The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) highlighted a number of irregularities that took place today in the process of setting up voting machines and voting centres in preparation for Sunday’s parliamentary elections.
MUD electoral observers in the El Junquito parish in Caracas denounced earlier today that electronic voting machines in 12 voting centres had not been shut down and secured as protocol dictates. According to electoral law, the machines must be shut down and secured before they are placed under watch by electoral authorities. The MUD has instructed its observers to remain at the sites in question to ensure no one tampers with the machines.
The MUD also announced that at least three voting centres in Lara state received electoral materials in opened boxes. Boxes containing electoral materials must be shipped to the voting centers in unopened, sealed boxes to ensure that the contents have not been modified or otherwise tampered with.
In Barinas state, voting centres in the state’s District 1 were set up without the mandated supervision of CNE staff.
November Inflation Rate: 17.8%
A source close to the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) told El Nacional today that Venezuela’s inflation rate for November of this year was 17.8%. The Banco Central de Venezuela no longer publishes official statistics; if true, November’s numbers would put the country’s annualized inflation rate at 236.3%, the highest in the history of the country.
El Nacional points out that the country’s inflation crisis has several root causes. One is the government’s inability to implement any kind of meaningful policy to help curb inflation. A second root is the fact that the state-run oil company, PDVSA, has an arrangement with the BCV through which it injects money into the Venezuelan economy without regard for inflation. A third cause is that the Venezuelan Mint continues to print money without the backing of gold or international reserves.
The economic firm Ecoanalitica predicts that the country’s inflation rate could hit 300% in 2016, although an “institutional crisis” could see it rise as high as 800%.
Reporters Without Borders: Gov’t Instituting “Preventative Censorship”
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued a statement today in which it condemned what it considers to be attempts by the Venezuelan government to “pressure” international media into silence ahead of Sunday’s election.
According to RSF, international journalists arriving in the country to cover the election are being forced to sign a “deliberately vague” pledge to report only the truth or else have their press credentials removed. Emmanuel Colombie, the head of RSF for Latin America, said:
Imposing prior censorship on the international media is unacceptable. We urge the Venezuelan government not to obstruct the work of the media, and especially the work of foreign reporters. The Venezuelan authorities must respect their national and international obligations.
RSF called the move “unprecedented” in Venezuela, and that:
It violates both international free speech standards and Venezuela’s own regulations on the granting of accreditation to international media, as stipulated in Resolution No. 053 of 27 April 2004, published in Official Gazette No. 37930 of 4 May 2004.
Maduro in Spat with Spanish PM
Maduro respondent to comments on Sunday’s election by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, calling on Spain to respect the electoral process in Venezuela.
We love the people of Spain and we respect their history. That’s why we demand that they respect the history and the self-determination of the Bolivarian Venezuela of the 21st century. Absolute respect. Respect Venezuela! Respect the brave people!
Maduro also took a more personal tone against Rajoy, saying:
Prepare yourself, Rajoy. You’re leaving us, Rajoy! Bye bye, Rajoy! Goodbye, Rajoy. You messed with Venezuela and now you’re done. Get out, Rajoy! (…) The people of Venezuela are telling you to go home, Rajoy (…) Rajoy, don’t mess with Venezuela. Every time you speak ill of Venezuela you hurt yourself. You’re going to become cosmic dust. I can see your future, Maduro!
On Tuesday, Rajoy along with five other current and former leaders released a letter in which he criticized the Maduro government over its attacks against democratic institutions in the country.
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