Following similar announcements by its individual constituent parties, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) opposition bloc announced today that it would participate in the regional elections that are scheduled to take place in December of this year. The decision to participate in the elections or not has become a divisive point in opposition circles, as some see participation an act of complacency before the Maduro regime’s open manipulation of electoral processes.
Today’s announcement was made during a MUD press conference in the early afternoon. Andres Velasquez, the head of the Causa R party, told reporters at the conference that the MUD’s decision was motivated by a desire to “fight” the Maduro regime on every terrain, even if the outcome of the match is clear.
At the same time, Velasquez suggested that the MUD’s decision to participate in the elections would not mean an end to street protests, saying:
The decision to register MUD candidates [in the regional elections] is accompanied by the decision to intensify social pressure. We would be turning our backs on those who have made sacrifices [by fighting] the government [if we were to do otherwise].
The December elections were originally scheduled to take place last year in accordance to term limits for mayors, governors and state legislators as set out in the Constitution. However, the Maduro regime postponed the elections without explanation to the first half of this year back in October of last year, a promise it ended up not keeping.
US Adds Eight Names to Sanctions List
The United States Department of the Treasury added the names of eight high-ranking regime figures to its list of economic and travel sanctions today, a list that includes Maduro himself and most of the heads of the state security apparatus.
The sanctions–which freeze the targets’ financial assets in the United States, prohibit their entrance into the country and bans U.S. citizens from conducting business with them–appear to single out mostly high-profile Constituent Assembly members. The eight newly sanctioned individuals are:
- Francisco Ameliach: Governor of Carabobo state and Constituent Assembly member.
- Adan Chavez: Constituent Assembly member and brother of Hugo Chavez.
- Erika Farias: Constituent Assembly member and former Minister of Urban Agriculture.
- Carmen Melendez: Constituent Assembly member and former Minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace.
- Ramon Dario Vivas: Constituent Assembly member and former National Assembly deputy.
- Hermann Escarra: Constituent Assembly member and high-profile pro-regime lawyer.
- Tania D’Amelio: Consejo Nacional Electoral rector.
- Bladimir Humbero Lugo: National Guard officer in charge of security at the National Assembly.
Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin provided some context for the sanctions in a statement today in which he said:
President Maduro swore in this illegitimate Constituent Assembly to further entrench his dictatorship (…) This regime’s disregard for the will of the Venezuelan people is unacceptable, and the United States will stand with them in opposition to tyranny.
CNE Threatens to Sue Voting Machine Company
On August 9, SmartMatic–the company that provided the voting machines for Maduro’s Constituent Assembly election on July 30–issued an unprecedented statement confirming that the vote had been a fraud.
According to the company, its machines kept meticulous, cross-referenced records on exactly how many people voted on July 30, and those figures do not correspond to the regime’s claim that 8 million people voted in the election. The CEO of SmartMatic, Antonio Mugica, said in a press conference that the regime’s figure is off by “at least one million votes”
Yesterday, one of the rectors of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), Socorro Hernandez, said that the CNE was planning to sue SmartMatic over its statement last week. Hernandez made the statement during an interview on the state-owned VTV network.
The entire CNE works so that 100% of Venezuelans registered to vote are able to exercise their right to vote. We have no doubt that whatever we do, we do well.
Just five days before the Constituent Assembly vote, the head of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, held a press conference in which she told Venezuelans that anyone who did not agree with the election should simply not vote. Lucena’s comment was just one in a long list of grievances that opposition critics had of the way in which the regime conducted the Constituent Assembly vote.
National Assembly: 2017 Inflation Rate Hits 249%
The National Assembly revealed today that the inflation rate in Venezuela during the first seven months of the year was 249%, with a 26% jump in July alone.
These latest inflation figures place the projected annual inflation rate for the end of 2017 to hit 1,501%, which would likely crown Venezuela has having the highest inflation rate on the planet.
National Assembly deputy Angel Alvarado released the figures during a legislative session of the National Assembly today, in which he explained the reason for the astronomical numbers:
This accelerated increase in the monthly numbers is the result of a decrease in the offer of dollars in the official market, the precipitous devaluation of our currency in the black market, and the political uncertainty that is dramatically affecting every economic factor. The installation of the fraudulent National Constituent Assembly is a factor that greatly disturbs constitutionality in the country, and that has a negative impact on the markets.
Alvarado also stressed that despite regime claims, the Constituent Assembly would not help alleviate the country’s economic woes, since what Venezuela needs is a paradigmatic political shift.
Inflation numbers are difficult to come by in Venezuela, since the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) no longer publishes any kind of reliable or timely economic data. The BCV last published inflation numbers 18 months ago.
Ramon Muchacho, In Hiding, Publishes Video
The mayor of the Chacao municipality, Ramon Muchacho, is currently in hiding following a Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) ruling yesterday sentencing him to 15 months in prison for failing to stop protests in the municipality which he represents.
Muchacho issued a video last night in which he explained his reasons for going into hiding and urged Venezuelans to continue to resist the Maduro dictatorship. Below, the video along with my translation:
Ramon Muchacho: Dear friends: our abused Venezuela is living through difficult times. Today is Tuesday, August 8. It’s 11:20 PM. A few hours, the Supreme Court illegally, illegitimatally and anti-democratically issued a ruling against me and ordered my persecution and arrest. They persecute me and punish me for doing my job, for guaranteeing the right to peaceful protest in Chacao, for guaranteeing the exercise of political and civil rights in the municipality of Chacao. That’s the way it has been, and that’s the way it will continue to be.
To our neighbours: know that you are not alone, and that we will continue to work for you and to defend you at all times. To our civil servants: know that we remain united as the family that we are, and that we are looking out for one another. To all Venezuelans: keep up the struggle, because Venezuela is big and beautiful and has a lot of potential, and we will soon recover it.
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