During a televised speech last night, the mayor of the Libertador municipality in Caracas, Jorge Rodriguez, said that the opposition committed “fraud” when it collected nearly two million signatures in favour of a recall referendum against Maduro. Rodriguez is the head of a presidential commission Maduro created to oversee the recall referendum process.
Rodriguez said that 11% of the forms on which the signatures were collected “were incomplete”:
We’re starting to see signatures without [finger] prints, names without I.D. numbers, and once again, dead people signing. We wouldn’t say this if we didn’t know what was actually happening.
As evidence, Rodriguez pointed out that one of the signatures examined belongs to someone who was born in 1908, and another of an individual who was born in 1915. Rodriguez did not attempt to differentiate between clerical errors and deliberate deception.
Lacking any kind of concrete and irrefutable evidence of fraud, Rodriguez said:
I know that there are Venezuelans who signed (…) but I’m also positive – I am now sure – that they committed fraud against the law. They altered the requirements.
Rodriguez also called on the CNE to suspend the recall referendum process against Maduro if any violence were to take place at tomorrow’s protest:
We’re going to ask the Electoral Power [the CNE] that if there’s any kind of demonstration (…) any kind of violent action against any electoral building or electoral officer, that they suspend the [referendum] process until the situation becomes normal and peaceful again, because every Venezuelan has the right to work in peace.
The opposition protest is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 9:00 AM in the Bello Monte neighbourhood.
Gov’t Extends Two-Day Work Week
Yesterday afternoon, Aragua state governor Tareck El Aissami announced that the national government would extend the two-day work week until May 27 for public sector workers. The measure will also classes cancelled throughout the country on May 13, 20, and 27. When it was initially announced, the measure was scheduled to last until May 13.
El Aissami explained that the measure needs to be extended in order to continue to help with the electricity crisis in the country. Minister of Electrical Energy Luis Motta Dominguez announced yesterday that the water level at the Guri hydroelectric dam continues to be “very critical”.
The measure does not affect critical public sector workers like police officers and doctors.
Almagro: Wanting Democracy Doesn’t Make You a Traitor
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, issued a press release today in response to PSUV calls to charge opposition deputies who spoke to the OAS about the dire situation in the country with treason.
In the release, Almagro says that he has followed the accusations “with concern”, and points out that the OAS is an organization that operates “for the good of the citizens of our Hemisphere”, not of individual governments.
In defense of the opposition deputies, Almagro pointed out that the PSUV was wrong to call opposition deputies who call for an attempt to defend freedom in Venezuela traitors:
For its part, the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IDC) begins by recalling that “The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.”Hence, no one who acts toward that end can be a traitor to their country.
Almagro ends the release with the following:
That is why, whoever wants more rights, more liberty, more democracy for their people, and appeals for the aid of the Inter-American instruments that have their distant roots in Panama in 1826, should be considered a patriot and a defender of democracy, beyond considerations of to which political party they belong.
The full press release can be found here.
Six Killed in Security Operation in Caracas
Security officers clashed with armed delinquents in the Cota 905 neighbourhood of Caracas this morning as part of an operation to kill or capture the area’s most infamous gang leaders, known only as “El Coqui” and “Lucifer”.
The identities of the six casualties are not yet known, although it is likely that none of them are state security officers.
El Universal reports that at least 100 security officers are involved in the operation, which was still ongoing this afternoon.
Frustration As Scarcity Continues
DolarToday uploaded a video to YouTube today showing a crowd of frustrated Venezuelans lining up for food at an establishment in Caracas today.
The video shows National Bolivarian Police officers checking the I.D.s of people in line at the establishment. One of the frustrated shoppers spots the camera crew and delivers a message to Minister of Foreign Affairs Delcy Rodriguez, who told the Organization of American States last week that the scarcity crisis in Venezuela has been entirely manufactured, since Venezuela imports enough “food to feed three countries the size of ours”.
Below, the video along with my translation:
Officers: Line up one behind the other. Start lining up here, one behind the other.
Man in Blue: Let me tell you something — we can’t eat toilet paper. To Foreign Affairs Minister [Delcy] Rodriguez: you’re a liar! [She says that] we have enough food to give to three nations. If we don’t have enough food for Venezuela, how can we give food to three nations? She might as well have said we give food to the United States!
[Crowd claps in approval]
Cameraman: What message do you have for Nicolas Maduro about this scarcity?
Man in Blue: That he should look at the people — he should come here and see the lines. There is no food. There is no food! And this morning, the [National] Guard came and did whatever they wanted. Whatever they wanted!
Cameraman: Alright, we’re here in Caracas on May 10, and we can see that in the west of the city here people are lining up to buy toilet paper, which is a basic necessity. We can see a large number of people here in the west of the city of Caracas, Venezuela.
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