The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica launched its second round of protests today following last Thursday’s demonstration in Caracas. Today, opposition supporters are demonstration outside the regional offices of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) to demand that the organization publish a clear timeline of the recall referendum against Maduro.
Today’s protests got off to a rough start in several cities as pro-government forces clashed at the CNE offices with opposition demonstrators. Aside from the presence of pro-government civilians, many CNE offices awoke this morning to find themselves heavily militarized.
In Los Teques, Miranda state, a group of PSUV supporters on motorcycles surrounded the CNE officers in the city. Below, a video from the scene this morning:
The regional office in Cojedes found itself surrounded by National Guard soldiers, who blocked access to the streets surrounding the building:
Similarly, the government deployed security forces to the Guarico state regional office:
In Maracay, Aragua state, the National Guard deployed a mobile wall to protect the CNE building there:
PSUV Mobilizes Supporters in Caracas
In order to counter today’s opposition demonstration, the PSUV mobilized its supporters in Caracas.
Below, imges of the government supporters’ crowd in Caracas at mid-morning on the Urdaneta Avenue:
Jaua: Cacerolazos Should Be Outlawed
Speaking a televised interview yesterday, National Assembly deputy Elias Jaua spoke on the cacerolazo, a popular from of peaceful protest in Venezuela where individuals bang loudly on pots and pans.
Jaua suggested that the cacerolazo should be outlawed when used as “an instrument of intolerance” to “promote hatred”. Jaua provided examples of the times that he considers cacerolazos have been conducted out of hate:
… if they’re done in restaurants, funeral homes, in the homes of political leaders, of chavista supporters, then it’s an instrument for the promotion of hatred that must be penalized.
Jaua did not provide any specific examples of a cacerolazo that he considers to have been done out of intolerance of hatred. However, his comments come just days after Maduro found himself on the receiving end of a massive cacerolazo in Villa Rosa, Nueva Esparta state.
Maria Corina Machado: “Count Me Out” If Recall Happens in 2017
Maria Corina Machado, the head of the Vente Venezuela opposition party, strongly suggested through her Twitter account today that the opposition bloc would lose her support if they settled with having the recall referendum against Maduro in 2017.
The timing of the referendum is extremely important. If the referendum happens before January 10 2017 and Maduro loses, a presidential election will take place. Given Maduro’s and the PSUV’s extremely low poll numbers, it is virtually certain that the PSUV candidate would lose. However, if the referendum happens after January 10 2017 and Maduro wins, the vice-president (Aristobulo Isturiz) would become president until 2019. For this reason, many in the opposition claim that Maduro and the CNE are doing everything in their power to delay the referendum until after January 10.
Machado made the comment by saying:
Don’t count on me if [the opposition and PSUV] agree to have the recall referendum in 2017.
Machado is widely regarded as one of the most outspoken opposition politicians in the country. She was one of the first major opposition figures to openly call Maduro a dictator.
Capriles Harassed By Protesters in Margarita
Miranda state governor and opposition leader Henrique Capriles arrived in Margarita Island through the Santiago Marino International Caribbean Airport. Capriles was met by a hostile crowd of pro-government supporters, some of whom Capriles alleges were armed.
While images from the scene clearly show hooded demonstrators apparently waiting for Capriles to exit the airport, it is not clear from any images that any of the demonstrators are armed.
Capriles traveled to the island to take part in the Virgin of the Valley festivities.
The news was first broken by National Assembly deputy for Nueva Esparta Jony Rahal, who tweeted:
Nueva Esparta URGENT Armed Groups sent here by the government are trying to attack @hcapriles [Henrique Capriles] as he arrives on the island! Everyone to the airport now
Rahal also tweeted the following picture, which appears to show a hooded man inside the airport terminal:
Governor @CarlosMataCMF [Governor of Nueva Esparta Carlos Mata] hooded men in the airport? Are they security for the summit?
Rahal was referencing the Summit of Non-Aligned Nations, which is scheduled to take place in Margarita Island later this month.
At approximately 10:00 PM local time, Capriles retweeted a video taken inside the terminal showing a group of masked and hooded individuals apparently waiting for him and his party – which includes two National Assembly deputies and two opposition mayors – to exit the terminal:
Hooded groups are still holding @hcapriles along with two deputies and two mayors hostage in Margarita Airport
As of the writing of this post (11:01 PM Caracas time), Capriles and his party are still inside the terminal, and the protesters are still outside waiting for them.
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