The Maduro regime is cracking down on national media coverage of the massive anti-government protests shaking the country, now in the 56th consecutive day. The news comes via Reuters, which published an article today in which it claims that regime officials “stand watch over the antennas” of the Globovision television network in Caracas, ready to disable them if the network’s coverage of the unrest displeases the regime.
According to the article, officials from Venezuela’s telecommunications regulator, CONATEL, send “daily” threats to Globovision in particular in order to intimidate the network into not reporting accurate information regarding the unrest. The article cites an anonymous source in the network as saying that CONATEL is directly involved in “decisions about coverage” at the network.
The article includes the section below, which describes some of the ways in which the Maduro regime is restricting television journalism as a way to cope with the protests:
The two Globovision employees said its producers were under instruction that opposition protests should not be broadcast live for more than a minute, and to follow that with footage of a government minister.
Evening news broadcasts by the country’s other major private television networks – Venevision and Televen – usually include footage of the day’s protests.
But it is generally edited to avoid showing the handwritten signs calling Maduro a dictator or people chanting slogans against him, both of which are ubiquitous at rallies.
Protests in Caracas for 56th Straight Day
As in the previous 55 days, Caracas saw anti-regime demonstrators pour onto the Francisco Fajardo highway and surrounding streets near the neighbourhoods of Bello Monte, El Rosal and Las Mercedes. As in previous occassions, the demonstrators were violently repressed by state security forces.
Below, some videos and images from today’s clashes in Caracas.
The the video below, a firework explodes near a column of advancing National Guard soldiers as they push demonstrators back on the highway:
The video below show protesters near the front of the march getting hit with tear gas:
In the video below, a National Guard ballena [“whale”–high-pressure water cannons] fires at protesters from an overpass:
The image below is that of a demonstrator showing injuries sustained during the protest. The injuries appear to be from rubber pellets, likely fired by the National Guard. According to the accompanying tweet, the man said “I will continue to fight for my children”:
The video below shows National Assembly deputy Carlos Paparoni limping away from the front line on the Francisco Fajardo highway after being hit by some kind of projectile fired by National Guard soldiers. The accompanying tweet suggests that the projectile was a marble:
Today’s protest action in Caracas was called La Marcha de los Libertadores [March of the Liberators].
Number of Political Prisoners Highest Today Since Fall of 1958 Dictatorship
Alfredo Romero, the head of the Foro Penal Venezolano (FPV), announced today that the NGO is aware of at least 303 political prisoners being held by the Maduro regime in the country today. That number is up from approximately 110 individuals held for political reasons before the current wave of unrest began to sweep through the country on April 1.
Romero said that the figure is the highest that it has been since 1958. That year, Venezuelans ousted Marcos Perez Jimenez, a military dictator who had ruled Venezuela since 1952.
The FPV is a local NGO that tracks human rights violations in the country and provides legal services to the regime’s victims.
Public Ministry Opens Investigation into Zurda Konducta
The Public Ministry has launched an investigation into the Zurda Konducta, a state-run television program that is often used as a platform by the regime to attack opposition leaders and supporters.
The program’s official Twitter account posted an image earlier today of a letter from the Public Ministry ordering the show to turn over materials related to the program that aired on August 26, 2016.
Noticiero Digital reports that the investigation is related to allegations that the show’s hosts defamed opposition figures Freddy Guevara and Carlos Vecchio during the August 26 show by playing a falsified audio recording of the two men supposedly planning violent protests in the country.
New of the investigation comes as Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz grows more and more distant from the Maduro regime.
Lucena Gives Details on Constituent Assembly Election Process
Tibisay Lucena, the head of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), provided details yesterday on the upcoming July election of representatives for Maduro’s Constituent Assembly, the goal of which will be to create a new national constitution.
For the first time since the May 1 announcement of the creation of the assembly, Lucena gave concrete figures on its makeup. She explained that the assembly would be made up of a total of 545 individuals, contradicting the figure of 540 given earlier this week by Maduro himself.
According to Lucena, 364 individuals will be elected from each of the country’s electoral districts, while the remaining will be elected from eight social sectors. The social sectors are and their corresponding number of assembly members are:
- Indigenous persons (8)
- Students (24)
- Farmers and fishers (8)
- Businesspersons (5)
- Disabled persons (5)
- Pensioners (28)
- Communal council members (24)
- Workers (79)
Lucena said that any Venezuelan citizen who is able to hold office can run as a constituent assembly representative for the July election. Those wishing to run as candidates must register on the CNE’s website on May 31 or June 1. Upon registration, the candidate will be able to download a forms on which they must collect signatures from 3% of registered voters in order to be able to run in the election.
Jaua, Cabello Speak on Constituent Assembly
Elias Jaua, the regime official in charge of the constituent assembly process, spoke today at a regime event on the future of the country’s legislature in a post-constituent assembly Venezuela. Jaua suggested that one of the results of the assembly might be a severely weakened legislative branch, namely one without parliametnary immunity.
Calling protesters “terrorists”, Jaua spoke on the leadership role of opposition deputies in the ongoing anti-regime protests, In a mocking tone, Jaua said:
It’s really brave to lead a group of terrorists while under the protection of parliamentary immunity (…) Well, we’d love to see these quote deputies end-quote once the sovereign constituent assembly gets going, to see if they’ve got balls without parliamentary immunity.
Article 200 of the national constitution grants National Assembly deputies parliamentary immunity while in the conduct of their legislative duties. As in other parliamentary systems, immunity is granted to legislators so that they may act to the full extent of their conscience and so that another power–such as in this case, the executive–may not threaten or intimidate them into action or inaction.
At the same time, PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello said that the constituent assembly was necessary to “end impunity in Venezuela”, and that it would allow the party to “flip over the Public Ministry” now that the body is acting independently of Maduro’s offce.
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