National Assembly president Julio Borges spoke today on Maduro’s assertion yesterday that his government was preparing a document that would officially recognise the legitimacy of the National Assembly, saying that the comments had taken him by surprise.
Borges explained that in spite of his shock, he understood the reason for the Maduro regime’s apparent about-face: the need for foreign financing. Borges said that he suspects that Maduro felt “forced” to accept the National Assembly as an legitimate institution due to demands by international financial organisations that loans to Venezuela be approved by the country’s legislative branch as the constitution mandates.
Simply put, the government hit its head on what democracy is and the consequences that come from ruling outside of [democracy]. They are being forced to recognise the National Assembly due to conditions imposed by international financing organisations.
The economic crisis that the country is living through is making the government understand that in any part of the world you need the approval of the national assembly in order to move ahead or to take any kind of measure that results in accessing credits, or even the possibility to work towards receiving concessions or contracts that involve the national interest.
While article 187(6) of the constitution clearly gives the National Assembly the power to approve matters affecting public spending and credit, Maduro has taken recently to deal with the country’s finances directly and unilaterally.
Last year, Maduro presented the national budget for 2017 before the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), which is firmly under PSUV control, instead of the National Assembly. On December 29, Maduro secured a $5 billion loan from a Chinese bank without any input from the National Assembly, calling into question the legitimacy of the move.
Torrealba: MUD Not Meeting With PSUV
The head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), Jesus Torrealba, also commented on some of Maduro’s remarks last night. Torrealba took issue with Maduro’s assertion that the PSUV was meeting with “important sectors” of the MUD in order to discuss the “normalisation” of the National Assembly.
Torrealba unequivocally denied that either he or anyone in the MUD leadership was meeting with the PSUV, saying:
That’s not true. It’s a lie. If he [Maduro] thinks that I’m going to spend time responding to his jokes about the MUD or about me, he’s wrong. Whatever he says doesn’t matter.
Torrealba also lashed out more generally at Maduro for the nonchalant attitude that he often adopts while speaking on television or at public events. It is not at all unusual for Maduro to crack jokes or playfully tease those around him when he’s speaking in public.
On this fact, Torrealba said:
Why don’t you try going hungry like the people are going hungry, and then try to crack a smile. Go out there and feel the fear that the people who live in poorer neighbourhoods feel.
do’s Travel Woes Continue
After having had his passport annulled by customs and immigration authorities at the Maiquetia International Airport last week and then being told by government officials that the matter was simply due to “an error”, National Assembly deputy Luis Florido was denied the right to leave the country today after he was invited to speak at the Peruvian parliament in Lima.
Florido was prevented from leaving as he attempted to board a flight at the Maiquetia International Airport this morning. He said that customs and immigration officials did not allow him to board the plane “without any kind of justification”.
Because Florido’s passport was taken away from him last week and has yet to be returned, Florido attempted to board his flight to Lima this morning using only his national identification card.
Florido is the president of the National Assembly’s Foreign Policy Commission, and travels extensively in the region has part of his duties. He had been invited to Peru by that country’s congress in part to lead a delegation of Venezuelan legislators in a workshop on human rights.
National Assembly vice president Freddy Guevara flew to Peru in Florido’s stead.
MUD Extends Leadership to Include Nine Parties
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the Venezuela’s opposition bloc, announced today that it was expanding the organization’s directorate to include the heads of nine political parties, up from the current four. The head of the bloc, Jesus Torrealba, said that he was “very satisfied” with the move.
The names of the new parties co-leading the MUD have not yet been made public, although they are expected to be named at a press conference tomorrow. The four opposition parties that formerly made up the leadership of the MUD were Voluntad Popular, Primero Justicia, Un Nuevo Tiempo and Accion Democratica.
Video/Transcript of Domingos Con Maduro Interaction
Yesterday, I wrote about a high school student who asked Maduro for help on behalf of her crumbling school during his weekly television show Domingos Con Maduro. I got a chance to watch the video of the exchange and translate it today.
Below, the video along with my translation:
Maduro: Dulbita Barquino. Dulbi! Let’s give Dulbi a microphone. How old are you, Dulbi?
Dulbi: Good morning!
Maduro: [Correcting her] Good afternoon!
Dulbi: Good afternoon! I’m 16.
Maduro: What grade are you in? What’s your favorite subject?
Dulbi: Fifth year, and math!
[Video skips forward]
Dulbi: Mr. President, the Benito Canonico [high school] needs a lot of help from you and from the Bolivarian and revolutionary government of Venezuela. We have problems with infrastructure and we have been robbed many times. We don’t have a front gate right now.
Maduro: Where is this school?
Dulbi: It’s just right down here. We also need a cafeteria because we have 450 students who don’t get breakfast or lunch at school.
Maduro: But why don’t you have a cafeteria?
Dulbi: [Hesitating] Because the [cafeteria] system was suspended two years ago. They suspended our cafeteria system.
Maduro: And what have you done about it?
Dulbi: We’ve made the requests but we haven’t gotten any answers.
Maduro: You can’t just ask. You have to mobilize and take to the streets and make your word be heard. Do you understand me? Go out and conquer your rights.
Dulbi: We’ve done that.
[Video skips forward]
Dulbi: We also have really bad infrastructure. We need paint so that we can paint our school ourselves.
Maduro: Aside from paint, what else do you need in terms of infrastructure?
Dulbi: The attic is collapsing. A part of the roof has a hole in it and the roof is coming down.
Maduro: Well, that’s a job for vice-minister Carlos [I can’t understand his last name]. I’m telling you to get down there right now with the director of the educational unit and the students and bring me back a report today. Right now. Now. Before we end the show.
Dulbi: We’ve already handed in a report where we explain what we need in our high school. We also need lights and desks because sometimes there are too many students and we don’t have enough guests. And we need the cafeteria. That would really help us because many students faint at school. And security, which helps not only our school but also the people living in Rosa Mistica [I guess this is the neighbourhood the school is in], the community, and the other schools that are nearby.
Maduro: Well. I’m sorry that it took me coming here to learn this truth
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