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Vice-President Tarek El Aissami appeared in Jose Vicente Rangel Hoy today, weekly Sunday morning interview show that airs on the Televen network.

The interview marks the first time that El Aissami has given a one-on-one interview since being named Vice-President of the Republic and subsequently head of the National Anti-Coup Command (NACC), a security initiative aimed at protecting the Maduro regime from threats.

When asked by the show’s host, Jose Vicente Rangel, to describe himself, El Aissami said:

It’s really hard to describe oneself. I am a revolutionary. I am a son of Chavez. A patriot, a democrat, deeply respectful of the Constitution. You will never see me yielding on my principles – that is something I will never do. But, I will also extend my hand to those who oppose us to convince them that the only way to liberate Venezuelan from poverty, misery, and exclusion is socialism.

At the same time, El Aissami painted the political opposition to the Maduro regime and the PSUV as terorrists. El Aissami said:

We are not up against a democratic opposition. We’ve been facing counter-revolutionary, anti-democratic, unconstitutional forces that have sided with violence, terrorism, hatred, and intolerance as a way to gain power.

El Aissami doubled-down on his “terrorist” comments when asked about the role of the National Assembly in the Venezuelan state and the NACC. El Aissami said:

We have a branch [of government] that has been kidnapped by the elected deputies. They have taken on powers that are outside of the Constitution and they are permanently and on a daily basis calling for the overthrow of the legitimate government from the National Assembly.

As a consequence, president Nicolas has decided to create this Anti-Coup Command in order to preserve peace in the country, the national sovereignty, to guarantee access to goods and services, [and] in order to stop the violent agent from these terrorists [the National Assembly] from taking hold.

El Aissami then turned specifically to Voluntad Popular (VP), one of the largest and most popular opposition parties in the country. El Aissami said that VP had become a terrorist organized that had “caused death and pain for the Venezuelan people”. He did not explain exactly how VP had done this.

El Aissami: Only Maduro, PSUV Capable of Leading Venezuela

El Aissami was asked what the national government was willing to do in order to take on and defeat the terrorist threat coming from the opposition. El Aissami replied by saying that only Maduro and the PSUV were capable of leading Venezuela through the difficulties that it faces. He said:

We will always, always guarantee the democratic character of the Bolivarian revolution. But the character of justice, of the defense that we have exercised over the revolution, that depends on the conduct of the Venezuelan opposition.

That it why it is extremely important to tell the country that we are peaceful men, and that only we and President Nicolas Maduro are capable of guaranteeing [sic] and navigating all of these threats in order so that peace, justice and the harmonious developing of Venezuelan society will prevail.

El Aissami Refuses to Admit Gov’t Failed in Crime Control

Rangel also asked El Aissami about the topic of insecurity, which consistently ranks as one of the top concerns of Venezuelans. When asked, “Do you understand that there has been a failure [in terms of crime policy] so far, right?”, El Aissami refused to admit as much, giving instead a cryptic answer:

I would actually say that what we’ve had instead is an accumulation of experiences that places us in a position of advantage against previous situations where there were models that we had not yet overcome. The model of repressive police has already been overcome [and replaced] by a humanist police.
Now, we don’t yet have the police bodies that are needed by a revolutionary process in order to structurally transform society. These are long-term processes because they’re not just about a decree: they’re about political, spiritual, professional, and ethical development.

Since Chavez came to power in 1999 – and specially since Maduro replaced him in 2013 – Venezuela has consistently ranked as one of the most violent places on the planet, with some of the highest incidences of murder anywhere in the world.

Last year alone, Venezuela saw approximately 28,479 homicides. If accurate, the figure would make the country’s homicide rate 91.8 per 100,000 inhabitants, likely the highest homicide rate in the world.

In Violation of Constitution, Maduro Presents State of the Union Address to Supreme Court

Despite the fact that Article 237 of the Constitution dictates that the President of the Republic must give a state of the union address [memoria y cuenta in Spanish] every January before the National Assembly, Maduro chose to ignore the obligation today and instead presented his address to the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia [TSJ], the country’s top court.

The TSJ is firmly under the control of the PSUV, with a majority of its magistrates  sympathizing openly with the PSUV and chavismo in general. The chief magistrate of the TSJ, Gladys Gutierrez, once ran for the governorship of Nueva Esparta state as the candidate from the Movimiento 5ta Republica party, a party that Hugo Chavez founded in 1997 and the precursor to the PSUV. She subsequently held a number of positions as party of the Chavez and Maduro governments.

Gutierrez spoke at today’s address, stressing that every act that the National Assembly conducts is null and without any effect.

During the address, Maduro referred to himself as “the people’s president”, and said that the National Assembly would “face justice” over its continued defiance of his rule.

Maduro Extends Life Bs. 100 For Fourth Time

During his address, Maduro extended the life of the Bs. 100 bill for a fourth time, calling further into question his grasp on the supposed obsolescence of the most commonly-circulated bill in the country and its replacement by a new set of currency.

After announcing on December 11 that the bills would go out of circulation on December 15, Maduro later extended their lifetimes to January 1 and then to January 20. Today, Maduro announced that the bills would go out of circulation on February 20.

Maduro’s disastrous handling of the matter resulted in several days of panic and rioting across the country shortly before Christmas, as desperate Venezuelans scrambled to either spend their Bs. 100 bills or exchange them at banks.

Socialist International: Venezuela a “Failed State”

The Socialist International – a group of 135 socialist parties from all around the world – released a statement today in which it heavily criticized the Maduro regime for leading Venezuela to become “a failed state”

The statement includes an overview of the dire economic, social and political conditions affecting Venezuela. Part of the release states:

At the start of 2017, it is increasingly apparent that the political, social and economic situation in Venezuela is becoming more serious and urgent for its millions of inhabitants, and the international community cannot continue to be indifferent nor absent from the critical state of a nation that, through the efforts of an entire generation, was decades ago able to walk down the democratic path.

Along with the highest inflation rates in existence and the highest rates of homicides and deaths from criminal acts, the suffering, poverty and desperation of a people who cannot count on any protection from their institutions multiplies, as these do not respond to many of the emergencies that afflict Venezuelans and instead reflect the characteristics of a failed state.

The release points out that Maduro’s Venezuela has “increasingly turned towards authoritarianism”, and calls on the government to respect human rights and the rule of law in the country:

In light of the increasing turn towards authoritarianism that we are witnessing in Venezuela, our International calls once more for respect for the liberties and rights of all Venezuelans, and express our most profound solidarity and support.

NA Deputiy Update OAE on Abuses

A deputy from the National Assembly provided an update to Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, on the abuses by the Maduro regime against the constitutional order and human rights in the country.

Deputy Larissa Gonzalez presented Almagro with a report that outlined some of the regime’s latest abuses, including its cancellation of electoral process that should have taken place last year, as well as a mounting number of arbitrary detentions of opposition figures.

Almagro has been an outspoken critic of the Maduro regime and an important ally of the Venezuelan opposition on the international front.

TV Personality Murdered Overnight in Caracas

Arnaldo Albornoz, a television personality who hosted a show on the Televen network called La Bomba, was murdered early in the overnight hours in front of his home.

Albornoz had just arrived at the front gate of his home in the Caricuao neighbourhood of Caracas at approximately 2:30 AM this morning when he was approached by an unknown number of suspects. Still inside his vehicle and presumably feeling threatened, Albornoz attempted to speed away from the suspects but crashed into a car that was parked nearby. At some point during the event, the suspects fired into the vehicle, killing Albornoz on the scene.

Fans and coworkers have been expressing their sorrow all day through social media. Eduardo Rodriguez Giolitti, a Televen colleague, said that Albornos was a “good man” who was hard working and who impressed him with his people skills and professionalism.

Albornoz was 34 years old.


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