Maduro asked the government today to analyse Spain’s “aggression” against Venezuela, and said that he would soon announce “all kinds” of measures against the European country. During his television show, En Contacto Con Maduro, he said:
Venezuela will not allow itself to be assaulted by Spanish courts and a thousand courts from Madrid. That’s what I’m announcing, and I’m ready to fight against Madrid. If they look for us, they will find us. They found us. That’s what I’m saying. [Prime Minister] Rajoy, your abuses will end. Let all of Spain know it. Let the courts give their opinions. You can have an opinion about your mothers, but you can’t have an opinion about Venezuela. That’s enough. Abusive Spanish court, corrupt elite.
Maduro appeared to be reacting to a recent statement from Spain’s lower house calling for the immediate release of Leopoldo Lopez, Antonio Ledezma, and other political prisoners.
Maduro’s comments took a turn for the personal as he then accused Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of being racist, and suggested that it was this racism that motivated him to attack Venezuela. Maduro said:
Don’t pick fights with Venezuela. I want to have good relations. That’s enough. How much more will we endure abuses, contempt, racism. Rajoy is a rolo e’ racista [roughly, “really racist”]. But he has historic racism. Social racism… he’s behind all of the manoeuvres, all of the plays and disgusting moves against Venezuela. Racist, corrupt elite.
At this moment, it is not clear what measures, if any, the Venezuelan government will take against Spain.
NA Approves Parlatino Changes
The National Assembly voted today to change the way Venezuela elects members for the Latin American Parliament, a regional organization. Starting today. Venezuelan representatives to the body will not be selected by popular vote; rather, they will be directly appointed by a plenary session of the National Assembly.
The move comes as a direct response to increased criticism against the Maduro government for the systemic and widespread human rights violations it perpetrated during last year’s protests, and through the arrest and detention of individuals like Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma. National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello explained the move, saying:
The Parlatino [Latin American Parliament] is dependant on this assembly, and it depends on the leadership of this assembly. If that’s the case, then they [representatives] can’t go around the world saying whatever they want when we, in this National Assembly, have 167 other representatives who could fill that role.
During last week’s Summit of the Americas, Venezuelan representatives from the Latin American council spoke against the Maduro government, prompting today’s change of course.
Opposition deputies were quick to decry the move, calling it a violation of the right of Venezuelans to elect their representatives. Primero Justicia deputy Miguel Pizarro said that the National Assembly’s decision today is evidence that the PSUV is afraid of voters.
Venezuela currently has seven representatives at the Latin American Parliament.
Maduro: Let’s Radicalise the Revolution
Speaking before a crowd of supporters last night and blamed the country’s private industry for the country’s economic woes. In response, Maduro suggested that he would “radicalise” the revolution, as the time for talk was over:
Enough with all these meetings. We ask them to talk, we talk, they act like lambs and they leave as wolves to stab the people in the back. Let’s stay on our feet, let’s act harshly, let’s radicalise the revolution.
Maduro also said that he was going to ask authorities to investigate companies in charge of producing/importing scarce products, as he believes that the companies themselves are purposely causing the crisis. He mentioned two unspecified products as becoming scarce recently, and said that “every week and month there is a new scarce product”.
Maduro then suggested that workers should take it upon themselves to confront business owners they suspect of somehow being responsible for the so-called economic war, saying:
[The workers] have to take to the streets. With the law in their hands, they have to confront the criminal business people. Enough with all the meetings, all the paperwork and all the pageantry.
Turning his attention to oil prices, Maduro said that despite reduced national income, the country was still functioning properly:
We’ve hecho de tripas corazon [literally, “made heart with tripe”, meaning roughly “done a lot with a little”]. From $100 per barrel [of oil] to $40. Have we stopped building homes? Each apartment that we build costs us Bs. 500,000. 40% of the components are imported. There’s approximately $60,000 in each apartment.
Finally, Maduro turned to the popular website DolarToday, which is updated constantly with economic information, including the going rate for dollars on the black market. Maduro has recently been accusing the website’s owners of purposely manipulating economic data on the website to cause unrest and chaos. During his speech, Maduro added one more charge against the staff at the website: stealing money from Venezuelan banks.
We’re going to put behind bars all of the criminals from DolarToday who wage an economic war from Miami. I swear. And I know I’m going to carry this out. I know how. It will be done legally, according to extradition agreements. The United States is obligated to hand over those criminals who stole money from Venezuelan banks.
U.S. Removes Cuba from Terror List
The United States removed Cuba from a list of state-sponsors of terror today in yet another step towards normal relations between the two countries. Cuba had been on the list since 1982, when it was suspected of training communist guerillas to fight around the world. However, a new assessment by the White House found that Cuba has not engaged in terrorism sponsorship in the past six months, and that it had promised to not do so in the future.
The dramatic turn-around in U.S.-Cuba relations has left Venezuela in an awkward spot. Previously, Venezuela and Cuba were the closest of allies, often rallying together against U.S. policy in the region. Now that Havana has shown its desire to make peace with Washington, Venezuela has been left to continue the struggle without her closest ally.
Venezuela Receives Good Grades for Hunger Eradication
A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations gave Venezuela a “green” rating for its hunger eradication efforts, placing it alongside Brazil, Argentina and Chile in terms of fighting hunger. The report indicates that only 5% of the Venezuelan population suffers from malnutrition.