“Zero Hour” starts today at the National Assembly, in the session where lawmakers will receive the final report on the nominations of new Supreme Tribunal justices, who they’ll seek to appoint on Friday.

On Wednesday, opposition parties will sign a “united accord for governability,” a document that will define how they will govern, as well as a commitment to involve other sectors of society. They also asked people to attend the polling stations used for July 16th on Wednesday, for the creation of zero hour committees.

A 24-hour general strike has been announced for Thursday.

Everyone’s got an opinion

Sunday’s popular consultation got chavismo’s full attention yesterday. Vice-minister Gladys Requena said Thursday’s strike won’t pressure them; Héctor Rodríguez claimed that we barely managed to mobilize 1,000 voters in 80% of the country’s municipalities, calling the consultation “a total failure.” Delcy Rodríguez supported the paramilitary attack against dissidents in Catia and labeled their electoral drill such a huge success, that “there were still people voting at midnight,” overwhelming CNE’s logistical capacity: nice own-goal. Capital District government chief Antonio Benavides Torres said that the popular consultation was fake and disrespectful, claiming that there’s evidence that it was a lie. Foreign minister Samuel Moncada mused that the opposition was “looking for some breathing room, money and international support” to establish a parallel State and that media outlets are in agreement with the opposition. Lastly, Diosdado Cabello simply said that the popular consultation was a defeat and their drill was a success.

“A deeply tolerant democracy”

That’s how mayor Jorge Rodríguez defined the government he’s a part of. He spent too much time on the popular consultation, supposedly because he’s “passionate on electoral matters,” but I admit I’m astonished by how much power he, one of PSUV’s best villains, has lost. Once an efficient and smart spokesman, he was having a hard time putting ideas together, drowning in adjectives and using arguments meant for fools, so many of them that he ended up confirming that the amount of votes we got in the popular consultation was extraordinary.

And so, he claimed that the opposition’s trying to reinstate violence, seeking more deaths, telling more lies “because that’s part of the plan.” He accused the opposition of swelling up electoral figures abroad, of allowing children and foreigners to participate and said that participation rights can only be exercised through the CNE. It was awesome to watch him defend secret, direct and universal elections, the same ones this regime denies us for fear of a resounding defeat.

Sewn lips

Five out of the 14 PoliChacao officers held in that State-within-the-State called El Helicoide, sewed their mouths shut Yesterday as an extreme measure of protest, 22 days after they started a hunger strike demanding to be released. The 14 officers remain in SEBIN’s custody despite the fact that the court in charge of their case ordered their release back in August 2016, after they were arrested for the murder of journalist Ricardo Durán, even though the Prosecutor’s Office and the CICPC proved they weren’t involved.

A letter published on their Twitter account reads:

“Our health is diminishing. The authorities have disregarded our current condition in this place.”

Several of their relatives joined their hunger strike.

International pressure

Yesterday, European Union Foreign Policy Security Chief Federica Mogherini urged Nicolás to suspend the constituent process, remarking that they’re considering all options and possible sanctions, emphasizing that the popular consultation’s result is evidence of the Venezuelan people’s desire “to find an urgent peaceful solution to their many difficulties.” Throughout the day, several nations joined in with their own messages acknowledging the magnitude of Sunday’s protest and the need to dismantle the Constituyente: the United States, Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Germany, Paraguay and Panama.

Last night, president Donald Trump threatened to apply “strong and swift” economic measures if Nicolás follows through with his Constituyente, describing him as “a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator.”

And in Cuba

Much speculation surrounds Venezuela’s discussion on the work agenda between Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos and Raúl Castro, although Colombian Foreign minister Holguín explained that Venezuela’s an inevitable point in the agenda but that it won’t be discussed on the first day.

Last night, after a long meeting with Castro, Santos tweeted:

“We insist: the constituent assembly must be dismantled in order to reach a negotiated, swift and peaceful solution in Venezuela. The entire world demands it.”

We don’t know if that “world” includes Castro. Additionally, the Mercosur meeting set for Thursday in Argentina will be attended by it spresident, as well as the presidents of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile.

The value of denial

Nicolás claimed on Monday that he’ll follow through with his Constituyente, regardless of the popular consultation’s results, repudiating meddling, targeting E.U.’s Federica Mogherini and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy specifically, with memorable phrases such as: “Outrageous. What do they think? That we’re back in 1809? (…) We’re not a European colony (…) We don’t care what Europe says.”

After belittling Sunday’s consultation, he claimed that the process was peaceful because he guaranteed it; he urged MUD to read the results correctly; he said that Jorge Rodríguez discovered all the tricks and emphasized that “there was nobody on the street in eastern Caracas,” while turnout for his electoral drill in the west was massive. He took the opportunity to slam the media for allegedly refusing to cover the successful constituent drill and demanded that they ask the people to forgive them for broadcasting the statements of the former Latin American presidents who attended the event as observers (Andrés Pastrana, Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Laura Chinchilla and Jorge Quiroga), saying that each of them they’ll also be declared persona non grata.

Many countries had a clear reading of Sunday’s act of civil disobedience, validating the message against the dictatorship instead of getting bogged down by voting figures. Some nations have expressed admiration for the organizational capacity, the challenge of overcoming so many threats and the regime’s self-legitimized, constant violence. Each demand to dismantle the Constituyente shows the consultation’s political transcendence.

That’s what realizing our mandate is all about. We go on.

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