The streets of Venezuela found themselves largely empty as businesses closed and residents stayed in their homes for the first in a two-day general strike. The strike, which was announced last week by the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, is taking place in rejection of Maduro’s Constituent Assembly and his regime more generally.
Below, images of empty streets around the country this morning as the strike began.
The Romulo Gallegos avenue in Caracas in the early morning:
Most shops on this stretch of the Baralt avenue were closed this morning:
The Ferrero Tamayo avenue in San Cristobal, Tachira state in the early afternoon:
in San Jose de los Altos, Miranda state, residents of this street put up barricades:
The Prados del Este highway through the Santa Fe neighbourhood of Caracas was desolate:
Empty streets and closed businesses in Ciudad Bolivar, Bolivar state:
A similar sight in central Merida, in Merida state:
In Petare, one of the poorest areas of Caracas, residents blocked roads with barricades made of garbage and tree branches:
National Guard Soldiers Kill Protester in Merida
A 30-year-old man named Rafael Vergara become the 101st protest-related fatality since April 1 of this year after he was killed this afternoon by National Guard soldiers while protesting in the city of Merida, Merida state.
Vergaras’ death was confirmed by National Assembly deputies Jose Manuel Olivares and Richard Blanco.
Vergara was killed while protesting in the Los Molinos neighbourhood of the city.
Regime Militias Kidnap Protesters in Campo Claro, Merida
Shortly before noon, news broke that a pro-regime armed militia had attacked a demonstration in Campo Claro, Merida, and kidnapped protesters at the site.
The news broke from Carlos Garcia, the mayor of Merida, who tweeted two images showing an armed group of men along with the following message:
We denounce that armed groups have violently attacked and kidnapped several youths in Campo Claro a few minutes ago. Cowards!
It is not yet clear how many youths were taken, or what their whereabouts or current condition are. According to El Nacional, one of the kidnapped individuals is named Daniel Alexander Rangel.
Rangel, along with the other victims, were allegedly forced into teh SUVs in the image below and taken to an unknown location:
Leopoldo Lopez Releases New Video
At approximately midnight, Leopoldo Lopez–the head of the Voluntad Popular (VP) opposition party–released a video on Twitter and YouTube calling on all Venezuelans to continue to mount pressure on the Maduro regime through street protests.
The video, which clocks in at just over fifteen minutes, marks the first time that Lopez has spoken to Venezuelans on camera since he was transferred to house arrest from the Ramo Verde military prison on July 8. Lopez has been serving a 14 year prison sentence since 2015 over his alleged role in the anti-government protests of 2014.
The short clip below, taken from a section of the longer video, encapsulates Lopez’s main message:
Leopoldo Lopez: I want to tell every Venezuelan that this struggle–which began on the streets, remains on the street and will continue to be on the streets–must be maintained until we win liberty, democracy and freedom for all Venezuelans. The only way to to achieve the change that we all yearn for, the change that will give us a country full of opportunities where peace, well-being and progress for all reign is for all of us to actively join this struggle. This better Venezuela which is yet to come, the Venezuela were all rights belong to all people, where there is no exclusion or privileged groups, where there are opportunities for all and where poverty is overcome through peace and democracy depends on each and every one of us today.
U.S. Gov’t: El Aissami Has “Hundreds of Millions” of Dollars in the U.S.
A “high-ranking U.S. government official” who asked to remain anonymous told EFE today that Venezuelan vice-president Tareck El Aissami has “hundreds of millions” of dollars stashed in the United States, both in money and in other assets.
The source told the publication that the U.S. government was surprised by the amount of money El Aissami and one of his associates, Samark Jose Lopez Bello, had hidden away in the country.
Back in February, the U.S. Department of the Treasury froze El Issami’s and Lopez Bello’s assets in the country, claiming that the two men were actively involved in drug trafficking operations.
U.S. Sanctions 13 More Regime Officials
United States senator for the state of Florida Marco Rubio took to Twitter early this morning to hint at incoming sanctions against Maduro regime officials. On his official Twitter account, Rubio wrote:
Later in the day, the website of the U.S. Department of the Treasury was updated to include the names of the thirteen newly-sanctioned officials. Those officials are:
- Tibisay Lucena, head of the Consejo Nacional Electoral
- Carlos Erick Malpica Flores, National Treasurer
- Jesus Suarez Chourio, Major General of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces and Commander of the Central Defense Region
- Carlos Alfredo Perez Ampueda, head of the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), the regime’s political police
- Maria Iris Varela, former Minister of Penitentiaries
- Tarek William Saab, People’s Defender
- Simon Alejandro Zerpa Delgado, Vice-President of Finance at PDVSA
- Sergio Jose Rivero Marcano, Commander General of the National Guard
- Nestor Reverol, Minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace
- Elias Jaua, Minister of Education and head of the Presidential Commission for the Constituent Assembly
- Rocco Albisini, head of CENCOEX, the regime’s currency exchange institution
- Alejandro Antonio Fleming Cabrera, Vice Minister for Europe at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Franklin Horacio Garcia Duque, head of the National Bolivarian Police
With the sanctions, the thirteen individuals are now banned from entering the United States, and their financial and real estate assets in the country are now frozen.
Iris Varela, who is also a candidate in Sunday’s Constituent Assembly elections, reacted to the news of her sanction this afternoon with a tweet:
This is my response to the gringos. Like Chavez said, “Go to hell, you fucking yankees”
Colombia’s Avianca Halting Operations in Venezuela Starting August 16
Colombia’s national airline, Avianca, announced today that it was halting operations in Venezuela starting on August 16 citing adverse operational conditions in the country. The suspension will affect the airline’s Bogota-Caracas and Lima-Caracas routes.
In justifying the operations halt, Avianca said (emphasis in original):
This measure is based on the need to adjust several processes to international standards, improve airport infrastructure in Venezuela and guarantee consistency in operations.
Avianca had operated routes in Venezuela for the past 60 years.
The airline becomes the latest in a set of international carriers who have ceased flying in and out of Venezuela in the past several years, including Air Canada, United Airlines, and Lufthansa.
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