The TSJ did it again. The creators of the ongoing coup d’État which started this period of protests, decided that the Mayor of Iribarren municipality in Lara state, Alfredo Ramos, should run the same fate as that of his counterpart in Lechería: to be removed from office, captured and sent to prison for unproven crimes. They’re from the Inquisition, and it’s more than just the robe. There was a lot of resistance in Iribarren Town Hall, but there were dozens of SEBIN agents -armed and hooded-, and they dragged him out of his place of work without an arrest warrant. The TSJ has carried out this same procedure against six mayors since 2014, sending popular will to hell.
— Daniel Antequera (@danielantequera) July 28, 2017
A group of priests had to intervene for a burial to take place in Ejido, Mérida state. In San Cristóbal (Táchira), José Gustavo Leal Villasmil, 18 years old, was shot in the head and killed while protesting in the liceo Alberto Adriani, close to where he used to sell hot dogs. Eduardo Rodríguez Gil (53), a former soldier who had overcome a cancer, was also killed after having been wounded during a protest in El Junco on Thursday. A military tribunal sentenced Maracaibo councilman Ángel Machado to prison, along with two journalists and 10 other detainees, who will be sent to Santa Ana prison. Juan Caraballo (83) died during the night due to respiratory failure caused by tear-gas in Guayana, Bolívar state. The Armed Forces will control regional police bodies until August 1st due to Plan República.
CNE head Tibisay Lucena announced: “All voters will be able to vote in any polling station in the municipality where they’re registered” and although she insisted that violence was focused in 53 of the country’s 335 municipalities, she made voting flexible nationwide, in relevant contrast to the difficulties faced by the opposition to request the recall referendum before it was denied last year. According to that criteria, Sunday’s votes would be invalid. There won’t be any audits, voters will be able to vote wherever they want, voting tables were reduced almost by half, the press was asked to “protect the integrity of voters threatened whose rights are theatened” and there won’t be any ink, so the principle of one voter=one vote will be violated at leisure. This election doesn’t comply with the minimum requirements for reliability.
Protesting on Sunday
The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) called for people to rally in the country’s main roads to protest peacefully and democratically, against the constituyente election. Governor Henrique Capriles said that expectations for this Sunday are poor and asked: “What happens if those two million public servants don’t attend polling stations and instead join our call? Will they be fired? Will they be sent to prison?” He added: “We’ll keep fighting on Monday and we’ll keep fighting on Tuesday (…) We did all we could to make this government rethink reasonably, and they didn’t, they miscalculated,” claiming that the constituyente will only hasten chavismo’s downfall.
While vice-president Tareck El Aissami denied having any bank accounts in the U.S. and threatened to initiate legal proceedings for being slandered by American authorities saying that he has $500 million in assets in that country, vice-president Mike Pence called Leopoldo López and ratified the threat of imposing further sanctions against the government if they move ahead with the constituyente, their so-called “swift and strong” economic actions.
Foreign minister Samuel Moncada denounced that American House representatives approved a resolution demanding sanctions against Venezuela and OAS intervention, but in truth, Republican Senator Marco Rubio merely said that there’s a bipartisan consensus in both Senate and House in favor of restoring democracy in Venezuela, ratifying to National Assembly Speaker Julio Borges: “Not just the United States, more than 20 countries in the hemisphere stand by you in this cause.” Sadly, Moncada didn’t mention how deep Cuban influence goes within the Venezuelan government.
European Parliament Speaker Antonio Tajani said that they’ll study the possibility of imposing their own sanctions against high-ranking Venezuelan officials if the government doesn’t put an end to violence and refuses to release political prisoners. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights demanded the government respect citizens’ rights of free speech, assembly and peaceful protest, noting their concern for the ban on basic rights such as expression and protest, as well as the risk of more violence during Sunday’s elections. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Throsell pointed out that the Constitution may only be modified “through broad consensus and participation of all sectors of society,” and recalled the conclusions of the Venice Commission, an international reference in constitutional matters: the constituyente’s process and rules contradict the 1999 Constitution of Venezuela.
Colombia and us
This Friday, the Colombian government decided to regularize the situation of over 150,000 Venezuelans who didn’t have a visa. The Colombian Foreign Ministry announced that citizens who hadn’t left the country despite having expired authorizations, would be issued a special permit to stay. With this document, they’ll be able to work, join Social Security, study and perform any other legal activity within the Colombian territory, although it won’t replace the passport. President Juan Manuel Santos replied to Nicolás: “I am indeed a vassal, but of the enlightened Republic that a group of freedom-loving scientists proclaimed in the early XIX century (…) that constituent assembly has a spurious origin and we can’t recognize its results.” President Santos insisted on the need to find a peaceful, swift and democratic solution to the crisis. “I stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people, may they leave this dark age behind soon,” said Santos.
Yesterday was el finado’s birthday, when the black market dollar breached the Bs. 10,000 mark, when a single dollar costs 10 million of the old bolívares. On VTV, they celebrate with the phrase “Peace has been imposed,” taking submission in place of calm, docility in place of accord and obedience in place of harmony.
It’s such a military concept, that it’s easy to imagine why they’d celebrate the man responsible for this mess of a country. With him both literally and symbolically dead, we go on.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.