The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) held a rally in Caracas today in which it announced the next stage of its struggle against the Maduro regime: the Frente Amplio Nacional [Wide National Front]. The rally included a large array of civil society, religious and political groups, and included dissident chavistas.
The campaign will begin with two protests: one scheduled for March 12, and the other for March 17. The March 12 protest will take place outside of the UN offices in Caracas, while the details of the March 17 event have not been clarified.
The campaign is aimed at bridging divisions within the anti-government movement in order to present a common front against the Maduro regime.
The MUD also released a video introducing the campaign, which you can see below along with my translation:
We invite you to take part in a movement that will make history. A movement that calls on us all, the brave men and women of Venezuela, to unite under one voice and one struggle until we break the chains that oppress us. Let us return to our flag the pride which has been stolen. Let us dry the tears of the families who suffer from the crisis today. Let us stop the scourge of hunger and death, because in our souls lives the longing for a great and prosperous homeland, and because in our hearts beats the desire for our kin to grow roots in the land that has given us everything. We want to be able to find ourselves tomorrow in the gaze of another, and feel proud of what we have built. Let us move forward.
During today’s rally, Jonny Montoya–the brother of Juan Montoya, a government militia member killed during an anti-government protest in Caracas on February 12 of 2014–spoke on the necessity to bring together every sector of Venezuelan society into the struggle against the Maduro regime, even proponents of the Bolivarian Revolution.
Montoya began his intervention by suggesting that in order for Venezuelans to move forward and for their struggle against the regime to be successful, they had to “forgive and ask for forgiveness”. Montoya also painted his image of a post-dictatorship Venezuela, saying:
We have to get to this free Venezuelan without resentment and with a certain level of forgiveness (…) Venezuela’s problem isn’t the chavistas (…) for the past 200 years, Venezuela’s problem has been corruption.
National Assembly Investigating Improper Use of CNE Paper
Yesterday, National Assembly deputy Delsa Solorzano announced that she was leading an investigation into allegations that printing material belonging to the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE)–the regime’s electoral body–somehow leaked out of the organization and ended up at a sports betting business in Lara state.
Solorzano shared an image on her twitter account yesterday that appears to show a ticket from a gambling establishment called “Sports and Bets” dated November 30 of last year. The ticket contains information on the amount bet, the potential winnings, as well as the spread for what appear to be Venezuelan national baseball league and NBA games.
The ticket in the image is folded so as to reveal the fact that it has been printed on paper bearing the logo of the CNE.
Below, the image:
If real, the image suggests that CNE paper typically used to print information from voting machines on election days has somehow ended up on the streets of the country and, in this particular case, a sports betting establishment.
Solorzano hinted at the repercussions of the apparent leak of the CNE paper during a press conference yesterday, saying:
Is there blank electoral paper circulating on the streets, [meaning that] anyone can print anything on it?
News of the potential leak of electoral equipment comes as criticism of the Venezuelan electoral system grows ahead of the May 20 presidential election. Opposition critics and international observers alike have long expressed that the CNE is an unapologetic arm of Maduro’s office, and that it actively rigs election in his favour and that of the ruling PSUV party.
Just last week, the head of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, spoke in praise of the organization, saying:
Since 2004, [the CNE] has been building a process of guarantees that gives value to everyone’s vote (…) no electoral system in the world is as secure as ours.
During her press conference yesterday, Solorzano said that the National Assembly would request that the CNE explain the “delicate situation” to the attorney general’s office, and that it would be pushing for an investigation through that body.
Solorzano had harsher words on the case today, telling reporters:
This is how the CNE treats votes in Venezuela. This is how the CNE treats the will of Venezuelans. This is a very serious matter, because it represents (…) an insult to the will of the people.
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