A group of opposition National Assembly deputies were forcibly removed from the area around the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) today after meeting with one of the CNE’s heads, rector Luis Emilio Rondon. The deputies visited the offices of the country’s electoral body in order to bring attention to the fact that the CNE has yet to announce the date of regional elections that should have taken place last year, but that the organisation postponed for reasons that it never made entirely clear.
Rondon is the only one of the CNE’s five rectors who shows outward sympathy for the opposition.
The head of the opposition bloc in the National Assembly, Stalin Gonzalez, said that they gave Rondon a document outlining Venezuelans’ electoral rights, presumably as an attempt to highlight the ways in which the CNE has violated them by refusing to allow the elections to happen.
Gonzalez was hopeful that elections could take place this year, telling reporters after the meeting:
Even though the CNE has not yet activated the [electoral] proceedings (…) as of today, February 2, there is still time to hold the two electoral processes that we want for this year, and we made that sufficiently clear.
The second electoral process Gonzalez referred to is a recall referendum against Maduro, which also could have taken place last year but was also postponed indefinitely by the CNE.
The deputies were then forcibly removed from the premises by National Guard soldiers after they managed to cross barriers the National Guard had erected to keep them out of the building.
Below, a video of deputies Juan Requesens and Jose Brito being pushed by National Guard soldiers:
The video below also shows deputy Brito (wearing a blue shirt) being shoved to the ground by the soldiers into some bushes at approximately the 0:18 mark:
Reverol Disputes January Homicide Figures for Caracas
Minister of the Interior Ernesto Reverol called an NGO that tracks homicide rates in the country “irresponsible” and accused it of being involved in a coup against the Maduro regime after it released its January homicide figures, claiming that 504 Caracas residents had been the victims of homicide in January.
The figure came from the Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia (OVV), an NGO that relies on sources inside police agencies and the Bello Monte morgue – Caracas’ only such facility – to calculate the city’s monthly homicide rate. If accurate, OVV’s January figures mean that Caracas saw 30 homicides more in the first month of 2017 than it did in January 2016.
During a press conference today, Reverol disputed the figures, saying that only 502 bodies had entered Bello Monte in January, and that the deceased had died from a myriad of causes, not just homicide.
Reverol stressed that of that number, only 236 people had been the victims of homicide: 112 victims of violent crime, and 124 victims of inter-gang violence. According to Reverol, the rest of the fatalities were broken down in the following way:
- 59 from natural causes
- 18 from “trauma” (presumably falls and other accidents)
- 28 from traffic accidents
Reporters were quick to identify the fact that when added together, Reverol’s death breakdown only adds up to 341 fatalities. Reverol provided no explanation for the remaining 161 deaths.
Speaking on the OVV’s figures, Reverol said:
This is media violence, and that’s why one of the structural factors that creates crime and violence is the media.
As Minister of the Interior, Reverol is in charge of all of the country’s police agencies.
Colombian VP: Cabello is an Oppressive “Oaf”
Colombian vice-president German Vargas Lleras responded to an ongoing war-of-words with the Maduro regime today after he made disparaging comments against PSUV vice-president Diosdado Cabello in response to insulted Cabello levelled against him earlier in the week.
During his weekly television show last night, Cabello made the following comment about vice-president Lleras:
I can say that the Colombian vice president is a son of a bitch. I’m not saying a bad thing. He can’t feel offended because he is clearly [a song of a bitch].
Vice-president Lleras responded today by saying:
[Cabello] is an oaf who has spent years mistreating our Colombian brothers [living in Venezuela] and oppressing the Venezuelan people.
The row between the Colombian vice-president and the Maduro regime began last Wednesday, when Lleras urged the mayor of the municipality of Tibu to not allow “venecos“ to live in subsidised homes in the city. The word veneco is a Colombian colloquialism that means “Venezuelan person”, and can be both an insult and a term of endearment depending on context.
Florido: Gov’t Says Passport Issues “An Error”
National Assembly deputy Luis Florido updated reporters today on his recent attempts to acquire a new passport after his current one was confiscated and annulled by immigration officials at the Maiquetia International Airport last week.
On Monday, when Florido accessed the government website Venezuelans use to apply for new passports, he was met with a message that told him that his request could not be completed because he was the target of a “migratory ban”.
Today, Florido updated reports by saying:
On Monday, I went to the SAIME [the agency in charge of passports] and I spoke to the director of migration because the website showed me as having a migratory ban [against me]. I went to find out [about this], and surprisingly the answer that I have received is that, in their opinion, this is an error.
It is not clear at this time if Florido will have his passport reinstated, or if he will simply be allowed to apply for a new one.
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