without interruption from Friday to Sunday, the day of the election of the members of the constituent Assembly challenged was intended by the socialist president, leading to fears of further violence. “We call on the people of Venezuela to prepare for an intense day of demonstrations in the streets Friday, Saturday and Sunday, for any of the country shows to the world that the Constituent assembly has no legitimacy,” said at a press conference, Freddy Guevara, vice-president of the Parliament led by the opposition. “We invite the country to prepare to take the main roads, the avenues, the streets and keep us there until to stop this fraud constitution,” said opposition leader Jorge Millan.

     On Thursday, the minister of the Interior, general Nestor Reverol, announced that “prohibits meetings and demonstrations, rallies and all events of the same nature that may interfere with or affect the normal conduct of the electoral process”. He warned that violators risk five to ten years in prison. These protests for three days in spite of the prohibition, after a 48-hour general strike, where violent clashes with the police have made five new victims, provoke fear of new clashes. These latest deaths bring to 108 the number of deaths since the beginning of the protests against Maduro at the beginning of April. In front of a “political and security situation unpredictable”, the United States has ordered Thursday to the families of diplomats stationed in Venezuela to leave the country. American diplomacy has also stated that it “authorized the voluntary departure of government employees” working at the United States embassy in Caracas, venezuela.

     Washington has taken a long time and due to the opposition, president Donald Trump calling his venezuelan counterpart of “dictator” and imposing sanctions against 13 current and former government officials. The venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has attempted to defuse the crisis by offering a dialogue with his opponents before the election. “I propose to the political opposition in venezuela that it abandons the path of revolt (…) and that we instaurations in the next few hours, before the election and the installation of the constituent Assembly, a framework for dialogue”, said the head of the socialist State, while asserting that its proposed change to the Constitution would go to the end.

DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO BANS PROTESTS NATIONWIDE AS CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM APPROACHES

 

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --
Just days away from a national vote to decide the delegates who will rewrite Venezuela's constitution, President Nicolas Maduro's government is trying a new method of clamping down on popular unrest: a complete ban on demonstrations nationwide for the next five days. "It is prohibited throughout all national territory, all public meetings and demonstrations, gatherings and other similar acts that might disturb the electoral process," Interior Minister Néstor Reverol announced Thursday on state-run media, according to a CNN translation.

     The ban comes as the country careens toward a national referendum Sunday, called by Maduro to select the members of a constituent assembly tasked with replacing the 18-year-old constitution. He has positioned the move as a cure for the months of protests that have seized city streets since early April, when the country's Supreme Court made an abortive attempt to dissolve a National Assembly packed with opposition politicians. Maduro did not ask whether Venezuelans actually wanted to replace their constitution, however. That question was posed to voters earlier this month in an unofficial, opposition-organized referendum — and the more than 7 million voters who participated overwhelmingly rejected Maduro's plan.

     "Maduro's opponents say the assembly's rigged to be pro-government and will rewrite the constitution to make Venezuela an all-out dictatorship," NPR's Philip Reeves reports. Still, Maduro dismissed that vote as "a meaningless internal exercise" and vowed to plow ahead with his own, which the opposition has promised to boycott. Opposition activists, who launched a two-day nationwide strike Wednesday morning, have proved to be just as obstinate — responding to the protest ban by vowing that a huge anti-government demonstration will proceed as planned Friday. Meanwhile, Venezuelans continue to die in clashes between protesters and Maduro's security forces, with two recent killings pushing the death toll reached 109,

UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS WING URGES CALM AHEAD OF CONTROVERSIAL POLLS

           GENEVA, NETHERLANDS   -- The United Nations human rights office expressed deep concern today at the risk of further violence in Venezuela, where elections for a Constituent Assembly convened by President Nicolas Maduro are due to be held on Sunday. “The wishes of the Venezuelan people to participate or not in this election need to be respected,” Elisabeth Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told reporters at the regular press brifing in Geneva. “No one should be obliged to vote, while those willing to take part should be able to do so freely,” she added.

    The OHCHR spokesperson pointed out that demonstrations considered by the authorities to be “disturbing the elections” have been banned until 1 August. “We urge the authorities to manage any protests against the Constituent Assembly in line with international human rights norms and standards,” she continued, calling on those opposing the election and the Assembly to do so peacefully. “We hope that the poll scheduled for Sunday, if it goes ahead, will proceed peacefully and in full respect of human rights,” she said.

      Responding to questions, Ms. Throssell said the situation in the country is “very tense and difficult.” As such, OHCHR reiterated the call for calm and for peaceful protests and for all sides to use only peaceful means to make their views heard.With regard to the legitimacy of the vote itself, the spokesperson noted that it is “a hugely controversial issue” amplified by the fact that there had been an unofficial consultation by the opposition on the constituent assembly. “[Our] Office is concerned about the environment in which the elections are to take place and believes that a constitutional process can only be successful if based on a broad consensus and the participation of all sectors of society,” Ms. Throssell said.

July 28, 2017

EIGHTEEN FORMER LATIN AMERICAN PRESIDENTS URGE THE POPE AND GOVERNMENTS TO HELP CURB NICOLAS MADURO'S DICTATORSHIP

     
WASHINGTON, D.C.  --   Eighteen members of the Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA) urged the governments of the region to take action against "systematic and widespread violations of human rights" in Venezuela. In a written statement they criticized that "the leaders of the continent, abroquelados in the defense of supposed interests, stained of blood by omission to their respective foreign policies". The ex-presidents appealed to Pope Francisco and the governments of the region to "put a brake on the dictatorial entrechment of Venezuela."

    They urged them to open spaces for a transition based on the results of the popular consultation of last July 16, in which more than 7.5 million Venezuelans demonstrated their rejection of the "Constitutional Assembly" that Nicolás Maduro is decided to lunch. "The effort to definitively consolidate the dictatorship can not continue to arouse the passive gaze of some rulers of the Americas," lamented the speakers. Expresidents, including Jose Maria Aznar (Spain), Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica) and Vicente Fox (Mexico) expressed their concern about the "grave circumstance that all Venezuelans suffer and will suffer without distinction."

    More than 100 people have died according to the prosecutor office during the anti-government protests that began on April 1, under which the authorities have detained more than 4,500 people. The protesters rejected and denounced "the actions of the repressive government of Maduro using members of the Armed Forces and its paramilitary groups, who continue to leave victims, mortally wounded and imprisoned daily throughout the country. " Venezuela is carrying out today the second day of the 48-hour strike called by the opposition, which has so far left 3 dead and 159 detained.

DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO PROHIBITS DEMONSTRATIONS ON SUNDAY THAT "AFFECT" VOTING OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

 

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --
The Venezuelan government of dictator Nicolás Maduro announced that as of Friday, protests that could "affect" Sunday's voting of the Constituent Assembly are prohibited, and warned that "electoral crimes" will be punished with penalties of five to ten Years of imprisonment. "National meetings and demonstrations, concentrations of people and any other similar act that may disturb or affect the normal development of the electoral process are prohibited throughout the country," Interior Minister General Néstor Reverol said Thursday. Before a major opposition march in Caracas.

     However, the Venezuelan opposition does not accept the prohibition of demonstrations and announces the "Taking of Venezuela". After the Bolivarian government forbade from Friday the demonstrations that could "affect" the Sunday votes of the Constituent Assembly, The Unidad Democrática (MUD) announced the "Taking of Venezuela".

    "The Regime announced that we cannot make any type of manifestation until Tuesday. We will respond with TOMA DE VENEZUELA tomorrow, "was the tweet posted on the Twitter account of the MUD. Also, Deputy Freddy Guevara reiterated the call and said that this afternoon will provide details of the activity. "Dictatorship says we can not manifest from tomorrow. So? Tomorrow is no longer the taking of Caracas, it will be of ALL of Venezuela! "He wrote. Recall that for this Friday the Bureau of Democratic Unity had planned the "Taking of Caracas" in the face of the elections of the Cuban Constituent Assembly.

MEXICO TO COLLABORATE WITH U.S. IN SANCTIONING VENEZUELAN OFFICIALS

           MEXICO CITY, MEXICO  -- Mexico will collaborate with the US authorities in sanctioning various officials and former officials of the Venezuelan government, the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) announced Thursday. "The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit reports that it will proceed accordingly, in accordance with the laws and conventions applicable in the matter" in case of cooperating in these sanctions, indicated a joint communiqué of the SHCP with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ). "Mexico once again expresses its concern about the serious crisis facing Venezuela, and reiterates its call to the government of President Nicolás Maduro to restore fully the democratic regime and the rule of law in a peaceful way," the text said.

    In addition, Mexico stressed that the Government of Venezuela has "the historic opportunity to open a new path of reconciliation and peace by reconsidering the call to the Constituent Assembly." Therefore, it urged to create the conditions to initiate a "genuine process of political negotiation" among all Venezuelans. On Wednesday, the United States increased pressure against the Venezuelan government's plan to celebrate a National Constituent Assembly (ANC) on Sunday by sanctioning 13 Venezuelan officials and former officials, and warned that, if the election takes place, it could mark the "end of the Democracy in Venezuela ".

    The 13 individuals sanctioned will see frozen any property they may have in the US and will be prohibited from making transactions with Americans or persons under the jurisdiction of this country. According to the Mexican Government, the sanctions applied to members of the Government of Venezuela are "for impairing democracy and human rights in that country, as well as for participating in acts of violence, repression and corruption." This July 30, despite the rejection of the opposition, Maduro is resolute to proceed with the vote and elect the Constituent Assembly, which is called to draft a new legal system and will have powers to reorder the whole state.

July 27, 2017

U.S. SANCTIONS 13 MORE VENEZUELAN OFFICIALS AHEAD OF SHOWDOWN VOTE FOR THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

     
WASHINGTON, D.C.  --   The Trump administration sanctioned 13 Venezuelans tied to Nicolás Maduro's government Wednesday, four days before the South American nation plans to hold a vote that the U.S. says will turn Maduro’s rule into a dictatorship. The U.S. froze assets and banned travel visas for the 13 individuals, who are high-ranking current or former leaders of the government, the military, the country’s state oil producer and the agency that controls its currency-exchange rate, in an attempt to continue punishing Maduro loyalists for undemocratic, violent and corrupt actions. Venezuela should expect further sanctions if it moves forward with Sunday’s vote to create a national constituent assembly, the White House said Wednesday afternoon. “Anyone elected to the national constituent assembly should know that their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela could expose them to potential U.S. sanctions,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

     A senior White House official told reporters the administration still hopes Maduro will change his mind and call off the election. The latest sanctions, however, authorized under an existing executive order, indicate little progress has been made in negotiations in Venezuela aimed at securing a delay or cancelation of the vote. The Trump administration sorted the sanctioned individuals into three groups: Four current and former government leaders involved in pursuing the creation of the national constituent assembly or undermining democracy and human rights: Tibisay Lucena, president of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council; Elías Jaua, head of the presidential commission for the national constituent assembly; Tarek William Saab, government ombudsman; and Iris Varela, member of the national constituent assembly commission and former penitentiary minister.

     Five current and former military leaders or heads of agencies linked to violence and repression: Néstor Reverol, minister for interior, justice and peace; Carlos Alfredo Pérez Ampueda, director of the Bolivarian National Police; Sergio Rivero Marcano, commander general of the Bolivarian National Guard; Jesús Suárez Chourio, commander of the Bolivarian Army, and Franklin García Duque, former director of the Bolivarian National Police. ▪ Four current and former officials involved in corruption: Rocco Albisini, president of the national center for foreign trade, known as CENCOEX; Alejandro Fleming, former CENCOEX president who served as vice-minister for North America and Europe from 2015-16; Simón Zerpa, vice president of finance of state oil producer PDVSA, and Carlos Erick Malpica Flores, former PDVSA finance vice president and former national treasurer.

VENEZUELAN DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO LASHES OUT AT "INSOLENT" US SANCTIONS

 

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --
Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro branded US sanctions leveled at his regime on Wednesday as "insolent," as pressure piled up on him abroad and at home over his controversial plan to elect a new body to rewrite the constitution. The US measures came as Venezuela's opposition began a two-day nationwide strike aimed at ousting the president through early elections. The deadliness of four months of violent anti-Maduro protests was further confirmed with the death of a 30-year-old man in a demonstration in the west of the country. That added to a death toll that has already surpassed 100. The opposition and US moves are to force Maduro to give up his plan to have a 545-member "Constituent Assembly" elected on Sunday.

      Critics say the body is a step towards a dictatorship, by bypassing or dissolving the opposition-held National Assembly. Maduro called the US punishment "illegal, insolent and unprecedented." "Who do these imperialists in the United States think they are? The government of the world?" he said in a speech. But in his country, where there are widespread shortages of basic goods and soaring inflation, protesters are showing their discontent with Maduro's leadership. "No more dictatorship!" read signs on road barricades in eastern Caracas. Maduro accuses the US of fomenting the unrest against him and his government, with the help of the conservative opposition.

     The Venezuelan military has declared its loyalty to him. But some 70 percent of Venezuelans are opposed to the Constituent Assembly, according to polling firm Datanalisis. The hardening political struggle has deepened fears that months of street violence could worsen. The opposition has planned another major demonstration in the capital on Friday. Thousands of Venezuelans loaded with heavy bags have crossed the border into Colombia this week, fleeing the unrest."The elections are on Sunday and we really don't know what will happen," said one, Maria de los Angeles Pichardo, who left with her husband and son. "To be safe, we prefer to cross." Ordinary Venezuelans remaining in their country believe ousting Maduro is their only hope for survival.

U.S. WEIGHS FINANCIAL SANCTIONS TO HIT VENEZUELA'S  OIL REVENUE

           WASHINGTON, D.C.    -- The United States is considering financial sanctions on Venezuela that would halt dollar payments for the country's oil, according to a senior White House official and an adviser with direct knowledge of the discussions. The move could severely restrict the OPEC nation's crude exports and starve its socialist government of hard currency. Sanctions prohibiting any transaction in U.S. currency by Venezuela's state-run oil firm, PDVSA, are among the toughest of various oil-related measures under discussion at the White House, the two sources told Reuters.

    The administration aims to pressure socialist President Nicolas Madurointo aborting plans for a controversial new congress that critics say would cement him as a dictator. Venezuela's oil-based economy is in the grip of a brutal recession and a local currency crash, and Maduro has faced months of anti-government unrest that has claimed the lives of about 100 people. Sanctions on dollar transactions would make it even harder for Maduro's government to secure cash for debt payments and finance imports of basic goods. The White House declined to comment on the sanctions under consideration. PDVSA and Venezuela's Oil Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

     The U.S. measures under discussion are similar to those that were imposed against Iran over its nuclear program - which halved Iran's oil exports and prevented top crude buyers from paying for Iranian oil. The measures were seen as among the most effective economic sanctions ever imposed and paved the way for a deal that curbed Tehran's nuclear activity. Measures on financial transactions would give President Donald Trump's administration the power to escalate pressure on Venezuela by threatening punishment of any U.S. firm doing business with PDVSA or U.S. banks processing any of its transactions in dollars.

July 26, 2017

TRADE UNIONS, FEDERATIONS AND PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS JOIN THE 48-HOUR NATIONAL CIVIC STRIKE

     
CARACAS, VNEZUELA  --   The secretary general of the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers, Jose Elías Torres, said Tuesday that 18 trade union organizations, 15 federations and eight professional colleges will follow the call for a 48-hour national civic strike convened by the Unit. "All these organizations agree to abide by the call for national civic strike, so we urge the workers to join to make a demonstration more forceful than the previous strike," Torres said.

    The leader explained that the success of the previous strike was due to unity and that in this new day, now 48 hours, will be the same. "Factors of civil society, together with professional and retired workers, hope that we can repeat that experience more forcefully. We can not take away the leading role that civil society and students have won. " On the next actions to be taken, after these 48 hours of unemployment that start this Wednesday at 6:00 am and end on Friday at the same time, Torres did not rule out a more extensive work stoppage.

    "Let's wait until Thursday, the dynamics will tell us. The government must review this and understand that 85% of Venezuelans reject its constituent, "he said. As for the threats to which public workers have been subjected, Torres expressed that they are employees of the State, not of a political patron, and the State, through the Constitution, protects them. "We have the collaboration and support of the Bar Associations that will take over the defenses. We are going to the civic strike against the Constituent Assembly, the Government has run out of piquito bread. "

VENEZUELA GOVERNMENT ACCUSES SENATOR RUBIO OF PLOTTING TO TOPPLE NICOLAS MADURO GOVERNMENT


 
        CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --
Venezuela’s senior leaders charged Sen. Marco Rubio  of plotting to topple the government of DICTATOR Nicolás Maduro. With their country descending into crisis, Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada and Carlos Ron, the chargé d'affaires of the Embassy of Venezuela, accused Rubio and CIA of secretly conspiring against Caracas so that Washington can install new leaders amenable to U.S. interests.

    “What this group is trying to do with Venezuela is basically divide the government, recognize other leaders and foment a conflict with the Venezuelans,” Ron told a small group of reporters in Washington on Tuesday. “This is absolutely unacceptable.” The South American country with the world’s largest oil reserves is spinning out of control, its economy in tatters and its people starving as oil revenues plummet. Tensions reached a tipping point this week ahead of a July 30 vote to change the Venezuelan constitution and strip lawmakers of power. The government argues the change is needed to stabilize the country, but U.S. leaders see it as a move toward a “full dictatorship.”

    In a nearly two-hour discussion at the Venezuelan residency in Washington, the Venezuelan officials — including interim Ambassador to the Organization of American States Carmen Velasquez — criticized U.S. threats of sweeping sanctions targeting Venezuelan oil if the vote is carried out as planned. Rubio, who has the ear of the White House, warned of a “very strong response” from Trump if Venezuela goes through with the “fraudulent vote.” He plans to deliver a list of Venezuelan officials to the White House Tuesday that will include the names of people he hopes the Trump administration will issue sanctions against prior to the vote. “I hope every day this week the administration will take action to make clear that we’re not going to stand by and watch democracy be totally demolished by the Maduro regime,” Rubio said.

THE VENEZUELAN FOREIGN MINISTER MONCADA ACCUSES THE CIA DIRECTOR OF PLOTTING TO OVERTHROW DICTATOR MADURO

           CARACAS, VENEZUELA    -- Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada said the vote for the Constituent Assembly called by dictator Maduro will take place without delay. Speaking to a small group of reporters, he said the clearest indication of the United States’ real intentions came just five days ago when the CIA Director, Mike Pompeo addressed the Aspen Institute security forum. During a Q&A, Pompeo signaled CIA’s desire for a new government in Venezuela and acknowledged having conversations about the issue in Colombia and Mexico. Pompeo told the group the United States has a deep interest in a stable and democratic Venezuela and that he was “hopeful that there can be a transition in Venezuela and we, the CIA is doing its best to understand the dynamic there”.

     “I was just down in Mexico City and in Bogota a week before last talking about this very issue, trying to help them understand the things they might do so that they can get a better outcome for their part of the world and our part of the world.” Moncada’s voice was veryanimated discussing Pompeo’s remarks, calling it proof of a coordinated plot. “There is a secret operation by the Central Intelligence Agency to split up a democratically elected government,” Moncada said. According to press reports, the CIA declined to comment. Neighboring Colombia rejected Moncada’s accusations. “Colombia has never been interventionist and we deny the existence of any action or activity that would attempt to interfere in Venezuela," the Foreign Ministry said in a release late Monday.

     The two nations share a 1,300 mile border, and Venezuelans frequently cross the frontier in search of food and medicine. “What happens in Venezuela either hurts or benefits us,” Colombia’s foreign ministry said. “As we have said in the past, our only interest in terms of the current situation that Venezuela is going through is that Venezuelans need to reach a negotiated and peaceful solution.” It’s not the first time Pompeo’s names has raised alarm in Venezuela. Under questioning from Marco Rubio during a May Senate hearing on worldwide security threats, Pompeo warned that large caches of weapons in Venezuela were at risk of falling into the wrong hands because of the turmoil. “It is a real threat,” Pompeo said.

July 25, 2017

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RATIFIES CITIZENS' INTENTION TO RESTORE DEMOCRACY IN VENEZUELA

     
CARACAS, VNEZUELA  --   The first vice-president of the National Assembly (AN), Freddy Guevara, said that the Parliament, on behalf of the opposition leaders and judges of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) recently appointed by that parliament, ratifies their conviction to recover the constitutional order in Venezuela. "We go forward with strength and courage because we are majority and the world is with us," he said.

     During a press conference held this Sunday, together with members of the Legislative Board of Directors and members of the Committee of Postulations of TSJ magistrates, Guevara repudiated the arrest of Angel Zerpa, one of the newly appointed magistrates, alleging that he di not receive a merited judgment or the right to a defense. He described his situation as the result of "state terrorism", since - he said - this action seeks to generate terror in the other magistrates, deputies and citizens appointed by the National Assembly. The legislator for the Popular Will party also pointed out that those who detained Zerpa "have to go to justice, because they arrested a magistrate who was constitutionally appointed."

    On the other hand, Freddy Guevara reiterated that this week "will be definitive, a crucial week", regarding the street agenda organized by the Bureau of Democratic Unity (MUD) against the National Government. He emphasized the support of the opposition leaders towards the Venezuelan people, adding to the support of the international community. The parliamentarian said, on behalf of the AN opposing party and the MUD board, "we are in decisive times for the future of Venezuela." He asserted that the process of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), whose elections were set for July 30, is "a fraudulent process that wants to violate the Constitution, whose main objective is to have more freedom in performing activities like the one they conducted against the Magistrate Zerpa ".

OVER 350  VENEZUELAN TRADE UNIONS JOIN MUD 48-HOUR GENERAL STRIKE IN VENEZUELA ON WEDNESDAY


 
        CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --
 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his opponents face a crucial showdown Thursday as the country’s opposition calls the second national strike since 2002 stoppage that failed to topple Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez. The 48-hour strike is meant to begin on July 26th at 6 a.m. as an expression of national disapproval of Maduro’s plan to convene a constitutional assembly that would reshape the Venezuelan system to consolidate the ruling party’s power over the few institutions that remain outside its control.

     Major trade unions, including the Workers’ General Confederation (CGT) and the Venezuelan Workers’ Confederation (CTV) will go on strike on Wednesday and Thursday. Over 350 Venezuelan trade unions called on Sunday upon a 48-hour general strike starting on Wednesday, July 26, supporting in this way a nationwide strike sponsored by the opposition coalition Unified Democratic Panel (MUD) to request President Nicolás Maduro to suspend the National Constituent Assembly. Major trade unions, including the Workers’ General Confederation (CGT) and the Venezuelan Workers’ Confederation (CTV) will join the move. The National Constituent Assembly is scheduled to be elected on Sunday, July 30, under the government aegis to draft a new Constitution.

     In the opinion of the opposition and major social sectors in Venezuela, “it will consolidate dictatorship,” Efe reported. “In principle, we are calling for a two-day strike, but everything will depend on the situation, for there is only one intention: we want the government to end once and for all, and call for elections,” Norma Torres, one of the organizers and leader of the electric sector of the Workers’ Front, told Efe. The opposition is boycotting a July 30 election to select members of the assembly. More than 24 hours before the start of the strike, neighborhood groups across Caracas were setting up roadblocks of tree branches and tires to protest Maduro’s plans to change the constitution.

 VENEZUELAN DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO : ALL MAGISTRATES APPOINTED BY THE PARLIAMENT WILL BE ARRESTED ONE BY ONE

           CARACAS, VENEZUELA    -- Venezuelan DICTATOR Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday that he considers the 33 judges named last week by the opposition-controlled Parliament to replace the current government-supporting justices of the Supreme Court to be “illegitimate.” “These people whom they named, (are) usurpers. They will all be arrested, one by one, one after another. They will all be made prisoners and the assets of all of them will be frozen, their bank accounts and everything, and nobody is going to defend them,” said Maduro on his weekly public television program.

     One of those judges, Angel Zerpa, was arrested on Saturday by agents of Venezuela’s Sebin intelligence agency in an operation called “state terrorism” by Parliament, which has accused the high court justices of being the Maduro government’s judicial arm. “Now they’re committing the enormous error of creating a parallel state, which is a wicked, stupid, childish thing,” said Maduro, alluding to the judicial nominations made by Parliament. The Venezuelan opposition on Friday approved the new magistrates a few weeks after Attorney General Luisa Ortega unsuccessfully challenged the naming of the 33 justices who currently occupy the high court for alleged irregularities in their selection.

    The current justices were designated in 2015 by the then-government-supporting Parliament in a process lasting just a few days right after the opposition’s legislative election victory but before the new majority took over the legislature. By attempting to replace those magistrates, opposition lawmakers say they are seeking to reestablish “constitutionality” in Venezuela, which has been compromised – according to government detractors – by several Supreme Court rulings punishing Parliament after declaring it to be in “contempt.”

July 24, 2017

VENEZUELA'S  OPPOSITION PARTY IS CALLING FOR A 48-HOUR GENERAL STRIKE THIS WEEK

     
CARACAS, VNEZUELA  --   Venezuela’s opposition party is calling for a 48-hour general strike in Caracas Wednesday and Thursday, in a continuation of protests over President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to elect a new assembly next weekend and rewrite the country’s constitution. Deputy Simon Calzadilla, speaking for Unidad Democratica, urged Venezuelans to go to their electoral centers Monday at 10 a.m. to place banners and protest signs that say "in my voting place there won’t be constituent assembly."

     Calzadilla, in an e-mail, also asked citizens to rally to Caracas next Friday to "demand massively" that Maduro’s government halt the assembly vote. "If the regime doesn’t cancel this fraud by Friday, the party will inform of the actions it will behold on July 29 and 30," Calzadilla said in the statement. "Center by center, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood to defeat Maduro’s proposal." Maduro has signaled he would proceed despite U.S. threats of "strong and swift economic actions" and a symbolic vote against it by 7.5 million Venezuelans who participated in an unsanctioned ballot.

     With the oil-exporting economy already in a tailspin, investors say some sort of ban on crude exports from Venezuela may force the country into default on its debt. Julio Borges, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, called this upcoming week “crucial" for the country. In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” Borges appealed for international help in stopping Maduro’s planned assembly and to lay the groundwork for a "real and deep negotiation with the participation of the international community." "Venezuela is not only a Venezuelan problem right now," he said, noting widespread emigration. "We need the help from other democracies in order to change what we are living right now in Venezuela."

LUISA ORTEGA DIAZ: 90% OF CITIZENS REJECT NICOLAS MADURO'S CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY


 
        CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --
 The Attorney General of the Republic, Luisa Ortega Díaz, reiterated that, according to the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) should be convened by the people, as sole depositary of the Constituent Power. During an interview with Univision television network, the highest authority of the Public Prosecutor's Office highlighted that the call has unfortunately not been consulted, and that it has a rejection of almost 90% of the citizens.

     She added that those who promote this process have not indicated what are the solutions or responses to the serious crisis that Venezuela is experiencing, characterized by the lack of food, the high cost of essential products, the shortage of medicines, the critical situation of hospitals And insecurity. In turn, she recalled that in 2016 the homicide rate stood at 70.1 per 100,000 inhabitants. Likewise, he asserted that citizens are not clear what will happen to the ANC once it is implemented. In that sense, given political factors that have attacked the constitution, state stability, democracy and constituted order, "I have to warn, I have to say that these actions can create chaos in the country or exacerbate the crisis That we are living, "said Ortega Díaz.

     She affirmed that she has always been a critical and acute person as to what is the fulfillment of the fundamental text and the law, reason why her actions have always been attached to ethics, moral, honor, honesty, transparency and impartiality. Regarding the case of Leopoldo López, she explained that in Venezuela there is an accusatory justice system, in which the police forces deliver the elements of conviction to the Public Ministry, which then evaluates and evacuates them. Then she goes to a court, an instance to which she has to prosecute the person, a process in which the victims become part. Then the person is convicted in an oral and public trial. Ortega Diaz ratified that she will not resign her position as Attorney General, because she has a homeland commitment and, in addition, the period for which he was appointed expires on 21 December. "The country trusts me; I have the support of the Venezuelans, "said Luisa Ortega Díaz.

 OAS SECRETARY GENERAL: CUBA HAS AN "OCCUPATION ARMY" IN VENEZUELA

           WASHINGTON, D.C.   --Cuba essentially has an "occupation army" in Venezuela with 15,000 Cubans who currently inhabit the South American country, Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro said in a Senate hearing this week. "There are currently about 15,000 Cubans in Venezuela," Almagro said during his testimony before U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday, Panapostreported Thursday. "It's like an occupation army from Cuba in Venezuela."

     Almagro has strongly condemned the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Protests against the government have increased since April. Over 100 have died and more than 360 arrested in opposition protests against Maduro, who has argued for a new constitution for the country, BBC News reported Friday. "If we don't seek to free the prisoners and restore power in Venezuela, there will be no solution to the problem," Almagro told the panel.

     Almagro said he favored sanctions against Maduro's regime in order to calm the crisis of the Venezuelan people. "It is not a question of dismantling a dictatorship and returning to democracy," he said. "It is about a whole structure of drug trafficking in the state." Almagro also tweeted his thoughts on the international outcry against Maduro's government, stating (translated), "The international community has taken away the regime's impunity. Their disregard for constitutional order has become apparent," and "The #Venezuela regime has blood on its hands and should be held accountable for that."

July 23, 2017

MESSAGE FROM LUIS ALMAGRO ON PRELIMINARY OPINION OF THE VENICE COMMISSION ON VENEZUELA

     
WASHINGTON, D.C. --  On June 26, 2017, I requested of the European Commission for Democracy through Law, also known as the Venice Commission, an opinion on the legality of the Presidential decree through which elections for a Constituent Assembly in Venezuela were convened. Today I received the preliminary opinion from the diverse group made up of recognized independent experts in constitutional and electoral issues from Spain, the Czech Republic, Finland, Peru and Mexico.

     Following an exhaustive legal analysis, the Venice Commission arrived at the following conclusions: Only the Venezuelan people have the power to convene elections for the National Constituent Assembly through referenda. That is to say, the Executive branch does not have this power. It also concluded that the regulation of a Constituent Assembly lies exclusively within the power of the National Assembly. Moreover, it indicated that the voting basis to determine representation by territory and sectoral representation violate democratic principles.

    Finally, it mentions that the deficiencies of this procedure and of the voting basis weaken the credibility of the process. Every day there are more voices in the international community that call for the return of democracy to Venezuela. This will only happen when the people can express themselves through free, universal, clean general elections with international observation. That is the only way to leave behind the current political, socio-economic and humanitarian crisis that is sweeping the countr

FORMER CHIEF OF VENEZUELA'S MILITARY INTELLIGENCE: "WE ARE AT THE GATES OF A CIVIL WAR


 
        CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --
 The confrontation in the streets and between the institutions of the Venezuelan State has gone away from the hands of the political representatives and have the country at "the doors of a civil war" in which everyone could would be a loser," he said in an interview with EFE the former director of military intelligence Hugo Carvajall. He was one of the closest to the late President Hugo Chavez and his role in the so-called "Bolivarian revolution" was defended by the Chavists and, personally, by Nicolás Maduro himself when in mid-2014 he was arrested in Aruba, designated by the US for drug trafficking and released shortly by the Dutch authorities.

     The major general, who was in charge of the intelligence department for more than seven years during the governments of the deceased presiden Chavez and his successor Maduro, acknowledged to EFE that the country lives is "a conflict that comes from many things", and in which a negotiation is urgent. The scenario "is the result of an economy crisis" because "three years have passed and we still do not see a light at the end of the tunnel" and pointed out that it has not yet "bottomed out." Without directly blaming the government, Carvajal said that the wave of anti-government protests, which have caused 100 dead, has "a cause well known by the Venezuelan people."

     "This has some special characteristics, it seems sometimes that there are no opposition leaders organizing the protests, something spontaneous is happening there," he said, adding that it is "worthy to analyze" that the protesters "are not afraid." "That could intensify the conflict, I say we are at the gates of a civil war, that is what is coming ... all the steps are being fulfilled," he warned. The ex-head of military intelligence is a critic of the National Constituent Assembly that is led by Maduro to draft a new Magna Carta and to refine the state, which should be elected on July 30. Carvajal said that the Constituent Assembly "will not solve the country's problems".

VENEZUELA DIPLOMAT ISAIAS MEDINA SAYS HE RESIGNED TO PROTEST NICOLAS MADURO'S VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS

           UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK  --Venezuelan diplomat Isaias Medina said he resigned because of the systematic persecution of civilians, “state terrorism” and violations of the constitution by President Nicolas Maduro’s government — and he said Maduro should resign too. Medina, an international lawyer who was a minister counselor at Venezuela’s U.N. Mission, told The Associated Press on Thursday night that the last 100 days, which have left more than 15,000 people injured and over 100 dead, “made a huge impact on me.”

     He said he decided to resign “based on principles” because “it would be hypocritical to remain here not representing what the values of the U.N. Charter are.” And he had a message for Maduro: “Leave the office so that a new government can take place and do their job.” Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s U.N. ambassador, rejected Medina’s remarks and said the diplomat had been fired. “I condemn the conduct of Isaias Medina. We have immediately relieved him of his duties. He does not represent us. He has acted in a dishonest manner,” Ramirez said in one of two Thursday evening tweets on the matter.

     Medina said he worked as a lawyer, including in New York in the 1990s, and had been a diplomat for about two years and four months, almost all that time at the United Nations. He said he represented Venezuela on the General Assembly committee dealing with legal issues and was vice chairman for Latin America at last month’s first-ever U.N. conference on protecting the world’s oceans. “The violence and aggressive repression against students” was the final straw, he said. Medina said it was also “completely incoherent” for Venezuela to be a member of the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council while violating human rights — and to be chairing the U.N.’s decolonization body “while not even allowing the self-determination of its own people.”

July 22, 2017

VENEZUELA OPPOSITION CONGRESS NAMES ALTERNATIVE SUPREME COURT JUDGES

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --  Venezuela's opposition-led congress on Friday appointed alternative judges to the country's Supreme Court, whose current pro-government members have been a bedrock of support for leftist President Nicolas Maduro. While widely seen as symbolic, the move raises the specter of the development of a parallel state. The top court has warned that the naming of the alternate judges is illegal, and they could be jailed.

    Undeterred, opposition lawmakers swore in the 13 new judges and 20 substitute judges in a public plaza to combat what they say is oil-rich Venezuela's slide into dictatorship under Maduro. "We're not backing down, Venezuela will have a Supreme Court of Justice and institutions at the service of the people and not at the service of whatever government is in power," said opposition legislator Carlos Berrizbeitia during the ceremony, where the appointed justices were applauded and cheered on with shouts of "Bravo!"

    Critics hold that the current Supreme Court justices were named illegally by the ruling Socialist Party and rushed in before the opposition took over the legislature in January 2016. "They're pirate magistrates named on the fly," said opposition legislator Juan Requesens in a video streamed live on the Periscope service, which the opposition often uses given limited coverage of their activities on local television channels. In a statement broadcast on state television later on Friday, the Supreme Court blasted the alternative judges who were named by the legislature. "They're undertaking crimes against the independence and security of the nation, in particular, in terms of crimes of treason and against the powers of the nation and states," said Juan Jose Mendoza, the president of the top court's constitutional chamber

VENEZUELA SUPREME COURT ANNULS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY'S APPOINTMENT OF NEW MAGISTRATES


 
        CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --
 The Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) on Thursday annulled the process of the appointment of judges by the pro-opposition National Assembly - the country's parliament - just one day before 33 new judges were due to be sworn in office. The Supreme Court said it was nullifying the process because it was unconstitutional and had led to "the crime of usurpation of functions," and warned of "legal consequences." It added that the assembly was in contempt of court, and therefore "all their acts are void, lacking in validity and legal effectiveness."

    The opposition and Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz say the 33 Supreme Court judges appointed in December 2015, days before pro-Chavez deputies lost control of the Assembly, are illegitimate due to irregularities that occurred during the selection process. Ortega Díaz has raised questions about the judges and said that one of them, a current member of the Constitutional Chamber, was not evaluated by the Republican Moral Council but deliberately appointed by the National Assembly that was at the time presided over by the pro-Chavez Diosdado Cabello.

    The measure was part of an anti-Chavez movement to put pressure on the government, which began with a referendum on July 16 in which 7.5 million people participated, according to the organizers. The referendum result showed that 98 percent of voters rejected the changes in the constitution promoted by the government, wanted the armed forces to comply with parliament's decisions and called for elections and a transitional government. Venezuela has been experiencing a wave of social and political upheaval since April 1, which has so far left 98 dead, some 2,000 wounded and several thousands arrested.

MERCOSUR ASKS VENEZUELA TO PUT OFF VOTE FOR THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

           MENDOZA, ARGENTINA  --The Mercosur trade bloc is asking Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to suspend his plan to rewrite the troubled nation’s constitution. Leaders of the South American group are meeting Friday in the Argentine city of Mendoza. In a statement, they are also offering to help in any talks between Venezuela’s government and the opposition aimed at solving the country’s political and economic crisis.

    Venezuela’s opposition is vowing to intensify near-daily protests against Maduro’s plan to go ahead with a July 30 vote on a constituent assembly to retool the constitution. Maduro’s socialist supporters want the assembly to grant him more power over the few institutions still outside the control of his ruling party. Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress has appointed a slate of new judges to the Supreme Court, and the government-stacked high court is wasting no time in declaring those nominations null and in violation of the constitution.

     Juan Jose Mendoza is head of the constitutional branch of the Supreme Court. He says the 33 judges appointed Friday by the National Assembly are illegally usurping authority by attempting to fulfill the role of the court. Mendoza called on civil and military authorities to respond with actions that he did not specify. Opposition lawmakers have been at odds with the Supreme Court since they won a majority in congress in 2015. They appointed the slate of judges in an escalating fight against President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to rewrite the constitution, a move they see as a power grab. Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay are Mercosur's founding members.

July 21, 2017

U.S. SENATOR RUBIO CALLS TOP VENEZUELAN OFFICIAL DIOSDADO CABELLO THE NEW PABLO ESCOBAR

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --  Members of the United States Congress met to discuss the crumbling situation in Venezuela this week, during which Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio called Diosdado Cabello — dictator Nicolás Maduro’s number-two man — the country’s version of Pablo Escobar. Escobar was the renowned Colombian drug lord whose cartel was responsible for the vast majority of the cocaine that entered the United States during the 1980s. Cabello, along with Vice President Tareck El Aissami, have been accused of running major drug trafficking rings out of Venezuela.

     “There are also very strong allegations made by some people about the role of Diosdado Cabello, an individual who, in my perspective, based on everything I have seen, is not simply a drug-trafficking leader,” Rubio said. “In my opinion, he is the Pablo Escobar of Venezuela.” Rubio also spoke about China’s move to finance Venezuela — a decision he claimed would back-fire. Maduro’s country is a failed state, he argued, whose only hope is to function on a semi-normal economic level, let alone pay back debts to international partners.

     Once the meeting ended, Rubio had more to say about Cabello. “I would not say it if I didn’t have full confidence. It’s up to the Justice Department to take action at the right time. … He is a very dangerous man. More than a political figure, he’s a figure of drug trafficking. ” Rubio has been one of the leading US politicians fighting for the cause in Venezuela. For months, he has denounced the crimes committed by Maduro’s regime. Cabello — who was President of the National Assembly, Venezuela’s parliament — has been made one of the most powerful men in the Maduro regime and thus a prominent leader of drug trafficking in the region.

THE HAGUE ADMITS COMPLAINTS AGAINST DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO


 
        THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS  --
 A group of Colombian and Chilean senators filed on Tuesday a complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Venezuelan DICTATOR Nicolás Maduro, on charges of torture and segregation The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague acknowledged on Wednesday receipt of a complaint lodged by Colombian and Chilean senators against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, on charges of torture and segregation.

    “As with any received notice, it will be analyzed as appropriate, in accordance with the ICC Statute,” the ICC Office of the Prosecutor said, Efe reported.
The ICC added that as soon as a decision is taken, they would notify it to Iván Duque, Senator for the Colombian opposition Centro Democrático party, including the rationale for the resolution. The 56-page document is signed by 76 senators of Colombia and 70 senators of Chile; it is founded on presumed crimes committed by Maduro’s government during nationwide anti-government protests for more than 100 days and with a death toll of 100 so far.

    "It is a document of complaint that is presented to the ICC Prosecutor's Office, where we are accusing Nicolás Maduro of crimes that are the jurisdiction of that court as torture, apartheid for segregation and excessive attack on a segment of the population, selective homicides , Massive catches and deportations, "Duque told EFE by telephone. The 56-page report is signed by 76 senators from Colombia and more than 70 from Chile, and is based on alleged crimes that they believe the Maduro government has committed during the opposition protests that began against its executive. 100 days and in which 100 people have died.

MERCOSUR CONSIDERS CALLING ON VENEZUELA TO "RECOVER" ITS DEMOCRACY

           MENDOZA, ARGENTINA  --The Common Market of the South (Mercosur) analyzes the issuance of a document calling on Venezuela to "recover full democracy" and does not rule out a sanction during the presidential summit in the Argentine city of Mendoza. Argentine Foreign Minister, Jorge Faurie. Venezuela was suspended in December of Mercosur for non-compliance with the requirements of the regional bloc to exercise as a full member, and the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday in which it declared "illegal" the summit that today and tomorrow that is celebrated in Argentina.

    Faurie warned that "there is a pending sanction that could be on the side of exclusion from the point of view of participation in Mercosur bodies." The head of Argentine diplomacy clarified however that the block does not apply commercial sanctions because it is an integration process. The government of Nicolás Maduro will not participate in the summit held at the foot of the Andes mountains, but anyway "Venezuela will be an unavoidable question" at the meeting, said Argentine Deputy Foreign Minister Guillermo Raimondi, DPA. The Argentine foreign minister stressed "the need from the Mercosur to draw attention clearly on the situation that crosses Venezuela." The founding partners of the regional market, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, are debating at this time the terms in which they will make the appeal to Caracas.

    "Our expectation is that from Mercosur we could call on Venezuela and the Venezuelan authorities to recover full democracy, full respect for human rights, to end arbitrary detentions, to end political prisoners which is a tragedy for History of Latin America, "Faurie told Miter radio, before opening the session of the Common Market Council in Mendoza. "We are very worried about the fact that this call for the National Constituent Assembly is going to be a factor of complete alteration and even deeper division among the sectors of Venezuelan life," said the chancellor of Argentina, who holds the presidency Pro tempore of the bloc until its transfer tomorrow to Brazil.

July 20, 2017

VENEZUELAN DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO DEFIES PRESIDENT TRUMP OVER CONSTITUTION RE-WRITE

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --   Dictator Nicolas Maduro said that controversial plans to re-write Venezuela’s constitution will move ahead “now more than ever” following US President Donald Trump’s threat of economic sanctions. Maduro, speaking late Tuesday to the country’s Defense Council, also said the government will launch a “special emergency justice plan” to capture anti-administration “conspirators,” who will then receive “exemplary punishment.” The sharp words came after Trump on Monday warned of unspecified “strong and swift economic actions” against Venezuela if the July 30 Constituent Assembly election was held.

    An unofficial plebiscite held by opponents to the leftist regime over weekend saw 7.6 million voters — out of an electorate of 19 million — reject the planned Constituent Assembly and support early elections. The opposition, which controls the National Assembly, fears that Maduro’s plan is designed to keep the leftist administration in power indefinitely. Trump slammed Maduro as “a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator,” and said that the United States “will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles.” The United States and Venezuela have had decades of tense relations, dating back to the time of Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s mentor and predecessor who died in 2013.

    Venezuela, which is almost entirely reliant on its oil exports for revenues, ships a third of its crude production to the United States. Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada said Maduro had ordered a “profound review” of ties with Washington. Neither country has had an ambassador in the other since 2010. “There is no power in this world that can break the will to be free and independent,” a defiant Maduro told the Defense Council, a gathering of most senior government officials. “Now more than ever” Venezuela will proceed with the Constituent Assembly, he said. Maduro’s tough rhetoric comes ahead of a 24-hour nationwide strike set for Thursday, launching what the political opposition calls a “final offensive” to push him out of office. Venezuela has endured near-continuous protests for nearly four months that have left 100 people dead.

VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION VOWS TO FORM NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT


 
        CARACAS, VENEZUELA --
 The MUD opposition alliance said on Monday that it will form a national unity government after 98 percent of the more than 7 million Venezuelans who took part in an unofficial referendum voted against President Nicolas Maduro’s plan for a constitutional convention. “On Wednesday, we will take the first step toward formation of a government of national union,” MUD’s Freddy Guevara told a press conference. The opposition staged on Sunday a plebiscite on the Maduro administration’s proposal for a National Constituent Assembly with authority to overhaul the 1998 constitution.

    More than 7.6 million people cast ballots, according to figures offered by Guevara, the deputy speaker of the National Assembly. Venezuela has 19.1 million eligible voters. Those who voted against the Constituent Assembly gave the opposition a “clear, resounding and undeniable mandate” to move forward with the creation of an alternative government, Guevara said. Besides rejecting the Constituent Assembly, an overwhelming majority of those who took part voted in favor of appealing to the military to uphold the existing constitution and endorsed the installation of a transitional government to oversee elections this year, ahead of the presidential ballot scheduled for 2018.

    If the administration refuses to call off elections to the Constituent Assembly, the opposition will “deepen the national political conflict until we achieve liberty,” Guevara said hours after MUD convened a general strike for Thursday. Maduro, however, said that he would not back down over the Constituent Assembly, while members of his administration accused MUD of exaggerating the number of people who voted in the referendum. The leftist president seemed particularly irked by a statement from the European Union’s top foreign policy official insisting that Caracas “suspend” the Constituent Assembly and suggesting that Venezuela could face EU sanctions.

VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR NATIONWIDE STRIKE THIS THURSDAY, JULY 20

           CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --The call for a strike comes a day after an unofficial referendum rejects dictator Nicolas Maduro's proposed constitutional reforms. Venezuela's opposition officials called for a nationwide strike against Maduro to protest against his plan to rewrite the constitution, ratcheting up tensions after they held an unofficial vote rejecting his proposal. The 24-hour strike planned for Thursday, issued on Monday, was part of what the opposition called a "final offensive" aimed at forcing Maduro out through early elections, before his term ends in 2019. "We are calling all the country to take part in a massive and violence-free protest through a nationwide civic strike for 24 hours," said one leader in the opposition coalition, Freddy Guevara.

     He said the stoppage was a "mechanism for pressure and to prepare for the definitive escalation to take place next week". Al Jazeera's John Holman, reporting from Cucuta in neighboring Colombia, said that the opposition was "stepping things up". On Sunday, in an event organized by the opposition, more than 7million Venezuelans 19 million voters rejected Maduro's bid to have a citizens' body or "Constituent Assembly" elected on July 30 to redraft the constitution. US President Donald Trump weighed in on Monday, warning Caracas of "swift economic actions" if Maduro delivers on his bid, calling the Venezuelan president a "bad leader who dreams of being a dictator".

     "The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles," Trump said in a statement, as he praised the opposition's unofficial poll. The European Union's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said that Maduro should suspend his plan, or he "risks further polarising the country and increasing confrontation". "[Mogherini] tried to give orders to the government of Venezuela. 'Insolent', she believes that we are in 1809 when we received orders from European empires," he said. "Venezuela is a free and sovereign country and no one gives orders ... You chose the wrong country. Venezuela is not a colony of the European Union, it is not a colony of Europe." Meanwhile, Brazil's foreign ministry praised the high turnout in the plebiscite and called on Maduro to shelve his Constituent Assembly idea.

July 19, 2017

VENEZUELA FOREIGN MINISTER, SAMUEL MONCADA, REJECTS PRESIDENT TRUMP SANCTIONS THREAT

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --   Venezuela rejected President Donald Trump's call to halt a rewriting of its constitution that is widely seen as a move to consolidate the government's power, saying Tuesday that it is reviewing its relations with the United States in response to Trump's threat to impose economic sanctions. Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada said on state television that the election of members of a constitutional assembly will take place as planned on July 30. He said President Nicolas Maduro has asked him to reconsider the country's diplomatic relations with the U.S. "The constitutional assembly is happening," Moncada said, adding that Venezuela is "conducting a deep review of relations with the U.S. government because we don't accept humiliation from anyone."

    On Monday, Trump threatened to take unspecified "economic actions" if Maduro goes ahead with the assembly. Maduro's socialist supporters want the assembly to grant him more power over the few institutions still outside the control of his ruling party. The U.S. is a major market for the oil exports that drive Venezuela's economy. Trump has imposed travel bans and has frozen the assets of high-ranking officials in recent weeks, but refrained from broad sanctions against the country that could deepen its economic crisis.Venezuela's opposition called Monday for a 24-hour nationwide strike to pressure Maduro to drop his plans to rewrite the constitution. The opposition said that more than 7.5 million people voted against the constitutional assembly at unofficial ballot boxes set up nationwide and in expatriate communities Sunday.

     While that number cannot be independently verified, it's roughly equivalent to the number of votes garnered by winning candidates in recent Venezuelan elections, an indication that Venezuelans would vote down the constitutional assembly if asked in an official referendum. Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Colombia and the European Union have also come out against the effort. The opposition said it would launch a plan it called "zero hour" on Wednesday that includes an agreement to form an alternate government and create 2,000 local committees that would function as street-level support for the opposition. That would be followed Thursday by a nationwide strike, which could bring much of Venezuela's already sputtering economy to a standstill. Venezuela's largest chamber of commerce told The Associated Press that its members would not punish employees for participating in the strike.

"WE ARE GOING TO GIVE A HARD BLOW TO THOSE RATS;"  GNB COMMANDER'S ORDERS FOR THURSDAY


 
        CARACAS, VENEZUELA --
 "On Thursday, fire to be lit, a fire to be extinguished. We shall get a victory, "says a message sent by Telegram to the Venezuelan area commanders The order of the National Guard for Thursday, July 20, the date in which the 24-hour civic strike was scheduled, is to suppress any manifestation or protest that arises against the government of dictator Nicolás Maduro.

    The commander-in-chief of the military component sent to the zone commands a message by Telegram in which it demands to prepare the troops to "put out any small fire to be arrested," sources told El Nacional Web. "What we have to do is to sharpen the marks and give a hard blow to those scrawny rats on Thursday. I like their commander, I trust that we will implement the mandate without any problems," says the letter. In the text, The Commander in Chief also points out that the opposition, whom he refers to as "traitors to the homeland", barely achieved 1.5 million participation in the plebiscite, when in reality the figure exceeded 7.5 million

     Commanders of tactical units, this order is, clear, simple and easy to fulfill, on Thursday again, a small fire lifted, a small fire to be quickly extinguished , we shall obtain a complete victory; Prepare your troops, organize your units and prepare yourselves to give a strong response on Thursday, we trust that today we carry out with morale high against the frustration and lies of the squalid and traitors of the motherland that being generous only moved 1.500,000 people , Yesterday, our people responded in the Simulations and the people trusted us, we have to refine the aim and give a hard blow to those emaciated rats this Thursday. I, as your Commander, fully trust that we will perform our assignment without incident or hesitation. The Revolutionary Venezuela will continue and live forever. Accuse Receipt.

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY THANKED THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY FOR ITS SUPPORT FOR THE MUD ACTIVITIES

           CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --The Foreign Policy Committee of the National Assembly, chaired by Deputy Luis Florido, thanked the "support provided by the international community" for the activity of the Table of Democratic Unity on 16 July. Through a press release, the Foreign Policy Committee thanked the international recognition, specifically of the countries: Germany, Brazil, Canada, United States, Spain, Puerto Rico, Panama, Peru and the European Union.

     The note of appreciation also highlights the pressure exerted by the international community to the government of Nicolás Maduro urgent it "to respect the results of those who do not accept the convocation of the Executive to a National Constituent Assembly." In addition, the NA fully supported the communiqué addressed to the international community by the international observers Laura Chinchilla and Miguel Rodríguez (Costa Rica) so that "the governments of the hemisphere do not allow the indifference of others concerning what is happening in Venezuela.

     At the same time, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela declared on Monday as "none grata persons" the former presidents of Bolivia, Jorge Quiroga; Of Colombia, Andrés Pastrana; And Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, who participated as observers of the activities carried out by the MUD on Sunday. The declaration was released by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Samuel Moncada, through his Twitter account, in which he said that the former presidents "abused the generosity of our people." To this list is added former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who also participated as an "observer" and according to Moncada he also "abused the hospitality of the Venezuelan people."

July 18, 2017

VENEZUELA OPPOSITION CALLED FOR A 24 HORA "CIVIC STRIKE" FOR THURSDAY

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --   Venezuelan opposition leaders called Monday for escalated street protests after more than 7 million people rejected a government plan to rewrite the constitution and consolidate power over the country, which has been stricken by shortages and inflation and riven by more than 100 days of clashes between protesters and police. The opposition said 7,186,170 Venezuelans participated in a symbolic referendum rejecting President Nicolas Maduro’s plans for the July 30 election of an assembly that would remake the country’s political system. Maduro’s allies have called on the assembly to impose executive branch authority over the few remaining institutions outside the control of Venezuela’s socialist ruling party.

      A coalition of some 20 opposition parties met Monday to call for a “zero hour” campaign of civil disobedience in the two weeks leading to the government vote. More than three months of opposition protests have left at least 93 people dead and 1,500 wounded. More than 500 protesters and government opponents have been jailed. “Right now we have to escalate and deepen this street movement,” National Assembly President Julio Borges told local radio station Exitos ahead of the opposition announcement, which was delayed more than two hours into the early afternoon as the opposition discussed its next steps behind closed doors.

     The vote on Sunday was marred by violence when a 61-year-old woman was killed and four people wounded by gunfire after government supporters on motorcycles swarmed an opposition polling site in a church in western Caracas. The opposition released only turnout numbers Sunday night, not tallies of responses, although virtually all who voted were believed to have answered “yes” to the central rejection of the constitutional rewrite. In smaller numbers in many parts of the capital, government supporters went to polling stations in a rehearsal for the July 30 vote. Maduro and the military dominate most state institutions but the opposition controls the congress and holds three of 23 governorships. The country’s chief prosecutor has recently broken with the ruling party.
 

PRESIDENT TRUMP THREATENS SANCTIONS IF VENEZUELA IMPOSES THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY


 
        Washington, d.c.  --
 U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Monday to take "strong and swift economic actions" if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro goes ahead with plans to create a super-legislature known as a Constituent Assembly in a July 30 vote. "Yesterday, the Venezuelan people again made clear that they stand for democracy, freedom and rule of law. Yet their strong and courageous actions continue to be ignored by a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator," Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. "The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles.

      If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions," Trump said. Maduro's foes are demanding a presidential election and want to stop the leftist leader's plan to create the Constituent Assembly, which would have the power to rewrite the constitution and annul the opposition-led legislature. On Sunday, 98 percent of opposition supporters in an unofficial vote rejected the proposed assembly. Maduro insists opposition leaders are U.S. pawns intent on sabotaging the economy and bringing him down through violence as part of an international right-wing conspiracy led by Washington and fanned by private domestic and foreign media.

     Senior White House officials told Reuters last month the Trump administration was considering sanctions on Venezuela's vital energy sector, including state oil company PDVSA, a major escalation in U.S. efforts to pressure the country's government amid a crackdown on the opposition. The White House officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the United States could hit PDVSA as part of a “sectoral” sanctions package that would take aim at the OPEC nation’s entire energy industry for the first time. They made clear the administration was moving cautiously, mindful that if such an unprecedented step was taken, it could deepen the country’s economic and social crisis, in which millions suffer food shortages and soaring inflation.

EUROPEAN UNION URGES VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT TO SEEK "POLITICAL GESTURES" TO UNDO TENSIONS

           BRUSSELS, BELGIUM  -- European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Monday urged Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro to "suspend" the process for a Constituent Assembly and warned that "all options," such as Sanctions, are on the table. "We think it would be useful if the (Venezuelan) government seeks political gestures to undo tensions, create better conditions to resume work towards a negotiated peaceful solution and suspend the process of holding a Constituent Assembly," Mogherini told a news conference at the conclusion of a meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU.

     "Obviously there are always all the options on the table for political consideration," she added when asked about the possibility of applying sanctions to the Government of Maduro if it convenes the Constituent Assembly elections, scheduled for July 30. "I hope the time from now to July 31 can be used wisely to seek the unity of the country and avoid any further escalation," said Italian policy. On the other hand, Mogherini stressed the importance of the countries of the region to be involved in a search for a way out of the crisis ", for example, the creation of a group of friends accepted by both the Government and the opposition to accompany the process of a peaceful solution. "

    In her opinion, "there is still room to resume serious negotiations" with the accompaniment of this "group of friends." "The region is diverse enough to offer many different participants to that group and we would be more than happy to support such a regional process by all means," she said. "We have worked so hard for regional peace and stability, including Colombia. We have such good relations with the countries of the region, including the Caribbean, that we feel a certain political and moral responsibility to try to support and help in every way possible." She concluded.

July 17, 2017

VENEZUELA OPPOSITION AND INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS REPORT THAT MORE THAN 7 MILLION VOTED IN ANTI-MADURO PLEBISCITE

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --   More than 7 million Venezuelans voted in Sunday's unofficial referendum held by the opposition to heap pressure on President Nicolas Maduro and repudiate his plan to rewrite the OPEC nation's constitution, monitors said. The symbolic plebiscite was aimed at denting Maduro's legitimacy further amid a crippling economic crisis that has left millions struggling to eat and months of anti-government unrest that has killed nearly 100 people. Opposition leaders hailed it as a success, while also mourning the death of one woman killed by gunmen in Caracas during the voting.

      "Today, July 16, dignity won and tyranny lost," said opposition leader Maria Corina Machado. "We have given an indisputable mandate for a new Venezuela starting tomorrow." Maduro, 54, dismissed Sunday's poll as unconstitutional and is campaigning instead for a July 30 vote to create a legislative superbody that would have the power to rewrite the constitution and dissolve state institutions.
Voters were asked three questions at Sunday's event and an overwhelming 98 percent chose to reject the proposed new assembly, urge the military to defend the existing constitution, and support elections before Maduro's term ends in early 2019, according to academics monitoring the vote for the opposition.

     Sunday's participation by nearly 7.2 million Venezuelan voters compared with 7.7 million opposition votes in the 2015 legislative elections, which they won by a landslide, and the 7.3 million votes for the opposition in a 2013 presidential poll narrowly won by Maduro. The event appeared to rejuvenate the opposition amid weariness with street protests, but does not augur for a change of government in the short term or a solution to the political stalemate. The opposition described it as an act of civil disobedience that will be followed by "zero hour," a possible reference to a national strike or other escalated actions against Maduro.

SPAIN AND GERMANY ASK DICTATOR MADURO TO RETHINK ANC AFTER HISTORIC POPULAR REJECTION


 
    BRUSSELS, BELGIUM --
The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Alfonso Dastis, called on Monday for the European Union to explore the possibility of imposing sanctions against the government of Nicolas Maduro, if the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) is held. Dastis stressed in an intervention before the Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU developed in Brussels, that the celebration of a constituent referendum would be a step of "difficult return", diplomatic sources told Efe.

      Therefore, it considered that it should not be ruled out in that context to examine the possibility of specific, individual and selective sanctions, in order to avoid continuing in a situation of "paralysis", according to the sources. Elections of the Constituent Assembly are scheduled for July 30. The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini, alluded in her introductory words to the crisis in Venezuela, where more than seven million citizens have rejected in a referendum a Constituent Assembly to change the Constitution, as Maduro promotes.

    On arrival at the meeting, the Spanish minister had stressed in any case that, for the moment, it is not time for the Union to impose restrictive measures on the Government of Maduro, which is faced in Parliament by an opposition majority. "We have always said that the Constituent Assembly is not the future, that the future is to fulfill the Constitution that the Venezuelans gave at the time," Dastis told reporters on his arrival. The head of the community diplomacy also stressed that Spain supports the ordinary Assembly, from which "the solution must come". For his part, the German government considers that the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, has to rethink the call of the National Constituent Assembly after the opposition consultation in which 7.3 million people showed their opposition to the plan of reforms of the executive. "From our point of view, the plebiscite clearly expressed the will of the country.

VENEZUELA FOREIGN MINISTER DECLARES FORMER MEXICAN PRESIDENT VICENTE FOX PERSONA NON GRATA FOR CALLING MADURO "A DICTATOR"

           CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -- On Sunday, around 98 percent of the Venezuelans voted against calling the national Constituent Assembly by the initiative of President Nicolas Maduro. Around 7.2 million people participated in the vote. According to media reports, Fox Quesada had traveled to Venezuela as part of a group of former Latin American presidents to demonstrate their support for the vote.

     "As a foreign minister of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, I declare Mr. Vicente Fox persona non grata, he had abused the hospitality of our people offending it. Mr. Fox came to Venezuela after being paid to promote violence and interference of foreign states," Moncada wrote on Twitter. The Venezuelan minister of foreign affairs added that Fox Quesada had already left Venezuela and would not be able to visit the country again. "As a preemptive measure for the protection of our people, Mr. Fox will not ever be able to come back to Venezuela," Moncada added.

      On Sunday, the Mexican Foreign Ministry supported in a statement the oppositional referendum in Venezuela. In the document, Mexico expressed hope that the vote’s results would be taken into account by both the Venezuelan government and opposition to allow for the reestablishment of the democratic order in the country. While the Venezuelan National Election council considers the opposition’s referendum non-binding as only the legislative authorities have the right to call the nationwide vote, the opposition forces claim that under constitution they have a right to carry out the consultancy vote. The election to the Constituent Assembly is scheduled for June 30. The authority is to be in charge of reforming the constitution prompting protests of the opposition forces.

July 16, 2017

VENEZUELAN CARDINAL JORGE UROSA ASKS THAT THE POPULAR AWAITED PLEBISCITE BE ALLOWED WITHOUT ANY VIOLENCE

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --   The archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, called on the government to allow without violence the realization today of the plebiscite convened by the National Assembly. Through a statement, Urosa Savino called to prevent any violent attack on Venezuelans participating in the event.

     The Communiqué

1. Tomorrow, Sunday, July 16, yhe Day of Our Lady of the Carmen, a popular consultation will be held throughout the country, convened by opposition leaders and specifically by the National Assembly. To show the acceptance or rejection of the Constituent Assembly and other two issues of great importance for the Venezuelan people. This consultation is absolutely legitimate, as affirmed by the Bishops of Venezuela

2. For this reason, as Archbishop of Caracas, I make a call to allow this popular plebiscite to be carried out without violence.

3. To accomplish this, it is necessary that the State security forces, serve the entire Venezuelan people without any distinction, provide protection to the people who direct the plebiscite, and prevent any violent attack on the Venezuelans who participate on it.

4. We hope that Venezuelans can express their opinions without any obstacles! That the political rights of the people are respected. Let us pray to God and to Mary Most Holy of Carmen that we may all live in peace, as brothers.

EVERYTHING READY FOR THE AWAITED PLEBISCITE THIS SUNDAY # 16JUL


 
    CARACAS, VENEZUELA -
The Venezuelan opposition is holding today the plebiscite against the dictator Nicolás Maduro and his Constituent Assembly draft, after three and a half months of violent protests against the president. "Everything is ready. Today the country will not only reject the Constituent Assembly, it will give a mandate that is to demand the change of regime, the exit of the dictatorship and the beginning of the transition with a government of national union ", said yesterday the courageous leader Maria Corina Machado . Opponents are confident that the plebiscite "will show the world" that the majority of the Venezuelans opposes Maduro's initiative to reform the Constitution and considers it a "fraud" to keep him in power.

    According to the pollster Datanálisis, 70% of Venezuelans reject the proposed Constituent Assembly. "We expect a 62% participation for Sunday, we can reach 11 million people," said opposition leader Henrique Capriles, citing figures from s Datanálisis poll. Maduro considers the plebiscite illegal, alleging that only the National Electoral Council (CNE) - accused of serving the government - can carry out such processes. In parallel to the consultation, the CNE will hold a mock voting of the Constituent Assembly today, 545 of which will be elected on July 30. At the same time, opponents consider it an act of "provocation."

    "That day defines the fate of Venezuela. We are going with the Constituent Assembly to save the country, "said the dictator, whose management is rejected by seven out of ten Venezuelans in the midst of economic devastation. The plebiscite will be held in the middle of a wave of opposition protests that this Saturday completes three and a half months, leaving at least 100 dead. The demonstrations demand Maduro's departure from power through general elections and reject the Constituent Assembly, which according to the Socialist president is the "only way" to restore peace and revive the economy, which lasted three years of strong contraction. Five former presidents from the region arrived Saturday to participate, along with deputies and electoral experts from several countries, who will closely follow the opposition process.

THE FIVE FORMER PRESIDENTS CAME TO VENEZUELA TO OBSERVE THE PLEBISCITE BEING CONDUCTE BY THE VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION

           WASHINGTON, D.C.   --The committee of former presidents of Latin America who will participate as observers in the process of popular consultation convened by the Democratic Unity Table (MUD) for Sunday, July 16 arrived in Venezuela on Saturday morning. Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, Vicente Fox of Mexico, Andrés Pastrana of Colombia, Jorge Tuto Quiroga of Bolivia, and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez of Costa Rica arrived in the country on a commercial flight that landed at Simón Bolívar International Airport In Maiquetía at 11:15 am. After completing the immigration procedures they left the international terminal at 11:45 am.

    "While the government uses arms, the opposition uses democracy and that's what tomorrow will see here in this country, that Venezuelans are going to vote as established by the Constitution itself ... Tomorrow the people will choose their own destiny" , He said. He affirmed that there were no problems in immigration when he arrived in the country with former Latin American leaders Laura Chinchilla, from Costa Rica, Vicente Fox from Mexico, Jorge Tuto Quiroga from Bolivia, and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez from Costa Rica to participate as observers in The process of popular consultation convened by the Bureau of Democratic Unity (MUD) for this Sunday, July 16.

     The former president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, said that what is important for the day of popular consultation on this July 16 is that people participate and that is in a number so important that there is no doubt what is the will of the town. Chincilla said that when governments lose legitimacy they have only two exits left. "One is to submit again to the votes and the other is to resort to repression that is what has been happening in recent months in Venezuela," he said. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox sent a message to the Venezuelan government in His arrival in the country to attend as an observer of the popular consultation of this July 16. "To the government that is ready, to finish this carnage, from outside what is seen is blood, deaths. The people must make their decisions, "he said.

July 15, 2017

UNITED NATIONS CHIEF CALLS FOR URGENT NATIONAL DIALOGUE IN VENEZUELA

     
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK  --   United Nations (United States) (AFP) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for a national dialogue in Venezuela to end the crisis there just days before a symbolic, opposition-led vote on the government's plan to rewrite the constitution. "Our concern regarding Venezuela is more present than ever," Guterres said in a statement. "A national dialogue is urgently needed in Venezuela between the government and the opposition."

     The dialogue would focus on ending violence and ensuring agreement on the way forward regarding the constitution, he added. The appeal came ahead of a symbolic vote on Sunday, organized by the opposition-led National Assembly, on President Nicolas Maduro's bid to hold an election July 30 for a new assembly tasked with drafting a constitution. At least 90 people have died in more than three months of protests against Maduro. His opponents accuse him of authoritarianism as the country faces crippling shortages of food, medicine and other essentials. "The way out is through an agreement, elections and respect for fundamental rights and constitutional powers," said Guterres.

     "The way out must be found by Venezuelans alone, and the international community must support peaceful outcomes based on political dialogue. "Only a political solution can restore hope to Venezuela," he added. The United Nations has kept its distance from the Venezuela crisis to allow regional players the space to try to mediate an end to the crisis. The United States raised concerns about Venezuela at the UN Security Council in May, but there have been no subsequent requests for the top UN body to become involved. US Ambassador Nikki Haley said last month, however, that the "international community must act" after a US-backed proposal for mediation failed to win support at the Organization of American States (OAS).

THE UNITED NATIONS URGES THE BOLIVARIAN GOVERNMENT OF VENEZUELA TO RESPECT THE POPULAR CONSULTATION OF 16 JULY


 
    Brussels, bELGIUM -
THE UNITED NATIONS URGES the Venezuelan government to respect the plebiscite that the opposition wants to hold against the Constituent Assembly convened by President Nicolás Maduro, a claim that the Venezuelan representative before the organization in Geneva considered "unusual," AFP said. The United Nations "urges the authorities to respect the wishes of those who want to participate" in the popular consultation organized by the opposition on Sunday, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Liz Throssel told reporters.

     For the Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the UN in Geneva, Jorge Valero, this call "seems to endorse or support the pseudo consultation", whose intention, he said in a statement, "is no other than to form a government parallel to the margin of all legality" . "The plebiscite figure is not contemplated in the Constitution or in any other legal instrument," Valero said, according to the statement. The Venezuelan opposition convened earlier this month a plebiscite for citizens to express whether or not they agree with the Constituent Assembly proposed by President Maduro to rewrite the Magna Carta.

     Opposition MP Freddy Guevara called the popular referendum "the most important act of civil disobedience in the history of Venezuela." Throssel also urged the Caracas government to stop appealing to military tribunals to try civilians, a practice "which has advanced in recent weeks" and which is "contrary to international human rights law." He said it was "essential that the government take measures to ensure that the security forces do not use excessive force against demonstrators." Since the start of demonstrations against the government of Nicolás Maduro, on April 1, about 100 people were killed and 1,519 injured, he said, citing the prosecutor general of Venezuela. However, the UN estimates that the number of injuries is higher.

FIVE EX-PRESIDENTS ACCEPT INVITATION TO WITNESS PLEBISCITE ON JUNE 16 IN VENEZUELA

           WASHINGTON, D.C.   --At least five ex Latin American presidents are heading for Venezuela in reply to an invitation from the National Assembly (AN) in connection with a plebiscite convened by the opposition coalition Unified Democratic Panel (MUD). Idea received an invitation from the president of the National Assembly, the opponent Julio Borges, to attend the plebiscite that will take place this Sunday to delegitimize the constitutional change that the Government intends to carry out.

     This is Idea's second mission to Venezuela, where it already sent one in December 2015 for the parliamentary elections in which the opposition Democratic Mesa gained control of the National Assembly. Former presidents of this second mission have meetings with Venezuelan national actors and representatives of the Catholic Church, as well as with "the families of the 94 victims of the repression" of the protests of the last 100 days, Aguiar review. The former presidents do not rule out the possibility of meeting with senior authorities, including Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the Democratic Initiative for Spain and the Americas (IDEA) reported on Thursday.

     In a statement, Asdrúbal Aguiar, IDEA director general, specified that the mission will be composed of Laura Chinchilla, from Costa Rica; Vicente Fox, from Mexico; Andrés Pastrana, from Colombia; Jorge Quiroga, from Bolivia, and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, from Costa Rica. IDEA received an invitation from Congress Speaker Julio Borges to attend the event scheduled for Sunday, July 16, in order to disavow a constitutional reform attempted by the Venezuelan government. This is the second IDEA mission to Venezuela. Earlier, in December 2015, took part in the parliamentary elections, where the opposition took over the National Assembly.
        

July 14, 2017

MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT (MPEs) WILL NOT RECOGNIZE "ILLEGAL" CONSTITUENT IN VENEZUELA

     
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM  --   A group of European parliamentarians today signed a public statement calling for "plural" elections as "the only democratic and peaceful way to resolve the situation" in Venezuela and warn that the European Parliament (EP) will not recognize an "illegal" Constituent assembly . "We insist that elections are today the only democratic and peaceful way of resolving the situation in Venezuela. Celebrating plural elections would really provide the floor to the people," said the chairmen of the Foreign Affairs Committee, David McAllister, of the Assembly Eurolat, Ramón Jáuregui, and Francisco Assis, the Mercosur delegate of the European Parliament.

 Venezuela" and make a call "once again, the respect for peace and democracy." The Venezuelan National Government has called for the election of a National Constituent Assembly (ANC), which will draft a new constitution on 30 July, an "unacceptable step," according to MEPs. "This step is unacceptable in form and content, throws serious doubts about its constitutionality and threatens the essential principles of democracy as the universal, free, direct and secret vote," they say. Parliamentarians warn that "the European Parliament will not recognize the results of this process that leads to the illegal and illegitimate establishment of a National Constituent Assembly."

     "However," the MPEs added, "a lot more can be done to stop the escalation of the conflict in Venezuela. We therefore call for the European Union, together with international and regional organizations, to support a process of mediation in order to reach a national agreement without excluding other measures in the event of continued and repeated violation of human rights. " On the other hand, the opposition hopes that next Sunday, 14 of the country's 20 million voters will vote in the plebiscite that the opposition has called on the margin of the Electoral Power on the acceptance or rejection of the process promoted by the President's Government Nicolás Maduro. MEPs consider that the Constituent Assembly "does not respect democratic principles" and believe that the call promoted by Maduro "is not going to bring peace, but to foster divisions and confrontations."

LEOPOLDO LOPEZ TOLD RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO THAT THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY INTENDS TO ANNIHILATE THE REPUBLIC


 
    CARACAS, VENEZUELA -
The Venezuelan opposition leader received former householder José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero at his house, where he is being held under house arrest. He told Rodríguez Zapatero that for him, the Constituent Assembly that the government drives is a "project to annihilate the republic." The first vice-president of the National Assembly (AN, Parliament), opposition leader Freddy Guevara, told the media on Wednesday that Rodríguez Zapatero and López had a conversation about "repression" and "growing conflict" in the country.

     Guevara, who visited Lopez following his meeting with Rodríguez Zapatero, said the opposition leader told the former president that Venezuelans will not allow President Nicolás Maduro's government to carry out his “Republic annihilation project". Rodríguez Zapatero visited López at his home where he has been held since last Saturday when he received a house arrest measure which allows him to leave a military prison in which he had been since 2014. Guevara confirmed that Lopez also held telephone conversations on Wednesday with Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, and with the President of Spain, Mariano Rajoy.

    "To Luis Almagro, the first thing Leopoldo Lopez did was to thank him for all the fight he has done for Venezuela. Leopoldo was very moved (...) and invited him to come to Venezuela, "said Guevara. Of the conversation with Rajoy noted: "they talked about the current situation, thanked him for his firm position on the Venezuelan issue. The Spanish president ratified the concern and the rejection that they have to the call Constituent assembly planned by Nicolás Maduro ". On the other hand, Guevara stressed that the opposition leader asked him to "ratify to the people" his "firm" call to participate massively this July 16 in the plebiscite against the Constituent Assembly. "And to organize to defend the will of the people of Venezuela from that moment on," he added.

US NAMES INTERIM CHARGE D'AFFAIRES AT EMBASSY IN HAVANA


 
      WASHINGTON, D.C.   -- 
The U.S. Embassy in Cuba has a new interim chief at its seaside building in Havana: career diplomat Scott Hamilton. Hamilton, who has served as deputy chief of mission since July 2015, replaces Jeffrey DeLaurentis as Chargé d’Affaires. A brief notice posted on the embassy website does not specifically mention the change of guard or reasons for DeLaurentis’ departure, although he has publicly stated that the island would likely be his final post before retiring. A spokesman for the embassy told el Nuevo Herald on Tuesday that DeLaurentis completed his three-year cycle as head of the embassy on July 7.

     “His departure is part of the normal rotation cycle of career diplomats,” a spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Havana said in an email.“Deputy Chief of Mission Scott Hamilton will serve as the Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, until further notice. The President will decide when and if we nominate an ambassador to Cuba or any country.” Regarding Ambassador DeLaurentis’ next assignment, the spokesman said: “I don’t have an announcement to make on that at this time.” DeLaurentis, a longtime diplomat, became the first to head a U.S. Embassy on Cuban soil in more than a half century, after both nations reestablished diplomatic relations. DeLaurentis, who played a fundamental role in mending relations with Havana, was nominated by former President Barack Obama to serve as U.S. ambassador.

     But the nomination was blocked in the Senate by Florida Republican Marco Rubio, who said the post should not be filled until the Cuban government made strides on the issues of human rights and claims for property confiscated from the United States. The State Department has not yet published a formal statement on DeLaurentis’ departure and he still appears as the person in charge on the embassy’s website. A notice published by the island-based Cuba Posible website bidding DeLaurentis farewell said he returned to the U.S. on July 8. Hamilton, a senior foreign service officer, will lead the embassy under President Donald Trump and a revamped Cuba policy, which, while not relinquishing diplomatic relations with the Cuban government, seeks to put more pressure on thorny issues such as human rights and the return of U.S. fugitives living in Cuba.

July 13, 2017

U.S. WARNS VENEZUELA WITH SANCTIONS OVER MADURO'S CALL TO REWRITE THE CONSTITUTION

     
WASHINGTON, D.C. --   The Trump administration is warning that it might impose more sanctions on Venezuelan officials over President Nicolas Maduro's push to rewrite the constitution amid an escalating political crisis with near-daily demonstrations calling for his ouster. A U.S. State Department official expressed "deep concerns" Tuesday about the socialist leader's motivation for calling a constitutional convention as he grapples with widespread anger over Venezuela's economic struggles. "What President Maduro is trying to do yet again is trying to change the rules of the game," said Michael Fitzpatrick, deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

     "The actions that were taken yesterday may well give us new reasons for considering additional individualized sanctions." Opposition leaders called for a major march Wednesday in Caracas, seeking to keep the heat on Maduro after a month of unrelenting protests. On Tuesday, protesters disrupted traffic in the capital by blocking streets with broken concrete, twisted metal and flaming piles of trash. Police used tear gas to scatter demonstrators as they have almost every day for weeks. Maduro began the week by signing a decree to begin the process of rewriting Venezuela's constitution, which was pushed through in 1999 by his predecessor and mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez.

    Opposition leaders called the planned constitutional assembly a ploy to keep Maduro and his allies in power by putting off regional elections scheduled for this year and a presidential election that was to be held in 2018. Opinion polls have suggested the socialists would lose both elections badly at a time of widespread anger over triple-digit inflation and shortages of food and other goods. South American governments criticized Maduro's move in stronger language than they have used so far in condemning the South American country's crisis, with Brazil calling the decree a "coup." Meanwhile, Venezuela's foreign minister came away empty-handed after seeking support at Tuesday's meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, but the left-leaning regional group didn't issue any statement.

EX-PRESIDENT LULA DA SILVA SENTENCED TO NEARLY 10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR CORRUPTION


 
     BRASILIA, BRAZIL -
Wednesday and sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison, a stunning setback for a politician who has wielded enormous influence across Latin America for decades. The case against Mr. da Silva, who raised Brazil’s profile on the world stage as president from 2003 to 2010, stemmed from charges that he and his wife illegally received about $1.1 million in improvements and expenses from a construction company for a beachfront apartment. In exchange, prosecutors said, the company was able to obtain lucrative contracts from Petrobras, the state-controlled oil giant.

       Plagued by scandals, Mr. da Silva’s leftist Workers’ Party lost the presidency last year when the Senate impeached his handpicked successor, Dilma Rousseff, in a power struggle that consumed the nation. Mr. da Silva, 71, can appeal the conviction, but the ruling could deliver a crippling blow to his plans for a political comeback. He has called the allegations against him a “farce” and has announced his intention to run for president in next year’s election. He had been widely considered a leading contender. But Judge Sergio Moro, who issued Wednesday’s verdict, said that under Brazilian law, Mr. da Silva would be ineligible to run for office for twice as long as his sentence, or 19 years. Unless Mr. da Silva prevails on appeal, that finding leaves the Workers’ Party without an obvious candidate in next year’s vote.

     The conviction is the latest salvo by Brazil’s judicial branch, which has declared war on the country’s entrenched culture of corruption. Brazil’s current president, Michel Temer, was charged last month with corruption, part of a near constant stream of allegations and chargesthat have ripped through the nation’s political establishment in recent years. Judge Moro, who oversees cases stemming from a broad graft scandal surrounding the state-controlled oil company, said Mr. da Silva’s actions were part of a “scheme of systemic corruption” in Petrobras. “The president of the republic has enormous responsibilities,” Judge Moro wrote. “As such, his culpability is also” enormous when he commits crimes, he added.

VENEZUELAN CARRIERS MAKE AVAILABLE THEIR UNITS FOR THE SOVEREIGN CONSULTATION OF 16JULY


 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -- 
On Wednesday, workers from the trade union movement and the four public transport federations in the country urged Venezuelans to participate in a massive way in the sovereign consultation of this Sunday, July 16, in rejection of the constitutional fraud proposed by dictator Nicolás Maduro. In this sense, they place their transport units at the service of citizens to help them mobilize that day. "We have already prepared all the mobilization, logistics and organizational teams to bring the workers to vote in each of the points on the 16th," said the coordinator of the National Trade Union Coalition of Workers, Manuel Rondón.

     Rondón also called on public employees to come out to express their free will on Sunday and "lose their fear" in the face of the threats and pressures they have received from the Maduro regime. For his part, the general secretary of the Union of Oil and Gas Workers of the Falcon state, Iván Freites, explained that this sector has been one of the main disadvantaged by the "anti-workers and workers" policies of the National Executive, and this is why he reached to the conclusion call for "a general strike” in Venezuela".

     He stated that his initiative is backed by the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV), Confederation of Venezuelan Autonomous Trade Unions (CODESA), General Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CGT) and National Union of Venezuelan Workers (UNT). To conduct a general strike. "The country is united in terms of democracy and the Constitution. We are in fact; Politicians, trade unionists, trade unions, housewives, who are ready to rescue the institutionality, productivity, progressivity of human and labor rights to achieve a country of well-being, "said Freites. Finally, Iván Freites sent a message to the National Armed Forces (FAN) asking it to participate in the rescue of the constitutional and institutional order of the country.

July 12, 2017

BISHOPS SAY VENEZUELA GOVERNMENT AIMS TO INSTALL  'MILITARY DICTATORSHIP'

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA --   Venezuela’s bishops said the country’s government aims to install a “military dictatorship, socialist, Marxist and communist.” The church and Venezuelan authorities have long had a tense relationship, but the comments by Archbishop Diego Padron Sanchez, president of the bishops’ conference, refer to a process unilaterally initiated May 1 by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to draft a new constitution for the country. To create that document, Venezuelans will elect hundreds of representatives to a constituent assembly July 30. Maduro said the initiative aims to bring peace to the country, rocked by more than 100 days of anti-government protests in which over 80 have died.

     But the country’s political opposition and the bishops have denounced the plan as illegitimate and illegal. They believe the assembly’s structure would over-represent pro-government sectors, guaranteeing a body favorable to a government that polls show has the support of less than a quarter of the population. “A constituent assembly without consultation from the people first will bring negative consequences for the country because the government excludes many sectors to impose a constitutional communal state,” said Archbishop Padron. Offering a prepared statement at the end of the first day of the bishops’ plenary assembly July 7, Archbishop Padron also commented on a July 5 siege of the country’s opposition-controlled parliament which left five lawmakers with injuries.

     Dozens of pro-government activists stormed into the parliament building past complacent security officials. Fights ensued when the groups approached opposition lawmakers. Videos show the activists, some with ski masks, using poles and rocks to beat the lawmakers. “This was a criminal act, maddening, and a sign that the government doesn’t have the will to do away with violence and death and that it doesn’t value the parliament as a sovereign expression of the people,” Archbishop Padron said. While the ongoing protests were sparked April 1 after a Supreme Court decision to strip the opposition-controlled parliament of its powers, the anti-government sentiment also has been fueled by the country’s spiraling economic crisis.

VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS DICTATORSHIP WITH 10 HOURS OF STREET BLOCKADES


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA -
The Venezuelan opposition answered the call on Monday to block streets and halt traffic all around the country for 10 hours in protest against what they call the dictatorship of the Nicolas Maduro regime, after some opposition members tried to reduce the protest to 2 hours. Though the demonstration, aimed chiefly at protesting against the National Constituent Assembly promoted by the Nicolas Maduro government to change the constitution, was supposed to start at 10:00 am, some citizens started closing down streets much earlier.

    This Sunday saw a difference of opinion about this protest, since the MUD opposition alliance and the coordinator of the Voluntad Popular (VP) party and deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Freddy Guevara, said the demonstration would not last 10 hours but only from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm.However, most anti-Chavistas wouldn’t stand for such a brief outing, particularly opposition leader Henrique Capriles who said: “Protest tomorrow as long as you want! You are the owner of your rights and of this country! Let’s go!” Opposition lawmaker Juan Pablo Guanipa said for his part that in Zulia, the state he represents, the protest will be held the way it was after the first call to action, for 10 hours: “The big blockade tomorrow is from 10 am to 8 pm. Everyone in the streets! We’re in rebellion” #ElZuliaDecide.”

    Legislator Juan Andres Mejia said protesters should carry signs promoting the July 16 referendum being organized by the MUD – without the support of the National Electoral Council (CNE) – to allow Venezuelans to vote on whether or not they support the National Constituent Assembly to be elected next July 30. The MUD referendum will also ask voters if the armed forces should be required to defend the current constitution and the National Assembly, presently controlled by opposition lawmakers. A third question will ask citizens to decide if they approve of limiting a politician’s time in office, holding free elections and forming a government of national unity.

NOTORIOUS VENEZUELA NATIONAL GUARD COLONEL LUGO SUMMONED AS DEFENDANT IN HUMAN RIGHTS CASE


 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -- 
The Attorney General’s Office on Monday summoned as a defendant in a human rights violation case National Guard Colonel Bladimir Lugo Armas, the military man seen on video physically assaulting the President of Venezuela’s National Assembly legislative, the elected official he is tasked with protecting. “Attorney 49 has issued a summons in the category of defendant against Colonel Bladimir Lugo Armas,” the Attorney General's office tweeted Monday morning in its official Twitter account. “The National Guard effective must appear before the above mentioned attorney’s office next Thursday July 13th”.

     On July 5th, Venezuela’s Independence Day, Lugo allowed a mob to enter the National Assembly and assault lawmakers, journalists and attending dignitaries. Some 20 people were injured in the ensuing melee. Attackers were either government employees such as Oswaldo Rivero, the state-television anchorman who claimed responsibility for the assault, or government sympathizers armed with firearms (which they discharged), tear-gas grenades, pipes and knifes. Also, a week before the assault on the Assembly, Lugo had physically assaulted the legislative’s President Julio Borges, in an incident caught on video and which has now become viral.

    Lugo thus becomes the third high-ranking military or ex-military officer to be charged with human rights violations in just a matter of days. In late June, the Attorney General's office issued similar summons against Antonio Benavides, who until recently was general commander of the National Guard, and against Major Army General Gustavo Gonzalez, the sitting head of th SEBIN intelligence service. Gonzalez is the highest serving military official ever summoned by Fiscalia as a defendant. Additionally, both Benavides and Gonzalez received special designations on the U.S. Treasury list for their involvement in human-rights violations in 2014. “Lugo is on the record for attacking, on several occasions, journalists, women, lawmakers and demonstrators”, national newspaper “El Nacional” wrote Monday after news of the summons was made public. "Another case for which he is known for is when he pushed and tripped Antonieta Mendoza, the mother of Leopoldo Lopez.”

July 11, 2017

NOW HOME, LEOPOLDO LOPEZ VOWS CONTINUED FIGHT FOR VENEZUELA FREEDOM

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA --   Lopez, 46, was released from Ramo Verde military prison before dawn Saturday and transferred to house arrest, Lopez's attorney and Venezuela's Supreme Court said. A court statement said Lopez was granted the "humanitarian measure" for health reasons. On its Twitter account, the court said the move was granted Friday by the court's president, Maikel Moreno. Lopez was detained in February 2014 for allegedly inciting violence during anti-government protests in which three people died and dozens were wounded. A year later, he was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison. On Saturday, scores of Lopez's supporters thronged to his house in Caracas, many sporting T-shirts or waving banners with his likeness.

     They cheered when the opposition leader appeared on the rooftop balcony, waving a Venezuelan flag. Julio Alberto Vivas, one of the supporters, told VOA he believes Lopez "represents democracy and this government represents the dictatorship." Journalists at the scene also sought information about rumors that the move was part of a larger deal between the Maduro government and his political opposition. The Lopez family released a photo to social media showing Lopez inside the home, embracing his young son and daughter. Lopez's father, Leopoldo Lopez Gil, told a radio station in Spain that he was able to speak with his son "over the phone for over 40 minutes" Saturday.

    The elder Lopez said his son, now wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, had been isolated in recent days and kept in solitary confinement. He credited his son's transfer to "considerable international pressure" on the Maduro regime. The United Nations, various foreign governments and human rights advocates have criticized Lopez's detention as politically motivated. In February, U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, to the White House and then tweeted a photo of their Oval Office meeting, calling for the opposition leader's immediate release. On Saturday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called Lopez's transfer to house arrest "a significant step in the right direction." She reiterated the "call for the full restoration of Lopez's freedom and his political rights."

VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION ASSURES THAT POPULAR CONSULTATION OF # 16JUL IS BINDING


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA -
The Venezuelan opposition said today that the popular consultation scheduled for Sunday, in which it will ask the citizens whether or not they agree with the call to the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) promoted by the country's dictator, Nicolás Maduro, will have a character "Binding", Efe review. "This public consultation, which is established in the Constitution, is binding. It is very clear that what we are going to decide this Sunday is mandatory compliance for the regime of Nicolas Maduro, for the National Armed Forces (and) for all public powers, "opposition deputy Luis Florido told reporters.

     A week ago the Venezuelan opposition gathered on the platform of the Democratic Unity (MUD), called for a consultation so that Venezuelans will express their support or rejection to the ANC that called Maduro whose election is scheduled for next July 30. However, Chavismo has pointed out that this consultation of the opposition, which was initially called a "plebiscite", is not supported by the Venezuelan Constitution in force, and is therefore illegal. In addition, it will not be executed by the National Electoral Council (CNE), the organ that organizes the elections in Venezuela.

      Florido, of the Partido Popular (VP) party, explained that the consultation is covered by Article 70 of the Constitution, which establishes that "popular consultation" and other "means of participation and protagonism of the people" will be of a "binding." "In use of the Constitution, Article 70, we are going to make an exercise of popular sovereignty invoking the sovereign people," he said. "We Venezuelans are in use of Article 333 of the Constitution, which is the mechanism that restores (the Magna Carta) (...) when it is violated, but we are also in use of Article 350, which is civil disobedience. To restore it through the vote", he added. Florido also said that the consultation will have the monitoring of national observers and "some international personalities," and that "in due course" will be announced to the Venezuelan people.

VENEZUELAN AG'S OFFICE DENIES ENTRY TO OFFICIAL APPOINTED BY VENEZUELAN HIGH COURT

 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -- 
The Venezuelan Public Ministry refused on Thursday entry into its offices to Katherine Haringhton, appointed by the Supreme Court (TSJ) to be assistant attorney general but who is not recognized by current Attorney General Luis Ortega, who recently named Rafael Gonzalez to that post. At the doors of the ministry, Haringhton said that she is a retired official with the institution and now has a “mission” to fulfill. “Here I am. I have a mission, a job, I’ve been sworn to fulfill it ... I’m a retired official with the institution. More than 23 years working here. I’m not a guest,” she said.

      Haringhton, sanctioned by Washington in 2015 by having her assets in the US frozen and being prohibited from entering that country, came to the AG’s Office accompanied by several high court officials and delivered a letter appointing her to the post of assistant AG. After half an hour, she left without having been able to move into the office she had been given by the TSJ’s Constitutional Chamber. Later, the AG said on Twitter that she condemned “the arbitrary claim by the assistant attorney general named by the TSJ to enter the Public Ministry.”

     Ortega blamed the Bolivarian National Guard, Venezuela’s militarized police, and the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin) “for any irregular situation that may occur against the headquarters and officials” of the AG’s Office. The high court on Tuesday named Haringhton to the post, one day after the opposition-controlled Parliament confirmed Rafael Gonzalez, who had been tapped by Ortega for the job on April 17, as the assistant AG. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in 2015 named Harrington to be assistant minister for the Comprehensive Criminal Investigation System and she is considered by the opposition to be an ally of the Bolivarian Revolution for having filed charges against several jailed leaders of the political opposition.

July 10, 2017

MARIA CORINA MACHADO AFFIRMS THAT VENEZUELA IS READY AND WILL RISE FOR THE DEFINITIVE STAGE

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA --   A week after the plebiscite of July 16 and 100 days of street fighting, hundreds of citizens gathered this Sunday at the Plaza Brión in Chacaíto, Caracas, to ratify their decision to live in freedom. From there, Maria Corina Machado said that next Sunday begins the hour zero until the departure of the regime.

     "Nothing is negotiated here. Today I want to give you the assurance that nothing, nor anyone will stop us in our goal that we have drawn, which is the exit from the dictatorship of power, "she said. The National Coordinator of Vente Venezuela once again qualified the July 16 plebiscite as a "milestone" and said that on that day, millions of Venezuelans will issue a verdict: time is running out for Nicolás Maduro. She affirmed that this will be the time to ignore the National Electoral Council (CNE) and even the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), if these institutions intend to declare our citizen consultation as unconstitutional. "Venezuela will stand for this final stage.

     Let's have confidence that these are the final days and, of course, they are the hardest, yes, but they are the last, "she added. On the 100 Days of Resistance, she indicated that they are 100 days of dignity, courage and rebellion. "That has been a product of firmness and unity," she added. In addition, Machado also referred to the house-to-prison measure granted to Leopoldo López and ratified: "It was precisely thanks to this pressure and the people in the street that we achieved this step, but we also fight for the freedom of all of Venezuela." She ended by saying that today, more than ever, "all of Venezuela is still on the streets, every day, determined to move towards freedom."

CHAVISTAS URGE THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE TO IGNORE THE CONSTITUENT PROMOTED BY NICOLAS MADURO


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA -
As "democratic chavistas" they called themselves representatives of the oficialismo, such as the politician Nicmer Evans; former Defender of the People, Gabriela Ramírez and MPs of the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP) before Parliament, Eustoquio Contreras and Germán Ferrer, who expressed their rejection at the convening of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) and their support for the Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz. From the Neighborhood Association of Santa Rosa de Lima in Caracas, Ramirez urged followers of the late president, Hugo Chávez, to rebel against this Constituent proposal; And in turn, warned that the constant attacks on the Public Prosecutor's Office (MP) represent the cessation of democracy in the country, and therefore he reiterated his "unrestricted support" to that institution.

     Likewise, Ramirez indicated that the plebiscite convened by the opposition alliance for July 16 is auhtorized by the Constitution. "Popular sovereignty can not be held back. If they want to come out to demonstrate in that consultation will be an ethical imperative, "he added. "In rejecting the Constituent Assembly, we ask that other elections be established soon," Ramirez said. On the other hand, political scientist Nicmer Evans, warned that the country requires an inclusive negotiation process in order to overcome the crisis. In this sense, he supports the plebiscite, considering that "there is an enormous need to listen to the people". On the other hand, he warned that the Attorney General Luisa Ortega is currently in "danger".

    Meanwhile, the deputy Germán Ferrer, assured that "the Constituent is fraudulent, it does not have temporality and would allow excesses". It also rejected the criminal merit trial against the attorney general; And in turn, assured that tomorrow (Monday 10) the TSJ will pronounce against Luisa Ortega Diaz. Meanwhile, parliamentary Eustoquio Contreras, said that institutions live in the worst moment of decline in the country's history. "A new Chavista movement will rescue the original project," said the leader, who called for unity, good sense and cease of violence. The press conference coincided with the 100th day of opposition protests calling for the resignation of President Nicolás Maduro, who has led to riots and left more at least 100 deaths.

VENEZUELA ATTORNEY GENERAL ACCUSES THE TSJ OF USURPING HER FUNCTIONS BY PRETENDING TO APPOINT HER DEPUTY


 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -- 
The Prosecutor's Office (MP) said Thursday that "the alleged designation" of Katherine Harrington as vice-general for the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) "is unconstitutional, illegal, illegitimate and represents a Continuity to the rupture of the constitutional order". Through a statement issued after its board met in afternoon hours to define "lines of action," the agency determined that with the decision of July 4, 2017, the Constitutional Chamber "usurped functions" of the attorney general Of the Republic and of the National Assembly ".

     In that sense, it is stressed that "it is an unavoidable duty for all citizens, whether or not they have authority, to ignore this appointment with the objective of collaborating in the restoration of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, provided for in Article 333." The text argues that the legislation has as an attribution of the general prosecutor appoint the vice prosecutor general, with prior authorization of the National Assembly, and that the Supreme Court can not annul administrative acts, such as those that resolve the appointment of an official, Efe.

    It also refers to the judicial decision that declared the Parliament in contempt, which has allowed the TSJ to make decisions that correspond to the Legislative. The Public Prosecutor denies the legality of the contempt that has been declared against the AN, asserting that it is a "very personal" sanction that does not apply to the institutions. It defends the validity of the designation of Rafael González Arias approved last Tuesday by the absolute majority of the national legislative body, for which it emphasizes that for the moment of the appointment of the official the position "was not vacant". Haringhton, sanctioned by the United States in 2015 with freezing of assets and prohibition of entry to that country, arrived at the doors of the Attorney General accompanied by several officials of the Supreme Court and delivered a letter that credits her as vice-general general.

July 9, 2017

US WELCOME RELEASE OF DICTATOR MADURO FOE IN VENEZUELA

     
WASHINGTON, d.c. --   The latest on the transfer of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez from a military prison to house arrest (all times local): The Trump administration is welcoming Venezuela's release from prison of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. But the White House says more needs to be done for Lopez and other political prisoners held by the administration of socialist President Nicolas Maduro. A White House statement says: "We welcome Leopoldo Lopez's release from prison, however his confinement under house arrest and continued denial of basic human rights is unacceptable to the United States."

     The statement adds: "All Venezuelans should be able to express their political beliefs freely and the United States continues to call for the immediate release of all political prisoners held by the Maduro regime." The White House also recalled that President Donald Trump held an Oval Office meeting in February with Lopez's wife. The 46-year-old Lopez was transferred to house arrest Saturday after spending more than three years in a military prison. He was sentenced to nearly 14 years for inciting violence during anti-government protests in which three people died and dozens were wounded.

     Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez says he is prepared to return to jail rather than abandon his campaign to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power. Lawmaker and close ally Freddy Guevara read a statement from Lopez outside his home Saturday, hours after Lopez was moved from a military prison to house arrest. In the statement Lopez said he has no intention of giving up his beliefs. He said his opposition to Maduro's government is as firm as his "convictions to fight for a real peace, coexistence, change and freedom." In his words, he is now "a prisoner in my home, like the Venezuelan people." The 46-year-old Lopez spent more than three years at the military prison. He was sentenced to nearly 14 years for inciting violence during anti-government protests in which three people died and dozens were wounded.

VENEZUELA'S DICTATOR MADURO CHANNELS DARTH VADER BY TELLING COLOMBIA PRESIDENT SANTOS: I AM YOUR FATHER


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA -
The under-pressure DICTATOR of Venezuela  Nicolas Maduro told the president of Colombia to “kneel down before your father, I am your father” in a bizarre rant channelling Darth Vader to his supporters during a television show aired on the country’s state TV. Referring to Gran Colombia, a period in the 19th century when Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador were united as a single republic, Maduro said that the Venezuelans “are the fathers of Colombia, our grandparents founded Colombia”.

      “President Santos has to ask for my blessing, compadre, because we are his fathers,” Maduro said, as his audience laughed. “Santos, ask for a blessing, compadre. Kneel down before your father. I am your father, Santos, am I not? I am your father. God bless you, Santos. Leave your malice against Venezuela [behind]. Behave, compadre, because you are very bad in Colombia.” In the most famous scene of all the Star Wars films, Imperial villain Darth Vader reveals himself to be the father of the rebel protagonist, Luke Skywalker. Venezuela is in the grip of a crisis as its socialist economy, which is heavily reliant on oil production, collapses with the recent decline in the oil price.

Many Venezuelans have turned out on the streets to protest against Maduro’s toughening rule amid severe shortages in the country, such as of food, electricity, and medical supplies. Maduro’s critics accuse him of being a demagogue who is trying to consolidate his power by rewriting the constitution and locking up his opponents. The Venezuelan Catholic church said he has turned the country into “a dictatorship”. Maduro and the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, have clashed over a number of issues. Venezuela has repeatedly shut its border with Colombia. At the end of 2016, Maduro closed the border for 72 hours, accusing “mafia” of smuggling currency across the border as it struggled to keep control of its exchange rate. But Maduro has often lashed back by pointing to Colombia’s own problems, such as the violent drug gangs and poverty, and accused Santos in meddling in Venezuelan affairs.

AT LEAST 123 VENEZUELAN SOLDIERS DETAINED SINCE PROTESTS BEGAN


 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -- 
At least 123 members of Venezuela's armed forces have been detained since anti-government unrest began in April on charges ranging from treason and rebellion to theft and desertion, according to military documents seen by Reuters The list of detainees, which includes officers as well as servicemen from the lower ranks of the army, navy, air force and National Guard, provided the clearest picture to date of dissatisfaction and dissent within Venezuela's roughly 150,000-strong military. The records, detailing prisoners held in three Venezuelan jails, showed that since April nearly 30 members of the military have been detained for deserting or abandoning their post and almost 40 for rebellion, treason, or insubordination.

     Millions of Venezuelans are suffering from food shortages and soaring inflation caused by a severe economic crisis. Even within the armed forces, salaries start at the minimum wage, equivalent to around $12.50 a month at the black market exchange rate, and privately some members admit to being poorly paid and underfed. Since the opposition started its protests more than three months ago, a handful of security officials have gone public with their discontent. Last week, rogue policeman and action movie star Oscar Perez commandeered a helicopter and attacked government buildings, claiming that a faction within the armed forces was opposed to Maduro's government. The military documents seen by Reuters, which covered detentions until mid-June, appeared to support opposition leaders' assertions that anger and dissent among soldiers over economic hardship is more widespread.

     "This shows low morale and discontent and, of course, economic necessity," one former army general said of the detentions, asking not to be named for fear of reprisals. Venezuela's military and Information Ministry did not respond to requests for comment. Venezuelans view the armed forces as the key power broker in their country. Opposition leaders have repeatedly exhorted military leaders to break with socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro has said that he is the victim of an "armed insurrection" by U.S.-backed opponents seeking to gain control of the OPEC country's oil wealth. He has said that the top military brass have been standing by him. The National Guard has been at the forefront of policing protests across the country. It uses tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets against masked youths who in turn hurl stones, Molotov cocktails and excrement at security lines. At least 95 people have been killed since April.

July 8, 2017

CATHOLIC CHURCH IN VENEZUELA CALLS THE GOVERNMENT OF NICOLAS MADURO A "DICTATORSHIP"

     
Caracas, venezuela. --   The Venezuelan Catholic Church said Friday that the government of President Nicolás Maduro became a "dictatorship" that will be consolidated with the election, on July 30, of a National Constituent Assembly. "This Assembly scheduled for late July will be imposed by force and its results will be the constitutionalization of a military, socialist, Marxist and communist dictatorship," said Monsignor Diego Padrón, president of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference.

      When installing the annual assembly of Venezuelan bishops, Padrón said that in the country "there is no ideological conflict between right or left," but "a struggle between a government turned into a dictatorship and a whole people who claims freedom." The prelate warned that the Constituent Assembly will allow "the unlimited permanence of the current government in power" and "annulment of public powers" as the Parliament, with a large majority opposition. Monsignor Padrón also announced that locations belonging to the Church, except temples, will be used for a symbolic plebiscite that envisages to hold the opposition on July 16 to reject the Constituent Assembly.

    Maduro, harassed during the last three months by continuous protests that left at least 100 dead, and other senior government officials accuse the Venezuelan Catholic hierarchy of acting as "an opposition political party" and ignore the calls to dialogue of Pope Francisco. Padrón insisted on the opening of a humanitarian channel to provide the country of medicines and food, in serious shortage, and considered that a genuine dialogue to solve the crisis should be to call for "universal, direct and secret elections." The opposition coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) demands in its protests that general elections be scheduled to accelerate Maduro's departure from power.

VENEZUELA'S MADURO ORDERS STATE WORKERS TO VOTE FOR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA -
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has said all state workers must take part in a vote on July 30 for candidates to his controversial new superbody assembly, seeking to avoid an embarrassingly low turnout in a country seething with discontent. Maduro has called for the Constituent Assembly, with powers to reform the constitution and supersede other institutions, in what he has said is an attempt to bring peace after three months of anti-government protests in which at least 90 people have died.

     Opponents have said the leftist president is trying to formalize a dictatorship in the South American OPEC nation through what they view as a sham poll. They are planning a rival, unofficial referendum on July 16 to give Venezuelans a say on his plan. Maduro has been trying to drum up his base, which mostly encompasses state workers and poorer Venezuelans. "If there are 15,000 workers, all 15,000 workers must vote without any excuses," he told red-shirted supporters in the jungle and savannah state of Bolivar on Thursday night. "Company by company, ministry by ministry, governorship by governorship, city hall by city hall, we're all going to vote for the Constituent Assembly. Do you understand? Do you agree," he said to a chorus of "Yes!".

     Venezuela's roughly 2.8 million state employees, a sizeable part of the population of around 30 million, are often obliged to attend government rallies, and some have said they have already come under pressure to vote on July 30. "This is crazy. (They're saying), workers who don't go to vote will be sacked," said one employee of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela "I'll vote, but null. I'm not going to vote for any of these nuts running for the assembly," he added. A second PDVSA worker said company auditoriums were being used to give presentations about the constituent assembly. "I'm worried ... but I'm committed to the cause and I won't vote," he said.

JULIO BORGES SAYS THE GOVERNMENT ORDERED THE ATTACK AGAINST THE PARLIAMENT PALACE


 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -- 
The president of the National Assembly of Venezuela (AN, Parliament), Julio Borges, said today that the attack that took place yesterday to the seat of the Legislative by groups that identified themselves as chavistas that left 20 wounded, including seven deputies, Was ordered by the Government of Nicolás Maduro. "What happened yesterday was ordered by the government itself, among the attacking group were leaders and employees of the mayoralty of Caracas (officials), there were candidates for the Constituent Assembly of Maduro," Borges told private broadcaster Union Radio referring to the attackers

     The opposition deputy said that it seems the officials were in full control of situation because, he said, the attackers were supported by the National Guard (GNB, militarized police) assigned to protect the legislators, the soldiers did not comply with the assigned work to protect the members of congress. However, he clarified, many subordinates of the military manifested their disagreement with the situation. He also warned that this was an "example" of what could be of Venezuela if the National Constituent Assembly that Maduro has proposed to change the Magna Carta is approved. The new constituent is an initiative that, according to the opposition, only seeks to institutionalize a "dictatorship."

     He recalled that the head of the detachment of the GNB assigned to provide security to the Parliament, Colonel Vladimir Lugo, was recently decorated by Maduro after this officer pushed and insulted him, noting that the "award" presented to the officer was a message from the Government to unleash the violence against the opposition legislators. "That is an invitation to any crazy person to do whatever he wants because it is like a government license that also comes with a prize," he said and pointed out that this is a demonstration of the government's "despair" that knows that " In all parts of the world ," as well as inside Venezuela", the people rejects this government. In this regard, he thanked foreing governments, parliaments and international media for the strong support and solidarity they have shown towards the deputies who were beaten yesterday.

July 7, 2017

LUIS ALMAGRO CALLS FOR A NEW EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF THE OAS ON VENEZUELA

     
WASHINGTON, D.C. --  The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, requested Thursday to convene an extraordinary "urgent" session of the Permanent Council of the Organization to debate "recent events" in Venezuela, if possible tomorrow, Friday, July 7, in the afternoon. Almagro's request comes a day after Wednesday's attack on the Venezuelan Legislative Branch by groups identified as Chavistas, which left 20 injured, including seven deputies, and was sentenced by several countries in the continent and by the Secretary General.

     Almagro sent a letter to the Permanent Chair of the Permanent Council, the Brazilian Ambassador to the OAS, José Luiz Machado e Costa, to request that he convene "an extraordinary session of the Permanent Council, as a matter of urgency, in order to address the recent events of the Political crisis "in Venezuela. The call, which has yet to be confirmed by Machado e Costa, would be made "in accordance with Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter," Almagro said in the letter, published on the OAS website.

    This article establishes that "in case of a constitutional change in a Member State which seriously affects its democratic order," any other country belonging to the OAS or the Secretary General may request the immediate convocation of the Permanent Council. This body, which brings together ambassadors from the 34 active member countries of the OAS (all from the Western Hemisphere minus Cuba), would then discuss the situation with the possibility of "taking the decisions it deems appropriate" as "diplomatic efforts" that if fail, could lead to a new meeting of chancellors, according to the Charter.

THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY REBUKES INCURSION INTO VENEZUELAN CONGRESS


 
       NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK -
Multiple representatives of international organizations and foreign governments condemned the events occurred on Venezuela’s Independence Day, when opposition deputies, employees and reporters in the Venezuelan National Assembly were assailed by pro-government militias The siege occurred at the end of a commemoration of the 206th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Through multiple messages or press releases posted on social networks, innumerable foreign governments and international organizations repudiated the blitzkrieg on the Venezuelan legislature and the people that were inside the National Assembly (AN), attending a solemn session on Wednesday, July 5.

     The Head of the Spanish Government, Mariano Rajoy, promised that Spain “takes sides with peace, freedom and rights of the Venezuelan people.” Likewise, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos renewed his appeal to the Venezuelan government and opposition to resolve the country plight. In a statement, the Colombian Foreign Office also called upon Nicolás Maduro’s government to ensure “security of the members of the public branches of government and respect their autonomy, as set forth in the Constitution of that country.” The Panamanian Foreign Office echoed the appeal through a notice. “In view of the serious economic, social and humanitarian situation in Venezuela, Panama points to the urgency of establishing an electoral schedule to end with the current ordeal, which continues fueling violence between citizens and government.”

     Similarly, the Mexican Foreign Office rebutted the barrage against Venezuelan opposition deputies. “We, the founding member states of Mercosur express our most categorical rejection to the events of violence at the National Assembly,” stated in a notice the Argentinean Foreign Office, currently pro-tempore president of the Common Market of the South. For his part, the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, regretted the “assailing on the National Assembly of Venezuela, a symbol of democracy.” Similarly, the US Department of State stood up against the skirmish at the Venezuelan Parliament. “This violence, perpetrated during the celebration of Venezuela's independence, is an assault on the democratic principles cherished by the men and women who struggled for Venezuela's independence 206 years ago today.”

U.S.: AN UNACCEPTABLE ASSAULT ON VENEZUELA'S NATIONAL ASSEMBLY


 
      WASHINGTON, D.C.  -- 
The United States condemns the July 5 attack on members of the Venezuelan National Assembly by armed supporters of the government of President Nicolas Maduro. This violence, perpetrated during the celebration of Venezuela’s independence, is an assault on the democratic principles cherished by the men and women who struggled for Venezuela’s independence 206 years ago today.

    We call on the Venezuelan government to immediately provide for the protection of the National Assembly, ensure those injured in today’s attack are able to receive medical attention, and bring the attackers to justice. We urge all sides in Venezuela to refrain from violence. The United States deplores the Venezuelan government's increasing authoritarianism, and the convocation of a National Constituent Assembly designed to undermine Venezuela’s democratic institutions, including the National Assembly.

    We join nations across the hemisphere and call upon the government of Venezuela to live up to commitments it made in the Vatican-facilitated dialogue process last fall to hold free, fair, and credible elections immediately, respect the constitution and the National Assembly, provide for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, and tend to the humanitarian needs of the Venezuelan people.

July 6, 2017

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ATTACKED BY DICTATOR MADURO "CICARIOS"

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA --  About 100 NICOLAS MADURO supporters burst into Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly, where they beat up several lawmakers. Witnesses said the confrontation came after an assembly session to mark the country's Independence Day. Military police guarding the site stood by as intruders brandishing sticks and pipes broke through the gate. Venezuela has been shaken by often violent protests in recent months and is in economic crisis. The speaker of the assembly, Julio Borges, named five of those injured on Twitter. Some were taken away for medical treatment.

     "This does not hurt as much as seeing every day how we are losing our country," deputy Armando Armas told reporters as he got into an ambulance, his head swathed in bloody bandages. Two employees of the assembly were also hurt, witnesses said. Venezuelan newspaper Tal Cual blamed the attack on militias known as "colectivos", and said the group fired rockets and bangers as they forced their way in. Its report said some of the deputies attacked "fell to the ground and were kicked". Photos and videos circulating on social media showed victims of the assault with bleeding head wounds. At least one, identified as deputy Americo De Grazia, was carried out on a stretcher.

    The violence unfolded while President Nicolás Maduro was giving a speech at a government-planned Independence Day military parade elsewhere in the capital. Before the intruders rushed the building, his Vice-President Tareck El Aissami had made an impromptu appearance in the congress with the head of the armed forces, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, and ministers. El Aissami gave a speech urging the president's supporters to come to the legislature to show support for him. A crowd had been rallying outside the building for several hours before breaking into the grounds.

VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION PUSHES REFERENDUM TO CHOSE COUNTRY'S FUTURE


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -
The Venezuelan opposition is pushing a referendum to be held on July 16 so that the public may choose “the country’s future,” a vote in which the citizenry will be able to say whether they approve or reject the assembly convened by the government to rewrite the constitution, the head of the opposition-controlled Parliament said on Monday. “Let it be the people who decide whether to convene and back the renewal of the public branches ... as well as the forming of a national unity government and the holding of transparent and free elections,” Julio Borges said.

    The third issue proposed for the referendum concerns the role the public demands that its officials and the armed forces play in “restoring the constitutional thread” that, the opposition says, the government has broken. In a ceremony accompanied by top opposition leaders, Borges announced that he will ask the chamber over which he presides to begin the “consultation process,” basing that move on Article 71 of the Constitution, which authorizes the National Assembly to call a referendum on “issues of special national importance.” The opposition leader also resorted to Article 350, which sets forth the right of the people to refuse to recognize the government, should it “go against” democratic principles and guarantees.

    Borges called the activation of the mechanism leading to the referendum an element of the “democratic process of resuming the Constitution,” adding that the constitutional assembly pushed by the government is an attempt to “convert into something permanent and irreversible ... (the) violations of human rights” in Venezuela. The Venezuelan legislature declared itself to be in rebellion against the government, taking the stance that President Nicolas Maduro has violated the Constitution with certain decisions and measures, the latest of these being the launching of the constitutional assembly process which the opposition deems to be a “fraud” to keep the socialist Chavista model in power “forever.”

ARMED MEN ATTACKED CARACAS HOSPITAL DURING OPPOSITION PROTEST


 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
A group of armed men attacked on Tuesday a Caracas hospital during an opposition protest, wounding at least five people who were in the vicinity. The Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into the incident. According to two doctors at the center who were interviewed by EFE, the attack took place while some of the hospital’s doctors were participating in a protest called by the opposition against the constitutional assembly convened by the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

     “A group of armed men arrived at the health center and destroyed the clinic and the windows,” one of them said, blaming the damage on followers of Maduro. EFE verified that the perpetrators of the vandalism destroyed the hospital’s entrance door and damaged several windows. Meanwhile, the Public Ministry announced the launching of an investigation into the “damage caused to the Hospital Clinico in Caracas,” located in the central district of Libertador.

    “According to preliminary information, at approximately 1 pm on Tuesday a group of people riding motorcycles hurled objects at – and opened fire on – people who were near the health center,” the AG’s Office said in a statement, adding that it will try to determine who bears responsibility for the attack. Photographs posted on Twitter by several opposition lawmakers show several doctors outfitted in white lab coats at the protest. One of the lawmakers, Jose Manuel Olivares, said that “paramilitary groups” were responsible for the attack, while fellow legislator Richard Blanco blamed “criminals of the dictatorship.”

July 5, 2017

PARAGUAY: IT'S TIME FOR THE US TO RETHINK THE PURCHASE OF VENEZUELA OIL

     
ASUNCION, PARAGUAY -- Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga said today that "the time has come" for the US to rethink the purchase of Venezuela's crude oil and consider sanctions against the oil sector. "The United States has to think a bit more about the acquisition of Venezuelan oil," Loizaga told the EFE-Casa de América Tribune when asked about the possible application of sanctions to Venezuela by Washington. The minister stated that "sanctions, in general, do not affect the authorities but do (directly) do to the people," but considered that "the time has come" for the United States to reconsider its position.

     The government of President Donald Trump, according to the press, has weighed sanctions against Venezuela's energy sector, including state oil company PDVSA, although the White House has not confirmed that end. USA Is the first buyer of Venezuelan crude and the Caribbean country is its third supplier with an export of 271,366 barrels of oil in 2016, according to data from the United States Energy Administration. Loizaga said it is "sad" the current crisis in Venezuela, a country that has temporarily suspended Mercosur since last April until, he said, "re-meet the requirements of the bloc." On the referendum convened yesterday by the Venezuelan National Assembly, dominated by the opposition Unidad Democrática, for July 16, Loizaga was not very optimistic, since, in his opinion, the Executive has limited all functions of this body.

     On June 20, during its Assembly in Cancún (Mexico), the Organization of American States (OAS) tried unsuccessfully to agree on a draft resolution on the crisis in Venezuela. A letter signed by 12 countries, including Paraguay, demanded four points to manage the situation in the Caribbean country: the release of political prisoners, a timetable for elections, a "communication channel" for food and medicine Creation of a system to foment an "effective dialogue between the Venezuelans". Today, the Paraguayan foreign minister described as "failure" attempts to regional mediation to solve the crisis and stressed that his country was the first to raise the voice to denounce the human rights violations that are said to be taking place in Venezuela.

VENEZUELA NAMES MADURO LOYALIST SANCTIONED BY U.S. TO KEY LEGAL POST


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -
A conflict between President Nicolas Maduro's government and his increasingly defiant chief prosecutor was coming to a head Tuesday as Luis Ortega Diaz announced she was boycotting a Supreme Court hearing on whether to lift her immunity from being tried for unspecified irregularities. Ortega Diaz argued the outcome of Tuesday's hearing was a foregone conclusion decided by the government that violates her legal right to defense and due process. "I am not going to validate a circus that will stain our history with shame and pain," she said at a news conference as the hearing was getting under way.

     The case against her for alleged "serious errors" while in office was brought by a ruling-party lawmaker and could lead to her ouster. National Guard troops and riot police took up positions outside the court building in Caracas, where protests against Maduro's government have been raging almost daily for several months. Venezuela's chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz spoke during a press conference in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. Venezuela's Supreme Court is holding a hearing Tuesday on whether to strip Ortega Diaz of immunity from prosecution for unspecified irregularities.

     On Monday the government-stacked Supreme Court acted to strip a key power from Ortega by acting itself to impose her deputy: a loyalist who was sanctioned by the United States in 2015 for her role prosecuting some of Maduro's most vocal opponents. The decision to name Katherine Harrington to the post effectively made her the nation's No. 2 law enforcement official even though the constitution says the semi-autonomous chief prosecutor has the power to name her own deputy, with confirmation by congress. Lawmakers on Monday had re-confirmed Ortega's own choice as deputy after he was removed by the high court last week.

NIGHT DEMONSTRATIONS TAKEN PLACE NEAR "CENTERS OF POWER" GAIN STRENGTH IN VENEZUELA


 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
The Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict (OVCS) registers 2,675 demonstrations from April 1 to June 19, 2017, equivalent to 33 daily protests. This figure represents an increase of 66% compared to the same period of 2016, when 1,614 manifestations were recorded. Street actions have spread throughout the national territory, both in urban, rural, and poor sectors. The entities with the highest number of cases continue to be Capital District, Miranda, Táchira, Mérida and Carabobo.

    Another novel aspect, and of great interest in the monitoring of the mobilizations during these 80 days, refers to the increase of the protests in the environs of the centers of power or emblematic places of the Government, even where unconstitutionally governors and mayors have prohibited the demonstrations, protected by laws, judgments and decrees that establish Security Zones or simply decisions that prohibit opposition demonstrations to politically critical sectors or citizens demanding rights.

    In most states, people have organized marches to government offices or concentrated in their vicinity. In the Municipality of Libertador, massive street actions called for public institutions, such as the National Electoral Council (CNE), the Ombudsman's Office (DP), the Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace (MIJP), the Comptroller General of the Republic, Have not been able to reach their destination, since all have been impeded, hindered or repressed by state security forces and armed civilians. However, this area, called by those who exercise power as "official territory," has registered spontaneous protests organized by neighbors, day and night, a few blocks from the Palace of Miraflores and public institutions demanding social rights and the resignation of the president Nicolás Maduro.

July 4, 2017

VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION PLANS PLEBISCITE AS VIOLENCE MOUNTS

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA--Venezuela’s opposition alliance is planning to hold an unofficial plebiscite on July 16 to gauge support for a national unity government as months of violent protests spread into poorer neighborhoods of Caracas. Voters will be asked if they support President Nicolas Maduro’s plan for a new assembly to change the constitution, what role the armed forces should play in restoring order and whether they would back a unity government, Julio Borges, president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, said Monday. While the referendum would lack any real enforcement mechanism, it will occur just weeks before a July 30 vote for delegates for a constitutional convention that is opposed by two-thirds of voters.

     Critics fear Maduro will use the convention to consolidate power and take the country further toward Cuba-style authoritarianism. With the opposition saying it won’t participate in the vote, Venezuela is bracing for an uptick in violence that has left more than 80 dead since March. “Venezuela is entering a new circle of hell,” Russ Dallen, managing partner at Caracas Capital Markets, said in an emailed report on June 30. “As the hopelessness of this future becomes more obvious to the opposition and a majority of Venezuelans, violence, civil strife, assassinations, and probabilities of coup attempts will exponentially increase.” Maduro, in a post to his Twitter account on Monday as the opposition announced the plebiscite, vowed to advance with plans for the constitutional assembly.
 
      The opposition vote will be held without the approval of the National Electoral Council in churches across the country, according to two opposition officials with knowledge of the plan who said they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The constituent assembly had a high probability of taking place and would most likely move to dissolve the opposition-controlled National Assembly once convened, Dallen said. The opposition alliance is showing no signs of slowing down protests that have intensified over the past weeks. On Tuesday, supporters are being called to participate in a six-hour shut down of streets across the country.

VENEZUELA'S CARDINAL SAYS SOCIALIST REGIME LEAVES PEOPLE 'CRUELTY REPRESSED'

 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -
One of Venezuela’s cardinals promised to give Pope Francis “a very direct, crude, realistic view of the situation we are going through” in a meeting with the pontiff today, saying the country’s socialist government has left its people “cruelly repressed.” Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, the country’s capital, spoke to Crux in advance of a special meeting of the leadership of Venezuela’s bishops’ conference with Francis.

    The Argentine pontiff has been an outspoken supporter of dialogue to end the crisis, and the Vatican’s position on the matter is clear: Elections need to happen. “The situation is very, very grave,” Urosa told Crux on Tuesday afternoon. “What we see is a people who are suffering, who are being humiliated, and who are being cruelly repressed,” he said. Some 70 people have been killed since massive protests began last April, and thousands have been wounded. The country today has a failing political system, people starving to death, and little to no medical supplies.

    Despite attempts made by Maduro to convince his country of the opposite, Urosa believes that the bishops and the pope are very much aligned, calling for dialogue and a solution to the current crisis, “which the government has caused.” Those solutions, as Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State and former papal representative in Venezuela told Crux and La Nación in May, include calling for national elections. Though he too wants elections to be held, Urosa puts it in somewhat different words: “The solution is that the government solves the problems it has caused, and does not insist on wanting to impose a socialist, communist, Marxist, totalitarian and militaristic system as a regime of government.”

VENEZUELAN REGIME RAIDS ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE AFTER AG CHARGES GOVERNMENT WITH HUMAN RIGHTS CRIMES


 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
Venezuela's constitutional crisis took a turn for the worse Monday when the Attorney General’s Office was raided by officials from the Comptroller General, an unprecedented happening even in the oil rich country’s amazing political history. The Comptroller General’s is the office tasked with detecting and pursuing financial misdeeds in the Venezuelan government. The raids took place as Attorney General Luisa Ortega was delivering a support speech at the opposition-controlled National Assembly, the legislative power that has also been attacked by Maduro using Constitutional powers controlled by his government, such as the Supreme Court, which he stacked with loyalists after he lost the legislature in 2015.

     “We are open to the necessary audits, but done with respect, not OLP style,” said Ortega. “OLP” or, “Operaciones para la Liberacion del Pueblo” (Operations to Free the People) are what Venezuelan police call high-risk police raids, which NGOs have denounced as simply “search and destroy” missions: a single OLP last year resulted in two dozen killed. After the announcement of the Comptroller General’s visit however, Ortega scored a much needed victory against the Maduro administration, when the National Assembly appointed her choice of Rafael Gonzalez as deputy Prosecutor General. The vote for Gonzalez turned into a support event for Ortega, who was greeted by the opposition, her political adversaries until late March and now their staunch supporters.

    Earlier on Monday, Comptroller General Galindo told media during a press conference in his office that “commissions have been set up at the administrative headquarters of the Public Ministry (Fiscalia), regional prosecutor offices and schools for Public Ministry attorneys, with the objective being to verify the lawfulness and sincerity of their operations.” “Denial to supply reports, books or documents will bring about as consequences the sanctions provided for in the law,” Galindo said. This is the second move in only a few days to curtail the powers of the Attorney General: last week the Maduro-packed Supreme Court (which has never voted against the President) augmented the powers of the Ombudsman’s Office to take over some of the same work of the Attorney General’s.

July 3, 2017

VENEZUELA ATTORNEY GENERAL CHARGES SEBIN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CHIEF FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA--Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez, the current head of Venezuela’s SEBIN intelligence service, was charged and subpoenaed in a human-rights violation case by the Attorney General’s Office on Friday. Gonzalez thus becomes the highest sitting official ever subpoenaed by the Prosecutor's Office in a human rights case and the second since former National Guard commander Antonio Benavides was charged Thursday. The subpoena and charges are for “allegedly carrying out grave and systematic violations of human rights”, the Prosecutor's Office said in a web posting.

     Gonzalez needs to be at the Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday, July 4th at 10 am accompanied by sworn counsel. The warrant “corresponds with ongoing inquiries by the institution relating to cases of arbitrary raids, illegitimate arrests, the causes of persons that remain detained in spite of courts having issued warrants for their release SEBIN is an all-new intelligence service created in the early years of “chavismo”, during the Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) era. Critics and the opposition call it “the political police” and its well-known for harassing and spying on high-profile political opponents.

     Both Gonzalez and Benavides are part of a group of dozens of Venezuelan civil servants, Supreme Court justices, “enchufado” (meaning, plugged-in or connected to the Maduro government) private businessmen, and military and police officers, who have received some sort of sanction from U.S. authorities, a long list which includes sitting Vice President Tareck El Aissami -- named a “kingpin” in the illicit drug trade by the U.S. Treasury Department -- as well as current Supreme Court chief justice Maikel Moreno, a Specilly Designated National also by U.S. Treasury. And what did Maduro do in the wake of the Attorney General's indictment of the SEBIN head? Promoted him to Chief General, saying both Gonzalez and Benavides have his "full support."

VENEZUELAN DICTATOR, NICOLAS MADURO, PROMOTES INVESTIGATED SEBIN CHIEF


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is promoting an intelligence chief being investigated for human rights abuses to be chief of the nation's army. Maduro announced that he is promoting Gustavo Gonzalez on Friday, just hours after Venezuela's chief prosecutor said she was investigating Gonzalez for "grave and systemic human rights violations." Gonzalez has served until recently as chief of the feared Sebin intelligence agency. He is the second high-ranking official that Maduro has rewarded this week after being accused of abuses against the opposition.

      On Thursday, Maduro decorated a colonel seen forcefully pushing the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Venezuela has been embroiled in three months of political upheaval that has left nearly 80 people dead and thousands detained. Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami is throwing his support behind two high-ranking officials suspected of committing systemic human rights violations during three months of anti-government protests.In a call to government broadcaster VTV on Friday, El Aissami called the state prosecutor's accusations "slanderous allegations."

     Former National Guard chief Antonio Benavides Torres and intelligence agency director Gustavo Gonzalez have been summoned to appear next week as part of the prosecutor's investigations into rights abuses. El Aissami also defended the Supreme Court's recent decision barring chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz from leaving the country and freezing her bank accounts. He called the restrictions "necessary measures of justice." Chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz's office says it is investigating cases of arbitrary raids, illegitimate detentions and people being held in jail despite court orders that they be let free. Intelligence agency director Gustavo Gonzalez has been ordered to appear at the state prosecutor's office on Monday.

VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS AGAINST POSSIBLE TRIAL OF ATTORNEY GENERAL LUISA ORTEGA DIAZ


 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
The Venezuelan opposition staged a demonstration on Saturday in Caracas against a Chavista request that the nation’s attorney general, Luisa Ortega Diaz, be submitted to a hearing, a proposal the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) ruled in favor of last June 20 and which could result in her being sent to trial. The MUD opposition coalition urged people to gather on the east side of Caracas, specifically on the Francisco Fajardo Expressway, the capital’s principal thoroughfare, where it passes through the Los Ruices district.

     In light of the demonstrations on her behalf, Ortega thanked the general public and international organizations for standing with her. “I thank the Venezuelan people and international organizations for their support. Their trust in us strengthens our institutional struggle,” the attorney general said on Twitter, while promising that her office is committed to protecting human rights and “democratic freedoms.” Venezuela’s TSJ admitted a request on the part of Chavismo to determine whether there is just cause for putting the attorney general on trial after a series of actions taken by Ortega against the high court.

     The TSJ also approved the precautionary measures requested by Chavista lawmaker Pedro Carreño against the attorney general, which include barring her from leaving the country and freezing her bank accounts. The attorney general’s hearing could signify the temporary suspension of Ortega Diaz’s official functions. Ortega, identified up to now with Chavismo, has opposed the Constituent Assembly promoted by President Nicolas Maduro and, among other complaints, has said that “state terrorism” exists in her country, and denounced a “progressive dismantling” of her office by the Venezuelan government.

July 2, 2017

THE WASHINGTON POST: THE REGION CANNOT JUST STAND BY AS VENEZUELA VEERS TOWARD CIVIL WAR

     
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- VENEZUELA’S POLITICAL and humanitarian crisis, which has long been desperate and deadly, this week tipped toward the surreal. On Tuesday, a helicopter swooped over the Supreme Court and interior ministry, dropping grenades and firing shots; President Nicolás Maduro called it a U.S.-backed coup attempt. But no one was injured in the incident, and when the pilot of the helicopter turned out to be an actor who has played a police commando in the movies — and who has yet to be detained by authorities — opposition leaders understandably wondered whether the incident was orchestrated by Mr. Maduro.

     If so, it wouldn’t be suprising. The corrupt clique around the president, which inherited the leftist populist movement founded by Hugo Chávez, is resorting to increasingly far-fetched tactics to combat a mass protest movement that has the support of the vast majority of Venezuelans. It has dispensed tons of tear gas at the daily marches and demonstrations, and fired thousands of bullets, both rubber and real; at least 78 people have been killed since the unrest began in April. Five died on Wednesday.

     The regime has detained more than 3,200 people, many of whom have been beaten and tortured, according to independent human rights groups. More than 300 are facing summary trials before military tribunals and sentences of decades in prison. Mr. Maduro meantime is pressing forward with a plan for a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution prepared under Chávez. It likely would eliminate the opposition-controlled National Assembly and convert Venezuela into a regime modeled after Cuba’s.

VENEZUELA'S DEFIANT CHIEF PROSECUTOR LUISA ORTEGA REQUESTS PROTECTION FOR HER AND HER EMPLOYEES


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --
Venezuela's chief prosecutor asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for protection Friday, days after the Supreme Court barred her from leaving the country and ordered her bank accounts frozen.Tensions between Luisa Ortega Diaz and President Nicolas Maduro's socialist administration have been steadily escalating since she contested a Supreme Court decision in late March that dissolved the opposition-controlled National Assembly and sparked a deadly wave of unrest.

     Since then, she has become one of the few critical voices within the government — other than the sidelined congress — challenging Maduro's push to rewrite the constitution and pressing charges against officers responsible for deaths during anti-government protests. On Friday, Ortega Diaz's office announced it was summoning the chief of Venezuela's feared Sebin intelligence agency, Gustavo Gonzalez, to appear on suspicion of "committing grave and systemic violations of human rights." Prosecutors said they are investigating incidents of illegitimate detentions, arbitrary raids and cases in which people have remained imprisoned despite court orders that they be freed.

     Maduro responded hours later by promoting Gonzalez to head the nation's army. He called Gonzalez and Antonio Benavides Torres, another high-ranking official under investigation by the state prosecutor, "brave patriots." "They have defended the peace of the republic and have all my support," Maduro said.Gonzalez is the second high-ranking official Maduro has rewarded after being accused of abuses against the opposition this week. On Thursday, the president decorated a colonel seen forcefully pushing the president of the National Assembly.The developments capped perhaps the most turbulent week yet in Ortega Diaz's struggle to assert her office's authority in a country where nearly every branch of the federal government is filled with Maduro allies.

LATIN AMERICAN PUBLIC PROSECUTORS REJECT ANY ACT OF "REMOVAL" OF LUISA ORTEGA DIAZ


 
       BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA -- 
The Public Prosecutors of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile and Peru on Friday rejected any act of "harassment, persecution and threat" against the Attorney General of the Republic of Venezuela, Luisa Ortega Díaz, her relatives and workers in the office she performs her official functions. Through a communiqué, the aforementioned regional prosecutors condemned "any claim" to remove the head of the Venezuelan public prosecutor (MP) from "outside the regular channels" and urged that "her rights to defense be duly recognized and properly exercised. "

     Part of the text indicates that it is considered "imperative" to respect "the autonomy and independence of the Venezuelan Public Ministry in the legitimate exercise of its functions, which is put at risk as a consequence of the interference of other public powers manifested through pressures of varied nature and acts of intimidation that ultimately hinder or impede the investigation and prosecution of crimes perpetuated in that country (Venezuela). " \\

     The ruling, led by the Argentine Public Prosecutor's Office, in the exercise of the pro tempore presidency of the Specialized Meeting of Mercosur Public Ministries, comes days after the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) admitted the merits suit against Ortega Díaz presented by the deputy Pedro Carreño. The Plenary Room of the Judicial Branch set for July 4 the said proceedings against the prosecutor and banned her from leaving the country. Ortega Diaz, for her part, has denounced that the TSJ seeks to "dismantle" the MP and urged to ignore the sentences issued by that highest court.

July 1ro., 2017

CARDINAL UROSA SAVINO: THE GOVERNMENT HAS DECLARED WAR AGAINST THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- Cardinal Jorge Urosa denounced that paramilitary groups act in complicity with state security forces causing deaths in the population, reports the press office of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference. "We (the bishops), as we have already said, ask the national government to reconsider, to put down that attitude of wanting to impose in Venezuela a totalitarian Marxist and now also militaristic, militaristic system; And of course, to give up legal resources to dismantle the state. All this is reprehensible and intolerable and is not the way that most of the Venezuelan people want. "

     In this way, Cardinal Urosa Savino expressed himself at the end of the Mass celebrated this June 29 at the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria Church in Caracas. The government of Nicolás Maduro convened a National Constituent Assembly, whose elections are scheduled for July 30, but the Venezuelan Church has shown its public rejection in repeated opportunities to consider that the population rather than change the Magna Carta what it needs is food, Citizen security, democratic and free elections, and respect for laws, among other priorities.

     When consulted on the legal actions undertaken by Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, against some senior government officials and instances of power in Venezuela, Cardinal Urosa Savino expressed his full support for considering that she has assumed a democratic position and Attached to her functions. "I believe that the citizen General Prosecutor of the Republic has taken a very democratic position, precisely denouncing a whole series of abuses and it is necessary that such abuses cease immediately. I support the statements and position of the fiscal citizen Luisa Ortega Díaz, "he emphasizes to reporters.

VENEZUELA PROSECUTOR LUISA ORTEGA CHARGES EX-NATIONAL GUARD CHIEF WITH HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --
Venezuela's chief prosecutor charged the former head of the country's national guard Thursday with systemically violating human rights during three months of anti-government protests that have left nearly 80 people dead. Luisa Ortega Diaz's office announced the charges against Antonio Benavides Torres a day after the nation's Supreme Court declared it was barring her from leaving Venezuela and ordering her bank accounts frozen.

     Ortega Diaz, a longtime loyalist of the socialist government who recently broke ranks with President Nicolas Maduro, said police and military officials are responsible for 23 protest deaths to date as well as 853 injuries “In a great number of these incidents, there is evidence of excessive use of force in repressing protests,” Venezuela's Public Ministry said in a statement, citing the use of unauthorized firearms and torture of those apprehended.

     The charges are likely to further escalate tensions between Maduro and Ortega Diaz, who has become one the president's most vocal critics. She has filed numerous motions to the government-packed Supreme Court challenging Maduro's call for a special assembly to rewrite Venezuela's constitution, all of which have been rejected. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is proceeding with a complaint filed against her by socialist party lawmaker Pedro Carreno. Maduro announced he was replacing Benavides Torres last week and instead assigning him as government head of the capital district.

US MAKES AN APPEAL AGAINST VIOLENCE IN VENEZUELA


 
       WASHINGTON, d.c.  -- 
The US government insists on a schedule for “free, fair and credible elections,” observance of the Constitution and respect for the National Assembly The United States continued refusing any kind of violence in Venezuela, and condemned again “the efforts of President Nicolás Maduro to nullify the Constitution.”

     The US government on Wednesday strongly recommended “all the parties in Venezuela to abstain from violence” following the attacks on Tuesday on the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) and the Ministry of the Interior. A spokesperson of the US Department of State told Efe that the US government keeps on refusing any kind of violence in Venezuela, while blasting “the efforts of President Nicolás Maduro to nullify the Venezuelan Constitution and convene an illegitimate Constituent Assembly.”

     An agent of the Venezuelan scientific police, identified as Óscar Pérez, stole on Tuesday a helicopter, flew over the capital city and presumably hurled grenades at the TSJ and the Ministry of the Interior in Caracas. The Attorney General Office announced on Wednesday the commencement of an investigation into the action, claimed by the police agent in Instagram social network, through a video where he confessed his attempt at toppling Maduro’s government. Maduro reacted by hinting the use of arms in retaliation.

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