Following calls from Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles that he should resign after the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) failed to mount a serious challenge to the Maduro regime last year, Jesus Torrealba responded today by saying that he was would continue to avoid fighting with other opposition leaders, and instead suggested that the opposition focus on creating a MUD “that works for the country”.
At the same time, Torrealba made it clear that he was not considering resigning as the head of the opposition bloc, saying:
I should clarify something today, because a very important member of the opposition, Mr. Henrique Capriles, made some comments about our work (…) I’m not where I am today to hide my failures. I am where I am today in order to work on the rights of people to have a MUD that is increasingly powerful and increasingly capable of making Venezuelans’ dreams for change come true. That’s what I’m doing. That’s my job. That’s my duty. And I will continue to do it.
Torrealba also stressed that his job as the head of the MUD was not to beholden to any individual opposition leader, but rather to all of the parties that make the opposition bloc:
My role, as I did it in 2014 and in 2015, is to help everyone succeed. I take responsibility for everything bad that happened during my tenure. Everything good that we have achieved is a collective triumph, a collective achievement.
Torrealba also voiced his willingness to not engage Capriles in his criticism, saying:
I don’t have time to fight with anyone who doesn’t belong to the government.
Regime Holds Military Parade in Honour of Ezequiel Zamora
The Maduro regime held a military parade in honour of Ezequiel Zamora, a Venezuelan figure of the Federal War that has traditionally been a part of the chavista pantheon of revolutionary heroes.
In address to the crowd that gathered along the Paseo los Proceres in Caracas to watch the parade, Maduro declared that the National Bolivarian Armed Forces were a “zamorista and anti-oligarchical” organisation, and that:
The year 2017 has begun with a victorious people in charge, moving forward. That’s how we should continue to move forward: with the spirit of victory, just as we started off this bicentennial year.
By “bicentennial year” Maduro was referring to the fact Zamora was born on February 1, 1817, hence today’s parade.
During the parade, Maduro also announced the creation and deployment of a “rapid-action special forces” made up of civilian volunteers whose job it will be to suppress civil unrest. Maduro said:
They will multiply throughout the country, these rapid-action special forces, special militia forces (…) to make our homeland impregnable.
According to government sources, Venezuela’s militias total 130,000 volunteers. Maduro did not provide any concrete details on the new rapid-action special militia forces.
Below, images from today’s parade in Caracas.
Maduro parading down the Paseo los Proceres:
On the official stand watching the parade. From left to right: Supreme Court President Gladys Gutierrez, First Lady Cilia Flores, Maduro, and Minister of Defence Vladimir Padrino Lopez:
Maduro posing with actors. The man on Maduro’s right is dressed as Simon Bolivar. On Maduro’s left, Ezequiel Zamora and possibly Antonio Jose de Sucre:
Zamora playing his part:
Soldiers on parade:
The hardware below appears to be a surface-to-air missile battery, likely a Russian S-125 Neva/Pechora or some variant:
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