Students gathered in the Plaza Las Americas in the El Cafetal neighbourhood of Caracas early this morning to commemorate the lives lost during the 2014 anti-government protest movement, which began in earnest today that year. The students were joined by other members of civil society, most of whom whore black, in their march to Caracas’ Cementerio del Este.

The march, which was titled “Unidos por la Vida” [United for Life] began shortly before noon:

The demonstrators were able to reach their destination: Oscar Perez’s grave. There, they held a rally:

People also marched in Barquisimeto, Lara state, in memory of the 22 residents of the state who were killed in last year’s anti-government protests. Below, images from that march:

The banner below reads “Protesting is not a crime”:

At least one street in Barquisimeto was blocked by a flaming barricade. Judging from the lighting in the pictures, it is likely that the flaming barricade was erected in the early morning hours:

Demonstrators in Barquisimeto also blocked a road in the city. The red banner below reads “No more dead, no more hunger”:

In Maracay, Aragua state, a small group of protesters gathered while National Bolivarian Police officers watched nearby:

In San Cristobal state, protesters clashed with security forces at barricades. At least five protesters were arrested. The image below shows protesters blocking a road in the city with numerous barricades:

Below, a video of a police truck responding to the scene of a barricade in San Cristobal earlier today:

Attorney General Claims Colombia Preparing for Air Campaign, Invasion of Venezuela

Attorney General Tarek William Saab gave a speech in Anzoategui state today in which he made a number of allegations regarding the existence of a military plan to bomb and invade Venezuela from Colombia. During his speech, Saab said:

From Colombia–and I’m saying this…as Attorney General of the Republic–they are planning nothing less than a return to times long passed in humanity, as is the military bombing campaign, the military invasion, the occupation through blood and fire of a peaceful country like Venezuela.

Saab did not provide any evidence for his claim, nor did he explain who “they” are.

Saab continued by saying that the supposed invaders would fail at their task, since the Venezuelan armed forces and the people of the country would put up an insurmountable defense:

This attempt to invade our country–every corner will become a trench, and every window a space for a patriotic sniper.

The head of the Colombian armed forces, General Alberto Meija, was quick to shut down Saab’s allegations, saying that there was no such plan to invade Venezuela since the Colombian army was interested only in “solving the problems of the Colombian people”.

Saab’s come just three days after a bizarre rant from PSUV spokesperson Roy Chaderton that aired on state-owned TV, in which Chaderton spoke not only of the possibility that Colombia was preparing to invade Venezuela, but also that Venezuela might invade Colombia in order to gain access to the Pacific Ocean.

Venezuelan Migration to Argentina Jumps 1,600% In Five Years

The Argentinian government revealed today that the number of Venezuelan migrants receiving residency in the country jumped 1,600% over the past five years, from 1,900 in 2012 to 31,000 in 2017. The increase from 2016 to 2017 142%, from 12,859 to 31,167 Venezuelans receiving residency in the country.

The numbers are yet more evidence that the country’s economic collapse under the Maduro regime has precipitated an exodus in Venezuela. Both Colombia and Brazil have announced measures over the last week to deal with the influx of migrants looking to escape misery in Venezuela.

The figures from the Argentinian government also show that Venezuelans received 10% of all residence status granted in the country between 2016 and 2017. In 2017, Venezuelans were third behind Paraguayans and Bolivians in applying for residence status in Argentina.

Infobae, an Argentinian publication, speculates that the increase in Venezuela migration to Argentina in recent years might be partially due to the fact that Cristina Kirchner, who was closely allied with the governments of Hugo Chavez  and Maduro, left power in 2015 to be replaced by the staunchly anti-Maduro Mauricio Macri.

A Venezuelan consulate source spoke to Infobae about what the Venezuelan migration figures mean, saying:

Venezuela is losing its most important economic potential… which is the young and active population, economically speaking.

Oil Production Tumbles 2.8% in January

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) revealed today that Venezuelan oil production fell 2.8% in January to an anemic 1.6 million barrels per day, continuing a downward trend caused by mismanagement and corruption at the state-own PDVSA oil company.

OPEC’s figures come from the organization’s February 2018 monthly report’s “secondary sources”, which are used to mitigate the possibility of member nations like Venezuela altering their production numbers for personal gain. In contract, the Venezuelan government reported to OPEC that it produced 1.769 million barrels of oil per day in January.

According to the figures, Venezuela pumped 47,000 fewer barrels of oil per day in January than it did in December, making it the single largest drop in daily production of the 14 member nations.

Once a world-leading oil giant, PDVSA has been in decline since 2002-2003, when the company participated in a general strike against Hugo Chavez. In response to the strike, Chavez fired 17,871 PDVSA workers, approximately 47% of the entire company, many of whom were seasoned engineers with invaluable experience in the field.

Since then, the Chavez and Maduro governments prioritized political loyalty over competence when appointing PDVSA leadership and staffing its ranks. The current Minister of Oil and President of PDVSA is Manuel Quevedo, a National Guard general with no relevant experience or education.

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

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