Opposition supporters gathered in the Chacaito neighbourhood of Caracas today to demand that the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) stop intentionally delaying the recall referendum process against Maduro.

Supporters flocked to the Plaza Brion in Chacaito to sign banners and listen to speeches from opposition figures on the ongoing crisis in the country, as well as the continued efforts to hold a recall vote against Maduro this year.

The demonstration was peaceful, and there was a heavy National Bolivarian Police presence in the nearby Plaza Altamira, possibly in anticipation of the supporters deciding to march en masse from the Plaza Brion. At the same time, the Cota Mil – an avenue that runs along the northern end of Altamira- awoke this morning with at least three National Guard checkpoints regulating traffic through the area.

MUD To Attempt March on CNE Tomorrow

At the end of today’s demonstration, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) announced that it would attempt another march on the headquarters of the Consejo Nacional Electoral CNE) in the eastern part of Caracas tomorrow. All previous MUD attempts to reach the CNE headquarters in Caracas have been put to an end by security forces, and the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) issued a ruling recently banning all MUD demonstrations from the vicinity of the CNE headquarters.

The march to the CNE will start at the Bello Monte subway station at 10:00 AM local time tomorrow. The point of the march will be to demand that the CNE immediately begin verifying the signatures in favour of the recall referendum against Maduro, a process that should have started on June 2 according to CNE officials.

The head of the MUD, Jesus Torrealba, reminded supporters today that the Constitution “is above whatever fear the [{SUV] bureaucracy is feeling”, and said:

Our objective is not to win a ware against the government. It’s to impose peace, to build a peace that is so solid, so stable that it is able to isolate, segregate and defeat violence.

New Electric Rationing System in Effect Today

The Ministry of Electrical Energy has published a new electricity rationing system that will affect most of the country country effective immediately. The new rationing system will cut off electricity in a given region in three-hour chunks, except for during 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM.

Caracas will not be affected by these blackouts, and neither will the states of Vargas, Nueva Esparta, Amazonas and Delta Amacuro.

Along with the rationing system, the national government has also decreed a two-day workweek for all non-vital public sector works, as well as no classes on Friday for schools.

Lopez Meets Zapatero; Rumours of Talks Abound

Last night, Lilian Tintori – Leopoldo Lopez’s wife – revealed at her husband met former Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Saturday at the Ramo Verde Military prison, where Lopez has been held for 28 months. The visit, which apparently took place unannounced, marks the first successful attempt by a foreign dignitary to speak to Leopoldo Lopez in prison.

Zapatero’s meeting with Lopez added fuel to rumours that the PSUV and the MUD are engaging in secret talks to have Lopez released from prison, possibly for the concession that the opposition will stop pressuring for a recall referendum against Maduro this year.

Lopez’s lawyer, Juan Carlos Gutierrez, emphatically denied the rumours today, and explained his client’s stance on a possible deal to see him released:

There does not exist any possibility for any negotiation to take place delaying the recall in exchange for [Lopez’s] freedom. That is not negotiable. Leopoldo Lopez would not accept it.

Tintori revealed that Lopez had told her that he spoke to Zapatero about that fact that there must be constitutional change in Venezuela in 2016, and that it is beyond evident that the Venezuelan people want a recall referendum this year. Lopez allegedly also told Zapatero:

Before my own freedom comes that of all Venezuela.

El Nacional reported earlier today that sources close to Zapatero have said that the Spanish politician is attempting to negotiate a deal between the PSUV and the MUD that would see Maduro remain in power until 2018. The source told the newspaper:

He wants to give oxygen to the Maduro government, to buy time to get over the crisis. He’s not a neutral mediator: it’s clear that he answers to the interested of the Executive.

Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles reacted to the news of Zapatero’s alleged plan, saying:

As we’ve told ex-President Zapatero, the people’s patience is running out, and all the government is doing is buying time (…) the dialogue must focus on resolving the issue of food and medicine.

Woman Killed in Looting in Tachira

A woman was shot in the face and killed during looting in San Cristobal, Tachira state late last night. Reuters reports that the victim was a 42 year old hotel worker named Jenny Ortiz, and that eye-witnesses report that Ortiz was shot by a police officer.

Approximately 500 people looted a food warehouse in the city last night. An NGO called the Observatorio Venezolano de Conflicto claims that there have been 107 looting or attempted looting events in the country since the start of the year.

PSUV Deputy: Revolution Will Remain in Power

National Assembly PSUV deputy Eustoquio Contreras spoke today in a speech broadcast on the state-run VTV network on the Bolivarian revolution’s possibly reactions to what it considers to be continued aggression by the opposition.

Contreras, who is also the head of the Vanguardia Bicentenaria Republicana [Bicentennial Republican Vanguard] party, said that the “revolutionary militias” will not be reigned in by the “interests of the party membership”, and warned that the Bolivarian revolution might lose its claim to being a peaceful one:

What doesn’t depend on us is the revolution’s peaceful characteristic, because if the enemy continues to disturb the stability of the revolution in power, we don’t care if that peaceful characteristic ends. The revolution will stay in power.

VP: Scarcity and Hunger Are “The Empire’s Line”

Vice-President Aristobulo Isturiz spoke on the state-run VTV network today on the constant media reports that there is a chronic shortage of basic goods and necessities in Venezuela, leading to widespread hunger among the country’s citizens. Isturiz suggested that “the Empire” (the United States) is responsibly for the crisis in the country, since its goal is to turn the Venezuelan people against their own government:

That’s a line from the Empire. They say, “If you control food, you control the people”, because when people line up and if they don’t find products because the store shelves are empty and there’s a media campaign [sic], the people get angry and they turn against the revolution.

Isturiz also said that the country’s food production and distribution problems are “political”, and suggested that Venezuela’s enemies are responsible for them:

The shortages are political., our people’s hunger is political, the lines are political, and those that create those things are the people’s enemy.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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