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Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez held a press conference today in which he claimed that a US Coast Guard surveillance aircraft violated Venezuelan airspace on September 17. Padrino suggested that the fact that the violation of airspace coincided with the 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which was held in Margarita Island last week, is no coincidence.

Padrino Lopez made the announcement by saying:

In the midst of all of the operations that we were doing we were able to detect – due to our exploration and vigilance methods – a Dash-8 aircraft belonging to the United States Coast Guard which illegally crossed into Venezuelan airspace this past September 17, [which had the ability to] collect information in real time for later user, analysis and diffusion thanks to its multiple antennas and sensors.

The minister also claimed that Venezuelan airspace has been violated 32 times in 2016, although its not clear if this figure represents only the times that the United States has flown over Venezuelan territory illegally.

Padrino Lopez also took the opportunity to congratulate the armed forces for a successful Non-Aligned Movement summit, saying:

All of the objectives that we outlined when it comes to the security and safeguarding of the delegates, the safeguarding of hotels, the safeguarding of [roads], the safeguarding of our coast by the Bolivarian Navy and the National Coast Watch Command, the deployment of the army… all of these objectives were fully completed.

Padrino Lopez said that 30 naval vessels and 10,400 soldiers took part in the security operation for the summit in Margarita last week.

Capriles: CNE Thinks Venezuelans Have “Infinite Patience”

Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles criticized the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) for refusing to announce the date of the second step in the recall referendum process against Maduro, despite having said that it would make that announcement no later than September 16.

Capriles singled out four out of the five CNE heads in his critique: president Tibisay Lucena, and rectors Tania D’Amelio, Socorro Hernandez and Sandra Oblitas. The president and the three rectors are widely understood to be supportive of the PSUV and the Maduro administration, with only one rector – Luis Rondon – supporting the opposition. Capriles said:

We’re waiting for the four ladies at the CNE to respect the Venezuela and actually carry out the Constitution. They’re supposed to meet today at 2:30 PM. What are these ladies playing at? Do they want an explosive situation to develop in Venezuela?

With that comment, Capriles referenced the fact that the recall referendum is a mechanism that is clearly spelled out in the Constitution, and the last hope for peaceful political change in Venezuela.

Today’s CNE meeting had ended by 7:30 PM local time, with no final announcement made.

NA Reconvenes, Rejects Economic Emergency Decree

The National Assembly resumed its legislative duties today after breaking for summer. While the Assembly had a busy day, it is likely that the nation’s top court, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, will be quick to nullify all of its actions since the legislature is currently under a blanket nullification order. The order nullifies any action taken by the National Assembly as long as the opposition deputies from Amazonas state take part in proceedings.

One of the legislature’s first acts was to vote to reject Maduro’s extension of the economic emergency decree, which he extended for a fourth time last week. While article 338 of the Constitution clearly states that the National Assembly must approve any economic emergency declaration, Maduro has simply ignored that in the past.

Prior to voting to reject the latest decree, deputy Alfonso Marquina spoke on the absolute failure of the previous three decrees:

What has the economic emergency decree done, if the accumulated inflation rate [for 2016] is 400%?

PSUV deputy Ramon Lobo spoke in defense of the decree, saying that it “has allowed for the possibility of resources [sic] for the nation”.

Minister of Commerce: The Worst is Behind Us

Minister of Foreign Commerce Jesus Faria spoke on the Globobivison network today on the economic difficulties facing the country, and assured Venezuelans that the worst was behind them.

Faria said:

The worst of this serious crisis is already over (…) we’ve already touched the most negative point of this fall in production. The economy is slowly, progressively starting to recover.

While Faria conceded that economic markers such as the inflation and scarcity rates were still really high, he said that “the inflationary tendency is decreasing”, although he did not provide any evidence for his claim.

Since the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) no longer publishes inflation data, national and foreign economic agencies resort to their own methods to calculate the country’s inflation rate. When asked about Econometrica‘s estimate that the inflation rate would reach 800% at the end of the year, Faria said:

How does Econometrica calculate the country’s inflation rate? They follow orders from political opposition forces.


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