Maria Corina Machado Returns from Peru
Maria Corina Machado returned from Peru in the face of her removal from the National Assembly on Monday by Diosdado Cabello. She made it through her day without incident. Here are some pictures of her arrival at the Simon Bolivar International Airport:
The press was present as well:
Maria Corina was scheduled to speak before a crowd in Plaza Brion, Caracas. She eventually made it to her destination and made some comments before her supporters:
Here are some of the things that Maria Corina said at the event:
Mr. Cabello has broken every law in the country. That person does not even know the legal steps for removing a deputy from their seat. Standing here, I tell you that I’m alive and well [vivita y colenado] to defend my post and the electors who voted for me.
I’m telling you clearly, Mr. Diosdado: neither you nor any other person has the right to dismiss me. I will continue to be a deputy. I know my rights, but above all my duty, which was to return as fast as possible to continue this struggle.
You will continue to see me as a deputy both inside and outside of parliament, fighting until victory.
News From Around the Country
Today, Maduro announced that the Consejo Nacional Electoral [National Elections Council, the people responsible for organizing/carrying out elections] ] has started the process to hold elections in San Diego, Carabobo and San Cristobal, Tachira, the municipalities whose mayors (Enzo Scarano and Daniel Ceballos, respectively) are currently imprisoned. Maduro said:
I already spoke to the president of the CNE. She told me that they are going to call elections in the San Diego and San Cristobal municipalities. We’re going to have elections, then! We already have candidates [ready] and we are going to sign them up on the first day. And we are going to look for votes in both of those municipalities where we’ve never won before. We’re going to look for votes because we are going to win this time to guarantee the peace in San Diego and San Cristobal.
Who else wants elections? Capriles, do you want elections? We are very good at electoral battles. We are an army of peace.
Maduro also called on “all of the UBCh [Unidades de Batalla Bolivar – Chavez, Bolivar – Chavez Battle Units] from Carabobo and Tachira, get ready and stay alert” ahead of the elections.
On the coup Maduro said the government foiled yesterday, he said that they would “apply the most severe law to punish them” if they were found guilty, but that he “would be happy at the end of all of this if any of the three generals turned out to be innocent.”
There was a lot of National Guard activity in Puerto Ordaz today. Yesterday, it was reported that the head of the National Guard said that Puerto Ordaz would be targeted by a “simple” operation to remove the barricades in the city. Here are some pictures from Puerto Ordaz today:
Tear gas was deployed in the Baruta municipality of Caracas as a response to demonstrators in the area. This picture is from around 4:30 PM local time:
Municipal workers form San Diego, Carabobo demonstrated today by forming a human chain along a road in the area. Enzo Scarano, mayor of San Diego, was removed from his post and sentenced to 10 months in jail last week. From the demonstration:
I must admit, I was surprised that Maria Corina Machado was allowed to walk out of the airport as she did this afternoon by Venezuelan authorities. She is being accused of treason by Diosdado Cabello, who removed her from her chair as a member of the National Assembly on Monday. The rhetoric against Maria Corina had been intensifying leading up to her dismissal, and the contempt that the government has for her has not subsided at all. Given how well the other trials against opposition leaders have gone for the government (with mayors Scarano and Ceballos now in jail), there is virtually no doubt that Maria Corina would be found guilty should she eventually face a tribunal.
Maria Corina’s tactic appears to be to essentially plug her ears and say “No! No! I can’t hear you! I’m still a deputy! I can’t hear you!” The opposition has pointed out repeatedly that Maria Corina’s removal from the National Assembly has absolutely no basis in law or any kind of parliamentary procedure. It will be interesting to see if Maria Corina attempts to enter the National Assembly building again sometime, given the fact that Diosdado Cabello explicitly barred her from doing so.
Maduro’s mocking tone – threatening Capriles today with elections, as in, “I’m going to have you removed from office like I did Scarano and Ceballos” – continues a disturbing trend of bullying and intimidation on behalf of the government.