A national strike called by the opposition for today appears to have had mixed results, as many businesses refused to close for the day but large numbers of Venezuelans chose to stay in their homes all day.
The early morning hours saw a marked difference in the usual, hectic rush hour in Caracas. There appeared to be fewer cars, motorcycles and pedestrians on Caracas’ main road arteries, suggesting that many residents had chosen to stay home.
Below, a video taken at around 8:30 AM on the Romulo Gallegos Avenue. While the video shows vehicular and pedestrian traffic, Caracas’ traffic jams are legendary. The avenue at that time – the peak of the morning rush hour – would ordinarily suffer from bumper-to-bumper traffic:
Ciudad Guayana also saw a noticeable decrease in street activity this morning:
Government officials were quick to declare the national strike a complete failure. In the early morning hours, Minister of Foreign Affairs Delcy Rodriguez declared that the strike had been “defeated”. Speaking from a state visit to Bolivia, Rodriguez said:
At this time, the criminal strike in Venezuela has been defeated. The people are [going about their day] normally. Venezuelans are working.
For his part, Maduro resorted to a vulgar double entendre to voice his opinion on the strike. In Spanish, the term for national strike is “paro nacional”. The word paro comes from the base parar which has two relevant meanings: 1) to stop, and 2) in vulgar colloquialism, to erect.
The oligarchy has failed once more. Peace has won. The [opposition] necesitata un poquito de Viagra para ver si para algo en el pais [literally, “the opposition needs a bit of Viagra to parar (erect/stop) something in this country”].
Maduro is not a stranger to expressing himself in rough language. Earlier this year, he called National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup “a motherfucker” in a televised speech in front of hundreds of supporters
Maduro Initiates Formal Complaint Against NA
Maduro announced today that would formally file a formal complaint – presumably with the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) – to “send to prison everyone who violates the constitution”, including National Assembly deputies.
He also qualified the legislature’s stance against him as part of a coup d’etat against him, and said:
They have to pay before just for trying to launch a coup d’etat. That’s what I’m saying. The Republic will file a complaint against the National Assembly for trying to launch a coup d’etat and violating the constitution.
Maduro also spoke on his personal responsibility as President of the Republic to act against this perceived threat, saying:
I am the head of state and I’m not going to stand around watching them try to launch a coup d’etat and fill the country with death and violence. Am I going to stand around with my arms crossed when the country has… courts and institutions [that I can use to stop the National Assembly?] No! I swear to you, I will not stand around with my arms crossed in the face of this coup d’etat.
Leopoldo Lopez Issues Message for Maduro
Jailed opposition leader issued a message for Maduro through his Twitter account. On the account – which is currently managed by his wife, Lilian Tintori – Lopez called on all Venezuelans to take part in the planned march to the Miraflores Palace on November 3.
Speaking to Maduro specifically, Lopez said:
Maduro: Your threats and abuses have not weakened us. They have made us stronger and steadfast. There are millions of us, and we’re going to Miraflores on November 3. Our field: THE STREETS. Our strategy: NON-VIOLENCE. Our objective: THE BEST VENEZUELA!
Lopez also addressed the fear that Maduro might call on the military to suppress the demonstration with violence. He also issued a message to Minister of National Defense General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, saying:
Maduro and Padrino: Our people will not be intimidated. I am sure that the majority of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces will not obey orders against the people.
TSJ Declares Maduro is Venezuelan, Contradicts Him Over Place of Birth
The TSJ issued a ruling late this evening declaring that Maduro was born in Venezuela, seemingly putting an end to the controversy surrounding his nationality. Since Maduro has been ambiguous about his birth, many in the opposition believed that he had been born in Colombia. The controversy was flamed by the fact that Maduro refused to provide his birth certificate proving his Venezuelan birth.
Today’s ruling came from TSJ chief magistrate Gladys Gutierrez, who said that she had seen “incontrovertible” evidence that made her “absolutely certain” that Maduro had in fact been born in Venezuela. More specifically, Gutierrez said that Maduro had been born in the La Candelaria area of Caracas on November 23, 1962.
The ruling is also unlikely to settle the controversy over Maduro’s birth, since it contradicts what Maduro himself has said about his birth. Maduro has publicly claimed that he was born not in La Candelaria as the TSJ asserted today, but in another area of Caracas called Los Chaguaramos.
The TSJ’s ruling can be found here, in Spanish.
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