“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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  1. The disjointed and uncoordinated response of the state media apparatuses was./is remarkable. There were different messages from different sources, and they clearly did not know what line to take.

    We need to keep them on the defensive, and not give up the initiative.

    • Jesús,
      “We don’t care” is the public face of Chavismo. Underneath, they are deeply afraid and worried.

      Consider this– No one in Venezuela wants to live in a country without laws which is exactly what Maduro’s new constitution would bring. Even those in Maduro’s inner circle know that they could be in prison any time for any reason that Maduro wants. Dictators have a habit of assassinating any problem people. See Cuba.

  2. Maduro will press on with his agenda, since he has no capacity to negotiate or compromise. And with Trump promising serious sanctions, I can only wonder what that actually means and where it will lead. The world seems resolved to NOT let Maduro become a full-on autocrat and he promises to do so. Something’s gotta give. And soon.

  3. I am guessing that, “strong and swift economic sanctions,” will include a partial or total ban on oil imports. That would fit nicely with Trump’s, “US Energy Dominance,” initiative. It would also make his decision to fast-track the Keystone pipeline look brilliant, because US refineries need a certain amount of heavy crude and Alberta can gear up to cover the Orinoco shortfall (and the Alberta economy can use the extra cash).

    I am almost wishing that Maduro goes ahead with his dumbass constuyente, as it might result in a swifter end to the regime than otherwise. Either way it is a win-win (sorry about the cliche).

    Criticize all you like, but 16J is succeeding beyond everyone’s wildest dreams!

      • I don’t doubt Hillary would do the same thing. This isn’t 2 years ago…or even 1 year ago…the regime is completely and totally isolated (finally), burned every possible bridge, and is on the ropes. Doing tough sanctions too early would have given the regime an excuse/scapegoat to feed their supporters.

        But by now they’ve lost all potential supporters except for the brainwashed and bribed, so the time is ripe.

        -my 2 cents.

        • Firstly, if credit is due it is with Senator Rubio. Secondly, if the Trump administration imposes significant economic sanctions I’ll eat my Jays hat.

          But if anyone is gullible enough to believe a threat from Trump it is Maduro and Co. and it is in their interest to mobilize the military and to escalate this into an internatonal conflict.

          I’m hoping the strike mobilization works. It is better that Venezuelans take ownership of the economic warfare necessary to end this regime, for obvious reasons. If it is done right, it can be over quickly.

      • I would not give the credit for this to Trump. This is the coordinated response of the State Department, and the White House Staff, combined with the leadership of Senator Marco Rubio who Trump is leaning on for all Lat Am policy decisions.

    • Lorenzo,
      Remember that if Venezuela goes into default, the Citgo refinery in Louisiana could end up owned by Russian oil company Rosneft. Not a good thought. Still I want a president that takes a stand and actually enforces it. Go Trump.

  4. That’s really my question, Lorenzo: What will Trump actually do? I remember back when the Soviet Union was unraveling and Russia was rattling their sabers and Reagan said: Don’t worry, they have no money. I wonder if Maduro can be put in that same position with a ban on oil? This is looking pretty grim for all involved, including all the gente. Could it be that we are entering the critical phase? Finally.

    • Without Venezuelan support, the Castro regime will regress to the conditions that were so bad after the Soviet Union collapsed.
      The Castro regime being overthrown and Cuba becoming a democracy would be the beautiful icing on the cake of the Venezuelan struggle for democracy.
      Castro is in a fight for his life. Cuba needs Venezuelan money and oil.

      • John, that is what I don’t get. It is obvious why Cuba needs Venezuela, but why does Venezuela need Cuba? It’s like a Hitler-Mussolini thing. Gotta be the narco trade.

  5. U.S. Readies Sanctions Against Top Venezuelans.

    The U.S. is poised to impose sanctions on Venezuela’s defense minister and several other top officials for human-rights violations, according to people with knowledge of the plan, who added that the action was one of several under consideration by the Trump administration against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

    The U.S. Treasury could announce the sanctions, which would freeze the officials out of the U.S. financial system, as soon as Tuesday, the people said. Among those named would be Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, 54, and Diosdado Cabello, 54, a longtime ally of late President Hugo Chavez and power broker within the ruling Socialist party, they said. The officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

    The move against top officials — potentially the third round of sanctions against Venezuelans under the Trump administration — are one offshoot of a broader U.S. probe into allegations of Venezuelan corruption that began several years ago and has resulted in some criminal charges. Other Venezuela-related measures are also in the works, the people said, adding that U.S. officials have given briefings on the potential actions in recent weeks to lawmakers including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

    More at the link.

  6. I don’t see sanctions prohibiting US buyers from dealing in Venezuelan oil as particularly harmful to the regime. As has been proven by recent events, they have no qualms about practically giving away Venezuela treasure in order to stay in power and would therefore look for other takers at cut-rate pricing.

    Now, if you want to see a total collapse within weeks, just do a blockade, though as others have pointed out, that’s basically a declaration of war.

  7. Mrubio, only problem is geography. 50% up front 50% point of shipment is how it usually works. The usa is less than a week from maracaibo. They need money fast, not waiting 45 days to arrive to India, china etc.

    • Didn’t know that guacharaca, good point, not to mention the time lost looking for new clients willing to handle their heavy tar-like crude. Who pays the shipping?

  8. Naky, good summary, plus: NM tried twice to vote at his Simulacro designated voting place in Catia, but did not vote at all, since the nearby Consulta polling place had 5-10m attendees, and the Simulaco voting place had only few by comparison–and, not coincidentally, one of the 2 Catia Consulta polling places was subsequently fired upon by armed Colectivos, with one woman dead, 4 or more injured, and Cardinal Urosa, along with 50-100 worshipers, virtually held hostage in a nearby church. NM on TV yesterday blasted the Cardinals/Church as being “pervertidos” and not helping the poor. Finally, new Canciller SM proved, when describing the Consulta results, that he can easily out-slime JR, which almost anyone would have thought impossible.

  9. If Trump’s threat of sanctions, or the sanctions themselves fail, Trump will get the blame. If they suceed, he should get the credit.

    Maduro in cadena right now.


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