The Frente Amplio Venezuela Libre (FAVL), a new coalition of regime dissidents, staged its first protest in Caracas today, where it presented a document to the United Nations at the organizations’ offices in the capital. The document pertains to the May 20 election, and calls on the UN to not lend legitimacy to the vote by participating in it.
National Assembly deputy Juan Guaido was present at the protest, and explained the reason behind the event:
We are demanding conditions to allow Venezuela to express itself. We want to choose our future, and that is not what is going to happen on May 20. To the United Nations: do not legitimate this electoral fraud; rather, help us to demand the conditions to allow for authentic, free and competitive elections.
Angel Medina, another National Assembly deputy, also spoke at the protest. He clarified that Venezuelans definitely “want to vote”, but not in a rigged election that will only help to cement Maduro’s authoritarian rule. Instead, Medina says, Venezuelans want and deserve “transparent elections”, and whether or not they take place “depends only on the government”.
The FAVL protest today was entirely symbolic, since the UN has already stated that it will not participate in the May 20 election as an observer, citing a lack of mandate from either the General Assembly or the Security Council.
Venezuela’s largest political opposition bloc, the MUD, announced in February that it would not take part in the election, and asserted that the vote would be rigged in favour of Maduro. The MUD and other regime critics have pointed to a myriad of irregularities with the vote, namely the short run-up to the election resulting in the impossibility of instituting safeguards to help ensure a free, fair and transparent vote.
National Assembly deputy Luis Florido said that UN election observer missions are typically present in a country “three or four months” prior to the election date in order to witness every stage of the electoral process.
Florido also spoke directly to Venezuelans who believe that a military intervention from the international community is the solution to the crisis in the country. Florido unequivocally rejected the idea, not only as “a fantasy” but also as one that, if it came to pass, would only make things worse. Florido said:
Intervention would involve shooting from one side to the other, and that’s not what we want. What we want is a democratic and peaceful exit from this crisis.
Below, an image of the protest outside the UN offices in Caracas as it happened at approximately 11:00 AM local time:
National Assembly Calculates Annualized Inflation Rate at 6,147,4%
The National Assembly’s Finance Commission revealed today that the country’s inflation rate for the 12 months from February 2017 to February 2018 hit 6,147.1%.
Deputy Maria Beatriz Martinez sits on the Commission, and pointed out that the rate is already higher than what some economists estimated would be the total rate for the country in all of 2018.
Deputy Jose Guerra said through his Twitter account that the inflation rate for February was 80%, and pointed out that the hyperinflationary spiral affecting the country meant “the destruction of salaries, pensions, retirement [funds] and savings” in the country.
Reuters Publishes Video on Food Extortion
Reuters Venezuela published a video today in which it provides an overview of how the Maduro regime is likely to use food to extort votes out of desperate Venezuelans in the May 20 election.
Below, the video:
The video was accompanied by an article describing the CLAP food distribution system and its role in the electoral process, which you can see here.
Blackouts Hound Six Western States Throughout Weekend
Six states in the country’s western region were plunged into prolonged periods of darkness all through the weekend, as the country’s ailing electrical grid continues to show the effects of years of neglect and lack of investment.
The six states affected by the blackouts were Barinas, Trujillo, Merida, Portuguesa, Apure and Tachira.
According to Minister of Electrical Energy Luis Motta Dominguez, the weekend’s persistent outages were due to low water levels at a hydroelectric plant that provides energy to the region. In comments made on the state-owned VTV network, Dominguez said that a “civil-military” working group would come up with a solution to the outages within two weeks.
Trujillo state suffered from an outage that lasted more than 10 hours, according to local media. The blackout appears to have triggered protests there as well as in Merida state, which saw at least 28 blackout-related protests on Saturday and Sunday. Below, images of protests in Trujillo and Merida state this weekend:
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