Maduro appeared on today’s edition of Jose Vincente Hoy, a television interview show that airs every Sunday on the Televen network. Maduro took the opportunity to criticize former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz, and to announce coming changes to the regime’s enforcement of price control laws.
On Luisa Ortega Diaz, Maduro said that he “never once” counted on her support as attorney general and head of the Public Ministry when it came to combating corruption. While Maduro did not provide any specific details, he did accuse Ortega Diaz of charging corruption suspects “millions of dollars” to leave Venezuela and escape prosecution.
In the four years that I’ve been in charge I never once counted on the support of the attorney general to fight corruption. She charged [corruption suspects] money to leave the country.
The president’s comments follow Ortega Diaz’s daring escape from Venezuela during the overnight hours yesterday. Once safely in neighbouring Colombia, Ortega Diaz said that she had evidence that connected Maduro and his inner circle directly to the Odebrecht corruption scandal, and that the reason why the regime turned on her so quickly was because they were afraid of where her investigation into the corruption would end up.
Maduro also attempted to gloss over the catastrophic collapse of the Venezuelan economy, saying that despite a set of adverse conditions he was nevertheless doing a good job. Maduro explained:
I’ve had to live through difficult times, among them the fall in oil prices. We’ve had to pay more than 65 billion dollars [in debt] on time, and there hasn’t been a lack of medicine or food for Venezuelans.
The interview took a slightly more personal note when Maduro briefly reflected on his journey to become the leader of the Bolivarian revolution, and his relationship with the Venezuelan people:
I never thought I’d be here. My dreams are not individualistic, but rather about the shared collective (…) [the Constituent Assembly election] is evidence that loyalty to the people and love for the fatherland’s values must prevail. Everything is possible through the strength of love and loyalty.
Maduro Promises “Society-Shaking” Price Control Measures
During the same interview, Maduro said that this coming week would see a new set of price control measures that would “shake society”. While Maduro did not provide many details, the measures appear to be aimed at enforcing price controls in order to prevent food and other basic necessities from being sold at higher-than-regulated prices.
What I can tell you–I can’t give you the details, the secrets–what I can tell you is that a special commission from the Constituent [Assembly] is working directly with me, with the economic team, with the business sector, and next week we will make known a set of measures in order to ensure respect for the maximum price of products, as well as a set of justice actions that are, lets say, very severe and that will shake society.
In Venezuela, the prices of basic necessities like bread, corn flour, toothpaste and toilet paper are regulated through a set of laws that, among other things, mandate the maximum amount of money for which a regulated item can be sold. Since Venezuela suffers from the highest inflation rate in the world (which is projected to hit 1,000% at the end of this year), these regulations are often ignored.
Maduro Thought Up Constituent Assembly After 2015 Parliamentary Defeat
Maduro also admitted that the idea to create the Constituent Assembly came to him after the PSUV suffered its worst electoral defeat in the 2015 parliamentary election. The result of the election was that for the first time in the chavista era, the National Assembly fell under the control of the opposition.
From that day on I started to think about activating a popular Constituent [Assembly] process, and about waiting for the right time.
Maduro’s comments lend credence to the commonly accepted theory that the Constituent Assembly is nothing but an attempt to ignore the electoral will of the Venezuelan people and bring the country’s legislature back under PSUV control. Just two days ago, the Constituent Assembly granted itself the legislative powers of the National Assembly, essentially neutralizing the opposition-controlled legislature and achieving Maduro’s goal.
On his hopes for the Constituent Assembly, Maduro said:
The Constituent [Assembly] will bring order in justice [sic], institutionalization, the state, the economy (…) it will be my fundamental support so that we can end 2017 at a good level general recovery for society, the country, politics, and peace, which is the most important thing.
Jorge Rodriguez Confronted in Mexico City
Two videos surfaced online today showing an angry Venezuelan confronting Jorge Rodriguez, a high ranking PSUV official, in Mexico City. The videos show the man yelling at Rodriguez about the destruction that he has helped bring to Venezuela.
The confrontation takes place on a street somewhere in the Mexican capital. Rodriguez is accompanied by two youths–presumably his children–and an elderly woman, who is likely one of his relatives.
The video below contains the two individual videos, along with my translation:
Man: Are you going to run away?
Jorge Rodriguez: [Turning around] What’s up?
Man: Are you here to spend all of your money that is soaked in the blood of every Venezuelan?
[Rodriguez tries to take the man’s phone]
Man: No, I’m not going to hit you.
[Video 1 ends, and Video 2 begins]
Man: … in this democratic country, there aren’t any drug traffickers like you? Damn you! [The young man with Rodriguez turns towards the man, as if to fight him] Who are you going to defend? That murderer? You want to steal my cell phone because I’m telling you that you’re using blood-stained money? [Money that belongs to] all of the dead people in Venezuela? You’re a murderer! And wherever you go, we’re going to find you!
Elderly Woman: Shut up, faggot!
Man: I will not shut up! And none of you will be able to rest anywhere in the world! Every one of the Venezuelan dead has people mourning for them, and wherever you go we will be there! What do you think?
Elderly Woman: Nothing. I don’t think anything.
Man: Keep hanging on to your son, because you’re going to have to protect him for the rest of your life! It’s your fault! You’ve stained their name and their future because you’re a murderer! [Unintelligible] a narco-dictatorship!
Elderly Woman: Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?
Man: No, I am not ashamed! The only thing that makes me ashamed is knowing that you and I share the same blood [because they are both Venezuelan] because you’re all murderers! You destroyed a country!
Elderly Woman: It was you and the opposition!
Man: Why is he hiding? Why is he running? Why did he try to attack me when I recorded him? What is he afraid of?
Elderly Woman: [Unintelligible]
Man: They should be afraid, because they won’t be able to hide anywhere.
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