The National Bolivarian Armed Forces held military drills today throughout the entire country in response to comments by United States President Donald Trump regarding the possibility of a “military option” to deal with the Venezuelan crisis.
The drill is called Ejercicio Soberania Bolivariana 2017 [Bolivarian Sovereignty Exercise 2017″. A total of 200,000 active duty service members and 700,000 civilian militias are expected to participate in the drill.
Speaking in a televised address on the state-owned VTV channel, Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez characterized the drill in the following way:
This drills seeks to, first of all, tell the entire world [about] our peaceful vocation, or need for peace, our message of integration and political dialogue (…) [and that] the National Bolivarian Armed Forces and the people are ready to give it all in order to defend these valleys.
The video below shows Padrino Lopez participating in the exercises with a sniper unit in Caracas earlier today:
The images below show militia units participating in the drill:
More militia on the move:
In the video below, National Bolivarian Armed Forces participate in a drill that appears to involve an assault on an oil installation:
Regime Shuts Down Two Radio Stations
The Maduro regime continued its attack of free media this last night, shutting down two national radio stations without prior notice. The affected stations–92.9 FM and 99.1 “Magic” FM–stopped broadcasting at around 10:00 PM last night under orders from CONATEL, the country’s telecommunications regulator.
El Universal reports that both frequencies have already been replaced with pro-regime radio stations.
The networks’ shutdown came via a tactic that has become common for the Maduro regime: by refusing to renew their broadcasting licenses once expired. The same tactic was infamously applied to RCTV in 2007, when the government of Hugo Chavez forced one of the oldest and most beloved television networks on the country off the air.
The two stations join two Colombian television stations, which were forced off Venezuelan airwaves earlier this week, as the Maduro regime’s latest censorship victims.
Reaction To Stations’ Shutdown Follows Familiar Lines
Reaction to the shutdown of the two radio stations last night followed sadly familiar lines heard every time the regime has cracked own on independent media.
The Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa [National Syndicate of Press Workers] (SNTP) posted the following message on its Twitter account:
Conatel removed 92.9 FM and Magic 99.1 FM from the air. This was an arbitrary decision [that] violates due process and freedom of expression.
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles reacted to the news as it broke last night by pointing out that the regime acts decisively when it comes to repression, and yet leaves the ongoing economic meltdown untouched. Capriles explained:
Is there less crime today? Did the inflation rate decrease? This is what Maduro spends his time doing: closing radio stations and causing more unemployment!
Capriles also lamented the fact that “hundreds” of the radio stations’ workers are now suddenly unemployed.
The head of the Vente Venezuela opposition party, Maria Corina Machado, responded with a simple message posted on her Twitter account:
Silence is the gateway to servitude. They silence the radio; let the people yell in the streets.
Regime Has Shut Down 49 Radio Stations in 2017
Marcos Ruiz, the secretary general of SNTP, pointed out in an interview earlier today that the Maduro regime has shut down 49 radio stations so far in 2017.
Ruiz explained that 80% of the country’s radio stations are operating with expired broadcasting licenses, since CONTATEL simply refuses to issue new ones. As a result, the stations live in permanent fear that the regime will simply choose to force them off the air on a whim at any moment.
Six Killed in Shootout With Army in Tachira State
National Bolivarian Armed Forces major general Jesus Suarez Chourio confirmed today that six members of a Colombian armed group were killed during a skirmish with Venezuelan soldiers in Tachira state earlier today.
The major general described the event as follows:
We were conduction a patrol to protect our border [with Colombia]. During this patrol, we came upon a violent group called Los Rastrojos. There was a confrontation which resulted in six [Rastrojos] killed.
A woman was also captured by Venezuelan soldiers during the skirmish, and major general Suarez said that she is providing “valuable information” about the Colombian groups’ activities.
According to La Patilla, Los Rastrojos is an offshoot of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.
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