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The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the country’s largest political opposition bloc, announced today that it was calling for massive demonstrations throughout the country for this Saturday, January 24. The MUD have titled the demonstration “The Empty Pots March Against Hunger and for Change”.

The announcement was made through a press release, and named three rallying points in Caracas: the Torre la Previsora, Plaza el Indio, and the Plaza Alfredo Sadel. The three locations were chosen to allow for a maximum number of attendees, as they are located in the west, north and centre of the city.

Demonstrators will march from each of the three rally points to the Casanova Avenue, a major road in the centre of Caracas that feeds into Plaza Altamira.

The same press release calls for Venezuelans to protest Maduro’s speech tomorrow before the National Assembly “with a loud display of horn honking and pot banging”, a traditional and extremely noisy method of protest in Venezuela.

Jorge Rodriguez: “No Violent Protests” in Libertador

The mayor of the Libertador municipality, Jorge Rodriguez, spoke today on Venezolana de Television (VTV), a state-owned television channel, in response to the MUD’s calls for protests in the country on January 24.

Rodriguez announced a PSUV demonstration to counter that of the MUD, saying:

President Nicolas Maduro has commissioned [vice-president of Social Development and Missions] Hector Rodriguez, [Mayor of Caracas] Ernesto Villegas and myself to tell the country about a new street conquest (…) We will take to the streets this coming January 23, all of us heroic people who have gone out to resist another outburst by sectors of the oligarchy.

Rodriguez also said that he would not allow violent protests in the Libertador municipality of Caracas, which covers roughly the city’s entire western flank. Rodriguez immediately dismissed the possibility that the opposition march might be peaceful, saying:

How can you believe that this violent opposition will stage a peaceful protest, if they have not done it before?

Last year, the Libertador municipality – which is firmly under the control of the PSUV – was declared a “protest-free” zone. No demonstration, peaceful or otherwise, were allowed to enter the Libertador section of the city.

Arreaza: “More Socialism” Incoming

Denying rumours that Maduro’s speech tomorrow might include announcement might include reforms to take the Venezuelan economy a step or two back from the socialist model, Vice-President Jorge Arreaza said today that Maduro’s speech would only “build” a more socialist system.

Arreaza said:

Everything that we might do will be done for the construction of the productive socialist system that will incorporate, include – I hope that the world will understand this clearly, specially Venezuelan industry – private enterprises that wish to invest and take risks.

Arreaza also spoke to detractors who point to unprecedented scarcity and the highest inflation rate in the world as signs that the country’s political model has failed, saying:

 Some say that the model has failed… on the contrary, it’s been a political, social and cultural success. Even a legal success. [Now it must become] an economic success as well.

Arreaza explained that “criminal mafias”, under the leadership of the Venezuelan opposition, are responsible for the “induced scarcity” which is part of the “economic war” waged against the country by both internal and external enemies with the backing of the United States and other foreign entities.

CONINDUSTRIA: Scarcity Fault of the Go’vt

The Confederacion Venezolana de Industriales (CONINDUSTRIA) released a press statement today in which it unequivocally blamed the Venezuelan government for the country’s scarcity woes. Part of the text reads:

The scarcity of basic products and high inflation levels that are overwhelming Venezuelans are nothing more than the products of the misguided policies that the national government has been applying to the economic sphere. The only way to fix this problem of for the executive to take the necessary corrective measures urgently…

Cabello: We Will Not Be Screwed

PSUV vice-president and President of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello made a number of comments today regarding the increasing tension between the opposition and PSUV, due to culminate this week in marches throughout the country.

Cabello said that the the Bolivarian revolution can only succeed if it “trains its militants” to counter the opposition, and called on his supporters to beware the pitfalls of corruption.

Cabello also said that the Venezuelan opposition was trying to re-create the 2002 general strike, although he warned that this time the strike would be “silent”, meaning that it was being carried out through hoarding and smuggling at the industrial level.

Cabello became more combative as he explained the state of the so-called “economic war”, and how far the PSUV was willing to go to defeat it:

What they’re doing now is waging an unconventional war after a number of failures by the North American empire. We’ve also been learning a lot. We don’t have a lot of money, but we have a lot of heart. We’ve never called for violence, but we will say that we will not let ourselves get screwed. It won’t happen, but if they try it, we won’t just sit with our arms crossed.

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