A group of PSUV deputies has formally asked the Public Ministry to charge MUD deputies Delsa Solorzano, Juan Guaido, Luis Florido, Angel Medina and Williams Davila for treason. The PSUV deputies claim that by attending a meeting of the Organization of American States in recent days and speaking about the crisis affecting Venezuela, the MUD deputies betrayed the country.
The petition at the Public Ministry was filed by PSUV deputies Victor Clark, Tania Diaz, Edwin Rojas, Isenia Medina and Carmen Melendez.
Shortly after making the request at the Public Ministry, deputy Melendez said that the MUD deputies had committed “acts against the independence, sovereignty and security of the country”.
The measure appears to be related to one PSUV vice-president and National Assembly Deputy Diosado Cabello said yesterday he was going to take. On an interview with Radio Nacional de Venezuela yesterday, Cabello said:
I’m preparing a suit for the national authorities against these citizen deputies who have gone abroad to defame, attack our country, asking for intervention and democratic decrees. Someone who loves our homeland would not do that (…) this is treason.
According to deputy Diaz, the Public Ministry has assigned one attorney to investigate the allegations.
Treason carries a mandatory sentence of 20 to 30 years upon conviction.
New Price Regulations Imminent
The national government appears poised to announce a new set of price regulations, presumably with the goal of helping to alleviate the severe scarcity crisis affecting the country, possibly as early as today.
In a speech broadcast last night, Maduro announced that change in the way the government dictates the price of basic goods and necessities was imminent. Maduro said that the rolling out of this new scheme follows in-depth research into supply and demand for basic necessities at the national level.
CNE Has Counted 550,000 Signatures
Vicente Bello, head of electoral affairs at the MUD, announced today that the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) has counted 550,000 of the 1.85 million signatures that the opposition submitted to the electoral body as part of the recall referendum process against Maduro.
At first, the process at the beginning was delayed. Yesterday, they looked at 24 of the 80 boxes that were left there, which means that they’ve looked at 550,000 [signatures], more than double what the CNE asked for.
Last week, the CNE gave the MUD 30 days to collect approximately 195,000 signatures showing support for a recall referendum against Maduro. The MUD managed to collect 1.85 million in a matter of days.
Bello also said that the verification process – which will ensure that the signatures are valid – should end between May 10 and 17:
Then, the next stage will start, which is called on 4 million Venezuelans to sign in favour of the referendum.
Bello estimates that the recall referendum could take place between September and October, meaning that Venezuelans could be heading to the polls to vote for a new president in December.
Cabello: “No Way” Referendum Can Take Place This Year
Speaking on his weekly television show – Con el Mazo Dando – last night, Diosdado Cabello said that there is “no way” that the recall referendum can take place this year:
There is no time and no way to hold this referendum – no way – to do it this year.
The timing of the referendum is critical. If the referendum happens before the end of the year, a presidential election must take place which would likely result in an opposition candidate winning. If the referendum takes place in 2017, vice-president Aristobulo Isturiz would become president, ensuring the continuation of the PSUV legacy.
Isturiz echoed Cabello’s comment during a speech yesterday, in which he said that “they don’t have time and they won’t have time” to hold the referendum this year. Isturiz also suggested that the opposition was planning to overthrow Maduro through violence, saying:
At this moment, I think that [the opposition] is convinced that they cannot defeat us through democratic means. They know this (…) they’re not going to remove Maduro with a referendum or with anything like that, you can be sure of that. They won’t have time and they won’t have time. They know this.
Cabello also reiterated a statement he made on Tuesday, in which he said that any government official found to have signed the petition for the recall referendum should be fired from their job. Cabello said:
They say that they’ve got 1.8 million signatures, but how many of them are copies? (…) I’ll say it again: those signatures will be examined one by one, and if [one of] those signatures belongs to the director of an institution, that person has got to go. If there are any escualidos [derogatory term for opposition supporter] who have infiltrated [the government] and they are found out, they will have to go.
Cabello Sues WSJ for Libel
Diosdado Cabello has filed a lawsuit against the Wall Street Journal for libel. The lawsuit stems from an article the newspaper published on May 18, 2015 titled “Venezuelan Officials Suspected of Turning Country Into Global Cocaine Hub”. The article features Cabello heavily.
The lawsuit was filed with the United States District Court Southern District of New York, and alleges that:
… the allegations contained in the Article distort and/or inaccurately convey what unnamed sources had allegedly disclosed to Defendants [the Wall Street Journal], or are otherwise based on non-existent or inaccurate accounts of ongoing law enforcement activities.
While the lawsuit does not specify a dollar amount, it does state its purposes as seeking “damages, including punitive damages, as well as costs” against the newspaper and its parent company.
A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.
PSUV Deputies Walk Out of Session, Take Selfie
PSUV deputies once again walked out of a parliamentary session in protest today, saying that a lack of opposition deputies at the National Assembly this morning made for a lack of quorum.
Once the deputies had left the chamber, they proceeded to take a selfie together. The image was one of three attached to a tweet by PSUV deputy Hector Rodriguez, which you can see below:
The selfie can be seen below, along with a translation of Rodriguez’s tweet:
Don’t let the MUD waste Venezuelans’ time!
Annualized Inflation Hits 397.4%
Citing sources inside the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV), La Patilla reports today that the country’s annualized inflation rate has now hit 397.4%, after a jump of 18.7% in April alone. The same sources say that the inflation rate between January and April of this year sits at 86.4%.
The BCV no longer publishes economic information, leaving journalists, academics and everyday Venezuelans to rely on informal sources close to the institution to leak out figures.
Video Shows Chaos at Merida Hospital Following MCM Visit
Yesterday, former National Assembly deputy and opposition figure Maria Corina Machado visited a hospital in Merida, Merida state to document the plight of doctors and patients alike who are faced with an worsening shortage of medical supplies.
Machado’s visit to the hospital attracted a large, hostile crowd of PSUV supporters. The crowd assaulted Machado along with journalists and others at the scene, as fights broke out and the hospital descended into complete chaos.
At one point, while speaking to reporters, an attacker reached from within the crowd to grab Machado’s hair, and violently pulled on it, causing Machado’s head to snap back suddenly.
Below, the video, along with my translation:
Juana Hernandez (Bolivarian Women’s Front): “Chuo” Torrealba [the head of the MUD] and Maria Corina Machado should be in jail!
Maria Corina Machado: … to give testimony [attackers pulls on her hair].
Chanting Doctors: We want supplies! We want supplies! We want supplies! [Text on screen reads: “Inside the hospital, the doctors demanded supplies”].
Luisana Rosa (Relative of patient at IAHULA [Hospital]): They won’t even give us prescriptions, [unintelligible], they ask us for medicines — and then they won’t give us prescriptions, because the director [of the hospital] doesn’t provide the information.
Chanting relatives: We want supplies! We want supplies! [Text on screen reads: “Patient’s relatives demanded supplies].
[Text on screen: “Tensions boiled over and resulted in violence”]
[Text on screen: “After Maria Corina Machado’s comments, there was more fighting and insults at the hospital’s main entrance”]
[Text on screen: “Maria Corina Machado was leaving the hospital, but tensions were still high. The physical and verbal attacks continued. The press were also victims”]
Maria Virgina Velasquez: [After camera gets knocked off her hands] Fuck! Help me! I’m a journalist! I’m a journalist!
[Text on screen: Maria Virginia Velasquez, a reporter from El Pitazo, was attacked”]
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