Yesterday, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica organized marches throughout the country to regional offices of the Consejo Nacional Electoral. The demonstrators demanded that the country’s electoral body finally announce the date of parliamentary elections which the constitution mandates must take place before the end of the year. So far, the CNE has refused to officially call the elections.
On April 15, the head of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, said that she would finally give a date for the elections “within two weeks”. Nearly two months later, no such announcement has been made.
Demonstrations marched in Barquisimeto, Maracaibo, Valencia and Caracas without any major incidents. The goal of the demonstrations was to hand CNE authorities a document officially stating the group’s demand that the elections be called.
In Ciudad Bolivar, Bolivar state, the head of the Causa R party, Andres Velasquez, spoke on the reason for the demonstrations:
There’s six months left in 2015, and the CNE has not yet fixed a date. They’ve only said that [the elections] will take place in the last trimester of the year. That doesn’t mean anything.
We should have an electoral body that should be independent and carry out its duties. They should have announced the electoral program by now.
Velasquez also said that he believed that the delay in the announcement was part of a “government strategy” to breed voter animosity and doubt in the electoral system as a means of decreasing the number of likely voters.
Colombia Responds to Comments on Poverty
They come here, and all they bring with them is needs and poverty. They all come looking for education, work, health and homes… [Colombia] has become a net exporter of poverty into Venezuela.
Today, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos responded to Maduro’s comments, saying that the facts contradict his assertions.
Speaking to the press at an event in Bogota, Santos said:
Yesterday, President Maduro said that Colombia exports misery. I would say that that’s in the past. Today, the opposite is true: our economic system produces prosperity.
Official figures from the Colombian government appear to back up Santos’ comments. Over the last five years, poverty rates have decreased 12% in Colombia, equalling approximately 4.4 million people. Last month, Santos announced that the country’s overall poverty rate is 28.5%, while out of that number, 8.1% live in extreme poverty.
Those numbers are comparable to the poverty rates in Venezuela in 2013, when the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica announced that 27.3% of Venezuelans lived in poverty, while 8.8% lived in extreme poverty.
OPEC Agrees to Maintain Production Levels
A meeting of the world’s top oil producers today agreed to maintain production levels at the current 30 million barrels per day.
The Minister of Mining and Oil, Asdrubal Chavez – Hugo Chavez’s cousin – was happy with the organization’s decision, and said:
I think the meeting was very successful. We made the best decision we could have made, and we continue to work towards strengthening and towards having a reasonable and just price for our principal resource, which is oil.
Chavez also said that the production levels agreed at this latest meeting should hold until the end of the year, and that there was “total solidarity” among all OPEC countries.
While Venezuela has suffered tremendously due to lower oil prices and has repeatedly called for them to rise to the 100$ level, the secretary general of the organization, Abdullah El Badri, seemed much more comfortable with current prices:
We have to live with this. We have to adapt to this new reality.
El Aissami: Fire at Electrical Substation Part of a Coup
Aragua state governor Tarek El Aissami said that a fire at the La Victoria electrical substation in Aragua state was deliberately set off by unnamed assailants as part of a coup against the Maduro government. Speaking from another electrical facility earlier today, El Aissami said:
We’re in the Soco electrical substation right now. Behind us is one of the transformers that was attacked by a terrorist act [sic] which we denounced yesterday. We want to let the whole country know that on Thursday, we denounced the electrical sabotage conducted by some small fascist groups that remain here in the state.
This is part of a coup d’etat. We’re fighting an all-out war. We call on our people to fight, remain united, struggle and be victorious.
El Aissami did not provide any evidence for his claims.
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