At least 15 people were killed in violent clashes with security forces around the country today as a trickle of Venezuelans filed into voting centres to cast their ballots on for the Constituent Assembly.
As of the writing of this post, there is no official word on how many people voted in today’s election. However, the Mesa de la Unidad (MUD) estimates that approximately 12% of registered voters participated in today’s vote, which would translate into 2,483.073 votes. If accurate, the figure constitutes yet another stunning example of the near-universal unpopularity of Maduro and the PSUV. In contrast, approximately 7.2 million people voted in an opposition-sponsored plebiscite on July 16.
The vote took place amid brutal repression by state security forces. By order of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), journalists were not allowed within 500 meters of any voting centre.
The state’s repressive agents–primarily the National Guard and the National Bolivarian Police–were out in force since the early morning hours, attacking protesters who had taken to the streets in rejection of the Constituent Assembly. Such was the force of the state repression in Caracas that the MUD, the official opposition bloc, was forced to cancel a massive rally it had planned for Caracas today.
Despite a flood of images and videos showing largely empty voting centres across Venezuela throughout the morning, the head of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, said in a televised address at around noon that voter turnout was virtually universal. Lucena said:
The great majority, more than 99% of the Venezuelan people, are voting right now in the country’s voting centres.
Lucena’s comments clashed with reality, given the fact that voting centres even in the most populous areas of the country were largely empty throughout the day. The image below shows voting centres in Petare, Caricuao, Santa Rosalia and La Candelaria in Caracas:
The video below shows one of the largest voting centres in the Libertador municipality, once a PSUIV bastion, virtually deserted:
Below, voting centres in the San Juan parish in Caracas:
Cojedes also started the voting day off with empty voting centres:
In Los Teques, Miranda state, a trickle of voters was in line in the mid-afternoon:
At least eleven countries have issued official statements rejecting the Constituent Assembly as an assault on democracy in Venezuela. The list includes Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama, Canada, the United States, Brazil, Chile, the United Kingdom
Cabello: Venezuela Saw “Show of Love” Today
PSUV vice-president Diosado Cabello gave a press conference this evening in which he praised voters for the “show of love” that they participated in for voting in today’s Constituent Assembly election. Cabello said:
Love is repaid with love. There were people everywhere, despite the few attempts at violence to stop the vote. The people taught a lesson. What we lived through today was beautiful. Venezuela rises.
Echoing statements made in recent days, Cabello said that the Constituent Assembly would begin to meet in the next 72 hours inside the National Assembly.
MUD Vows to Continue the Fight
The MUD held a press conference this evening in which it vowed to continue the fight against the Maduro regime, and announced a series of protest events for the next few days.
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles called on all Venezuelans to prepare for a protest on the day that the Constituent Assembly begins to meet, which could happen any time before Wednesday. Capriles said:
Let anyone who can come, come on the day that this fraudulent assembly begins to meet.
Capriles also said:
Let us continue to stand and fight until democracy is brought back to Venezuela, and we Venezuelans are able to exercise our rights.
At Least 15 Killed Over the Last 24 Hours
At least 15 Venezuelans died today as the Maduro regime brutally repressed protests against the Constituent Assembly throughout the country. 11 of the fatalities came from the states of Merida and Tachira alone, where anti-government sentiment tends to be higher and protests more intense.
Below, a list of today’s fatalities:
- Eduardo Olave: Killed by regime militias near a voting centre in San Jacinto, Merida.
- Angelo Yordano Mendez: Killed by regime militias near a voting centre in San Jacinto, Merida. Yordano was killed alongside Olave.
- Marcel Pereira: Killed by regime militias while protesting in Chiguara, Merida state.
- Iraldo Jose Gutierrez: Killed by regime militias while protesting in Chiguara, Merida state.
- Unnamed 19 Year Old: Killed while protesting in Tovar, Merida state this morning.
- Luis Ortiz: Killed by regime militias in Tucape, Tachira while protesting.
- Albert Rosales: Killed while protesting in Tucape, Tachira.
- Adrian Romero: Killed while protesting in Capacho Viejo, Tachira state this morning.
- Ronald Ramirez: National Guard sergeant, killed while repressing a protest n La Grita, Tachira.
- Unnamed Protester: Killed while protesting in La Grita, Tachira overnight.
- Ender Peña: Shot while protesting in La Rotaria, Tachira state. Died in hospital after several hours of surgery.
- Ricardo Campos: Local Accion Democratica leader, killed while protesting in the overnight hours in Cumana, Sucre state.
- Luiz Zambrano: Killed while protesting in Barquisimeto, Lara state.
- Juan Gomez: Killed while protesting in Urdaneta, Lara state.
- Miguel Urdaneta: Killed by regime militias in Zulia state. Urdaneta was the son of an opposition politician from the Un Nuevo Tiempo party.
The total number of people killed in the anti-regime protests since April 1 is now 127. A recent noticeable uptick in violence has claimed the lives of 25 people over the last four days.
National Bolivarian Police Hit by IED in Altamira
At around noon, a column of National Bolivarian Police officers driving by the Plaza Francia in Altamira, Caracas were hit by what appears to have been an improvised explosive device. The explosion injured an unknown number of officers, and burned several motorcycles.
The video below shows the moment of the explosion:
Below, another shot of the same event:
The image below shows officers reeling from the explosion. The extent of their injuries is not known:
While it is not clear what the IED was made of, it is likely that it was built from a combination of gasoline and fireworks.
Regime Snipers in Action in Tariba, Tachira State
In Tachira state, observers watched in disdain as a group of snipers took up a position atop a building and aimed their rifles at protesters nearby. The snipers appeared to be soldiers with the National Bolivarian Armed Forces and the CONAS, an anti-extortion and anti-kidnapping unit that is attached to the National Guard.
The images below show the snipers:
In the video below, one of the snipers can be seen watching a target in the distance through his scope:
The images below also show snipers in action in Tachira state today. While most of the snipers appear to be official state security agents, the man with the fake beard appears to be a civilian:
Maduro Features in Embarrassing Clip
Early this morning, Maduro appeared in a live broadcast in which he tried to demonstrate the efficiency and ease of the voting process. When an electoral official scanned Maduro’s carnet de la patria [Fatherland I.D.] so that he could vote, the screen read: “This person does not exist, or their I.D. has been annulled”.
Below, the video of the event along with my translation:
Maduro: … check my Fatherland I.D. so that it can be recorded that I came to vote, and so my Fatherland I.D. will show for the rest of my life that I voted in this historic day, July 30.
[Electoral official scans Maduro’s Fatherland I.D. with QR scanner]
[Message on screen reads: “This person does not exist, or their I.D. has been annulled”]
Maduro: Did it come up?
Electoral Official: Yes.
The Fatherland I.D. is a piece of identification that the government introduced earlier this year, allegedly to make it easier for Venezuelans to receive state subsidies. However, Maduro has turned the card into a weapon for this election by requiring voters to sign-in to voting centres with the I.D. when they go vote.
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