The Maduro regime continued its assault on political opposition in the country yesterday by preventing Primero Justicia (PJ), one of the largest parties in the country, from participating in the upcoming presidential election. The measure came via the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), which banned PJ from participating in an onerous validation process that required collecting signatures from supporters. Since party validation is required to participate in elections, the ban means that PJ will not be able to run a candidate against Maduro.

In a series of tweets sent through the party’s official account last night, PJ reacted to the ban by calling it “illegal” and “unconstitutional”, and suggesting that it was grounded only in the fact that “the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro” does not tolerate political competition.

Earlier today, PJ head Julio Borges spoke to the media about the ban, and said that while the regime may ban the party from participating in the vote, it could not ban “the sentiment, strength and values” of Venezuelans. Borges also spoke words of encouragement to supporters, saying:

We cannot be sad. We cannot feel defeated. Let’s see things for what they are: they had to [ban us] by decree because we are the strongest political force in the country. They want to put an end to the want for change by decree, but they will not be able to.

Gramcko Released After Hours in Custody

Enrique Aristeguieta Gramcko, one of Venezuela’s oldest and most notable democracy advocates, was released from SEBIN custody last night after spending the entire day in El Helicoide, the headquarters of the Maduro regime’s political police. Gramcko, who is an outspoken critic of the Maduro regime, was taken from his home by SEBIN agents in the overnight hours yesterday for reasons that were never made clear.

Gramcko was released shortly before might night after appearing before a judge in Caracas. Gramcko was released due to a Venezuelan penal code provision that prohibits the incarceration of anyone 70 years of age or older. Gramcko is 85 years old.

Gramcko’s daughter, Maria Alejandra Aristeguieta, said in a message posted on Facebook today that the arrest warrant for her father–which was not presented at the time of his arrest–resulted form a general strike that Gramcko helped to organize in 1958 when he worked to overthrow the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez.

Maduro Speaks Highly of Self in Campaign Rally

Speaking about the upcoming presidential election at a rally early today, Maduro spoke highly of himself and suggested that only he could help Venezuela recover from its economic collapse.

Maduro spoke about the kind of candidate that he sees himself as, saying:

We have to overcome all of our problems, but looking towards the future. Looking forward. That’s me. The candidate of the future. Maduro, candidate of the future.

Maduro also suggested that winning the election would grant him the power to beat Venezuela’s enemies once and for all. Speaking only in the vaguest terms, Maduro referred to solving “all of the problems” that the country has once he is elected president. He said:

The people are waiting for the elections so [they can] make the oligarchy, in all of its forms, pay. I trust the people… and that’s the main task that we have. Rest assured that we will solve this, even if they [the regime’s enemies] go crazy these next few months. The people will give them a lesson and we, with our victory, will resolve this and all of the problems that we have to solve when it comes to the new economy that we have to build.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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