Opposition demonstrators marched in cities around the country today to demand that the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) finally announce the date for the next step of the recall referendum process against Maduro. The CNE had given itself today as the deadline for announcing the date for the collection of signatures from 20% of registered voters, but no such announcement came.
The CNE closed all of its offices in the country today citing “new threats” against its workers and installations in connection to today’s demonstrations.
In Caracas, while the opposition had originally planned the demonstration along the Libertador Avenue, heavy National Bolivarian Police presence prevented the demonstrators from reaching their goal and instead forced them to stop at the Francisco Solano Avenue, two blocks east of Plaza Venezuela.
The event still had the effect of bringing together opposition supporters calling for change. Onei Rangel, an 18 year-old resident of Caracas, told El Nacional her reason for attending the protest:
I’m used to my family telling me about the Venezuela in which they once lived, one where they weren’t affected by scarcity, where they could go out at whatever time they felt like without fearing crime.
Luis Bonett, another demonstrator, told the newspaper:
Everything that we’re living through is an insult to Venezuelans. I don’t know how some people put up with it. It must be because I’m an old man, but this is terrible.
Below, some images from today’s demonstration in Caracas:
Below, Lilian Tintori – Leopoldo Lopez’s wife – speaks to a crowd of opposition supporters:
The video below shows a group of demonstrators somewhere in Caracas breaking through a National Bolivarian Police line:
By 1:00 PM local time, the demonstration had dispersed.
12 Caracas Subways Stations Closed
Caracas residents awoke this morning to find 12 subway stations closed. The affected stations were: Capitolio, La Hoyada, Parque Carabobo, Bellas Artes, Colegio de Ingenieros, Plaza Venezuela, Sabana Grande, El Silencio, La Paz, Zona Rental, Teators, and Bello Monte.
Large opposition demonstrations in Caracas have always been accompanied by extensive subway closures. While the Metro de Caracas, the city’s transit agency, cites “rider safety” for the closures, opposition leaders and supporters argue that the real purpose of the service disruption is to make it difficult for demonstrators to travel to and from the protest points.
Opposition Unable to Protest in Margarita Due to Militarization
The citizens of Nueva Esparta state – which is comprised primarily of Margarita Island – were not be able to protest in solidarity with the demonstration in Caracas today due to the heavy military presence on the island. Margarita is currently hosting the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, a meeting of nations that are not officially allied with either the Cold War-era power blocs.
Manuel Narvaez, the regional secretary for the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) in Nueva Esparta state, explained why the opposition decided to not call citizens to the streets there:
We don’t want to provide a motivation for the government to act in a repressive and violent manner against us. We don’t want to give them an excuse for them to unleash their furious violence against us.
Maduro Extends “Economic Emergency Decree” For Fourth Time
Last night, Maduro announced that he would be extending the economic emergency decree for a fourth time since he first declared it early this year. The decree gives Maduro the ability to rule by decree without parliamentary oversight.
Article 338 of the Constitution clearly states that the National Assembly must approve the extension of the economic emergency decree. On each previous occasion, the National Assembly has voted to reject the extension of the decree, but Maduro has simply ignored the legislature.
Margarita Summit Sees 5 Out Of 120 World Leaders in Attendance
The Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement currently underway in Nueva Esparta state saw the arrival of heads of state from just 5 out of the Movement’s 120 members. Despite anemic attendance by heads of state, approximately 100 countries still sent delegations to the meeting.
The five heads of state in attendance are:
- Evo Morales (Bolivia)
- Rafael Correa (Ecuador)
- Hasan Rouhani (Iran)
- Mahmoud Abbas (Palestine)
- Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe)
Earlier this week, National Assembly Luis Florido – president of the Foreign Commission at the legislature – revealed that the national government had spent $120 million on the Summit.
Florido voiced his indignation at the exuberant sum by saying:
What are we going to tell patients who don’t have cancer medicine, and to the thousands who are dying in hospitals? That we used their money for medicine on the Summit of the Non-Aligned? What do we tell mothers who can’t find food for their children, who then go to sleep hungry?
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