The head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, Jesus Torrealba, was attacked by a group of government supporters today outside the headquarters of CORPOELEC (the national electrical company) in Caracas.
El Nacional reports that at least four attackers hurled rocks and threw punches at Torrealba and his entourage as they congregated outside the utility company’s building.
A video of the event shows a man with glasses in a green shirt and red undershirt approach Torrealba with his hands behind his back. Torrealba notices the man, and begins to walk away from him. As he does, the man takes a swing at Torrealba, and a scuffle breaks out.
As the man in the glasses approaches Torrealba, he says:
Que, maldito? Dependiente de que, maldito? Dependiente de que, mamaguevo? [Roughly, “Damn you, what did you say? Damn you, depending on what? Depending on what, you cocksucker?”]
As the fight unfolds, the same man can be heard yelling, “Metele plomo! Metele plomo!” [literally, “Put lead in him!”, meaning “Shoot him!”].
As the group of attackers begins to retreat, they throw rocks at Torrealba and his entourage.
Below, a video of the attack. Torrealba is the man in the beige vest.
Torrealba’s Attacker Known to MUD
According to the MUD, the man who threw the first punch against Torrealba is known to the organization for participating in violent activities against the opposition.
The MUD claims that the same man headed an attack against opposition deputies at the National Assembly on Tuesday, and provided the pictures below as evidence:
The man in the red undershirt and green vest on Tuesday outside the National Assembly:
Apparently the same man as he approached Torrealba earlier today:
Torrealba Upbeat After Attack
Torrealba took to Twitter after the attack to let his supporters know that he was fine. Torrealba – who is completely bald – posted the following tongue-in-cheek tweet:
I was with some neighbours who were protesting against the blackouts, but on my way there I was attacked by a violent group. I’m fine. They didn’t even ruffle my hair.
Torrealba also clarified that the attack took place as a protest that was scheduled to take place outside the CORPOELEC building was cancelled after state security forces blocked demonstrators from accessing the area. Torrealba and a small group of political figures managed to congregate in the area, and the attack began as they were about to leave.
On the attack, Torrealba said:
It’s the same recipe for violating human rights that the government has used in other occasions.
Allup: Attackers Were “Gov’t Armed Gangs”
National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup also responded the the attack on Twitter, saying that “government armed gangs” were responsible for the violence. He also quipped that instead of fixing the electrical crisis affecting the country, they government is instead more concerned with attacking opposition figures.
NA Loses Electricity on Maduro’s Orders
Following a threat by Maduro that he would order CORPOELEC to shut down power at the National Assembly, the national legislature was plunged into darkness today as the threat appeared to be carried out.
The blackout also affected the headquarters of El Impulso, a publication which is located near the National Assembly.
It is not clear how long the loss of power at the legislature will last.
Allup took to Twitter after news of the blackout spread, saying:
They should shut off power at the main sites of inefficiency and corruption in the country: Miraflores [the Presidential Palace], salainconstitucional [the Supreme Court], and altomandofan [National Bolivarian Armed Forces High Command].
Polar Shuts Down Beer Production
The country’s largest beer producer, Polar, was forced to shut down all of its beer production lines today as a result of a lack of raw materials. Polar produced 80% of all beer consumed in Venezuela.
Of the four breweries Polar operates, three shut down during the week, with the last one closing its doors today.
Arquimedes Sequera, a union leader for Polar workers, said:
Today, the shift that came in the morning has already been suspended at the San Joaquin plant… this was the last plant that had yet to be stopped, and Polar’s largest.
Earlier this week, Maduro appeared to taunt Polar’s management and the shutdown they have been forced to implement by saying:
Planta para, planta recuperada [Roughly, “A factory that closes is a factory that we take over”].
The closure at Polar’s four breweries means the direct loss of 10,000 jobs.
Leopoldo Lopez Turns 45
Opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez turns 45 today. Lopez, who is serving a fourteen year prison sentence for his role in the 2014 anti-government protests, has now spent his last three birthdays in prison.
Speaking on the occasion, Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles said that “this will be Leopoldo Lopez’s last birthday in jail”, adding:
We say this because there will be a constitutional change in our country this year. The people’s constitutional and democratic conviction as demonstrated over the last few hours is evidence that we are united, and that we are invincible.
A number of visitors were denied access to the Ramo Verde military prison in which Lopez is held, including Henry Ramos Allup, Henrique Capriles, Julio Borges, Freddy Guevara, and Monseigneur Diego Padron.
Allup explained what happened when the visitation party arrived at the prison:
When we got here to [the gate], the sub-director of the prison told us that while [Lopez] made the request [for us to visit him] on time, there had been no answer [given to the request], so he could not allow us access because he was following orders to not let us in except by express authorization by the Minister of Defence.
Allup told El Nacional that Monseigneur Padron personally attempted to contact Vice-President Aristobulo Isturiz and Minister of Defence Vladimir Padrino Lopez, but that they were both allegedly unavailable to take his call.
Antonieta Mendoza – Lopez’s mother – spoke on the denial of visitation rights for her son, saying:
What we’re seeing here is unconstitutional. It’s another violation, yet again. I hope that as is his right, and as a birthday present, they will let him sign this form [the recall referendum form]. I demand that Nicolas Maduro [and] Minister Padrino Lopez, as a humanitarian gesture, allow his family and his brothers in this political struggle to visit him today to give Leopoldo a birthday hug.
Torres: NA’s Vote “Will Not Unnerve” Me
Minister of Nutrition Rodolfo Marco Torres responded to the censure vote against him by the National Assembly yesterday, which essentially forced Maduro to remove him from his post. Speaking to reporters today, Torres said that he was unphased by the vote, and appeared to indicate that he does not expect to be removed from office.
I will not be unnerved by these actions. On the contrary, this will give me more strength to move forward and guarantee that homeland’s nutritional sovereignty, which is a legacy of our giant Hugo Chavez.
Torres also said that he would continue to work to deliver food to Venezuelan citizens “despite the economic war and the brutal drop in oil prices”.
CNE Rector Lays Out Path to Referendum
One of the rectors of the Consejo Nacional Electoral, Luis Emilio Rondon, explained today what the next steps would be in the recall referendum process against Maduro.
In an interview with Televen, Rondon explained that the law that regulates the recall referendum process is the 2007 Reglamento del Poder Electoral [Electoral Power Regulation]. Rondon explained:
The first step is the collection of 1% of the signatures by entity [each state, plus the Capital District] (…) after they have been received, and in accordance to this same 2007 regulation, there is a period of five continuous days of review with the goal of verifying that the parameters have been met, and that the accompanying documentation meets the regulations.
After signatures from 1% of the electorate have been verified, Rondon explained that the next step would be:
… the collection of [signatures from] 20% of the electorate, which is close to four million voters, which will take place over three days with the goal of allowing this 20% to manifest their desire to activate the recall referendum process.
After signatures from 20% of the electorate have been verified, Rondon said that:
… within 90 days, the recall referendum would take place.
In short, the recall referendum process is made up of three steps:
- Collecting signatures from 1% of the electorate.
- Collecting signatures from 20% of the electorate.
- Holding the actual referendum vote.
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