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Tachira state governor Jose Vielma Mora told reporters today that the border with Colombia in the state would not re-open this weekend, following two weeks of free transit between the two countries through Tachira’s crossings.

Vielma Mora made the announcement after meeting with Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Angela Holguin. Vielma Mora said that Holguin requested that the border remain closed this weekend, but that the two countries begin work on permanently re-opening the border. Vielma Mora explained:

We’ve made a decision – after a request from Colombia – to move forward with expediting a definitive re-opening. This weekend, travel within the two countries will not be allowed as requested by Colombia, with the goal of installing the equipment that will read the information systems on the two bridges in order to regulate the negotiation systems. We’ll have to work on Saturday and Sunday.

Former Chavez Minister, Leftist Party Call for Referendum

The Marea Socialista [Socialist Tide] party, alongside several former members to Chavez’s cabinet, submitted a document before the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) today calling on the entity and the national government to let the will of the people be expressed through a recall referendum against Maduro this year.

The document was signed by the following individuals, all of whom served under Chavez as cabinet ministers:

  • Minister of Education and Electrical Energy Hector Navarro
  • Minister of the Environment Ana Elisa Osorio
  • Minister of Commerce Gustavo Marquez

The document was also signed by economics and lawyers, as well as former PSUV National Assembly deputy Juan Garcia.

Part of the document reads:

It won’t be easy, but we consider it [the referendum] indispensable for avoiding a serious unraveling, the signs of which are already warning us. The state must guarantee the exercise of the constitutional right that is participating and starring in the act of conforming of recalling the President of the Republic.

Gustavo Marquez reminded the CNE that Chavez “took on the risk head on” when he was the subject of a failed recall referendum in 2004, and rejected claims that chavistas in favour of the referendum are traitors by saying:

Who is the traitor: he who wants to defend the Constitution, or he who wants to do it harm?

Poll: 11 Million Would Vote to Start Recall

A poll by the Venebarometro firm released today reveals that 11.4 million Venezuelans would vote in favour of holding a recall referendum Maduro, a full 58% of registered voters. For the recall referendum to take place, only 20% of registered voters – 3.9 million – must vote in favour of holding it.

Venebarometro poll in February found that only 40% of respondents then would vote in favour of holing a recall referendum against Maduro, which means that 18% of registered voters have decided for the measure in the past four months.

The firm has also calculated that in the actual recall vote, 10.8 million would vote in favour of removing Maduro from power, while only 1.4 million would vote in keeping him on as president.

The survey was conducted between June 11 and June 22. It sampled 1,200 homes, and is accurate to +/- 2.37% 9 times out of ten. The full survey can be found here.

Inmates Holding Political Prisoners, Officials Hostage in Prison Mutiny

Inmates at the Tocuyito prison in Carabobo state staged a mutiny today and are currently holding two political prisoners and the prison’s director hostage inside the prison.

The two political prisoners are Raul Emilio Baduel and Alexander Tirado. The two men were taken by the inmates from their cells early this morning and into a section of the prison called “La Torre” [The Tower], where they are being held alongside the prison’s director and an undisclosed number of prison staff.

Baduel and Tirado are two university students who were sentenced to eight years in prison in March for protesting against the Maduro government last year. They were convicted of conspiracy, instigating a crime and intimidation after being picked up at a protest in San Jacinto, Aragua in March 2014.

Minister of Prisons Iris Varela took to her Twitter account earlier today to speak on the mutiny in Tocuyito, and took the opportunity to reiterate her position on the state of Venezuelan prisons before Chavez became President in 1998:

We will not to go back to the past of horrors in prisons. We’re beyond that [thanks to our] hard work, effort and consistency in bringing forward a new regime.

(…)

There are those who earn for the prisons of the Fourth Republic [the time before Chavez came to power]. Those [filled with]  idleness, vice, mafias and the violation of human rights, all of which we’re burying [as in, “we’re getting rid of all of these things”].

Maduro Honours Nelson Mandela’s Example in Tweet

July 18 is Nelson Mandela International Day during which the work of the South African human rights activist and leader is celebrated. Mandela spent his life working to right the wrong of apartheid in South Africa, and spent 27 years in prison for daring to fight for a democratic and just society.

Maduro commemorated Mandela’s life by tweeting the following message earlier today:

On Mandela Day we remember the years he spent in hard struggle against the power of the world and racism. Through his example we will be victorious!


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