Maduro appeared today at a military event in the Macarao mountains, just south of Caracas, where he spoke to soldiers there about the ongoing crisis in the country. At the event, Maduro congratulated the National Bolivarian Guard for “rejecting” the opposition’s amnesty law, which it last month in an attempt to convince soldiers and public officials to abandon Maduro.

The law offers amnesty to anyone who takes steps to “collaborate” with restoring democratic order in Venezuela.

At the event, Maduro said:

… I congratulate your ability to face the guarimbas [a derogatory term sometimes used to describe opposition protests] as you’ve done, with persuasive force within the framework of human rights, with firmness.

Maduro also told the soldiers at the event that the amnesty law considers them all to be criminals. He said:

The right-wing is saying that you are criminals. “We’re going to forgive you, because you’re criminals”, is the metamessage. That’s why I congratulate all of the soldiers, but in particular the [National Bolivarian Guard], which grabbed that sheet of paper [the law], tore it up in their faces and burned it, so that they [the opposition] would go away.

While the amnesty law does not explicitly accuse anyone of being a criminal, it is premised on the idea that anyone who has committed crimes during the Chavez and Maduro years will receive amnesty if they are determined to have helped in restoring democracy in the country in some future point.

As a result, the purpose of the law is to convince anyone who has committed a crime–for example, a National Guard soldier who has assaulted protesters–to abandon the Maduro regime.

At the same event, Maduro said that Venezuela is facing “the greatest political, diplomatic and economic aggression” in the country’s history, and that he would continue to “stand firm” in defense of the country.

Below, a selection of images and videos from today’s event.

Maduro stood before a mass of soldiers today as they clapped along in a chant:

In the video below, an army sniper tells Maduro about this rifle. The soldier also tells Maduro that today is his birthday:

Some images from today:

Report: Under Pressure, Maduro Cancels Gold Sale

Bloomberg reported today that Caracas has put an end to its plan to sell some of the gold that it has in reserves, after news broke yesterday suggesting that the move was imminent.

According to Bloomberg:

The embattled Nicolas Maduro regime halted plans to ship 20 tons of Venezuelan gold overseas as a growing international push to ring-fence the country’s dwindling hard assets unnerved those handling the transaction, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The Bloomberg article reports that the gold bars had already been “weighed and separated for transpiration”, but that they will not be moved from the Central Bank vaults “anytime soon”. According to the article, the bars are worth approximately $850 million.

On the destination of the gold bars and the reasoning behind the move, Bloomberg adds:

While the destination of the gold and the nature of the transactions aren’t known with certainty, it’s somewhat unusual for a country to be shipping around such massive amounts of gold. And the U.S. officials who are leading the push to have Maduro cede power to a transitional government contend that the attempted transactions form part of his authoritarian regime’s bid to ransack the country in its final days in power.

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

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