The controversial 10-hour long trancazo called for Monday, July 10th, was marked by brutal repression, starting with illegal searches in residential neighborhoods in Lara and Miranda, and including multiple attacks during the day with tear gas, rubber pellets and armored vehicles.

Rubén Darío González (16) was killed in La Isabelica neighborhood (Carabobo), while protesting near Clínica Elohim. The Prosecutor General’s Office appointed Carabobo’s 20th Prosecutor’s Office to investigate his death. Even though several witnesses accused the National Guard for the murder, they deny it, claiming that they never reached the area. Erickson Peña (18) was severely wounded with two gunshots near his scrotum, but he’s stable according to reports by late night.

As I wrote this, many areas of the country were still under attack by security forces.

The recorded explosion

Despite the harassment against journalists and photographers throughout the day in different regions of the country, many of them were still covering the protest in the Distribuidor Altamira when an explosion hit seven National Guardsmen. Their general commander, Sergio Rivero Marcano, had the gall to accuse reporters of complicity because, according to him, they knew where the device was and they didn’t warn the NG. He also said that his men are complying with the Constitution when they arrest someone, and they respect the rights of every detainee.

To refute these cynical claims, you only need to see the most widely shared images of the day: UCV Law student Paula Colmenarez Boscán harassed in Altamira and lawmaker Wilmer Azuaje, kidnapped and tortured by SEBIN.

100 days of violence

The Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, Foro Penal and Amnesty International were three of the institutions that presented their balance of these 100 days of protests.

Between April 1st and July 9th there have been 4,182 protests, an 85% increase compared to 2016. Although the Prosecutor’s Office accounts only for 92 deaths, according to off-the-record reports there might be as many as 111; over 3,500 wounded – there were 1,500 in June alone –; 3,666 people were arrested, 1,140 of which are still detained; 454 people have been prosecuted by military tribunals – 283 are still in prison – and there are 431 political prisoners.

SBIN and the Executive Branch have ignored the 19 release warrants in El Helicoide and June was marked by sexual assaults, highlighting the case of the students arrested at UPEL Maracay, who denounced the abuses of Poliaragua officers. Erika Guevara, head of Amnesty International for the Americas, denounces “the government’s planned strategy to use violence and illegitimate force against the Venezuelan people to neutralize any dissidence.”

Criminal proceedings

While the Ibero American Association of Public Prosecutors convened an extraordinary assembly to discuss Luisa Ortega Díaz’s situation on Thursday, July 13th, the Prosecutor’s Office summoned National Guard colonel Bladimir Lugo Armas for questioning next Thursday at 10:00 a.m., accusing him of human rights abuses committed during the assault on the National Assembly.

The institution also summoned actor Manuel Sosa, head of Suministros Gramal C.A. and its vice-president Alí Ramos for that same day, for alleged irregularities in contracts with the company Petropiar.

Additionally, the PO requested a review of the house arrest measure for Braulio Jatar, head of the news website Reporte Confidencial, to grand him conditional freedom due to health issues.

The institution reported that the 43th Prosecutor’s Office of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas is currently working on 43 criminal investigations against National Guard officers who robbed protesters in Caracas’ streets and avenues.

In the trunk

I admit I didn’t know the TSJ had any faculties as a communication agency, but that was the role it played yesterday morning, reporting Katherine Haringhton’s order to appoint Prosecutor 14 of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas to review the measures of the 14 Polichacao officers who are still detained despite release warrants ignored by SEBIN chief Gustavo González López, the same guy who disregarded the Prosecutor’s Office’s summons for human rights violations.

Additionally, the TSJ’s Constitutional Chamber, taking advantage of the National Assembly’s so-called contempt, authorized and approved the creation of the joint venture Petrosur S.A.

Refusing the Constituyente

The Venezuelan Episcopal Conference issued a letter demanding Nicolás to cancel the Constituyente to “solve the severe crisis of food and medicine shortages, and crime, which is causing innumerable victims.” Perhaps it was this letter that inspired Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos to tweet:

“Maduro needs to dismantle the constituent assembly for any negotiated solution to take place in Venezuela.”

Coherent

Nicolás had already threatened with checking the lists of public servants to know who voted, and yesterday Héctor Rodríguez added that they’ll do the same with the carnet de la patria, but it doesn’t matter, because the picture of CNE chief Tibisay Lucena speaking from CEOFANB headquarters was so democratic, that it almost helped us overlook the murder of José Luis Rivas (AKA Cara ‘e Pizza,) a prominent Constituyente candidate for Aragua state, who was shot 11 times.

Lucena confirmed that there would be a voting drill this July 16th which will have 1,113 captahuellas, a rehearsal on how to vote by numbers and not by people, relieved by the certainty that all voters belong to the same party. The fact that they won’t have the customary indeleble blue ink greatly favors those who’d choose to abstain from participating in this imposed election.

CEOFANB chief Remigio Ceballos ratified his commitment to protect the voting rights of the multitude that will surely attend polling stations next July 30th.

When you can, check the differences between the Kremlin’s discrete version on the call that Nicolás held with Vladimir Putin and Ernesto’s version, in which he nearly claimed that Putin asked Nicolás to be godfather to one of his children for the joy he felt after hearing of his progress in governability and peace. The gap between reality and propaganda looks more like a chasm now, even for their staunchest supporters. The country’s still on fire and for all the wrong reasons.

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