United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a televised interview this afternoon that the White House is preparing to take “actions” against the Maduro regime in the coming days.
Speaking on the Fox News network, Pompeo said:
You’ll see in the coming days a series of actions that continue to increase the pressure level against the Venezuelan leadership folks, who are working directly against the best interest of the Venezuelan people (…)
We’re determined to ensure that the Venezuelan people get their say.
Pompeo did not provide any additional details about what these “actions” might entail, or when exactly they will be deployed.
Over the past several years, the United States has implemented sanctions against Maduro regime officials, as well as on certain Venezuelan bonds.
Earlier this year, media outlets reported that Trump had openly discussed the possibility of invading Venezuela in a couple of different episodes, including during a dinner with Latin American leaders.
Just two days ago, Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff under Obama, told CNBC that Trump might attack Venezuela as a distraction for his disastrous term. Emanuel said:
We have a phrase in this country: the October surprise… I think in this situation he is looking to do anything and will do anything.
Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that United States officials had attended meetings where rebellious Venezuelan army officers were planning to overthrow Maduro, but that the officials never committed any kind of assistance to the cause.
White House Welcomes Exiled Politicians
Three exiled Venezuelan politicians met at the White House with Trump’s National Security Council today to discuss the ongoing Venezuelan crisis.
The politicians in attendance were Antonio Ledezma, former mayor of Caracas; Julio Borges, head of the Primero Justicia (PJ) party; Carlos Vecchio, political coordinator at the Voluntad Popular (VP) party. The three have been forced to flee the country under political persecution from the Maduro regime.
In a message posted on his Twitter account, Ledezma revealed some of what they discussed with Mauicio Claver, the White House representative at the meeting:
Today we talked to Mauricio Claver, the new White House national security adviser, about why Venezuela has to be rescued from the Cuban invasion, [from being] a failed state, [and from] drug trafficking and terrorism.
Protesters Block Streets in Tachira Over Gas Price Hike
Protesters in Tachira state blocked roads with their vehicles and makeshift barricades to protest a hike in gas prices that has come into effect over the past few days.
The price hike coincides with the installation of a new payment method at pumps, which requires a regime-linked carnet de la patria [Fatherland I.D.] to use. Those who have a carnet will pay for gas at a subsidized price, while those who do not have the I.D. will have to pay a higher price.
A 68 year old woman named Maria Auxiliadora Prato parked her car across a road in San Cristobal, Tachira’s capital, to participate in the protest. She told a journalist there:
We’ve been waiting since Tuesday morning for a gas truck to arrive, and it’s unacceptable that we who live in an oil-producing country have to beg for gas.
Cesar Mendez, another protester, said that he carries a pillow in his car in case he has to sleep in it while lining up for gasoline. He said:
We have to have a pillow in our car so that we can sleep during the three days that we have to be in line for 40 liters of gas.
The images below show Tachira residents waiting in line for gas at a station. Some of them nap in hammocks that they’ve placed around their vehicles:
The video below shows Tachira state police dismantling a makeshift barricade that was placed across a road somewhere in San Cristobal today:
Journalists Attacked On the Job
A group of journalists was attacked by a knife-wielding man while they were out covering a protest in Caracas.
The man, seen in the video below wearing a green shirt, approached the journalists while they were speaking to protesters outside the offices of the Minister of Education. Below, the video:
It is not clear who the man is, or why he attacked the journalists.
State-Run Supermarket Shares Image of “Full” Aisles
Yesterday, a state-run supermarket in the city of Puerto Ordaz shared an image on the chain’s official Twitter account. The image, seen below, shows aisles entirely stocked with what appear to be condiments.
Below, the image along with the translation:
#Now we are serving [customers] from the #Abasto [store] in Alta Vista, Puerto Ordaz, with products and food for the whole family. We’re working towards increasing consumption with efficiency, quality!
EDIT: The account deleted the tweet shortly before 10:15 PM EST on September 21. I took a screenshot of it before the message as deleted. Here it is:
Given the severity of the chronic shortages of food and other basic necessities, stores sometimes opt to stock entire aisles full of items like pop, condiments or potato chips in order to give the impression that they are full of products. The tactic is meant to hide the fact that supermarkets are often out of nutritious food items like milk, eggs, and meat.
The Maduro regime has been typically reluctant to acknowledge the food shortages, making this image relatively unique.
During a televised address last night, Maduro said that the managers of 34 supermarkets have been arrested throughout the country over the last few weeks, allegedly for selling items above the rates set by the regime.
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