Bolivar state governor Francisco Rangel Gomez defended statements he made to the media following the first reports that twenty eight miners had been killed near Tumeremo. Within hours of the initial reports, Rangel Gomez called the news “absolutely false” and said that the story was an opposition plot to discredit the PSUV government in the state.
One day after the Public Ministry and People’s Defender office announced the discovery of seventeen of the missing men, Rangel Gomez took to the media to clarify his position on the event:
I acknowledge that there was a massacre. 17 lives were lost.
On March 5 – the day that the news of the massacre first broke – Rangel Gomez took to his Twitter account to say that the news was false, and blamed those spreading it of “looking to generate commotion in the south of Bolivar [state]”.
Rangel Gomez also attempted to explain his comments as responsible given his role as state governor:
The governor of a state can’t come out a minute after [the news breaks] and say, ‘Yes, it’s true, there was a massacre just like the said in the news, and 28 people died’ (…) I had the clarity of mind to say, ‘This thing hasn’t happened until there is clear and firm evidence that it has’.
State Authorities Under Investigation Over Tumeremo Massacre
The head of the Cuerpo de Investigaciones Penales y Criminalisticas [Penal and Criminal Investigations Agency] (CICPC), Douglas Rico, said that an undisclosed number of state authorities would be translated to Caracas from Bolivar state to face questioning over their alleged involvement in the Tumeremo massacre.
Rico did not provide any more information.
Shortly after news of the massacre broke out, witnesses to the killing provided testimony to the media saying that they had seen CICPC and SEBIN officers take an active role in the massacre.
Minister: DolarToday Responsible for Over 70% of Inflation
Minister of Foreign Commerce and International Investment Jesus Faria said during an interview with Globovision today that the website dolartoday.com is responsible for over 70% of Venezuela’s inflation. The website publishes the black market rate for bolivares.
With DolarToday we can explain more than 70% of the inflation that is happening in the country. Some say that this isn’t possible, and that’s how they give themselves away, by defending DolarToday (…) Those who deny it are precisely the ones who are behind these policies (…) DolarToday doesn’t invest a single dollar. It’s a merchant, but there is a great deal of capital from drug traffickers, paramilitaries, and in fact illegal economies in Venezuela that live off, take advantage of, feed off, and capitalize off DolarToday.
Faria also said that DolarToday is the “tip of the spear” for Venezuela’s foreign and domestic enemies to distort the Venezuela economy.
The Venezuelan national government maintains that a nebulous host of Venezuela’s enemies – including the opposition parties and the United States – are waging an “economic war” against the country with the goal of overthrowing the Maduro government and putting an end to the Bolivarian project in the country.
Capriles: CNE Begins “Operation Tortoise” On Recall Referendum
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles said today that the Consejo Nacional Electoral [CNE] is purposely shuffling its feet on the matter of the recall referendum against Maduro with the hopes of putting off the event for as long as possible.
As evidence of what he called “operacion morrocoy” [Operation Tortoise], Capriles pointed to the fact that National Assembly deputies have asked the CNE on three different occassions to clarify the rules for the recall referendum, and that they have so far been ignored. Capriles said:
A group of [opposition] deputies went to the CNE to ask once again about the format they want for the collection of signatures. Last week they took a letter there, and this Tuesday as well.
Capriles said that he hopes that the recall referendum will be able to get off the ground as early as July.
Poll: Maduro Would Lose Recall If It Were Held This Sunday
A poll by the Datanalisis firm found that if the recall referendum were to be held this Sunday, Maduro would lose the vote and be forced out of office.
According to the poll, 52.1% of respondents – including 15.3% of self-identify as chavistas – would vote to remove Maduro from office, which would translate to approximately 10,161,638 votes in favour of Maduro’s ouster.
The same poll found that 90.9% of respondents consider the country’s current situation to be “bad”. Among those who consider themselves chavistas, 75% had a negative outlook on the situation in the country today.
Poll: 80.3% Want “Change in Course”
When asked “Does the opposition have the capacity and determination to change the current state of affairs in the country?”, 59.5% of respondents answered “yes”, while 30% said “no”.
Below, a sampling of some of the questions the poll asked:
- “In which direction is the country going under the leadership of Nicolas Maduro?”
- 72.8% answered “the wrong direction”, while 17.2% answered “the right direction”.
- “How would you qualify Maduro’s term in office?”
- 69.8% qualified it as negative, while 27.9% qualified it as positive.
- “How would you qualify the current National Assembly term?”
- 59.5% qualified it was positive, while 36.9% qualified it as negative.
- “Which of these issues affects you the most?”
- 40.7% answered “scarcity/shortages”, 21.2% answered “the high cost of living”, and 16.9% answered “insecurity.
- “It is most important for the National Assembly to…”
- 38.9% answered “draft laws in related to the economy/scarcity”, 15.7% answered “recall the President”.
- “I agree/disagree with the National Assembly’s Amnesty Law”
- 59.6% answered that they agreed, while 34.1% answered that they disagreed.
The survey was conducted between February 25 and March 7 with a sample of 1,200 individuals. It has a margin of error of +/- 2.37%.
The full survey can be found here.
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