During an event outside of the Miraflores Palace yesterday afternoon, Maduro lashed out against the Summit of the Americas taking place in Lima, Peru, calling it “a total failure”.

Throughout much of the day yesterday, regional leaders–including the presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, and Chile–condemned the Maduro regime‘s systemic human rights abuses and dictatorial tendencies. The Lima Group, which is made up of seventeen Latin American countries plus Canada–also issued a statement yesterday saying that they would not recognize the results of the May 20 election, since they consider them to be rigged in favour of the regime.

Speaking at his event yesterday, Maduro told supporters that “everyone who messes with Venezuela dries up”, which is a popular phrase used by regime officials against its critics.

Without addressing anyone by name, Maduro referred to those who criticized him at the Summit as “hit-men presidents” and “presidents who have bent the knee to imperialism”. He then went on to name a set of leaders, and said:

When you see [Argentina’s] Macri, when you see a non-elected president like Temer from Brazil, when you see [Colombia’s] Santos, you feel a great sense of shame. I feel ashamed looking at those presidents (…) talking about Venezuela.

Maduro was initially invited to attend the Summit in November, but his invitation was rescinded in February by the government of Peru given his increasingly brutal and authoritarian rule. Maduro was initially defiant, stating on a number of occassions that he would still travel to Peru to attend the Summit. However, just days before the start of the Summit, Maduro relented and said that he would in fact not attend because he considered the Summit to be “a waste of time”.

On the Summit, Maduro told supporters yesterday:

They tried to exclude Venezuela, but all they did was fail.

During the same address, Maduro said that he had “evidence” that the May 20 election was in fact rigged, but against him. Maduro said that he would provide the evidence soon, but gave no other details.

Despite this, Maduro was also confident that he would still win the vote, and promised once again that the country’s woes would be solved only if he won the vote. Maduro said:

We have a way of taking revenge against the economic war and our great vengeance against the oligarchy and the economic war will be the great victory of Venezuelan democracy on May 20, the people’s blessed Sunday.

Armed Men Break In, Take Hostages At Newspaper HQ

A group of unidentified armed men attempted broke into the Caracas headquarters of El Nacional, the largest newspaper critical of the Maduro regime still in circulation. The break-in happened at approximately 10:00 PM local time at the newspaper’s offices, which are located in the El Silencio area of Caracas.

Antonio Ecarri, an official with the organization that hosts El Nacional‘s offices, said that the group of men had taken hostages, among them the building’s security guards and custodian. The attackers also took an unspecified number of women and children hostage. All of the hostages were taken into the newspaper’s offices.

The situation ended after the National Bolivarian Police arrived on the scene and forced the attackers out. On the police response, Ecarri said:

I must acknowledge the immediate action of the [National Bolivarian Police] on the attack on our offices in the [Casa Uslar Pietri building] in El Silencia. The invaders have been evicted. We hope that [the police] will maintain watch over the area.

It is not clear if there were any injures in the break-in.

Census Tallies 63,929 Venezuelans in Border Regions

The Unidad Nacional para la Gestion del Riesgo de Desastres de Colombia [Colombian National Union for Disaster Risk Management] (UNGRD) revealed today that a recent census tallied 63,929 Venezuelans living in Colombia’s border region. The census was conducted by Colombian migration authorities between April 6 and 13.

Carlos Ivan Marquez, the director of UNGRD, said that 57,283 of the Venezuelans living in the border regions said that their plan was to stay in Colombia permanently.

Colombian authorities created the census–which will continue until June 8–in response to the unprecedented number of Venezuelans migrating into the country. Census workers are counting only Venezuelans who are in the country without official papers. The census is being conducted only to determine the migrants’ status, not their personal identity.

The catastrophic socio-economic collapse in Venezuela, coupled with the Maduro regime’s hard turn towards authoritarianism, has precipitated the largest exodus in the country’s history. Colombia is bearing the brunt of the exodus, with authorities there saying that as of February of this year, there were 700,000 registered Venezuelans in the country.

Colombia is arguably the most accessible destination for Venezuelan migrants, particularly those without the economic means to fly out of the country to more distant diaspora hubs like Miami or Madrid. The Venezuela-Colombia border region is relatively populated, and aside from official crossings, the border is also made up of large sections of largely unsupervised land.

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

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