WARNING: This post contains graphic images and video or injured protesters.
An unknown number of people have been injured during the unrest in Caracas today, as opposition demonstrators took the streets of the city again today to protest against the Maduro regime. Among the injured are a protester who was shot in the abdomen in Altamira, and a man who was shot in the face with a tear gas canister. Both are expected to recover.
Journalist Alberto Rodriguez reported at around 5:40 EST time that a young man had been shot in the abdomen during “brutal” repression in Altamira. Below, Rodriguez’s tweet. The video shows a bloodied man receiving emergency medical care on the pavement:
The man, whose name is not currently known to the media, was taken to a local medical centre and is expected to survive.
Earlier in the afternoon, a National Guard attack on a crowd of demonstrators near the Altamira subway station left approximately 39 people injured, including a man who received a tear gas canister injury to the face. The man, who was not participating in the protests, was hit while working at a gas station in the area.
Below, a video of the man taken moments after he was hit by the canister. It shows devastating injuries to the right side of his face:
The image below shows the man at a local clinic later:
The video below shows some of the repression that protesters experienced on the Francisco Fajardo highway in the city today:
The image below, likely taken somewhere in Caracas today, shows a national soldier aiming his shotgun over a shield wall at a group of protesters:
Sureme Court: No Referendum Needed to Start Constituent Assembly
The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), Venezuela’s supreme court, issued a ruling today stating that there does not have to be a referendum vote to start a Constituent Assembly, a permanent body that is tasked with creating a new national constitution.
The TSJ’s ruling means that Maduro can now claim to be in the right by imposing this newest assembly, which he called for on May 1. Critics have charged Maduro of dictating the assembly in order to cement his dictatorial rule.
In ruling that it is “not constitutionally necessary” to first hold a referendum vote asking Venezuelans if they even want a Constituent Assembly, the court declared:
… the people of Venezuela hold the original constituent power, and as the holders of sovereignty it is up to [the people] to convene a National Constituent Assembly. However, the initiative to convene an assembly belongs to, generally, the Public Powers (the President of the Republic and the Council of Ministers; two thirds of the National Assembly; two thirds of municipal councils), who indirectly represent the people’s sovereignty.
The TSJ’s ruling stands contrary to established precedent. The last time that Venezuela held a Constituent Assembly was in 1999 shortly after Hugo Chavez was elected for his first presidential term. At that time, Chavez put the creation of the assembly to a referendum.
The ruling also suggests that any sitting president or legislative branch could simply decree a constituent assembly into existence at will, meaning that Venezuelans could in theory draft new constitutions with each incoming new president or National Assembly.
Cabello: Assembly Will Help Us Root Out “Treasonous” Gov’t Bodies
PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello spoke on the importance of the Constituent Assembly to the party’s plan for ruling Venezuela. At a regime rally in Caracas today, Cabello said that the Constituent Assembly would allow Venezuelans to bring “justice” to government bodies that have “turned their backs to the people and to truth”.
Cabello specifically referenced the Public Ministry, which is in charge of the administration of justice in the country. In recent months, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz has taken a vocal stance against the Maduro regime’s chronic human rights abuses. Her apparent unwillingness to follow along with Maduro’s orders in prosecuting demonstrators appears to be part of the reason why the regime has become increasingly reliant on military courts to sentence demonstrators to prison.
On the Public Ministry’s future, Cabello said:
Many people have asked me what’s going to happen with the Public Ministry. I say that we should wait for the start of the Constituent Assembly so that it can take action against the Public Ministry. Enough with the betrayal, of temblaqueras and guabineo [a local expression that roughly means “nonsense”]. We’re either with the fatherland and the people or with the opposition, who want to destroy the people.
By drafting a new national constitution, a Constituent Assembly could theoretically do away with an independent justice branch, as well as decree institutions–like the Public Ministry–in and out of existence.
MUD: Anyone who Participates in CA Process Participates in Fraud
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the country’s official opposition bloc, issued a statement today in which it reiterated its stance that Maduro’s Constituent Assembly is a fraudulent process by which the president seeks to institutionalize his dictatorial rule in the country.
In its statement, the MUD said that “any participation” by Venezuelan citizen in the assembly process would constitute “an act of complicity” with the Maduro regime’s continued drive towards dictatorship.
Part of the MUD’s statement reads:
This fraudulent proposal not only takes popular sovereignty hostage, but also wants to impose itself through force and by repressing the Venezuelan people, who maintain themselves on the streets through peaceful protests to demand effective and constitutional solutions to the severe crisis affecting the country.
The MUD (…) warns that any participation in this [Constituent Assembly] process is an act of complicity with the fraud against the Constitution, and as a result anyone who participates in it is declaring themselves a co-party to the fraud, the coup d’eat, the repression and the murder against Venezuelans who have fallen during the peaceful protests only for exercising their legitimate right to protest.
The same statement calls for all Venezuelans to “defend the Constitution and organize for that goal”, and stresses the opinion that Venezuela needs a new government, not a new Constitution, to fix the country’s problems.
The MUD’s full statement can be found here:
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