Maduro made a number of announcements during a televised speech today, ranging from the type of city that he wants Caracas to be to his recollection of the events of 2015. The most important announcement of the night concerns Maduro’s vision for future elections in Venezuela. During the address, Maduro said that Venezuelans will one day be required to have a carnet de la patria [Fatherland Identification] in order to vote.
The carnet is a piece of identification that is provided by the ruling PSUV party. Launched in January of this year, the carnet was originally intended to aid with the distribution of government services. Any individual wishing to obtain a carnet has to sign up with regime officials, who ask the applicant a series of questions regarding their socioeconomic conditions.
Maduro did not provide any details regarding when the carnet voting requirement will be implemented.
Because the carnet is provided and administered by the regime, many Venezuelans–particularly those who identify politically with the opposition–see the document as a PSUV membership card, which is one of the many reasons why millions of Venezuelans have so far refused to sign up for the card.
During the address, Maduro also attempted to lay down a bold vision of a future Caracas. Maduro said:
I’m working on a plan to transform Caracas into a communal city, an organized city, one that serves as an example for the whole country so that we can truly sing the words in the national anthem that say, “Seguir el ejemplo que Caracas dio” [Follow the example of Caracas]. A more beautiful city, a recovered Caracas (…) a plan to build a communal city of the 21st century.
Maduro provided no details of his plan, nor did he explain exactly what a “communal city” is supposed to be.
In a particularly disjointed segment of the speech, Maduro recounted what he considered to be the worst year of his presidency: 2015. In a retelling of the year’s challenges, Maduro reminded listeners that one of the news stories of that year involved allegations that he had been born in Colombia. He then taunted his Colombian homologue, Juan Manuel Santos, by saying that he could beat him in an election.
Every day they threatened me because I wasn’t doing my job. Later, they said that I was Colombian. If I am Colombian, then I’m running for the presidency of Colombia so that I can beat Juan Manuel Santos (…) I’m declaring myself President of Colombia.
Colombia features predominantly in the PSUV mythology as one of Venezuela’s main enemies.
$3 Billion Russian Debt Restructure Done Deal
Officials from Russia and the Maduro regime formally completed an agreement today to restructure $3 billion in debt owed by Caracas to Moscow. The debt was accumulated in 2011 as part of a finance deal that saw Venezuela buy weapons from Russia.
The restructure payment deal extends into the next decade, and requires Venezuela to meet minimum payment requirements for the first six years. The new deal requires Venezuela to pay Russia $3.15 billion dollars by the end of 2027,
Wilmar Castro, the Minister of Productive Agriculture and Land, was one of the Venezuelan officials who participated in the signing of the restructured deal. He lauded the new agreement as a sign of “a strengthened relationship between the two countries”, and said that the measure would allow Venezuela to “transform its economic model”.
The details of the new terms are not known, but Castro said that they were “very favourable” and that Venezuela would be able to abide by them.
Russian ambassador to Venezuela Carlos Faria also praised the deal as a monumental victory for the Bolivarian Revolution, saying:
In the face of the imminent economic war and the financial blockade against Venezuela, the Bolivarian Government has strengthened its bilateral relations with Russia by signing an agreement to refinance Venezuela’s debt with Moscow (…) this is possible thanks to our strong ties of friendship, solidarity and cooperation that were built up by Commander Hugo Chavez, which have been strengthened by President Nicolas Maduro.
Aside from the $3 billion subject to today’s restructuring agreement, Venezuela owes Russia another $6 billion
Venezuela’s total foreign debt is estimated to be $150 billion.
Reuters Profiles Chief Justice Maikel Moreno
Reuters has published an in-depth profile of Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) chief magistrate Maikel Moreno, whose rise to the top legal position in the country last year has made him an instrumental figure in the Maduro regime.
The profile contains interviews with individuals who have knowledge of Moreno’s life before he became the head of the TSJ, including a former judge who is familiar with Moreno’s alleged killing of a teenager in 1989.
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