Following yesterday’s opening of the border with Colombia for pedestrian traffic, Venezuelans continued to head into the neighbouring country today, many with the hope of finding food, medicine and other basic necessities there.

Part of the border re-opening agreement between the two countries included the creation of a “migration card”. Victor Bautista works for the office of Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Angela Holguin, and explained that the card gives Venezuelans permission to transit freely up along the border on the Colombian side. While in Colombia, Venezuelans will be allowed to make “minor purchases” for basic necessities, while more substantial purchases will be allowed at an undisclosed time in the future.

Yesterday, Venezuelan authorities said that 50,000 people had crossed the border in Tachira state by 1:45 PM yesterday. At 3:00 PM, Colombian authorities estimated that there were 5,000 people moving through the border per hour.

Jaua: We’re not Afraid of Recall

National Assembly deputy Elias Jaua made some contradictory statements regarding the PSUV’s stance towards the recall referendum against Maduro on an interview that aired on Televen today.

While Jaua said that the PSUV is “not afraid” of the recall, he seemed to acknowledge the fact that Maduro would quite likely lose the recall if it were held by saying:

We don’t want the recall because we have been defenders of this movement’s right to govern, [which is] governed by the people’s will, made up of people who were at one point marginalized.

A number of major surveys conducted over the last several months unequivocally point not only to massive discontent with the Maduro administration – including from individuals who consider themselves chavistas – but also to a massive victory for the “yes” vote if the recall referendum were held.

Jaua also explained why he believes the recall cannot be held, saying:

They contaminated the process by getting some of their signatures in a fraudulent manner. Dead people signed, and others used stolen identities. This is why it’s impossible [to hold the recall] in 2016.

PSUV officials – most notably Jorge Rodriguez – continue to argue that the recall referendum must be cancelled because the opposition allegedly collected fraudulent signatures. However, the Consejo Nacional Electoral  (CNE) – the government organization in charge of overseeing the recall – have found no evidence of systematic fraud, and have allowed the process to continue.

CICPC Officers Falls Out of Building During Robber

An officer with the Cuerpo de Investigaciones, Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas [Scientific, Penal and Criminological Investigations Body] (CICPC) died in eastern Caracas after falling out of a four-storey window. The officer, whose name was Yorbi Segundo Viera Quintal, was in the process of burglarizing an apartment when the owners surprised him, at which point he attempted to escape through the window. Quintal worked in the CICPC’s Intelligence Unit.

Venezuela Will Throw Party for Fidel Castro

Noticiero Digital reports today that the Maduro administration will host a birthday party today in honor of Fidel Castro in the Karl Marx Theater in Havana, Cuba. Fidel celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday.

Cuba was at one time Venezuela’s closest ally. After Chavez’s death in 2013 and with Raul Castro’s rise to leadership in the island nation, Havana appears to be drifting steadily away from the worsening crisis in Venezuela. The most obvious sign of this apparent parting-of-ways came in July of last year, when Cuba and the United States reached a historic agreement to restore full diplomatic relations at the same time that Maduro continued to blame Venezuela’s problems on nebulous U.S.-based conspiracies.

Tocuyito Prisoners on Hunger Strike; Demand New Director, End to Torture

550 inmates at the Tocuyito prison in Carabobo state have been on a hunger strike since yesterday as a way to demand the removal of the prison’s new director, a man named Jean Carlos Suarez.

Suarez became the prison’s director two weeks ago, and has already earned the scorn of the inmates. According to the NGO Una Ventana a la Libertad [A Window to Freedom], some of the inmates’ family members have said that Suarez has “savagely attacked” at least 30 inmates in the past two weeks. The family members report that their incarcerated relatives have been hung up on handcuffs, chocked and beaten by Suarez.

El Nacional reports that this is the second hunger strike attempt by the inmates with the goal of having Suarez removed from the prison.

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