The governor of Sucre state, Luis Acuña, was unceremoniously removed from his position during the overnight hours and quickly replaced with National Assembly deputy Edwin Rojas. Both Acuña and Rojas are members of the PSUV.
The move was announced by National Assembly PSUV deputy Hector Rodriguez during a radio interview last night, during which he said:
These are decisions that the part is taking. In Sucre state, the revolutionary leadership has taken the decision that [Rojas] should take over the rest of the term during this final stage to give the CLAP [subsidized food program] and the carnet de la patria [a new national ID card] a push.
The secretive shuffle is already being decried by opposition figures as another in a long line of attacks against the democratic process by the Maduro regime, since it appears that the party has foregone holding elections – as the Sucre state constitution mandates – and simply placed another party member in power.
According to Article 113 of the Sucre state constitution, if a governor leaves their post before their term is over, the state assembly must hold a special session declaring the post vacant, and then vote on who to appoint as interim governor for the rest of the term.
However, Acuña appears to have been simply replaced by Rojas in a one-for-one swap. Rojas was “sworn in” as the new governor of Sucre in a wholly unprecedented ceremony held in the overnight hours by the PSUV-controlled Sucre state assembly and overseen by a handful of PSUV National Assembly deputies, a process that is not based on any legal principle.
National Assembly deputy (MUD) Milagros Paz from Sucre called the ceremony “irregular”, and said:
We understand that entre gallos y medianoche [a colloquialism that means “in the dead of the night”] the state assembly swore Rojas in behind the peoples’ backs. It was two supplementary [PSUV National Assembly deputies] and two principal [PSUV National Assembly deputies] who did it, violating Article 113 of the Sucre state Constitution.
Paz also stressed that Acuña or was simply removed from his post by Maduro, since the regime has yet to comment on the event.
Speaking on the games of musical chairs that the PSUV is known to play with its leadership, Paz said:
People change positions and things remain the same. Changing faces won’t solve the country’s problems. Sucre is the second poorest state in the country.
Noticiero Digital reports that Acuña will now head the Venezuelan consulate in Toronto, Canada.
Rojas’s Appointment Complicated By Silence on Regional Elections
According to constitutional term limits, Venezuela should have seen regional elections – for the governors, state assemblies and mayors – last year. However, the elections were postponed by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) in October for reasons that were never made entirely clear.
The postponement means that Acuña, along with every elected official at the regional level, is serving beyond their terms, placing Rojas’ appointment as the new governor of Sucre state in extra-democratic territory.
Capriles Calls for Torrealba to Step Aside
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles has called for the head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), Jesus Torrealba, to resign from his position as the head of the opposition bloc. Capriles’ comments came via a radio interview that aired earlier on Union Radio.
While speaking on the need for the MUD to renew itself in its quest to mount a serious challenge to the Maduro regime, Capriles said:
There has to be a change in the way that the MUD conducts itself. If the person who is in charge of leading the MUD is not capable of building consensus or of getting its different players to sit down together and talk to each other, it’s only logical that this person step aside.
Capriles’ comments are the most direct attack he has ever leveled against the leadership of the MUD, to which his Primero Justicia party belongs.
Maduro Demands Legal Action Against Allup Over Zamora Comments
During a televised address today, Maduro ordered the Attorney General’s office to take legal action against National Assembly deputy Henry Ramos Allup over comments he made yesterday about Ezequiel Zamora, a Venezuelan historical figure and one of the figures in the Bolivarian pantheon of revolutionary heroes.
Chavez was the type of man to spend his time converting the most disgusting part of Venezuelan history into distinguished events, [as were Jose Tomas] Bovez and the Federal War. This thing about turning Ezequiel Zamora, who raped 12 year old girls and was a slave trader and slave owner, a speculator who would take poor women’s homes — to turn that bum into a national hero is a frightful thing.
Zamora was a Federalist general during the 1859-1863 Federal War. He began to play a role in the Bolivarian revolutionary mythos starting in 2001, when Chavez named a land reform and redistribution program after him.
On Allup’s comments, Maduro said:
I denounce the disgusting comments made by that grotesque thing named Ramos Allup on Ezequiel Zamora (…) that grotesque thing’s hands are bathed in blood, and today he’s trying to defame the memory of our hero Zamora.
We will not allow a perverted, maccabre and decadent old man to stain the memory of General Ezequiel Zamora.
It is not clear exactly which legal measures Maduro excepts the Attorney General to take against Allup on this issue.
Presidential Home Targeted in Presumed Break-and-Enter
Residents of the La Carlota neighbourhood of Caracas awoke in the overnight hours yesterday to the sound of gunfire around the presidential residence, as a group of three individuals presumably attempted to break into the home for the purposes of stealing its contents.
The gunfire erupted at approximately 1:40 AM yesterday morning when the residence’s guards detected the attempt. The three suspects successfully evaded authorities and are still on the lose.
RunRun.es reports that since it is common knowledge that Maduro and his family do not reside in La Carlota, the break-in is unlikely to have been directed at the President.
The website also reported that since the neighbourhood houses the presidential residence, it is considered a military security zone and is typically heavily guarded.
Fitch Ratings Calls PDVSA Default “Probable”
The Fitch ratings agency called the possibility of state-owned oil company PDVSA defaulting on its debt obligations in 2017 “probable”, citing weak cash reserves and a heavy debt burdens this year.
Lucas Aristizabal, a senior director at the agency, said:
Should oil prices remain around current levels, average recovery may lead to additional future defaults to further reduce obligations and allow for necessary transfers to the government.
Over 95% of Venezuela’s foreign income comes from oil sales from PDVSA, making the company the single most important financial lifeline for the country.
Suitcases Containing 100kg of Cocaine Found Aboard Venezuelan Airliner
Two suitcases containing a total of 100 kilograms of cocaine were found aboard Aserca Airlines flight 420 destined for the Dominican Republic yesterday. The new broke via journalist Elyangelica Gonzalez, who reported that the suitcases were discovered by National Guard officers.
Six individuals have been arrested in connected with the case, including two drivers, security personnel and airline staff.
Aserca Airlines is a regional carrier that operates out of Valencia, Carabobo state.
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