Speaking on his weekly Los Domingos Con Maduro [Sundays with Maduro] television show, Maduro made a number of comments today on a wide variety of topics, ranging from elections to the migration to Venezuela’s relationship with Colombia.
Maduro reiterated comments made by top-ranking PSUV deputies in recent weeks that suggest that his regime is drifting further and further away holding elections again. Maduro said that he simply did “not have time” to think about going to elections in the future.
According to the constitution, the country should have had regional elections last year. However, the processes was inexplicably postponed by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) last fall, in what was widely understood to be desperate move to cling to power by the PSUV.
We’re thinking about governing, in developing the CLAP [a subsidized food program], in the economy, education, the [national I.D. system]. We’re not wasting our time in campaign mode.
Maduro’s comment signal a disconcerting turn for the future of elections in Venezuela, since they appear to suggest that rather than taking place whenever the constitution says they must take place, the Maduro regime will only hold elections when it feels it is convenient to do so.
On Migration and CNN
Maduro reacted to figures released this week that show that for the first time ever Venezuelans ranked #1 in asylum requests in the United States. The figures come from the U.S. government’s Citizenship and Immigration Service, and reveal that 18,155 Venezuelans claimed asylum in the U.S. last year, “a 150% increase over 2015 and six times the level seen in 2014“.
These past few days we found out the migration figures for the last ten years, because there have been many campaigns – fake campaigns, very fake campaigns – campaigns saying that Venezuelans are fleeing the country. The opposite is true: the immigration rate suggests that the people who left 15, 10, 8 years ago are coming back. They’re coming back from Colombia and Europe, people who want to live in Venezuela for a number of reasons.
While Maduro did not provide any kind of official evidence for his claims, he did provide off-the-cuff figures to back up his claims, which were that Venezuela’s economy was somehow attracting migration Maduro said:
The figures are impressive. Last year, Venezuela received from Colombia – only from Colombia – 100,000 Colombian compatriots for different reasons, fundamentally related to the economy, looking for opportunity in Venezuela. [Also] for social reasons, because Venezuela educates her children from the time they are born until they graduate from university. It’s free and of high quality. In Venezuela, you can find a dignified place to live, a home. And because in Venezuela, if you’re old and need help, you get a pension. Because in Venezuela doesn’t abandon her people. The people have someone to protect them.
Maduro said that the “fake campaign” against the country was being run from Bogota, and that if the Colombian government told the truth about Venezuela, “we wouldn’t get 100,000 Colombians here per year, but a million”.
Maduro also lashed out at CNN over its coverage of an interaction he had with a student on television last week in which the student described the horrendous condition her school found itself in. Maduro said:
Some channels like CNN tried to manipulate [the story]. They cannot manipulate [stories]! […] CNN, don’t poke your nose around in Venezuela. Stay far away, CNN. I want CNN really far away from here. Get out of Venezuela, CNN! Out! Venezuelans’ problems are our own and we should be the ones to resolve them.
On recent tensions with Colombia, Maduro said that the reason the FARC and the Colombian government had managed to reach a peace agreement was due entirely to the Bolivarian Revolution, and that there could be no peace in the region without a PSUV-controlled Venezuela.
Those who are conspiring against Venezuela from the exterior have to think about ir really hard. Bolivarian Venezuela, revolutionary Venezuela, our chavista Venezuela is singular in its support for the stability and peace in the entire continent. Venezuela is the most solid base of economic, social, political, and military stability in South America and the Caribbean.
There would not have been an agreement with the FARC without the solid base that is the Bolivarian revolution. There will not be peace in Colombia if they destabilize the Bolivarian revolution. That is perfectly true. Peace and stability in Venezuela is the foundation for peace and stability in our neighbouring and beloved Colombia.
Maduro also called bakers in Caracas “evil”, and said that they were deliberately choosing to not bake enough bread in order to cause long lines and a scarcity of baked goods in the city.
His comments came just a few hours after Juan Crespo, the president of the Federacion Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Harina [National Federation of Flour Industry Workers] said in a television interview that while Venezuela needs 120,000 tonnes of flour per month “to maintain a normal level” of bread production, the country was only receiving about 30,000 tonnes.As a result, Crespo pointed out, bakeries are not able to produce enough bread, thus resulting in long lines and a chronic shortage of bread and other baked goods in the country.
For Maduro, the cause for the longs lines is another:
The Caracas Federation of Bakers has declared war on the people and they have everyone lining up because they are evil. They’ve been doing this for several months now, and I’ve come up with a special plan to win the bread war en Caracas and to put an end with the long lines from the Federation of Bakers, who are all hypocrites, perverse and evil.
Maduro described his “special plan” in the following way:
I want to open up at least 10,000 artisanal bakeries […] and I want out youth to take over this project in order to break our dependence on wheat. We will continue to import wheat, but we have to break our dependence, because wheat doesn’t grow on Venezuelan land.
On the bakers who Maduro claims are waging the “bread war” against the Venezuelan people, Maduro said:
We’ll have to apply justice. Whoever keeps fighting the bread war against the Venezuelan people will have to go to jail. We must be firm! We cannot allow them to laugh in the faces of the people.
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