The formatting in today’s update is suffering from a technical glitch. I apologize.
The PSUV bloc at the National Assembly has formally asked the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), Venezuela’s Supreme Court, to nullify yesterday’s swearing-in of the legislature’s new executive, a move which would effectively put a stop to the 2017 parliamentary schedule.
The announcement was made by PSUV deputy Hector Rodriguez, who called the National Assembly’s new executive committee “illegal and unconstitutional”. According to Rodriguez, the National Assembly has not yet adhered to a TSJ ruling from September which demanded that the opposition strip three of their deputies from Amazonas state from their positions. This, despite the fact that the three deputies in question resigned from their posts on November 15.
The TSJ has yet to issue a response to the resignation of the Amazonas deputies.
At the same time, PSUV deputy Victor Clark formally asked the Comptroller General of the Republic to open an investigation into the National Assembly for “usurpation of duties”. The gist of Clark’s argument is that by being sworn in as the executive committee yesterday, opposition deputies including Julio Borges and Freddy Guevara usurped power.
National Assembly president Julio Borges reacted to news of the two motions by saying that the PSUV is once again attempting to destroy the country’s legislative branch, after having lost control of it through its most dramatic electoral defeat in the 2015 parliamentary elections. Borges said:
The only thing that deputies from the PSUV do – by order of Nicolas Maduro – is sabotage an Assembly that is only interested in providing solutions to people.
Torrealba, Guevara Call For Mass Mobilization
The head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), Jesus Torrealba, called on the National Assembly to take on a leadership role for civil mobilization against the Maduro regime. Torrealba made the comments during his radio show, La Fuerza es la Union. Torrealba said:
The National Assembly is not just a law factory. It is also a political forum, and from it should come mobilizing initiatives to support their legislative initiatives.
Yesterday, MUD deputy and National Assembly executive vice-president Freddy Guevara called for the legislative branch to become an “instrument of resistance” in the struggle against the Maduro regime. In order to do this, Guevara said that the Venezuelan people had to re-engage a campaign of non-violent street protests in order to put pressure on the regime.
Protests are a right, and we will never give them up. If we want to rescue [our right][ to vote, we must express oruselves on the street.
Colombia Opposed to Opening Border to Vehicular Traffic
Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Angela Holguin shot down any hope of fully re-opening the border between her country and Venezuela during a press conference today in which she said that the Santos government did not intend to allow vehicular traffic through the border “for the moment”.
Colombia’s reluctance to re-open the border – which has been shut down on Maduro’s orders since the all of 2015 – comes from issues surrounding the contraband of sale of Venezuelan gasoline. Because Venezuela enjoys the cheapest gasoline prices on the planet, the smuggling of the commodity into Colombia in the border region is an extremely lucrative business. On the matter, Holguin said:
I think that, as with any crisis, there are opportunities here. We’ve been working with the unions for over a year now, the associations in Cucuta, with the governor, the mayors (…) Cucuta has to look towards Colombia.
Holguin said that the border closure has actually helped the Colombian government address some of the issues that had been facing the city of Cucuta, which is located directly on the border with Venezuela. Holguin said:
[We now have] absolute control in Cucuta. Cucuta is being supplied with subsidized gasoline from the [Colombian] government (…) so that we do not have to live off of Venezuelan gasoline.
We are not going to open the border to vehicles, and we are not going to allow ourselves to be invaded once again by contraband gasoline (…) For the moment, we will not open the border to vehicles.
At the same time, Holguin explained that she Colombia was not trying to be difficult about the matter:
We do not want to be a quarrelsome country, nor do we want to be a country at the mercy of what happens in neighouring states (…) We are thankful to Venezuela for all of the help it provided throughout the peace process [with the FARC]…
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