Yesterday afternoon, the Constituent Assembly approved a motion declaring the leaders of the Venezuelan opposition “traitors against the fatherland”, a move that the body claims will be followed by the start of treason trials against Maduro regime opponents.
PSUV vice president Diosado Cabello was the last Constituent Assembly member to speak at yesterday’s session, and added the following to the proceedings:
[Is the opposition] truly Venezuelan? It doesn’t seem like it, because they are committing treason against the fatherland! Those who ask for U.S. military intervention do not deserve any forgiveness.
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) has been instrumental in raising international awareness about the Maduro regime’s systematic human rights violations. The organization has also welcomed economic sanctions from the United States against regime officials, as well as the latest round of sanctions targeting the regime’s ability to finance its operations.
Assembly member Adan Chavez, the brother of Hugo Chavez, called for a “historic trial” against the regime’s political opposition during his turn at the microphone, saying:
We must request the opening of a historic trial. Let everything that has to be investigated by investigated, and let all the traitors against the fatherland be punished. That way, through the application of justice, we [will be able to] continue to build Bolivarian socialism in peace.
It is not clear when the treason trials will start, or who will be targeted.
While the Constituent Assembly is tasked with writing a National Constitution, it has not begun that process even thought it has been in session for one month, having chosen instead to spend its time increasing pressure on the regime’s political opponents.
Supreme Court: We Are Ready to Prosecute Traitors
The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), Venezuela’s top court, announced today that it was ready to help the Constituent Assembly prosecute “traitors against the fatherland” following the Assembly’s announcement last night to undertake the task.
The TSJ’s announcement came via a Twitter and Facebook post by the Court’s president, Maikel Moreno:
We at the TSJ are awaiting orders from the the National Constituent Assembly to move against those responsible for the crime of Treason against the Fatherland [sic].
In a series of tweets, Moreno railed against the Venezuelan opposition by saying that they had “led dozens of young people to die in the streets“, referencing the protest casualties of this summer’s unrest. Moreno also said that the opposition was continuing to work to “make the people suffer”.
OHCHR Denounces Ongoing “Serious Violations” of Human Rights by Maduro Regime
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report this afternoon on the anti-regime protests that shook the country from April 1 to July 30 of this year. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein summarized the report’s findings in the following way:
he policies pursued by the authorities in their response to the protests have been at the cost of Venezuelans’ rights and freedoms (…)The Government must ensure there are prompt, independent and effective investigations of the human rights violations allegedly committed by the security forces and of the abuses involving armed colectivos or violent protesters. This includes ensuring that the investigations initiated by the Attorney General during the period covered by this report continue and are scrupulously and visibly impartial
The right to peaceful assembly was systematically violated, with protestors and people identified as political opponents detained in great numbers. The report also identifies serious violations of due process and patterns of ill-treatment, in some cases amounting to torture.
Finding a “pattern of serious violations” that included “violent and illegal house raids throughout the country”, the report claims that official state security forces were responsible for 46 deaths during the protests, and that 5,051 people (including 410 children) were arbitrarily arrested.
The extensive report cites “extensive human rights violations and abuses” by the Maduro regime, and makes a total of 15 recommendations to ameliorate the crisis in the country. The recommendations include that the regime “publicly condemn all cases of torture and ill-treatment”, and that it end practices such as illegal raids on private homes and processing detainees through military courts.
Caracas Region Shaken By 4.6 Magnitude Earthquake
An earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale shook Caracas and the surrounding area this morning, sending jolted Venezuelans pouring out of homes and businesses onto the streets.
According to the Fundacion Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismologicas [Venezuelan Seismological Investigations Foundation], the earthquake occurred at 10:01 AM local time, and had its epicenter in Los Caracas, Vargas state, about 15 kilometers from the capital:
There were three aftershocks throughout the rest of the morning.
Minister of the Interior Nestor Reverol announced shortly after the event that there were no reports of any casualties or damage as a result of the earthquake.
Fitch Downgrades Venezuela Rating to “CC”
The Fitch Ratings agency downgraded Venezuela’s sovereign debt from “CCC” to “CC”, signalling a worsening outlook for the country’s finances. With the downgrade, Fitch Ratings is telling investors that Venezuelan “default is probable”.
The downgrade was announced via a press release, part of which states:
The political environment in Venezuela and relations with a number of countries deteriorated sharply after the government called a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the constitution. The elections for the Assembly were held on July 30. The outcome of this process combined with the U.S. sanctions will likely deepen the political and policy uncertainties, aggravate the economic crisis, heighten political polarization and increase social unrest.
The same release predicts that Venezuela’s economy will shrink by 5.5% this year, following a catastrophic contraction of 18.6% in 2016.
Authorities “Decommission” Bs. 200,000,000 From Lopez Family
Attorney general Tarek William Saab held a press conference last night to announce that authorities had “decommissioned” Bs. 200,000,000 from the family of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. Saab said that the money was founding inside a vehicle belonging to “a direct relative” of Lopez.
At the current black market exchange rate (Bs.17,662.74/USD), the sum amounts to approximately $11,323.27.
Human rights activist Lilian Tintori, Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, confirmed that the money belonged to her family and that it was to be used to pay for “urgent expenses”, namely medical care for her grandmother. Tintori said:
This money is to pay for expenses [related to] my grandma who is 100 years old and has been hospitalized for days. She has no insurance.
It is not clear why the authorities stopped the vehicle, or why they found it necessary to confiscate the money.
Tintori reacted to the regime’s attempt to suggest that there was a nefarious source behind the money, saying:
I reject the suggestions [made by the regime] against me, trying to say that we are doing something illegal. They have no morals, which is why no one believes them.
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