Speaking before opposition supporters in Barquisimeto, Lara state, Maria Corina Machado said that Venezuelans have “a moral obligation” to defeat the Maduro government “as soon as possible”.
Machado made the comments at the Congreso Ciudadano de Occidente [Western Citizens’ Congress], where 800 opposition delegates met to discuss the future of the movement.
Maria Corina also said:
Now they persecute us, they think that they’re weakening us, and they think that their repression is dividing us. Here is Venezuela’s answer, in Barquisimeto! Here is the citizen’s response before the lies of a regime that persecutes of for defending our principles. They have not succeeded in subduing us.
She also addressed the issue of the political repression Venezuelans have felt – particularly over the past year – and said:
We have the right to speak the truth, and that’s why they persecute us. Today, beyond reiterating the right to liberty, dignity, property expression, and life, I want to assure you that we have a duty: we have an historic and a moral obligation to face and defeat the Maduro regime as soon as possible.
Maria Corina stressed the democratic nature of the opposition movement, and assured the crowd that political change was “unstoppable and imminent“:
Maduro and his regime will be forced to leave thanks to the strength and conviction of the people organized in this Congreso Ciudadano, which represents the vast majority that today accepts this historic challenge.
Falling Oil Prices Force Maduro’s Hand
In light of the continued drop in oil prices, Maduro announced yesterday that he would be making budget cuts in the next few days. Maduro said:
I’ve ordered a number of cuts to be made to the nation’s budget, and so I’m naming (…) a special presidential commission to rationalize and reduce public spending. In what? Luxury costs.
I’ve ordered a review of salaries of ministers, government companies, beginning with the President of the Republic. [I want them] to suggest a substantial pay cut… so I can lead by example.
Maduro tried to roll with the punches, saying that he welcomed the falling oil prices as an “opportunity” to:
… end luxury spending, with unnecessary spending, and to redirect our country towards and optimization of its resources.