The Voluntad Popular (VP) party issued a warning today that the Maduro regime may continue its persecution of the party’s members by planting weapons and explosives in their homes in vehicles to justify their arrest.
The warning came via National Assembly vice-president Freddy Guevara, who said that the regime’s ultimate goal was to dismantle VP as a party. Guevara said:
[The regime] has obviously not accomplished [VP’s destruction], but for them we are a terrorist party and that’s so they can remove us from the realm of the law, so they can alienate us. What they’re proposing is the outlawing of Voluntad Popular.
Guevara also said that he had “direct information” from sources inside state security bodies that the regime was planning to “plant weapons and explosives” on more VP politicians, including National Assembly deputy Luis Florido and himself.
Guevara’s comments come at a time when the regime’s repressive arm appears to be working overtime. Last week alone, the National Anti-Coup Command – a newly-developed security unit headed by vice-president Tarek El Aissami – arrested half a dozen VP political figures in the span of just a few days.
New Bills, Coins Finally Hit the Streets
After a month of embarrassing delays, a new set of paper bills and coins that had originally been scheduled to circulate on December 15 finally made it into the hands of Venezuelans today, as both private and public banks began distributing the new tender. According to an official government source, 2.75 million new bills are now in the hands of the country’s banking institutions.
The new bills (for Bs. 500, Bs. 5,000 and Bs. 20,000) are being handed out only through bank tellers, as ATM machines have not yet been re-programmed to work with the new notes.
The Bs. 1,000, Bs. 2,000, and Bs. 10,000 notes have not yet arrived in the country, and it is not entirely clear when they will.
Maduro Warns of Migrant Crisis, “Continental War”
During his unprecedented state of the union address before the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia [TSJ] (the Supreme Court) yesterday, Maduro launched into a tirade regarding what would happen if Venezuela were to be attacked by another nation, presumably by the Unites States. Maduro warned of a migrant crisis involving “millions” of displaced persons, and that the entire continent would be plunged into war as Venezuela would never surrender in the hypothetical conflict.
Below, Maduro’s comments along with my translation:
Maduro: Let sleeping dogs lie, because Rondon has not fought yet*. I’m only referring – only referring – to the enormous crisis, the tragic social and migrant crisis that would happen if the Bolivarian Revolution were to be broken, divided, destroyed, dislodged from power. There would be millions [of migrants], starting with our Colombian brothers who live with us here. Someone has to think about that, right? But Rondon has not fought yet.
If the Revolution were to be attacked, or if these steps to break our country were continued to be taken, and to try to launch any kind of coup d’etat, we will never surrender [sic]. We would fight in Venezuela and in our big homeland with our weapons in our hands! We would launch into an armed continental struggle in defense of the right to independence and peace! Peace in this continent would come to an end! Let whoever needs to know this, know this. We have the means, the knowledge and the organization and preparation for whatever may happen.
* “Rondon has not fought yet” [Rondon no a peleado] is a Venezuela expression dating back to the Venezuelan Wars of Independence and a Venezuelan colonel named Juan Jose Rondon. Legend says that during a 1819 skirmish against Spanish troops in what is today Boyaca, Colombia,Simon Bolivar’s troops – including Juan Jose Rondon – the Spanish appeared to be winning.
At a critical point in the battle, Bolivar said, “the Spanish have sent their cavalry, and this battle has been lost”. At that moment, Colonel Rondon is said to have replied, “General, why do you say that if Rondon’s cavalry has not fought yet?”. Encouraged by Rondon’s courage, Bolivar said, “Colonel Rondon, save the homeland!” and sent the colonel’s horseman charging forward to win the battle.
Maduro Realistic About Trump, Shocked By “Hate Campaign”
Speaking at a press conference today following a meeting with OPEC secretary general Mohammad Barkindo, Maduro criticized U.S. President Barack Obama’s tenure as leader of his country, and expressed a sense of reserved optimism at President-Elect Donald Trump’s arrival at the White House this coming weekend.
Speaking on Obama’s legacy, Maduro said:
Obama leaves a legacy. He destroyed Africa and the Middle East. He leaves a world plagued with terrorism.
On Trump, Maduro was terse:
He won’t be worse than Obama.
At the same time, Maduro expressed show at what he called the media “hate campaign” against Trump, although he did not elaborate on what exactly he meant by his comment.
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