During the overnight hours, members of Maduro’s Constituent Assembly broke into the legislative chamber at the National Assembly in Caracas and effectively evicted legislators from the room, leaving parliamentarians with nowhere to hold their sessions.
The overnight break-and-enter was captured by the National Assembly’s security cameras, which showed Constituent Assembly members accompanied by National Guard soldiers locking the legislative chambers’ doors from the inside and setting up chairs:
After the set-up process in the legislative chamber was complete, National Guard soldiers surrounded the National Assembly building starting in the early morning hours and prevented legislators from entering the premises. Citing “orders from above”, the soldiers blocked the entrance to the legislative chamber with their shields:
After successfully barring legislators from entering the building, the Constituent Assembly held its third meeting, and the first inside the country’s legislative chamber.
The image on the left below shows the front of the legislative chamber along with two pictures of Simon Bolivar. The Constituent Assembly members brought the pictures into the room after they were removed by the opposition-led National Assembly in early 2015. The image on the right shows Constituent Assembly members at their seats during today’s session:
The Constituent Assembly was elected on July 30 in a vote that has been universally denounced as fraudulent by opposition and independent critics, and even by the company that operated the voting machines that day.
Constituent Assembly Gets to Work
Among a set of symbolic actions taken by the Constituent Assembly today were motions voicing support for Maduro and the National Bolivarian Armed Forces in light of what the Assembly considers to be the ongoing imperialist attacks against the two entities.
The Assembly also ironed out the details of what it is called the Commission for Truth, Justice and Reparation for the Victims, which at the moment appears to be a pseudo-judicial body that will be tasked with taking legal actions against opponents of the Maduro regime.
Speaking at today’s session, Delcy Rodriguez, who is the president of the Constituent Assembly, stressed that everything that the body is doing is legal, saying:
We are adhering to the requirements set out by the Republic’s laws.
Rodriguez also said that there were “criminal elites” in the Venezuelan opposition who were “resisting the law”, although she did not specify to which individuals or law(s) she was referring.
Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez was also at today’s session, from which he praised the Venezuelan people for electing the body in a “free, secret, universal and direct” vote.
Foreign Affairs Ministers of 12 Countries Agree to Ignore Constituent Assembly
The foreign affair ministers of 12 countries issued an unprecedented joint statement today agreeing to ignore every police decision made by Maduro’s Constituent Assembly. The agreement came in the form of a document called the Lima Declaration, which was produced at the end of a meeting to discuss the installation of the Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela.
The countries who helped draft the declaration are: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.
Aside from denouncing the Constituent Assembly as an illegitimate and fraudulent body, the Lima Declaration states its support for the National Assembly, and laments the Maduro regime’s ongoing human rights violations.
Supreme Court Sentences Opposition Mayor to 15 Months in Prison
The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) issued a sentence today removing the mayor of the Chacao municipality, Ramon Muchacho, from his post and sentencing him to 15 months in prison for contempt.
The ruling, which was released online at midnight, claims that Muchacho is in contempt of a previous Court order to eliminate anti-regime protests in Chacao. According to Venezuelan law, municipal police forces–which are the ones available to a mayor–cannot be used to police protests, and are as a result not trained or equipped for the task.
The popular opposition mayor reacted to the ruling via a written statement, which I have translated below:
Dear friends, family, neighbours and civil servants of our municipality: the full weight of the revolutionary justice has fallen upon me and upon Chacao.
I have been condemned for doing my job, for guaranteeing the legitimate right to peaceful protest and the exercise of the civil and political rights of Venezuelans. I have been condemned for fighting for change in Venezuela!
As the legitimate mayor elected in universal, direct and secret elections, I want to stress my commitment to you all and my infinite love for Chacao and for our abused Venezuela.
I ask for your clam and strength during this difficult junction.
All of the wonderful team of civil servants at the Chacao municipality are still committed to their tasks. To all of you, my colleagues, I send you a message of calm. We are and will continue to be a great family.
At this time, my thoughts turn to the millions of Venezuelans who suffer from the wrath of this regime, who have no access to or refuge from justice, nor solace.
The next few hours will be difficult for me, and my communications will be extremely limited. I thank you all for your messages of support and solidarity, and I ask that you pray for my family.
Regime Bans MUD From Running Candidates in Seven States
The Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) issued a decision yesterday in which it banned the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) from posting candidates in seven of the country’s 23 states for the regional elections that are scheduled to take place in December of this year.
The decision, which was contained inside a simple press release, reads:
… [the MUD] must abstain from running candidates in Zulia, Apure, Monagas, Bolivar, Trujillo, Aragua and Carabobo state in accordance with decisions made by courts in those states in relation to trials that have been taking place since last year.
The trials that the CNE appears to be referencing are likely related to the recall referendum effort mounted by the MUD last year, which was met by judicial resistance from courts in the states mentioned above.
With its decision, the CNE is banning individuals from running in the regional elections under the MUD ticket. An opposition politician who wants to run in any of these seven states will still be able to appear on the ballot under the individual political party to which she belongs.
Because the MUD is a political bloc made of nearly thirty political parties, the CNE’s decision has the effect of splitting the bloc’s internal cohesion by providing an incentive for the coalition’s parties to split from the bloc.
VP Makes Case for Participating in December Elections
Freddy Guevara, the national director of the Voluntad Popular (VP) opposition party, announced today that the party would participate in the December regional elections. The decision for VP comes as the opposition engages in a grueling debate on whether to participate in what many view as an election the results of which are already known.
Guevara made the announcement in a series of tweets in which he also stressed the importance of continuing to mount pressure on the Maduro regime via streets protests. Guevara said:
The focus of the struggle is to get rid of the dictatorship. Regional elections are one of our demands, but we cannot be distracted by them.
We must come up with a unified path forward as per the mandate of the July 16 [plebiscite]. We propose a new CNE + national unity government + street [protests] + international [pressure].
Signing up for the regional elections should be done as a tactical move to divide the dictatorship: they can either suspend the elections or lose.
After the fraud that was the [National Constituent Assembly election], the regional elections are an illusion, which is why we sign up for them as a tactical move and continue to focus on getting rid of the dictatorship.
In that sense, we insist on [Articles] 333 and 350 [of the Constitution, which establish the duty to rebel against dictatorships], street organization, a new CNE and a national unity government in order to make the July 16 [plebiscite] count.
Politicians hoping to run in the December regional elections have until tomorrow to sign up for the proceedings.
UN Condemns Ongoing Human Rights Violations in Venezuela
The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva condemned the ongoing human rights violations in Venezuela, citing the arbitrary arrests of at least 5,000 individuals for protesting against the government as one of the Maduro regime’s many systematic human rights violations.
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the United Nations, said:
We are concerned that the situation in Venezuela is escalating and these patterns of human rights violations are showing no signs of abating.
The UN placed the blame for the human rights violations squarely on the lap of “the highest levels of government”, and pointed out that its its officials have not been allowed to visit Venezuela.
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