At least 70 people were injured today during an afternoon-long skirmish with state security forces on a stretch of the Francisco Fajardo highway in Caracas running through the Las Mercedes and Bello Monte neighbourhoods. The clashes on the highway mark the 71st straight day of street action against the Maduro regime.

National Guard soldiers and National Bolivarian Police officers took the highway early in the afternoon, but were forced to retreat after protesters pushed on their positions. By 4:30 PM, the authorities had returned and had begun launching tear gas and shooting rubber pellets at the protesters.

The video below shows the moment that protesters took the Francisco Fajardo highway from the authorities shortly after 3:00 PM:

The video below shows a group of protesters carrying an injured colleague away from the front lines:

The video below shows fighting on the highway at approximately 4:30 PM. Protesters run towards and throw objects onto soldiers on an overpass:

More scenes of the chaos on the highway today. High-pressure water streams from a National Guard anti-protest truck shoot into the air:

A group of demonstrators pulls back along the highway as tear gas and rubber pellets fill the air:

The video below shows a field clinic in the Las Mercedes neighbourhood of the city treating individuals wounded during the repression:

Shortly after the noon hour, authorities temporarily closed the Altamira subway station after an individual threw a molotov cocktail into the station. The Caracas subway authority called the event “a terrorist attack”:

Merkel Worried About “Disastrous” Crisis in Venezuela

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a press conference yesterday that she was “very worried” about the “disastrous” crisis afflicting Venezuela, calling the situation in the country “very difficult”. Merkel made the comments during a press conference alongside Mexican Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico.

Merkel described her understanding of the crisis in the following way:

Many people are suffering from the disastrous food shortages in a country that has many resources.

Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez reacted to Merkel’s comments today by calling them “interventionist”, and accused the chancellor of “promoting opposition violence” in the country.

Supreme Court to Investigate Attorney General

The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), Venezuela’s top court, announced yesterday that it would investigate allegations that Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz used an airplane that was leased to the Public Ministry for official use for personal reasons. The investigation comes via the revival of a case dating back to November 2015 which originally made the allegation.

The court will investigate whether Diaz and her husband, National Assembly deputy German Dario Ferrer, made improper use of the airplane. Abraham Mussa, a lawyer with the company that leased the airplane to the Public Ministry, told the state-owned VTV network yesterday:

This airplane was used by Luisa Ortega Diaz and German Dario Ferrer for private purposes…. which could constitute an offence, which is something that we will evaluate.

The investigation comes in the midst of Diaz’s public break from the Maduro regime. Diaz has made numerous public comments in recent weeks denouncing the Maduro regime’s brutal repression of peaceful protests and the ongoing violations of human rights in the country, and in so doing has become the highest-ranked regime official to turn against Maduro.

Nearly 9 in 10 Venezuelans Are Against Constituent Assembly

The results of a new survey by the Datanalisis polling firm continue to show a near-universal disapproval of Maduro’s Constituent Assembly, a process that will result in a new national constitution and that critics claim will solidify Maduro’s dictatorial powers.

The survey found that 85% of respondents did not think that it was necessary to make changes to the current constitution, which has been in effect since 1999.

The same survey found that 86.1% of respondents believe that the question of whether or not Venezuela should hold a Constituent Assembly at all must be put to a referendum vote, something that the Maduro regime has ruled out. Only 13% of respondents believe that Maduro has the power to force the assembly onto the country as he did.

The overwhelming disapproval for the measure somewhat reflects Maduro’s own unpopularity. The Datanalisis survey also found that 72.4% of respondents have a negative opinion of Maduro’s term as President of the Republic, while only 21.9% expressed their support for the president.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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