Maduro lashed out today at US president Donald Trump today over his comments last weeks about having a “military option” to deal with Venezuela, calling the comments “insolent, disproportionate, vulgar and offensive”. Maduro suggested that Trump made the comments out of “desperation” over what he suggested were the US’ failed attempts to overthrow him.

Calling the comments “the worst mistake every made against a country in [the continent of] America”, Maduro made clear that his regime would remain defiant in the face of US aggression. Maduro said:

Venezuela cannot be threatened. This is a country of peace, of integrity, of history.

Referring to Trump as “the emperor”, Maduro also spoke on the fact that he called the White House last week hoping to talk to Trump, but that Trump had refused to answer his call. On the embarrassing incident, Maduro said:

I told him that I was going to call him at the White House in a respectful manner to tell him the truth about Venezuela.

Maduro blamed Trump’s advisers for leading the president astray in convincing him to not take the call.

During the same address, Maduro instructed the Constituent Assembly to make the opposition figures who helped to plan and organize this year’s anti-regime protests “answer” for their behaviour, and suggested that the goal of the protests was to “get the gringos to intervene” in Venezuela.

Army “Ready to Defend Sovereignty” As Maduro Announces Military Exercises

Maduro also announced that the National Bolivarian Armed Forces would conduct military exercises on August 26 and 27 in response to Trump’s comments last week. Maduro made the announcement by saying:

I have give the order to the National Bolivarian Armed Forces High Command to start getting ready for a national civil-military union exercise. It will happen on August 26 and 27 throughout the country.

The civil-military union [union civico-militar] is one of the pillars of chavismo. It is a doctrine that calls for the blurring of the boundary between the civilian and military spheres. Maduro’s comment means that civilian armed groups like the militias will take part in the exercises.

The announcement of the military exercises comes on the same day that the military issued a formal response to Trump’s comments last week. Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez held a press conference in which he read the response and said:

In light of all of the developments that have taken place outside and inside the country, all of the avenues for a soft coup through indirect means or through insurrection have come to an end. The North American empire has [finally revealed that it wants to head down] the military path. We are no longer talking about democracy, human rights and the humanitarian crisis.


US VP Pence, Colombia’s Santos Meet in Cartagena

US vice president Mike Pence met with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos yesterday evening in Cartagena, where the two spent some time discussing the ongoing Venezuelan crisis.

Speaking to reporters at the event, Pence stressed the United States’ continued support for democracy in Venezuela. Pence said:

We will continue to stand with free nations across our hemisphere until democracy is restored for the Venezuelan people

Last week, President Donald Trump sent shockwaves throughout Venezuela when he said that his government was considering a “military option” to bring an end to the Venezuelan crisis. Pence spoke in softer terms yesterday, and suggested that Washington’s focus would remain on economic sanctions for the time being.

Pence said:

President Santos and I discussed in some detail additional measures that could be taken to further pressure the regime in Venezuela economically.

At the same time, President Santos told reporters that he told Pence that the United States should take “the military option” off the table. Santos said:

I told vice president Pence that the possibility of a military intervention should not be considered. Neither Colombia nor the rest of Latin America–from south of the Rio Grande to Patagonia–would agree [with a military intervention].

Pence also tweeted the image below with more of his comments after yesterday’s meeting in Colombia:

US Press: Diosado Cabello Put Hit on Senator Marco Rubio

The Miami Herald reported yesterday that US intelligence services picked up information last month suggesting that PSUV second-in-command Diosdado Cabello had ordered an assassination on Florida senator Marco Rubio, prompting an increase to the legislator’s security detail.

The newspaper cited an uncorroborated “death threat” that circulated among US law enforcement circles last month through the Department of Homeland security. According to the newspaper:

The memo revealed an “order to have Senator Rubio assassinated,” though it also warned that “no specific information regarding an assassination plot against Senator Rubio has been garnered thus far” and that the U.S. had not been able to verify the threat.

Senator Rubio is Washington’s point man when it comes to Venezuela-related matters, and has been an outspoken critic of the Maduro regime for some time. His position as a Latino legislator from Florida–home to a large segment of the Venezuelan diaspora–makes his an important anti-Maduro voice in the United States.

Cabello has long been rumoured to be involved in drug trafficking operations in the country, and is even alleged to be the leader of a cartel known as Los Soles which is said to operate from within the Venezuelan military.

Protester Dies From Injuries Sustained on June 5

A 15 year old boy named Luis Guillermo Espinoza died yesterday at a hospital in Carabobo state from injuries he sustained during an anti-regime protest on June 5.

El Nacional reports that Espinoze was shot in the head while protesting against the Maduro regime in the Tulipan sector of the San Diego municipality. Espinoza spent the last two months in the Dr. Enrique Tejera hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries yesterday.

Espinoza is the 136th fatality in the anti-regime unrest that has shaken the country since April 1.

Deputy Guerra: 2017 Inflation Rate Could Hit 1,000%

National Assembly deputy and economist Juan Guerra, who heads the legislature’s Economic and Financial Commission, revealed today that the inflation rate for 2017 could reach as high as 1,000%.

Speaking in a televised interview on the Globovision network earlier today, Guerra spoke on the fact that the inflation rate crept up 26% in July alone. Guerra put the number in perspective by saying:

To give you an idea, Peru’s inflation rate over the last ten years is 23%. Following this inflationary trend, we are projecting [a rate of close to] 1,000% by the end of 2017.

Guerra placed the blame on Venezuela’s out-of-control inflation rate squarely on the shoulders of the Maduro regime, an in particular the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV). According to Guerra, among the primary reasons why Venezuela suffers from its economic woes is because the BCV operates only to serve the regime instead of the economy of the country.

Guerra explained:

Why isn’t there [currency] speculation in Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Ecuador, where the inflation rate is less than 1%? Because they have responsible central banks.

The BCV has not published inflation figures in nearly two years.

National Guard Accused of Extorting Man Out of Bs. 1.5 Million

A journalist named Elyangelica Gonzalez denounced through her Twitter account that the National Guard extorted a personal friend yesterday out of Bs. 1.5 million after stopping him on the street and going through his phone. According to Gonzalez, the soldiers threatened to arrest the man for being a “terrorist”, but let him go once he had paid the extortion fee.

The journalist made the allegation and provided details about the case through a series of tweets, which I have translated below:

The National Guard charged a friend Bs. 1.5 million yesterday under the threat of arresting him for being a terrorist after checking his WhatsApp [messages].

They stopped him on the Victoria avenue in Caracas, they asked for his phone and checked his conversations. “If you don’t pay us we will lock you up for being a terrorist”.

Faced with the threat, he obviously paid. Can we criticize him for having done so in light of the defenselessness that citizens experience in Venezuela?

At the current exchange rate (Bs. 12,896.75/USD), Bs. 1.5 million is approximately $116.

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

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