Venezuelans marked the start of the final week before Sunday’s Constituent Assembly vote by participating in a pancartazo around the country. The term comes from the word pancarta, which means “sign”, and roughly translates into English as “using big signs”. The point of the pancartazo was for Venezuelans to express their disapproval both of the Maduro regime and of the Constituent Assembly by making signs and placing them in key areas around the country, including the voting centres that will host Sunday’s vote.
Today’s pancartazo is part of a week-long repertoire of protest actions that also include a two-day general strike starting on Wednesday and a massive rally in Caracas on Friday.
in the Montalban neighbourhood of Caracas, protesters placed signs with anti-regime and anti-Constituent Assembly messages on the walls of a voting centre. One of the signs reads “Montalban does not want the Constituent [Assembly]”:
Below, more signs at a voting centre in the Chacao neighbourhood of the capital. Some of the signs read “stop killing your people”, “Maduro is Venezuela’s disgrace”, and “We want a free Venezuela”:
In El Hatillo, a protester placed a Venezuelan flag on the gate of a voting centre with the words “In my centre there will NOT be a vote for the ANC [National Constituent Assembly]”:
The image below shows the outer wall of a school to be used as a voting centre in Maracaibo, Zulia state replete with protest signs:
And in Guanta, Anzoategui state, protesters unfurled a large sign across a road that read “Maduro, you have only a little time left”:
The video below shows soldiers deployed to Caracas as part of the Plan Republica [Republic Plan] ripping protest signs off the gates of a voting centre in the neighbourhood of Las Palmas, Caracas while onlookers yell insults at them:
The Plan Republica is the name of a military initiative deployed by the Maduro regime supposedly to ensure peace and security in the country during the Constituent Assembly elections. The plan calls for, among other things, the deployment of thousands of soldiers throughout the country to safeguard the 14,515 voting centres in Venezuela.
CNE Rector Hints at Possible Postponement of Regional Elections
Socorro Hernandez, one of the rectors of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), gave an interview to the Panorama news website yesterday in which she spoke generally on the upcoming Constituent Assembly, which is slated to begin the work of re-writing the country’s constitution starting next week.
One of the concerns that regime critics have regarding the Constituent Assembly is that it may somehow lead to the cancellation of regional elections that are scheduled to take place in December to elect state assemblies, mayors and governors. The elections should have taken place last December, but were postponed late last year for reasons that were never made clear.
Speaking on the possibility that the Constituent Assembly may in fact result in the cancellation of the regional elections, Hernandez said:
The regional elections have been scheduled. The process of signing up to be a candidate begins in August. All of that is in motion. We have worked with to [electoral processes] at the same time before (…).
We don’t know [what will happen to the regional elections], because we haven’t elected the Constituent Assembly yet. When we elected it we will know what its decisions are. We know that Article 349 of the Constitution says that whatever the Constituent Assembly decides cannot be appealed, but we have to wait and see what this Constituent Assembly looks like, what its characteristics are, how it is installed, what its first decisions are.
The Constituent Assembly will be made up of approximately 540 individuals who will have the power to draft a new national constitution. Any decision that the Constituent Assembly makes will supersede any law and institution currently in place.
The opposition has boycotted the process, meaning that virtually every candidate running for the assembly is a PSUV member and/or supporter.
Maduro Threatens 33 Magistrates with Prison
Speaking on his weekly television show yesterday afternoon, Maduro threatened to imprison the 33 magistrates appointed to the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) on Friday.
The magistrates were appointed as part of an ongoing controversy regarding the filling of 33 vacancies at the TSJ by the PSUV-controlled National Assembly in December 2015. Those appointments, regime critics argue, were rushed in order to ensure that the opposition, which was taking control of the legislature in January, would not have the opportunity to choose its own magistrates.
During his television show yesterday, Maduro spoke on the magistrates by saying:
These people that they appointed, these usurpers that are walking around. They’re going to go to jail one by one. One after the other. They’re all going to go to jail and they’re going to freeze their accounts and everything, and no one will defend them.
Maduro did not explain which crime(s) he believes the magistrates have committed. It is not unusual for Maduro to threaten people with prison and other sanctions during televised speeches.
One of the 33 magistrates has already been detained for reasons that are not yet clear. Angel Zerpa was arrested on Saturday while he was out for a drive with his wife in Caracas. He is currently being held in El Helicoide, the Caracas headquarters of the regime’s political police.
OAS Will Discuss Venezuelan Crisis on Wednesday
The OAS has made a handful of attempts in the past few months to arrive at a consensus on the situation in Venezuela. While Secretary General is an outspoken critic of the Maduro regime and is joined by 14 nations in his opinion–including countries like the United States and Canada–Maduro still retains a number of allies in the organization, including a number of Caribbean island nations and Bolivia.
El Universal reports that the 14 countries most vocal against the regime will attempt to draft an organizational statement calling on Maduro to abandon the Constituent Assembly, as well as possible “coordinated actions” should Maduro decide to press ahead with the measure.
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