The Constituent Assembly reacted today to comments by US president Donald Trump yesterday that the White House had not ruled out a “military option” for the Venezuelan crisis.

Calling the comment an “infamous threat”, Constituent Assembly president Delcy Rodriguez said that the body would support Maduro through any eventuality. Rodriguez said in a tweet:

The National Constituent Assembly will act to help our head of state in the defense of our beloved Venezeula! #TrumpRespectVenezuela

Trump’s comments yesterday were followed shortly thereafter by a statement from the White House claiming that Maduro had called Trump on the phone, but that Trump had declined to speak with him. The White House statement says that Trump agreed to speak to Maduro under one condition:

Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country.

The White House also said:

Trump has asked that Maduro respect Venezuela’s constitution, hold free and fair elections, release political prisoners, cease all human rights violations, and stop oppressing Venezuela’s great people. … Instead Maduro has chosen the path of dictatorship.

Despite his fiery anti-US rhetoric, Maduro will occasionally signal a desire to establish friendly relations with the United States. Just this week, Maduro said that he wanted to “re-establish political relations” with the United States, and that he had instructed foreign minister Jorge Arreaza to begin work on the project.

Regional Elections Pushed Forward to October

The Constituent Assembly agreed today to push the date of the regional elections scheduled for December to October.

According to Carabobo state governor and Constituent Assembly member Francisco Ameliach, the point of holding the elections earlier is to help diffuse tension in the country through the casting of ballots.

It is not clear at this moment exactly when in October the elections for governors, mayors and state legislators will take place.

PDVSA, In Dire Straits, Threatens to Sink Venezuela

PDVSA announced today that its net earnings fell in 2016 by 89% from the previous year, as the company raked in a mere 828 million last year in comparison to the $7.345 billion that it earned in 2015.

The oil company also saw the amount of money it owes to lenders increase last year, from $18.132 billion in 2015 to $19.824 billion in 2016.

Oil prices are not entirely to blame for PDVSA’s abysmal performance: the company also revealed that its oil output was continuing to decrease, from an average of 2.9 million barrels per day in 2015 to 2.57 million in 2016. The trend appears to be continuing, as average daily production for 2017 is currently at 1.9 million barrels.

PDVSA’s poor performance affects not only the company itself but also the entire country, since 96% of Venezuela’s income comes from PDVSA’s oil sales.

While the Maduro regime claims that an “economic war” being waged against the country from a host of foreign and domestic enemies is responsible for the country’s woes, mismanagement and corruption at the state-owned oil company have reduced PDVSA to a shell of its former self.

Maria Corina Machado: Venezuelans Believe Opposition Has Given Up

The leader of the Vente Venezuela opposition party, Maria Corina Machado, said in an interview with El Pais in which she said that Venezuelans have lost faith in the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the country’s official opposition bloc. According to Machado, the MUD’s decision to participate in the December regional elections is evidence that the bloc is “greatly disconnected” from Venezuelans, hence the growing lack of support for the MUD.

For Machado, the MUD’s decision to participate in the regional elections is incoherent. She explained:

We must be coherent with our proposals. There’s no coherence between the pressure that we’ve been mounting on the streets for more than four months in order to get Maduro to leave in the short-term, which started from the premise that the hunger, the violence and the misery will not end as long as he is in power, and the decision to participate in the regional elections.

Machado also said that Maduro’s “criminal dictatorship” needs the opposition to play along with the regional elections in order to extend Maduro’s grip on power for a few more years, and that the MUD was making progress towards achieving an end to the Maduro regime until it decided to participate in the elections.

Vente Venezuela will not participate in the elections, which are now scheduled to take place in October.

The MUD’s decision to post candidates for the December proceedings has torn the opposition movement in two. While the MUD contends that participating in electoral processes is a matter of principle, others believe that taking part in the elections is tantamount to validating the Maduro dictatorship and its fraudulent electoral system.

Maduro Expels Peruvian Diplomat Following Lima’s Move

Yesterday, the Peruvian government expelled the Venezuelan ambassador to that country, giving him five days to leave the nation. Peru took the measure over what it considers to be Maduro’s dictatorial rule in Venezuela.

Venezuela reacted to the expulsion of its ambassador last night by expelling the Peruvian chargé d’affaires in Caracas, giving him five days to leave Venezuela.

A press release from the ministry of foreign affairs reads:

In light of the measure taken by the government of Peru, we must unfortunately expel Peru’s chargé d’affaires  in Venezuela.

Opposition Supporters March in Caracas

The MUD held a march in Caracas today in support for the country’s opposition mayors, in particular the half dozen who have been removed from their posts and sentenced to prison by the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) over the past several weeks.

Protesters set off from several points across Caracas towards the Alfredo Sadel plaza in the Baruta municipality.

Speaking to the crowd of opposition supporters, National Assembly deputy Juan Andres Mejia attempted to ease growing fears that the opposition had lost support from Venezuelans, or that the fight against the Maduro regime was over and lost. Mejia said:

Everything that we have gained will not be lost. Now is the time to re-launch our campaign of pressure. That is why we [the opposition leadership] have the responsibility to remain on the streets, alongside the people, and to re-affirm our compromise with the country.

Below, some images from today’s demonstration in Caracas.

La Patilla has more pictures from today’s march in Caracas here.

Maduro’s Approval Rating Sitting at 17%

The head of the Datanalisis polling firm, Jose Antonio Gil, revealed today that the latest public opinion polls put Maduro’s approval rating at just 17%.

Gil cited the figure during an interview with Union Radio today in response to a comment that Maduro made yesterday. Maduro said that his approval rating was above 35%.

Gil said:

President Maduro said that his approval rating… is at 35%. This is not true. Today, his approval rating is 17%.

Maduro Jr. Threatens To Go to New York City, Take Over the White House

Nicolas Maduro Jr., the president’s son, spoke at the Constituent Assembly today and responded to Trump’s “military option” comment from yesterday.

In an embarrassing display of ignorance, Maduro Jr. threatened that a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela would result in an invasion of the United States that would reach New York City and… the White House.

Maduro Jr. said:

If the United States were ever to disgrace our fatherland’s soil, our rifles would reach New York and we would take over the White House.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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