National Assembly vice president Freddy Guevara made his first public statement since taking refuge inside the Chilean embassy on Caracas over the weekend in response to the launch of a persecution campaign against him by the Maduro regime.
In a video published last night, Guevara defiantly admits to calling for the anti-government protests of this year, and promises to do so again in the future. He also says that he has chosen to go into hiding in order to deny Maduro “another hostage”.
It is not clear when the video was recorded, but based on the content it appears to have been filmed between October 15 and last Friday. At the end of the video, Guevara says that he has recorded other videos which are presumably under the care of trusted individuals outside of the Chilean embassy.
Below, the video along with my translation:
Freddy Guevara: When the [regime’s] repressive forces went to my home looking for me, I understood that this was not simply another threat. For that reason, I decide to record this video and ask my colleagues at Voluntad Popular to publish it when the fraudulent Constituent Assembly decided to take the next step.
Unfortunately, this was not a surprise. Unfortunately, we saw this coming. Starting at the end of last year, Nicolas Maduro has threatened to imprison me through the media. The last time he did this was on October 15. Despite this, I continued fighting and moving forward. I want to tell you all why I did that, why I keep fighting despite these events, why I haven’t tired and have not and will not yield.
I am convinced that this is a struggle that goes beyond one’s life. I’m fighting for something that is much larger than oneself. The sacrifice that I make and the risks that I take are nothing compared to the Venezuela that we will all build together. I am convinced that we will win, because he who does not surrender cannot be defeated and our people will never surrender. It doesn’t matter what those who are surrounding themselves in power do today. They will eventually leave, and we will stay.
Those who usurped power at the [Supreme Court] and the attorney general’s office have accused me of crimes that I did not commit, but that are based on events that I recognize. I did call for protests, I did call for people to take to the streets, and I do believe in civil disobedience. I did call for [protests], and I will do it again. They will never force me, or those who were on the street, or the international community, that we are the ones at fault when you kill us. The world is clear on who the killers are, and who is responsible for the repression.
Why now? Why did they make this decision? Why did they take on the cost of persecuting the vice president of the National Assembly? Because they are afraid of what is coming. They fear the fact that we’ve opened our eyes and said that we will not participate in any electoral process that does not come with certain conditions. We’ve identified the people inside the opposition who played along with the government, and we are clear that the entire focus of the struggle rests on having truly free elections so that we can change our president. They are afraid of the fact that we’ve spoken the truth and we will fight for it in their worst year yet, with the worst inflation, a social collapse and general discontent among the people. All of that [is happening alongside] more sanctions, and in a presidential election year.
Mr. Nicolas Maduro: unfortunately for you, we’ve made the decision to not give you another hostage for you to use in your human trafficking of hope. We’re not going to play that game anymore, and we are not going to give you more tools for attacking democrats.
To my colleagues in Voluntad Popular, I say this: remain firm. Just as we overcame [challenges] and grew during [Leopoldo] Lopez’s imprisonment, we are going to grow and become stronger through this attack.
My colleagues in the National Assembly, let us get to work and let us not cede even a millimeter in the work that we must do to defend our Constitution.
To the people of Venezuela: Strength and faith. I promise you that I will be working for liberty each day, and that we will see each other on the streets soon marching towards Miraflores, not to overthrow Maduro, but to swear in a new president.
Be strong, Venezuela. I have recorded other messages. I hope to be able to communicate [with you] and work given these new limitations. I remain committed to a better Venezuela. Be strong!
Guevara was stripped his his parliamentary immunity on Friday by the country’s top court. Yesterday, attorney general Tarek William Saab said during a speech at the Constituent Assembly that Guevara was guilty of several crimes including conspiracy against the government over his role in the anti-government protests that took place earlier this year.
Constituent Assembly to Ramp Up Political Persecution
National Constituent Assembly member Julio Chavez said during a televised interview today that the body would increase pressure on opposition politicians who “attacked” the Maduro regime by calling for an organizing anti-government protests this year. According to Chavez, those actions constitute “the promotion of extreme violence” and cannot go unpunished.
Chavez’s comments suggest that Venezuela has not seen the last of the kind of persecution that has targeted Freddy Guevara over the past week. Just yesterday, the Constituent Assembly named Guevara as the mastermind behind “the seditious” protests that took place earlier this year.
Chavez said that the Constituent Assembly had asked the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) to pave the way for the prosecution of Guevara, and continued by saying:
… [as well as] other opposition figures who, in effect, [called for protests] and all of those acts of violence and terrorism that during three months filled the main areas of the Republic with violence.
Every Venezuelan citizen has the right to peaceful protest as per article 68 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. However, the Maduro regime is conflating the fact that approximately 135 people died in violence during some of the protests with the protests themselves to argue that the protests themselves were illegitimate and illegal.
2017 Inflation Rate Hits 825.7%
The National Assembly announced today that the January to October inflation rate reached 825.7%, greatly surpassing the 550% rate set in all of 2016.
The announcement came via deputy Angel Alvarado, who said:
The Venezuelan economy has formally entered hyperinflation. The rate for October (…) was 45.5%, and the accumulated [rate] for the first 10 months of the year is 825.7%.
Alvarado also revealed that the inflation rate appears to be rising, with the figure for July, August and September being 26%, 33.7% and 36.3%, respectively.
The Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) has not published official economic statistics, including the inflation rate, since early 2016, leaving the matter to independent economists and financial institutions.
Journalist Found Nude on Stretch of Highway
Jesus Medina, a journalist who was kidnapped on Saturday night by unknown assailants, was found alive last night on a stretch of highway outside of Caracas. Medina was found completely naked and suffering from visible signs of trauma.
It is not clear at this time who kidnapped Medina or why. When asked to comment on the identity of his kidnappers, Medina refused to provide details citing the ongoing police investigation.
Medina told reporters that he was held captive in a dark room, and was not given water or food.
He also shared the following two messages on Twitter:
Thanks to God and the Virgin, and to everyone at the journalists’ guild and specially to all of you who assured my release through your pressure.
They tortured me and threatened to kill me. I am reborn so that I can continue to inform people of the truth and fight for my country, Venezuela. I am safe.
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