Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Venezuela yesterday to iron out the details on an initiative to bring the two countries closer together. Today, the two countries signed 38 new agreements, linking the two nations in matters ranging from oil exploration and agricultural cooperation to “cultural and social” interchanges.

The minister of the National Commission of Development and Reform, Xu Shaoshi, said:

The Mixed Commission will work towards meeting the requisites agreed to between both heads of state, taking advantage of this meeting of the Sino-Venezuelan strategic alliance.

Among the agreements is a new joint initiative to launch a new satellite into space which will join the Venezuelan satellites Simon Boiivar and Miranda, which were launched into orbit with Chinese help in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

President Xi Jinping expressed his joy at the meeting, saying:

I want to express on my behalf and that of the Chinese government our utmost congratulations  for the successful celebration of this meeting. The main objective of my visit is to strengthen our friendship and mutual trust, to widen the scope of our cooperation and to promote joint development.

The two presidents had the opportunity to visit Chavez’s tomb:

Images from the meeting were broadcast on at least one giant TV screen in Beijing:

Low Voter Turnout Cast Shadow on PSUV Congress

Voter turnout for the PSUV congress held over the weekend appears to have been disappointingly low, and the PSUV’s unwillingness to share its internal figures is “a sign of weakness”, so says Nicmer Evans, a political scientist and contributor to the pro-government website Apporea

Evans observed “limited” voter mobilization in the voter centres he visited in Caracas. He was also able to examine unofficial turnout figures compiled by the Equipo de Conteo de Electoral Popular de Caracas [Caracas Popular Election Counting Team], an independent group made up of PSUV supporters who collect data for statistical purposes.

According to their figures, 38,521 people voted in the congressional elections yesterday in the Libertador municipality, equivalent to 8% of the total PSUV-registered voters in the municipality. A similar group in Vargas state found the turnout in that state at 22%. According to Evans, the two teams have estimated the national voter turnout to be 12%.

Evans concludes:

If participation was roughly at a million militants [PSUV supporters], [then] I don’t doubt that this is a positive thing, but when the registry sits at 7.6 million electors, then of course this was a failure.

Evans criticised the PSUV for refusing to release official turnout figures, saying that the refusal “is a sign of weakness” and that it calls into question the legitimacy of the entire election.

Heiber Barreto, another political scientist, argued that the low voter turnout is a sign that he PSUV base is dissatisfied with the current party leadership. Barreto suggested:

I hope the political caste can seriously reflect on what’s happened, because later will be too late. Shut up for a while and listen, for the good of chavismo

Lilian Tintori Writes Op-Ed in Washington Post

Lilian Tintori, Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, wrote an op-ed piece on today’s Washington Post.

In the piece, Tintori references Amnesty International’s assessment that Leopoldo’s incarceration “smack of a politically motivated attempt to silence dissent”, and assured readers that:

… there is no presumption of innocence or due process of law for a political prisoner in Venezuela.

Finally, a video showing the arrest of Jhosman Paredes, a university student who was detained during a confrontation with National Guard troops on June 19:

Paredes was released from prison last week after some of his school mates and friends staged a 22-day hunger strike.

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