The Colegio Nacional de Periodistas (National College of Journalists) reported that there have been 460 attacks against the freedom of expression in Carabobo state over the past three months. Out of this total, the College claims, 140 were physical acts of violence against reporters, while 262 were against “press workers”, presumably photographers, videographers, etc. The numbers only tally the instances when the attacks were carried out by security forces.
Meanwhile, PROVEA (Programa Venezolano de Educacion – Accion en Derechos Humanos) announced today that compared to 2013, security forces actions against demonstrators increased 485%, resulting in the highest number of detained demonstrators in the past 25 years. According to PROVEA, 3127 people have been detained during protests so far this year, 2463 of whom have had to appear before a judge, numbers similar to those maintained by the Foro Penal Venezolano.
As of today, 119 people have been imprisoned as a result of their participation in the demonstrations that have taken place in the country since February of this year.
Supreme Court Rules on CNE Term Extension
The Supreme Court ruled today that the three Consejo Nacional Electoral (National Electoral Council) rectors whose terms have expired can continue to serve at the head of the CNE until the National Assembly designates their replacements. In their decision, the judges wrote:
Even though the [terms] of some rectors have expired, along with that of their respective substitutes, a paralyzation of the exercise of a public function indispensable for democracy cannot be accepted.
The fact that three of the heads of the CNE are currently serving beyond their term limits is a hot topic for the opposition, who charge that ignoring these types of term limits is an affront on democratic principles. Constitutional lawyer Luis Alfonso Herrera found the decision’s focus on the continuation of the terms interesting, and said:
It doesn’t matter that the Constitution sets a fixed term limit, that this term limit has expired and that as a result the people holding these positions have lost their legitimacy (…) what matters is continuity.
If Venezuelans allow that the term limits of all public officials expire, and we do not hold elections and we do not assign [them] through the National Assembly as the Constitution says, that’s not a problem, we can apply the principle of administrative continuity [to not] paralyse a public office.
Herrera qualified as “terrible” the precedent the decision sets. He warned that the decision allows for “rectors for life”, officials who are perpetually re-elected to their post by the National Assembly, contrary to the principles set out in the Constitution.
In Other News
Simon Nobile, president of the Asociacion Venezolana de la Industria de Pastas (Venezuelan Association of the Pasta Industry), said today that the industry only has enough raw materials in stock to continue production for one more month. Currently, Nobile said, the industry is making pasta “with borrowed wheat”. Nobile also said:
At this time, the main problem is raw material inventories, [which is] wheat, and we have difficulties thanks to a delay in receiving foreign currency, and thanks to logistical problems involving sending the product from Canada to Venezuela.
On average, we have about one month of raw material in stock, and we cannot guarantee that it will be administered according to consumer demand.
Diosdado Cabello spoke at an event before representatives of the Unidades de Batalla Bolivar-Chavez (Bolivar-Chavez Battle Units), and made some interesting remarks:
Now they [the opposition] are talking about a constituent [assembly]. We respect this constitution, we defend it, we love it, it was made by the people, and that’s where we come from. They’ve never respected it. Let them collect signatures! We’ll get back at them with everything!
When the homeland makes the call, all of the patrulleros y patrulleras [roughly, “patrol officers”, meaning members of the UBCh] will be on the streets defending the Revolution!
Finally, pictures of a confrontation between demonstrators and National Guard troops that took place today in the El Cardenalito area of Barquisimeto, and might still be ongoing at this time:
The image below apparently shows a National Guard soldier injured during the confrontation: