He didn’t stop the Constituyente or repression, which was still rampant on the second day of general strike despite the devastating balance:
- Gilimber Terán (16) died on Thursday morning at Pérez Carreño hospital, after having been wounded in the head by alleged paramilitary groups in El Paraíso.
- In Lara state, Anthony Castillo (30) died after attacks suffered on Wednesday, which left him brain dead with a severe fractured skull.
- Major Alfredo Ramos reported the murder of José Miguel Pestano (23) in Cabudare, shot in the thorax.
- Rafael Canache (29) was also murdered during a protest in the Jabillote sector in Píritu (Anzoátegui).
- Lastly, Leonardo González (48) was murdered with 11 shots in El Guayabal, Naguanagua municipality (Carabobo). Witnesses say that the Carabobo Police was responsible for his murder.
49 were people arrested yesterday, according to NGO Foro Penal.
— Alfredo Romero (@alfredoromero) July 28, 2017
An empty avenue
The Constituyente campaign closure event at the Bolívar avenue was all it could be: a sham. Nicolás gave an absurd speech that started with challenges against Trump, followed by ridiculous figures of unverifiable accomplishments, ending with a yelled ranchera he sealed with praises for himself. As a kind of threat and pausing to wipe the sweat from his face, he said:
“I propose the Venezuelan political opposition to leave the path of rebellion, the return of the Constitution so that we can install in the next few hours, before the election and installation of the National Constituent Assembly, a table for dialogue, national agreement and reconciliation for the country, a national negotiation for understanding to talk about the great matters of the nation, to talk about peace (…) If that were the case, I’d give the Constituyente all the power to call for an obligatory national dialogue for peace, as a constitutional law.”
Only the party Avanzada Progresista, with pretty aggressive messages against the rest of the opposition, has said to be willing to accept the call.
The sanctioned Interior minister Néstor Reverol offered on Thursday a balance for Plan República and, as part of security actions, he banned all public assemblies and protests nationwide, “or any other similar action that could disturb the electoral process” from this Friday until Tuesday, August 1st, claiming that anyone who disturbs the electoral process will be sentenced with five to ten years in prison.
The only thing is that according to the Constitution, the excercise of constitutional rights or guarantees can’t ever be suspended, and the Takeover of Caracas was scheduled for today.
According to lawmaker Freddy Guevara, the 48-hour general strike was a show of courage, carried out in 90% of the country and with a balance of seven people murdered. He asked citizens to get ready for street protests on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, saying that the government “will go ahead with the Constituyente” and that believing anything else is “more of a delusion than anything else.”
Lawmaker Jorge Millán called the country “to take over every street and avenue” today at noon, that the protest is not about blocking the streets but about taking them, as an act of political defiance against minister Reverol.
So, it’s no longer a takeover but a roadblock.
Argentine journalist Jorge Lanata was barred from entering the country after arriving to the Maiquetía Airport. After hours of isolation, without any access even to diplomatic figures, he explained his experience with SEBIN:
“We were isolated for either hours, surrounded by eight armed security officers, isolated even among each other, we weren’t allowed to talk.”
He added that it’s hard to discuss “with guys who receive orders and don’t question anything.”
The journalist came to cover the Constituyente elections and, according to the government, he had no authorization to enter the country as a journalist.
But the Venezuelan legal framework doesn’t establish any visa requirement to practice journalism, according to NGO Espacio Público.
Yesterday, The Economist published “Venezuela in chaos,” an article in which they claim that we’re in economic and humanitarian calamity and that this should alarm the rest of the world.
As if that hadn’t been enough, last night, Canada recommended its citizens to leave the country for safety reasons and the U.S. ordered the relatives of his embassy staff to leave Venezuela, authorizing their employees to leave voluntarily. They also issued a warning for their citizens to avoid travelling to the country “due to social conflict, violence crimes and general lack of food and medicines.”
If you add this to the fact that American refineries are shifting from heavy crude processing to lighter crude as a strategy to reduce the potential impact of any supply disruption from Venezuela, you’ll get the subtitle.
Condemnation for the Constituyente
It’s impossible to brief you in a single paragraph about all the condemnation garnered yesterday by Nicolás’ imposition. From the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, through the Tax and Public Credit Secretariat of Mexico and the statements of U.K. Foreign minister Boris Johnson, explaining that the Constituyente “will undermine trust in the country even further,” an opinion shared by Michael Fitzpatrick, U.S. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, who has faith that Nicolás will either postpone or cancel the election; and the Foreign minister of Norway, Børge Brende, who said that human rights violations in Venezuela were unacceptable, all the way to Florida governor Rick Scott, who restated his intention to ban the state from doing business with institutions that support this dictatorship. Lastly, the former presidents of the IDEA group requested the intervention of Pope Francis and other regional governments to stop Nicolás’ dictatorship.
In the words of OAS secretary general Luis Almagro:
“Dictatorships don’t fall through international pressure, they fall through internal pressure.”
These will be difficult days, and our only certainty is cruel repression.
We go on.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.