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The Constitutional Chamber at the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) issued a ruling today essentially stating that it would ignore a motion passed by the National Assembly last week annulling the appointment of 34 magistrates to the nation’s top court.

In passing the motion, the National Assembly argued that some of the magistrates appointed do not meet the requirements to become TSJ magistrates, and that the PSUV-controlled National Assembly violated several rules in the appointments, including allowing candidates to vote for themselves.

In its ruling, the TSJ nullified the parliamentary session during which the motion was passed, essentially nullifying the nullification of its deputies. The means that the top court is ignoring the National Assembly’s will, and will result in the 34 magistrates remaining in their seats.

Part of the ruling reads:

All of the acts conducted at the National Assembly’s parliamentary session of July 14 2015 lack juridical validity, existence and efficacy.

National Assembly president Henry Ramos Allup spoke on the ruling, pointing out that only four of the Constitutional Chamber’s seven magistrates signed the ruling, which to him means that three refused to sign “out of disgust”.

Allup also spoke on the chances of the recall referendum against Maduro taking place this year, saying that “there does not exist even the smallest sign of movement” from the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) to show that it intends to let the event happen this year.

IMF: Inflation Will Hit 700% By End of 2016

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released revised financial outlooks for Venezuela in 2016, downgrading the country’s estimated economic contraction from 8% to 10%. The IMF also estimates that the annualized inflation rate at the end of 2016 will hit 700%.

If the IMF’s forecast is accurate, it would mean that Venezuela would have the worst inflation rate in the world by far this year.

International Liquid Reserves Fall 33% in 2 Weeks

The Banco Central de Venezuela revealed today that it’s international liquid reserves – that is, the amount of US dollars it has in cash – fell to just $182 million dollars by mid-July. The figure is 33% lower than it was at the beginning of July.

A country’s liquid international reserves are important because they allow governments a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to paying debts.

Antonio de la Cruz, the executive director of the Inter American Trends firm, spoke on the announcement, saying:

The liquid reserves have been in free fall since the end of April, when they were at $1.2 billion. They’ve experienced a drop of more than a billion dollars.

Min. of Int.: Gang Violence “Terrorist Activities” Organized by Opposition

The Minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez said today that the country’s gang violence problem is a “terrorist activity”that is taking place “under the auspices of opposition sectors”.

Gonzalez – who is in charge of the country’s police forces – said that the gang activity in Venezuela is part of a plan by the opposition to “exercise national dominance”, presumably with the goal of destabilizing and/or overthrowing the government.

Gonzalez explained:

The paramilitary bands that are settling in throughout the national territory do so under the auspices of opposition sectors. Their strategy is centered on legitimizing the insertion of these gangs in Venezuela with the goal of carrying out terrorist acts in different ways.

Gonzalez also spoke on the case of a U.S. citizen who was arrested in Ciudad Caribia, Vargas state earlier this month alongside his wife. Joshua Holt – a US citizen –  and his wife, an Ecuadorian citizen named Tamara Belen, were arrested at a hotel on suspicion that Holt is a U.S. spy. The authorities said that Holt’s room contained multiple assault rifles and grenades.

Holt’s mother, Laurie Holt, defended her son on U.S. media earlier this month, saying:

My heart just dropped when I heard the news. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t because I was just so shocked. He’s just a good, kind person and for this to happen to him… He’s our little boy.

On the case, Gonzalez said:

This delinquent couple has clear connections with authorities from the Sucre municipality, Miranda state [authorities], and the Venezuelan opposition is overseeing these criminals.

Holt’s family has said that the weapons allegedly found in Holt’s apartment were planted there for authorities, and that Holt was in Venezuela celebrating his honeymoon. His wife still lived in Ciudad Caribia at the time of their marriage.


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