The mayor of the Libertador municipality, Jorge Rodriguez, warned opposition supporters today that their planned demonstration on Wednesday would not take place. The headquarters of the Consejo Nacional Electoral is located in the Libertador municipality, and the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) had scheduled a peaceful march to the offices on Wednesday.
In a televised speech, Rodriguez spoke to the opposition supporters bluntly:
They will not come to the center of the city to destroy it.
As justification for issuing the blanket ban on peaceful protests in the municipality he represents, Rodriguez said that “guaranteeing peace is in the national constitution”. The constitution also guarantees the freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression.
Rodriguez also reiterated that there would be no recall referendum at all, that Maduro would still be president next year, and that the “Alvaro Uribe and the Madrid-Washington axis” – which he claims are coordinating attacks against Venezuela – would be defeated.
Guevara: Rodriguez’s Job Is to “Discourage” MUD
National Assembly MUD deputy Freddy Guevara spoke today on Jorge Rodriguez’s prominent appearance on the national spotlight over the past week. Rodriguez has become a daily fixture on Venezuelan media, with claims that the opposition failed to collect enough signatures for the recall referendum, and that the recall referendum would never take place.
Guevara summed up his opinion of Rodriguez with a tweet, saying:
Jorge Rodriguez’s role is clear: to discourage us from continuing with our struggle. If anyone still believes or worrie about what the say…
Guevara also pointed out that Rodriguez’s comments could hardly be considered unexpected:
Let’s get it straight: From now on, we’re only going to hear the government saying that there WON’T be a recall referendum. What do we expect them to say? That there will be one?
State of Exception Published
The state of exception Maduro announced last week has officially come into effect. The text of the measure was published today in Gaceta Extraordinaria No. 6.227.
The text of the decree cites “extraordinary circumstances” as the reason for playing the entire country under a state of exception.
The state of exception grants Maduro virtually unlimited power of decree on eighteen different points. The points include:
- “The design and implementation of exceptional mechanisms for the administration of supplies, machinery, seeds, and credit to everything related to agricultural and livestock development in the country”.
- The power for the military to become directly involved in the distribution of food.
- Access to funds “not set out in the budget”; in other words, access to “off-the-books” funds with no parliamentary oversight.
- The power to apply “necessary measures” to deal with “climate phenomena”, including the ability to alter work schedules.
- The “adoption of special measures” in order to ensure the “absolute exercise of national sovereignty” against “foreign meddling”.
The state of exception also allows Maduro to take special measures to restore order in the country whenever “destabilizing” forces are detected. The document does not explain what exactly the “special measures” are, or what exactly counts as a “destabilizing” force.
The document also justifies itself by laying out eleven reasons why Maduro needed to declare a state of exception. Some of the reasons include:
- “Attacks against the Venezuelan economy” from unnamed enemies.
- The existence of “perverse schemes” that have distorted the Venezuelan economy, including hoarding and usury.
- The fall in oil prices.
- The National Assembly seeking to “interrupt the presidential term”.
- The government’s desire to “protect Simon Bolivar’s people”.
- “The most difficult climate crisis in our homeland’s history”.
The National Assembly now has eight days to vote on whether or not to approve the economic emergency decree. While it is extremely likely that the National Assembly will vote to reject the measure, it is equally likely that Maduro will simply ignore the legislature’s will and carry on, as he did with the economic emergency decree earlier this year.
The full text of the state of exception can be found here, in Spanish.
CORPOELEC Workers Ready to Strike
Workers at the state-owned CORPOELEC electrical utility company are ready to file a formal notice of conflict against the national government with the Labour Inspectorate tomorrow. Once the notice has been filed, the workers would be in legal strike position in five days.
Union representatives told Globovision today that the reason for the possible strike is that the workers’ collective bargaining agreement expired five years ago, and the government has delayed negotiations on a new one for more than one year.
El Nacional reports that at least 18,000 CORPOELEC workers signed a petition in favour of a strike.
Guerra: BCV Running Out of Cash
National Assembly MUD deputy and economist Jose Guerra told Globovision today that the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) was in serious trouble, given the fact that its international reserves are rapidly evaporating. Guerra pointed out the fact that while the BCV’s foreign reserves currently sit at approximately $12 billion, Venezuela has debt obligations worth $6 billion due in December.
This fact, along with debt obligations due in 2017, could result in the country defaulting sooner rather than later, Guerra said.
Guerra also made suggestions for the national government on how to avoid the seemingly imminent default:
We have to start looking for external financing, respect the law, lower inflation and improve the workers’ purchasing power.
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