The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) announced today that Sunday’s highly-anticipated plebiscite on the future of the country will count on observers both from national and international sources. Among the national observers are electoral and human rights NGOs, while international observers will include a host of former Latin American presidents, including Vicente Fox, Andres Pastrana and Jorge Quiroga.

Professor Benjamin Scharifker from the Metropolitan University told reporters that aside from relying on observers to help guarantee a fair process, other measures will also be taken:

We’ve implemented a system that will allow us to deal with the possibility of duplicate votes. [This is] a system that will take samples and cross-check date in order to allow us to avoid [people] voting more than once.

Professor Sharifker also told reporters that the paper ballots used in Sunday’s vote would be destroyed at the end of the day to ensure that they do not fall into the hands of the government for nefarious purposes. Sharifker said:

Once the process has ended on Sunday, the information will be destroyed in order to guarantee confidentiality.

Venezuelans have good reason to fear punishment for taking part in democratic processes without the government’s consent. In 2003, the government released a list with the names of millions of people who signed a petition in favour of recalling Chavez. The list was later used to discriminate people at work by firing or refusing to hire them based on their appearance on the list.

Every Venezuelan citizen over the age of 18 can vote on Sunday’s plebiscite. All that is needed is proof of citizenship (either a national I.D. card or passport, expired or otherwise).

For a list of voting centres outside of Venezuela, click here.

Voluntad Popular Politician Arrested, Allegedly Found With C4

Carlos Graffe, a politician with the Voluntad Popular (VP) opposition party, was arrested yesterday in Valencia, Carabobo state by officers from the SEBIN, Venezuela’s political police. According to the Carabobo State Police, Graffe was in possession of “C4 explosive, detonator cables and pipe bombs with adhesive tape” at the time of the arrest.

Graffe was arrested as he was stepping out of a clinic where he had just attended a medical appointment.

Earlier today, Oswaldo Graffe’s–Carlos’ father–told reporters that neither his relatives nor his lawyers knew were he was being held. He also said that he has heard from people familiar with the detention that his son will be tried by a military tribunal.

On his son’s political work, Oswaldo said:

Carlos has been working the streets for more than 10 years, working with people and looking for solutions to problems (…) throughout this whole time he has built up a lot of credibility, and he has become a political leader in Valencia, which obviously upsets the government.

On the arrest, Oswaldo said:

I feel proud because of the fact that, as any other Venezuelan, he was arrested because he was fighting and hoping for a better Venezuela. That is something to be proud of.

Renegade Helicopter Pilot Oscar Perez Speaks at Altamira Vigil

Last night, Oscar Perez–the renegade CICPC officer and helicopter pilot who launched a daring assault on regime buildings in Caracas on June 27–appeared at the opposition vigil for fallen protesters last night in the Altamira neighbourhood of Caracas.

Perez has been on the run from authorities since coming into the national spotlight on the 27th. While he has appeared in two YouTube videos since then, last night marked his first public appearance since he attacked the Supreme Court and Ministry of the Interior buildings.

In his statement, Perez spoke about the upcoming July 16 plebiscite, and announced a “great national lock-down” for July 18.

Below, a video of part of Perez’s statements to the media in Altamira last night, along with my translation:

Oscar Perez: It’s time for this narco-government to fall. On the 18th [of July], there will be a national general lock-down from which there will be no return. Zero hour. The popular consultation [the plebiscite] will take place with dignity. We will be on the streets defending the people.

Videos Show Security Forces Brutally Beating Man, Destroying Vehicle

A pair of videos showing grotesque abuses by state security forces against individuals and property have made a splash on social media today.

The first video was recorded in Lecheria, Anzoategui state, likely earlier today. It shows a man walking across what appears to be an empty parking lot. Suddenly, a group of security forces officers approach the man and begin to mercilessly beat him before arresting him:

The second video, also recorded in Lecheria and likely also from today, shows National Guard soldiers harassing pedestrians on a street. A pair of soldiers then begin to break the windows of a parked car for no apparent reason:

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

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