National Assembly deputies met today as Venezuela’s institutional crisis deepens, voting to only recognize Luisa Ortega Diaz as the country’s attorney general in defiance of the actions taken by the Constituent Assembly on Saturday. The legislature’s decision came at the same time that National Assembly president Julio Borges met with the Brazilian ambassador and other diplomats in Caracas to discuss the ongoing Venezuelan crisis.
The legislature also voted to reject the Constituent Assembly and all of its decisions as illegal and illegitimate.
The National Assembly’s votes today threatens to take the country further down the path of parallel statehood, with each side of the political divide working within its own institutions and with its own public officials.
At the same time, Tarek William Saab–who was named attorney general on Saturday by the Constituent Assembly–said today that his purpose at his new job would be to “restructure, improve, and rebuild the credibility” of the Public Ministry.
Saab also that that he was “convinced” that Ortega Diaz’s many statements regarding human rights abuses in Venezuela since March of this year had “attacked Venezuelans’ peace [sic]”.
Ortega Diaz served dutifully as attorney general from 2007 until this past Saturday. Appointed to the position by Hugo Chavez, Ortega Diaz was one of the pillars of the ruling PSUV ruling party until March 31 of this year, when she went on record saying that the Maduro regime’s drive towards authoritarianism constituted a break in the democratic order in the country. Since then, Ortega Diaz has become one of the most outspoken critics of the Maduro regime.
Saab directly referenced March 31 as the day that sealed Ortega Diaz’s fate, saying:
Every statement that Ortega Diaz [has made] since March 31 2017 has placed the safety of citizens in grave danger…
Opposition-appointed Supreme Court Magistrates Flee to Colombia
Five magistrates appointed by opposition deputies at the National Assembly to the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) on July 21 have fled to Colombia in order to escape the Maduro regime’s relentless persecution. The magistrates’ flight to the neighbouring country was confirmed by Pedro Jose Troconis, a member of the Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum], a local NGO.
On July 21, the National Assembly appointed 33 magistrates to the TSJ in an act of defiance against the Maduro regime, which had appointed 33 of its own magistrates to the top court in December 2015. Maduro reacted to the appointment by angrily lashing out at the magistrates as “usurpers” during a televised speech on July 23, and promising to viewers that:
… they will all go to prison, one by one, one after the other.
The identities of the five magistrates who fled to Colombia has not been revealed.
The five magistrates are not the first to take drastic actions to evade Maduro’s wrath. There are currently five other magistrates taking refuge in the Chilean embassy in Caracas, while another three are currently imprisoned.
Two Killed in Anti-Regime Protests in 24 Hours
Two people have been killed during anti-regime protests over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of dead from the violence since April 1 to at least 135.
20-year-old Willmerys Zerpa died today of injuries sustained during a protest in Ciudad Bolivar, Bolivar state on Sunday night. Zerpa had gone out to protest against the Maduro regime along with two friends yesterday night when they were attacked by armed pro-regime militias known in Venezuela as colectivos armados. The militia opened fire on Zerpa and her friends, eventually killing Zerpa and gravely injuring her two companions.
Later in the day, 18-year-old Eduardo Orozco was killed after he was shot in the head at an anti-regime protest in Cabudare, Lara state. Orozco was at a demonstration in the Bellas Artes sector of the city when agents from CONAS, an anti-extortion and anti-kidnapping unit that have increasingly been involved in protest repression activities, arrived at the scene. The officers opened fire on a group of protesters, hitting and killing Orozco on the spot.
Maduro Defiant After Mercosur Suspension
Speaking to an Argentinian radio station yesterday, Maduro spoke on Venezuela’s suspension from Mercosur as a result of his regime’s continued systemic human rights violations and overall contempt for democracy and the rule of law.
Maduro told Argentina’s Radio Rebelde:
No one can kick Venezuela out of Mercosur!
Venezuela was kicked out of Mercosur on Saturday by the trade bloc’s member nations: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Speaking on Mercosur’s measure shortly after the organization’s decision was announced on Saturday, Argentinian Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Fraurie said:
Today in Venezuela there is no democracy (…) Essentially what Mercosur is saying is: Without democracy, no, you cannot be a part of Mercosur.
Angry Venezuelans Berate CNE Rector at Supermarket
A video showing angry Venezuelans berating Socorro Hernandez at a supermarket over the weekend has made national headlines. Hernandez is one of the rectors of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), and one of the individuals responsible for the fraud that was the Constituent Assembly election last Sunday. As a top-ranking official at a key regime institution, Hernandez is widely recognized as being an important piece in the Maduro regime’s repressive arsenal.
In the video below, a growing group of shoppers yell at Hernandez (in pink), calling her “a murderer” and blaming her for the collapse of the country and the installation of the Maduro dictatorship:
Speaking in a televised address yesterday, Maduro threatened all of the individuals captured on video yelling at Hernandez with prison, calling the event “a hate crime”.
Today, the supermarket in which the video was filmed was closed by regime bureaucrats. It is not known if it will ever re-open.
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