At around midnight last night, the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) announced the official results of the Constituent Assembly election: 8,089,320 ballots cast for a 41.53% voter turnout.
While the CNE did not provide the kinds of details that it usually gives at the end of an electoral process–like the absentee and null vote percentage–Tibisay Lucena, the head of the organization, praised the vote as sign that “peace had won” in Venezuela.
Regime critics were quick to point out that the 8-million-vote figure is unlikely to be true. At the height of his popularity in 2013, Maduro won a presidential election with 7.6 million votes. Two years later, the PSUV suffered a catastrophic defeat at the 2015 parliamentary elections, earning just 5.6 million votes, a figure that is unlikely to have been surpassed given the worsening of the social, political and economic crisis since that year.
Critics also consider it unlikely that so many Venezuelans could vote for the Constituent Assembly, given the fact that 7.2 million voters rejected the assembly two weeks ago.
Yesterday’s vote was mired in violence, with at least 15 people killed in clashes around the country. The CNE banned all media from coming within 500 meters of voting centres, and journalists were routinely harassed by security forces throughout the day.
Protesters also erected barricades sporadically about the country as many streets remained empty for most of the day
. Below, a flaming barricade in Prados del Este, Caracas shortly after the noon hour:
Barricades in Chacao, Caracas:
El Nacional has more pictures of the barricades here.
U.S. Sanctions Maduro, Freezing Assets and Banning Travel
Maduro became the latest Venezuelan official to be sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury this afternoon in a rare move, given that the United States seldom sanctions heads of state.
In a written statement posted on its website, the Department of the Treasury announced that it was freezing all of Maduro’s assets in the United States, and banning all U.S. citizens from conducting business with him.
Calling Maduro “a dictator”, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Munchin announced the sanctions by saying:
Yesterday’s illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people. By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy
Mnuchin also left the door open for future sanctions against regime officials, saying:
Anyone who participates in this illegitimate [Constituent Assembly] could be exposed to future U.S. sanctions for their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela.
It is not yet clear how the sanctions will affect Venezuela has a country, if at all, since it now may be difficult for Maduro to sign financial agreements on behalf of the country without risking the other party’s being in violation of the sanctions.
Maduro is one of just four heads of state to ever be personally sanctioned by the United States. The others are Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Syria’s Bashar Al Assad, and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Opposition Left Reeling After Constituent Assembly Vote
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) was left reeling today in light of yesterday’s vote, and appeared to be largely on the back-foot against the PSUV.
National Assembly vice president Freddy Guevara gave a defiant speech from the legislature in the afternoon, and assured Venezuelans that her deputies would continue to do their jobs at the national legislature.
On the possibility that the PSUV would order the Constituent Assembly to meet in the National Assembly, effectively displacing legislators from the building, Guevara said:
We have to do whatever it takes to defend ourselves. However, we are not violent and we do not have weapons. If they want to remove us from here they have the means to do it: brute force. They will have to remove us from here, because we are going to remain here in defiance.
Guevara also called on Venezuelans to go to the National Assembly building in western Caracas if the regime were to attempt to remove the legislators from the site in order to help with its defense.
National Assembly deputy and Accion Democratica chief Henry Ramos Allup sounded less willing to make a stand at the National Assembly. Allup said:
Even though [working in the legislature] is ideal, we also have to prepare for exceptional circumstances. If they take over the [National Assembly building], we will have to meet elsewhere (…) we have to prepare for anything.
Defiant Attorney General Disowns Vote, Says “All Rights” Now in Danger
Attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz spoke out against yesterday’s Constituent Assembly vote, calling the process a fraud and suggesting that the CNE’s figure of 8 million voters is fictitious. One the CNE’s numbers, Ortega Diaz said:
I am absolutely sure that those numbers are not accurate.
Ortega Diaz called on all Venezuelans in her capacity as attorney general to “disown the alleged results” of the vote, and lashed out at the regime for disguising a power grab as an electoral process. She said:
What they’ve announced is a joke against the people and their sovereignty, while giving a lot of power to a minority.
On the fact that every facet of the Venezuelan state is now under the control of the Constituent Assembly, Ortega Diaz said:
Every political right is now in danger.
Ortega Diaz is likely to become the first victim of the Constituent Assembly, which has supra-institutional powers and whose decisions cannot be overruled by any institution.
Regime Militias Kill Two in Tachira
The regime militias–known locally as colectivos armados–have killed two people in Tachira estate today, bringing the total number of fatalities in protest-related unrest since April 1 to 130, 17 of them coming in the last two days ago. were patrolling the La Concordia area of San Cristobal and attacking protesters when they came across Salomon. They shot her in the chest, and she died later in hospital.
15-year-old Daniela de Jesus Salomon Macho died in the overnight hours in San Cristobal, Tachira state after being shot in the chest last night by regime militias while protesting in the city. 23-year-old Anthoni Labrador died in the Pedro María Ureña municipality of Tachira this afternoon after being shot by regime militias yesterday during a protest.
Colectivos armados, which act with impunity while authorities turn a blind eye, have killed approximately 26 protesters since April 1.
Video Shows Meagre, Disinterested Crowd at Victory Rally
A video surfaced online this morning showing a small, largely disinterested crowd at the PSUV’s victory rally in Caracas last night. As the onlookers mill about a stage, Maduro speaks to the crowd about the meaning of the PSUV’s victory.
The video contains the caption “Here are the 8600000 voters Maduro speaking live” in reference to the high number of voters the CNE claims to have cast their ballots yesterday.
Below, the video:
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