Venezuelans marked the 100th day of anti-regime protests today by flooding the streets of their towns and cities to participate in marches and listen to speeches by opposition leaders and other activists.
The milestone marks an unprecedented campaign of resistance and discontent against the regime of Nicolas Maduro. At least 90 people have been killed in the daily protests that have been taking place in the country since April 1, when the opposition organized the first event of the current campaign to reject a pair of Supreme Court decisions that effectively did away with the legislative branch.
The images below, taken in the Chacaito neighbourhood of Caracas at around 12:30 PM local time, shows people gathered at an opposition event on the Francisco de Miranda avenue:
The video below, recorded by National Assembly deputy Miguel Pizarro, captured the atmosphere at the Caracas concentration. The video includes a brief statement of encouragement to all Venezuelans from Pizarro:
Also in Caracas, members of the Voluntad Popular (VP) opposition party held a small event outside the home of the party’s leader, Leopoldo Lopez:
Protesters marched in other areas of the country as well. The image below shows protesters marching in Barquisimeto, Lara state at approximately 1:30 PM:
In the city of Merida, Merida state, Venezuelans congregated on the Las America avenue, a major artery of the city:
MUD Provides July 16 Plebiscite Details
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) held a press conference today in which it provided details about next week’s plebiscite on the future of the country.
National Assembly deputy Juan Andres Mejia told reporters that the MUD will operate 1,933 voting centres throughout the country next Sunday. All of the voting centres will be located in or near churches, schools and plazas, and will each contain anywhere between 12 and 15 voting tables.
Aside from the voting centres in the country, Venezuelan citizens will also be able to vote in the plebiscite in 220 cities across the world.
When Venezuelan enter the voting booth next Sunday, they will be presented with a sheet of paper containing the following questions, each of which the voter must answer with either “yes” or “no”:
- Do you reject or disown the Constituent Assembly, which was proposed by President Nicolas Maduro without approval from the Venezuelan people?
- Do you demand that the Armed Forces and all public officials obey and defend the Constitution of 1999 and provide support to the National Assembly?
- Do you approve of the renovation of all public institutions in accordance with the Constitution, and of the carrying out of free and transparent elections, along with the creation of a national unity government to restore constitutional order?
AG Ortega Diaz Speaks on Lopez Move, Supreme Court
Attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz spoke yesterday about Leopoldo Lopez’s transfer to house arrest, and took aim at the Supreme Court over its order to send the opposition leader home.
The Supreme Court’s order created a debate yesterday regarding the legitimacy of the court. Since a growing number of Venezuelans view the Supreme Court as an illegitimate institution that only serves Maduro’s office, many wondered what stance to take on the court’s order to send Lopez home.
On that question, Ortega Diaz said:
The fact that [the Supreme Court] has made this decision does not mean that its magistrates are now magically legitimate.
Ortega Diaz also spoke on the symbolic meaning that Lopez’s arrest and ongoing detention have for the Venezuelan anti-regime movement, saying:
A detained person cannot be used as an object, as if they were hostages that can be used as part of a negotiation, which is what criminals do when they kidnap someone. We cannot use a case so delicate and sensitive for the whole country to try to legitimize and improve [the Maduro regime’s] image.
Ortega Diaz made the comments during an interview with the publication La Tercera de Chile. You can read the full interview in Spanish here.
Maduro Washes Hands of Lopez Case
Speaking yesterday afternoon about Leopoldo Lopez’s transfer to house arrest, Maduro attempted to wash his hands of his involvement in the political leader’s detention while at the same time continuing to condemn him for the violence that rocked the country in 2014.
Speaking in a televised address, Maduro made a characteristically disjointed qualification. While suggesting that Lopez was in fact guilty of the crimes of which he was accused, he also blamed attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz for sending him to jail, and stressed that he had no role at all in Lopez’s arrest, trial and incarceration:
We have to remember that he [Lopez] was the head of the events of 2014, and that he was charged by attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz. He was processed, sentenced and incarcerated thanks to the Public Ministry. I never once lifted a single finger, because I was never involved with the Public Ministry. I have morals, damn it!
Franklin Nieves, one of the two state prosecutors who tried Lopez, revealed shortly after the conclusion of the trial in 2015 that Lopez was arrested in February of 2014 directly on the orders of Maduro himself.
General Manuel Bernal, who was then the head of the political police [the SEBIN], told me that there were orders from Nicolas Maduro to proceed with an arrest warrant for Leopoldo Lopez.
Throughout the duration of the trial, Maduro would refer to Lopez in public addresses as “the monster of Ramo Verde”, after the Ramo Verde military prison in which Lopez was being held. Maduro would often weigh in on the trial while it was ongoing. For example, in December of 2014, Maduro said that Lopez would “remain in prison”, even though the trial would not end for nearly another year.
Maduro: No Ink for Constituent Election
Maduro also made a passing comment yesterday regarding one of the security features standard to many electoral processes: indelible election ink.
The election ink used in Venezuela is manufactured by a laboratory in the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV), one of the country’s premier higher education institutions. However, since the UCV is opposed to the Constituent Assembly, it has refused to assist in the conduct of the election and will not be providing the ink for the process.
On that fact, Maduro said:
On July 30 we won’t be getting our fingers wet because the UCV has refused to make the indelible ink, but that doesn’t matter because we have fingerprint scanners.
While it is true that one of the safety features of Venezuelan elections involves fingerprint scanners to verify the identities of voters and prevent fraud, the machines have been known to malfunction and raise other problems.
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