The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) issued an order yesterday to the mayors of eight municipalities in the country to “de-authorize” protests in their respective jurisdictions in an attempt to put an end to the unrest that has shaken the country since April 1. The order applies to the following eight mayors (with their respective municipalities in brackets), all of whom are members of the opposition:
- Gerardo Blyde (Baruta)
- Ramon Muchaco (Chacao)
- David Smolansky (El Hatillo)
- Jose Fernandez (Los Salias)
- Jose Luis Rodriguez (Carrizal)
- Carlos Garcia (Merida)
- Juan Jose Peña (Alberto Adriani)
- Omar Lares (Campo Elias)
The TSJ order demands that the mayors “carry out all actions and use all resources” to prevent protesters from erecting barricades in their municipalities and ensure the free and unhindered transit of vehicles. The order also includes vaguer demands, including the “protection of children and teens” as well as “taking action” to prevent crime in general.
Gerardo Blyde, the mayor of the Baruta municipality in Caracas, spoke out against the order on behalf of his colleagues today by saying:
As long as we are mayors we will defend the right to peaceful protest, because that is a compromise that we have with our communities and the country. We will adhere to the Constitution.
On the possibility that he may be sent to prison, Blyde said:
I’m not afraid of being imprisoned, because I’m sure that Baruta will continue to protest freely and peacefully.
Carlos Garcia was also defiant in response to the order, saying:
We will remain on guard and will not prevent people from peacefully protesting on the streets, and we will protect them. We’ve seen 54 days of repression, and the regime is trying to choke mayors but they are making a mistake (…) we will continue [to fight for] the country that we deserve from Merida. If these corrupt and complicit magistrates think that they are going to intimidate us, they are very mistaken.
Failure to comply with the order could potentially result in the mayors being removed from their positions by the court. In 2014, the TSJ removed opposition mayors Enzo Scarano (San Diego) and Daniel Ceballos (San Cristobal) from their positions after the two, according to the court, failed to comply by a similar order. The two men also served time in prison as a result of their alleged non-compliance.
In Venezuela, municipal police forces do not have the training, equipment or legal right to police protests or public unrest, making the order legally impossible to abide by.
CNE Clarifies: No Municipal Elections This Year
The head of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, clarified today that there would be no municipal elections in Venezuela this year, despite the fact that they should have taken place in 2016.
Lucena’s comments follow her announcement on Tuesday that the regional elections–which were postponed without explanation last year–would take place on December 10. In her clarification today, Lucena stressed that the December 10 elections would only be for state governors and state assemblies, and not for mayors. She provided no explanation for this.
According to constitutional term limits, Venezuelans should have gone to the polls last year to elect their governors, mayors and state assembly representatives last year. However, the elections were delayed in October of last year without a clear explanation. At the time, Lucena promised that the elections would take place no later than July of 2016.
Protester Killed After Being Shot with Marble in Maracaibo
A 24 year old protester named Adrian Duque was killed in Maracaibo, Zulia state yesterday evening while attending a demonstration on the Padilla avenue. According to a regional military commander, Duque was killed after being shot with a marble fired from a “home-made weapon”.
The commander also said that three people who were present at the demonstration at the time that Duque was killed had been arrested, but it is not clear if they are suspects in the killing.
Regime Prohibits Sale of Airline Tickets to Opposition Leaders
The Instituto Nacional de Aeronautica Civil [National Institute of Civil Aviation] (INAC), the government body in charge of regulation the airline industry in the country, has banned all national air carriers from selling tickets to at least nine opposition figures. The opposition leaders affected by the measure are:
- National Assembly vice president Freddy Guevara
- National Assembly deputy Gaby Arellano
- Vente Venezuela leader Maria Corina Machado
- Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles
- National Assembly deputy Luis Florido
- National Assembly deputy Ismael Garcia
- Mayor of El Hatillo David Smolansky
- National Assembly deputy Jose Manuel Olivares
- National Assembly deputy Henry Ramos Allup
It is not currently known if the no-fly list includes any more opposition figures.
While Article 50 of the Constitution guarantees every citizen free and unrestrained movement “throughout the national territory”, the Maduro regime has increasingly taken to restrict the movement of opposition figures. Deputy Luis Florido had his passport annulled in March, while Henrique Capriles had his annulled last week. Yesterday, Maria Corina Machado was prevented from leaving Margarita Island after the airline she was supposed to travel with refused to sell her a ticket.
Authorities Take Down Bridges in Bello Monte, Las Mercedes
Authorities dismantled two bridges that span across the Guaire river in the Las Mercedes and Bello Monte neighbourhoods of Caracas today. The bridges connect the neighbourhoods to the Francisco Fajardo highway, which runs along the Guaire on its northern edge.
Over the past two months, the bridges have been the site of skirmishes between opposition protesters and state authorities. The bridges have also often acted as escape routes for protesters in the dozen or so occassions that opposition marches have been violently repressed by the authorities on the Francisco Fajardo highway.
Below,images of the bridges this morning:
The video below shows the same bridge from a different angle:
The bridges have been taken down in an apparent attempt to hinder the movement of protesters through the area.
Braulio Jatar Given House Arrest
Braulio Jatar, a journalist who was arrested on September 3 of last year, has been granted house arrest after having spent the past eight months in prison.
Jatar runs the Reporte Confidencial website, and was arrested after sharing a video of Maduro being booed and jeered during a visit to the town of Villa Rosa, Nueva Esparta state on September 2.
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