Newspapers in Venezuela
According to ESTATELEARNING.COM, Venezuela is a country located in South America. The distribution of daily newspapers in Venezuela is relatively large (206 newspaper excl. Per 1,000 residents, 2000). There are about fifty newspapers. The traditional prestige newspapers are the conservative El Universal (edition: 130,000 copies) and the independent El Nacional (100,000 copies), both in Caracas. Leading magazines are also the more generally oriented Últimas Noticias (100,000 copies), El Mundo (40,000 copies) and 2001 (100,000 copies).
State Radio Nacional de Venezuela has 13 radio stations. In addition, there are five cultural and about 200 commercial radio stations. TV has a strong position in Venezuela and is dominated by private stations. Venezuela has two state and six private television stations. There are 294 radio and 185 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).
According to CALCULATORINC, Cultural life in Venezuela has its roots in Native American, African and Spanish culture. The influences from the rest of South America, the Caribbean and the US are also significant.
The mix of African and European rhythms has created several indigenous music styles. One of the more well-known is j oropo, which is traditionally played with harp, maracas, cuatro (a four-string small guitar) and bandola (a pear-shaped string instrument). The Joropo dance is said to be a further development of the drum.
Hundreds of thousands of children, most of them poor, are active in the orchestras, choirs and music schools that together make up the System (“El Sistema”), a government-funded activity that started in 1975. It has become world famous and has successors in a number of countries. Founder José Antonio Abreu won the so-called Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award) in 2001 and the Polar Award in 2009 (Abreu died in 2018). The well-known conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who was chief conductor of the Gothenburg symphonics for several years, has been trained in “El Sistema”.
The freedom hero Simón Bolívar (see Older history) was one of Venezuela’s first writers. Contemporary with him was the country’s first great poet, Andrés Bello (1781-1865). Characterized by the Enlightenment ideas of freedom, they wrote political leaflets and patriotic poetry. In the 1920s, literature was boosted by realistic portrayals of social conditions and man’s struggle against nature. The poet and politician Andrés Eloy Blanco (1897–1955) was hailed early for his literary talents. Fransisco Massiani’s novel Piedra de mar is one of the most read in Venezuela. Among modern writers is Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez.
According to ETHNICITYOLOGY.COM, Venezuela has a modern architecture. Perhaps the most well-known Venezuelan architect was Carlos Raúl Villaneuva, who has designed the university Universidad Central de Venezuela. The sculptures and optical art of Jesús Soto and Carlos Cruz Diez have been exhibited around the world.
Most famous is perhaps Venezuela for its many TV series which have become popular throughout Latin America. According to POLITICSEZINE.COM, beauty contests are considered important and the country has produced a number of Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss International – something that Venezuelans in all social strata are proud of. The great folk sport has long been baseball, but in recent years football has gained ground.
Director Lorenzo Vigas won the Gold Lion at the Venice Film Festival 2015 with his film Desde alá (about Far away), which was described as a homoerotic thriller drama.
Political prisoners are released
An additional eight political prisoners are released, which means that a total of 44 were released in three days in what is considered a goodwill gesture in connection with the Christmas holidays. According to the human rights group Foro Penal, there are a further 227 political prisoners in Venezuela.
Diplomats from Brazil and Canada expelled
According to PROGRAMINGPLEASE.COM, the government orders Brazil’s and Canada’s leading diplomats in Venezuela to leave the country, thus stepping up the fight against their critics abroad. The decision is made by the Speaker of the Constitutional Assembly, Delcy Rodríguez. She says Brazil’s ambassador is undesirable in Venezuela until Brazil reestablishes “the constitutional order”, aimed at the country’s former left-wing president Dilma Rousseff being deposed in August 2016. Canada’s chargé d’affaires is accused of rude interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
The mayor’s post in Caracas is being demolished
The regime-based constitutional assembly decides that the capital Caracas will no longer have a mayor. The post has long been held by the opposition and seen as an important position of power. Antonio Ledezma was elected mayor in 2008 and remained until he was arrested in 2015, suspected of coup plans. Ledezma escaped from house arrest in 2017 and now lives in exile in Spain.
Ex-oil chief investigated for corruption
A criminal investigation is being launched against the former head of the PDVSA state oil company, Rafael Ramírez, who has recently resigned as UN ambassador. Many regard the prosecutor’s message as part of an ongoing political purge. Ramírez was the head of the PDVSA for a decade when he was also Minister of Energy. In 2014, he was appointed Foreign Minister but after only a few months instead became UN ambassador. He resigned from that post in late November, reportedly at Maduro’s request.
PSUV major winner in boycott local elections
The ruling socialist party PSUV wins overwhelmingly in the local elections boycotted by leading opposition parties. President Maduro says the opposition punished itself from the 2018 presidential election through the boycott. Three of the four major opposition parties – Justice First (PJ), Democratic Action (AD) and the People’s Will (VP) – announced at the end of October their intention to boycott local elections, citing that the electoral system has been rigged to the government’s advantage. According to Maduro, PSUV wins 300 out of 335 mayoral elections.
Virtual currency is introduced
President Maduro announces in his weekly TV talk that a digital currency, petro, will be created to circumvent the sanctions against the country. Petron will be secured by oil and gas reserves as well as gold and diamond assets, and provide new forms of international financing for the development. According to Maduro, Venezuela’s problems stem from the sanctions imposed by the United States in August.
Killed oil managers are seized
The military seizes the fired oil minister Eulogio del Pino and PDVSA’s former chief Nelson Martínez, four days after they were deposed because of corruption suspicions.
General becomes oil chief
Maduro appoints General Manuel Quevedo as new director of the oil company PDVSA and Minister of Energy, and commands a “total restructuring” to fight corruption. Quevedo is a general in the National Guard and has previously been Minister of Housing. About 50 managers of PDVSA have been arrested since August. Recently, several senior executives at Citgo, the oil company’s refining subsidiary in the US, were also arrested because of corruption charges.
Leading government opponents are fleeing the country
Caraca’s former mayor Antonio Ledezma manages to escape to Colombia, and continues from there directly to Spain. It is unclear how he managed to get out of the house arrest where he has been sitting for almost three years. He himself states that he was helped by friendly-minded soldiers and police, and passed many roadblocks on the road before he could cross a border bridge at Cúcuta. Ledezma was mayor of Caracas from 2008 until he was arrested (see February 2015).
Russian help eases the burden of debt
Venezuela reaches an agreement with Russia on a restructuring of just over 3 billion of foreign debt. The deal means that Venezuela will have ten years to pay Russian loans from 2011 and will only have to make “minimal” payments for the next six years.
Venezuela increasingly closer to the state bankruptcy
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s lowers Venezuela’s credit rating and explains that the country has been in a “selective default” since interest payments of $ 200 million on its foreign debt have been absent. The oil company PDVSA has already canceled payments. The risk is considered increasingly that the economy is completely collapsing. A meeting that the government invited foreign debtors to end without any concrete proposal. The purpose was to try to restructure the payment on the external debt, which is estimated to amount to around $ 140 billion.
New EU sanctions
The EU is increasing pressure with new sanctions on Caracas. A ban is imposed on the sale of weapons and equipment that can be used for political repression, assets are frozen and some government representatives receive entry bans.
New US sanctions
The United States imposes sanctions on ten Venezuelan regime officials accused of corruption, censorship and undermining democracy. Among them are Maduro’s chief of staff and two ministers. In total, the United States now has sanctions targeting 40 people in Venezuela.
Vague hate teams threaten freedom of speech
The faithful constitutional assembly adopts a “law against hatred and for peaceful coexistence and tolerance” which, according to critics, involves a severe blow to freedom of speech. Social media administrators are required to immediately remove material that encourages “discrimination and intolerance” and states that it may include criticism of politicians or officials. The law provides the electoral authority with tools to dissolve political parties and prevent candidates from registering for elections.
Opposition leaders seek protection at embassy
Opposition Leader Freddy Guevara, the National Assembly’s second man, seeks protection at the Chile Embassy the day after the Supreme Court revoked his indictment and announced that he should be prosecuted for “public incitement” and for exploiting a minor in criminal offenses. The Court does not give details of the suspicions. Over the past three months, five Venezuelan judges have also sought protection at the embassy, and four of them are now in Chile.
The opposition receives the Sakharov Prize
The European Parliament awards the Democratic Opposition in Venezuela this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The National Assembly with President Julio Borges is particularly mentioned, as are a number of political prisoners. The President of the European Parliament calls President Maduro a “dictator”.
Split in the opposition alliance
Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles leaves the opposition alliance MUD in protest of the four governors who swore oath to the Constitutional Assembly. Capriles says he can’t be a part of MUD as long as Henry Ramos Allup is. Former President Ramos is the leader of the Democratic Action (AD), the second largest party in the MUD. The four governors who swore the oath belong to all ADs. Capriles leads Justice First (PJ), the largest party, which is now expected to leave the alliance with him. The will of the people (VP), Leopoldo López’s party, has also condemned the governors’ actions and said that the party will not take part in the municipal elections.
Opposition governors take office
Four of the five elected MUD governors swear office for the Constitutional Assembly. It happens five days after the ceremony when the newly elected governors of the government swore in. MUD then boycotted the ceremony on the grounds that the congregation lacks legitimacy. Now only one of the opposition governors is sticking to the boycott: Juan Pablo Guanipa, who belongs to Justice First (PJ) and who won in the state of Zulia.
Accusations of cheating in the regional elections
The Socialist Party wins the governorship election in 18 of 23 states, but the opposition in MUD, which wins in 5 states, refuses to recognize the result and accuses the government of cheating. The turnout is 61 percent. Opinion polls before the election have hinted that the opposition would win between 11 and 18 governor posts, and that the government side does not have the support of more than about one in five voters. The opposition is now calling for street protests and a review of the election. Prior to the election, MUD has been divided in terms of participation – some believe that by participating, MUD legitimizes Maduro’s rule. Henrique Capriles is one of those who urged voters to go and vote.
The IMF warns of hyperinflation
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expresses concern over the consequences of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. According to the IMF’s forecast, the Venezuelan economy will have shrunk by 35 percent by the end of the year since 2014, and that the country is heading for hyperinflation.
Promises of continued support from Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin promises to continue economic cooperation with Venezuela. The promise is given when Maduro visits Russia. The Venezuelan President thanks for both diplomatic and financial support. Data from the Kremlin before the meeting suggests that the two presidents will discuss how to deal with Venezuela’s debt problems. In the next four weeks, Venezuela will have to repay $ 3.5 billion to bondholders. As Venezuela has become increasingly isolated, the country has become dependent on Russian money. Negotiations are underway to offer the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft shares in the Venezuelan oil industry. From Moscow, Maduro travels to Belarus and Turkey.
New sanctions on Venezuela
The US is expanding its travel ban to include Venezuela (and North Korea and Chad). However, the restrictions only apply to some government representatives and their families. In a statement from the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, the United States is accused of “psychological terrorism”. According to Venezuela, the US travel ban violates international law. Canada also decides to impose sanctions on some 40 people, including President Maduro and several ministers in his government. The decision is justified by showing that anti-democratic methods have consequences.
India supplies medicines
The authorities announce that 10 million medicines have been delivered by India. It is about antibiotics and medicines for several chronic diseases. It is unclear whether the drugs are a gift from India or whether they have been paid by the government. There are concerns from some quarters about whether the drugs are of sufficient quality.
Trump threatens new measures against Venezuela in UN speech
US President Donald Trump said in a speech in the UN that the situation in Venezuela is “totally unacceptable” and stresses that Washington has already intervened against the regime, but unless democracy and political rights are restored soon, the United States is ready to take further action.
Venezuela sends emergency aid to Cuba
Venezuela assists Cuba after Hurricane Irma’s progress. At the same time, it is clear that these are not generous gifts, but rather a symbolic gesture to confirm the friendship between the countries.
Hope for a new dialogue between the government and the opposition
President Maduro says in a televised government meeting that he is prepared to start talks with the opposition, mediated by Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina and former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Maduro appoints a political heavyweight, Jorge Rodríguez of the Socialist Party, as the government’s representative in the deliberations. Opposition representatives say they are willing to meet Medina for some initial talks. However, the MUD sets a number of requirements for formal negotiations, including a timetable for elections to the presidential post (but also for local and regional elections) and that they should be monitored by international observers. They also demand that all political prisoners be released and all restrictions imposed on opposition leaders be lifted, and that measures be taken to alleviate the social and economic crisis. At the same time, there are signs that the division within the opposition is increasing. The EU has threatened to impose sanctions on the government if no talks start.
UN human rights chief worried about the MRI situation in Venezuela
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein expresses concern over the situation in Venezuela. He warns that ” crimes against humanity ” may have been committed. He believes that an international investigation should be made of what is happening in the country. Among other things, he points to problems with arbitrary arrests, prosecution of opposition leaders and widespread violence against prisoners, and in some cases torture. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein says that the situation is likely to worsen and that Venezuela as a member of the UN Human Rights Council has an extra-large responsibility when it comes to respect for human rights. 116 non-governmental organizations, most of them based in Latin America, simultaneously write to the Council and demand that it be clearly marked against the Venezuelan and show that the abuse is not tolerated.
Opposition leaders are prevented from traveling
Imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo López’s wife, Lilian Tintori, tweeted that she was stopped at the airport and deprived of her passport when she tried to travel abroad to meet world leaders and discuss the crisis in Venezuela. Tintori would meet French President Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May. Tintori writes that she intends to report on human rights violations, on the dictatorship, on the 590 political prisoners and on the fact that 53 percent of children in Venezuela are malnourished.
“Support for sanctions is treason”
The Constitutional Assembly unanimously decides that opposition leaders who support US new financial sanctions on the country should be brought to trial for treason. No one is mentioned by name in the decision.
The United States tightens sanctions
US President Donald Trump signs a decree banning US companies from doing business with the Venezuelan government or with the state oil company PDVSA. Serious violations of human rights and the creation of the Constitutional Assembly are cited as reasons. The sanctions are expected to hit hard against the already hit PDVSA. O ljeproduktionen continues to decline, and a large part of the income goes to pay off the loans. At the same time, the government is almost entirely dependent on oil revenues, which account for 96 percent of the country’s foreign exchange income, and which pays a large part of President Maduro’s social program.
Colombian TV channels are shut down
The communications agency Conatel bans two Colombian TV channels, Caracol and RCN, from broadcasting in Venezuela. No cause is stated, but both channels have reported in-depth on the trips around the deposed state prosecutor Ortega and her husband. In February, Spanish-speaking CNN was shut down.
Deputy State Prosecutor flees the country
Luisa Ortega Diáz shows up in Colombia and states that she felt threatened with life in her home country. The Venezuelan government is accusing her and her husband Germán Ferrer, former MP and PSUV member, of serious crimes. They have now both fled the country, reportedly by taking a boat to Aruba and from there by flight to Bogota. They later move to Brazil where Ortega speaks at a law enforcement conference, accusing Maduro and other government officials of serious corruption. Maduro says he will turn to Interpol to get her arrested.
The Constitutional Assembly takes the role of Parliament
The newly elected Assembly votes by an overwhelming majority to take over the powers of the National Assembly. The decision is condemned by the National Assembly as well as by OAS and Mercusur, among others.
Peru punishes Venezuela
Venezuela’s ambassador is expelled from Peru. As a reason, the Peruvian government states that Venezuela “violated democratic rules of the game”. Venezuela responds with the same coin and orders Peru’s ambassador to leave the country.
The United States is increasing pressure
The United States extends its sanctions (see July 2017) to include eight members of the Constitutional Assembly, including a military who is responsible for security for the Assembly and a member of the board of the national electoral authority.
Mayor sentenced to prison
9th of August
The Supreme Court sentenced Ramon Muchacho, mayor of an area in Caracas, to 15 months in prison for failing to prevent street demonstrations in his district. The next day, another mayor of the capital, David Smolansky, is also sentenced to 15 months in prison. According to the opposition, 23 mayors in the country have now been subject to legal action by the government.
The opposition is running for election
9th of August
The opposition alliance MUD, which boycotted the elections for the new constitutional assembly in July, announces that the alliance intends to participate in the regional elections at the end of the year. It happens on the same day that the time for registering candidates expires. The electoral authority has banned MUD from appearing in 7 of the 23 state elections.
Truth Commission new weapon against the opposition
9th of August
The newly elected Constitutional Assembly appoints a “Truth Commission” which is given the task of examining crimes that opposition leaders are alleged to have committed. Thus, all members of parliament may be deprived of their prosecution immunity, states a member of the Constitutional Assembly.
The Constitutional Assembly gives itself power
Since security forces prevented opposition members in the National Assembly from entering the congress building, the Constitutional Assembly occupies the building’s main chamber. Then, through a decree, the Constitutional Assembly gives itself the ultimate power, with control over other branches of power. The National Assembly has voted unanimously the day before not to recognize the Decree of the Constitutional Assembly, but can do nothing. At a meeting in Peru, eleven Latin American countries and Canada jointly condemn the democratic rule in Venezuela, and they explicitly say they do not recognize the Constitutional Assembly. The twelve countries sign the so-called Lime Declaration on Venezuela and informally form the Lime Group, which more countries later join.
Attack on military base
Struggles break out when about 20 men led by a former army officer make a scare against a military base in Valencia, west of Caracas. Two of the assailants are killed and eight arrested, but allegedly the others manage to get away with weapons in what the regime describes as a coup attempt. Maduro says it is a terrorist group with ties to Colombia and the United States.
The prosecutor is dismissed
The Constitutional Assembly voted unanimously, as its first measure, to dismiss the Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz. She herself refuses to admit the dismissal but is prevented by soldiers from entering her office. The decision triggers harsh criticism from the United States and several Latin American countries. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay announce that Venezuela is now suspended “indefinitely” from Mercosur, due to the democratic order being disrupted.
The Constitutional Assembly takes office
The newly elected Constitutional Assembly takes office, in a hall in the same building as the National Assembly. Among the 545 members are Maduro’s wife and son. The President will be the former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez. The Constitutional Assembly is mandated to dissolve the National Assembly, but it is unclear if that will happen. The Assembly says that it will sit for two years, significantly longer than the six months previously stated needed to rewrite the Constitution. This means that the Assembly will remain until after Maduro’s term of office expires in 2019.
Charges of electoral fraud lead to investigation
The company that has delivered the voting system states that the government’s figure for voting has been manipulated. The difference is at least one million votes, reports the head of the company, Smartmatic, to journalists in London. The Election Authority rejects the information, but State Prosecutor Luisa Ortega appoints two prosecutors who will investigate four out of five heads of the CNE Election Authority. She talks about the election as a “scandal” that risks causing more violence in the country. The fifth CNE manager reiterates previous criticism of the management and points out that no finished result has been presented. OAS chief Luis Almagro tweets about the “biggest electoral fraud in Latin America’s history”, in terms of both percentage and voters.
Opposition leaders are arrested
Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, who were both in house arrest, are arrested again just two days after the election. According to his daughter, Ledezma, former mayor of Caracas (see February 2015), is removed from the security service wearing only pajamas. After a few days, both were returned to the house arrest.
Extended US sanctions
After the election, the United States imposes sanctions on President Maduro, who may freeze any assets in the United States while prohibiting American individuals and businesses from doing business with him. A few days before the election, similar sanctions were imposed on 13 leading Venezuelans, including the interior minister and the army chief. In addition to the United States, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and several other Latin American states have abstained from the election. Among countries that have expressed support for Maduro are Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russia.
Maduro claims victory in the election
According to official data, 41.5 percent of voters participate and Maduro calls victory the biggest in the 18-year history of the revolution. The President calls on the 545 newly elected members to abolish the opposition members’ immunity from legal proceedings, as one of their first measures. The opposition dismisses the vote and says only 12 percent voted. Ten people are reported to have been killed in connection with the disputed election, which means that since April the death rate is now 120. Among the dead are a candidate in the election, an opposition politician and two teenagers. Despite demonstration bans, many participated in protests before and during the election, and the opposition calls for further demonstrations.
Protest ban before the election
Minister of the Interior Néstor Reverol proclaims that all protests that can “disturb or influence” the disputed election are banned. Anyone who violates the four-day ban runs between five and ten years in prison, he says. Despite the ban, the opposition plans a mass protest and a 48-hour strike is ongoing.
National Assembly appoints “shadow judge”
As part of the ongoing power struggle, the opposition-controlled National Assembly appoints 33 new judges to the Supreme Court. Both the sitting judges in HD and the government dismiss the vote as illegal. HD orders “civilian and military authorities” to take “compulsory action” against the shadow court. It is unclear what the order means. The opposition also says it is preparing to appoint a national unity government, which would pose a direct challenge to the incumbent government.
General strike against Maduro
A nationwide general strike is being carried out in protest of the planned constitutional changes that the government opponents believe will give Maduro dictatorial powers. According to the organizers, 5 million of the country’s 30 million residents participate in the strike. On-site media reports that the parts of the country that are opposition-friendly are almost paralyzed and destitute, while life in the regime-friendly parts continues as usual. Occasional violence is reported in connection with the strike and five people are killed; the death toll since the protest wave began in April thus exceeds 100.
The opposition holds a referendum
More than seven million people participate when the opposition organizes an unofficial “referendum” on the constitutional amendments proposed by the Madura government. The result is that the participants, with a large majority, reject the government’s proposal, both to amend the constitution and to hold elections on July 30 to appoint a constitutional assembly.
Opposition leader López is moved to house arrest
Leopoldo López, leader of the opposition party People’s Will, is moved to house arrest from the prison outside Caracas where he has been serving for over three years (see September 2015). López, who has repeatedly denied the allegations of having called for riots, is prematurely released by the Supreme Court for health reasons. President Maduro welcomes the court’s decision. Just hours after his release, López calls on his supporters for new street protests against Maduro.
Opposition members are beaten by government-loyal activists
Hundreds of government-backed activists enter the National Assembly, where they abuse members of the opposition. Over 300 people can leave the building in the evening after being trapped for most of the day.
Criminal investigation begins against the prosecutor
Authorities are launching a criminal investigation against state prosecutor Luisa Ortega, who has emerged as a serious threat to Maduro. Among other things, an audit will be done to determine if she has committed any financial irregularities. According to her supporters, the criminal charges are a punishment for choosing to go against the government and accusing it of violating the constitution (see June 1, 2017). Previously, the Supreme Court has decided that her financial assets should be frozen and that she is not entitled to leave the country.
Four are killed in connection with street protests
Four people are killed in connection with new street protests against the government. According to Caraca’s mayor, they are shot to death by government loyal militia. At least 80 people have now been killed since the protests began in April, and over 1,000 have been injured and 3,500 have been arrested.
The minimum wage will be raised for the third time in 2017
President Maduro raises the minimum wage for the third time since the turn of the year. This time it is increased by 50 percent. In January it was raised by the same amount, and in April by 60 percent.
Helicopter attack against the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court and the Department of the Interior of Caracas are attacked by a police helicopter hijacked by a rebel police officer and unknown staff. The courthouse is fired with four grenades and shots are fired at the Ministry of the Interior. No one is injured in the incident that President Maduro calls a terrorist attack. The police officer is identified as Óscar Pérez and becomes the country’s most wanted person until he is killed when the police try to arrest him in January 2018. According to authorities, seven “terrorists” and two police officers die in the firefight that takes place during the operation.
Military leaders are kicked
President Maduro dismisses the chiefs of the army, the air force, the navy, and the National Guard. This is happening despite the fact that the armed forces have continued to back the president in the ongoing crisis. Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López recently called on security forces not to commit “abuse,” since video footage of police attacking and robbing protesters was released. The number of deaths in the wave of violence since April now amounts to 74.
Twitter accounts are closed
17th of June
Twitter shuts down about 180 government-friendly accounts, including one belonging to a radio station that broadcasts a salsa show with the president himself as the host. Maduro accuses the American company of persecution and fascism.
General resigns in protest
National Defense Council chief Alexis López Ramírez resigns in protest of the president’s plans to appoint a constituent assembly. López is critical of how the members of the congregation should be appointed. The drop-off raises excitement as the military has been loyal to the government so far, despite attempts by the opposition to win over them to their side in the ongoing power struggle.
Elections to the Constitutional Assembly are promised
Maduro states that elections will be held on the Constituent Assembly he promised in early May. The message will then also criticize the proposal by government members. Among the critics is state prosecutor Luisa Ortega who says it poses a threat to democracy. Ortega, who previously stood close to Maduro, has been increasingly on a collision course with the government since she called the Supreme Court’s action against the National Assembly in March illegal. Later, the date for the election is set for July 30.
Criticism against government bond purchases
The opposition is sharply critical of the US investment bank Goldman Sachs buying Venezuelan bonds for $ 2.8 billion, which is described as a lifeline for the Madura government that strengthens its “brutal repression”. The bonds have been issued by the state oil company PDVSA. Goldman Sachs claims to have bought them at a “discounted price” in a secondary market and not had any dealings directly with the government. The National Assembly votes to ask the US Congress to investigate the deal.
Opposition leader injured in demonstration
Henrique Capriles states that he and several in his company were abused by national guardians after protesters were dispensed with tear gas. They should also have been stripped of radios, watches and gas masks. An MEP, Carlos Paparoni, is injured at the same time as he gets a tear gas cylinder in his head. In total, according to the opposition, more than 250 people are involved in a demonstration along a main road in Caracas. According to prosecutors, 60 people have been killed since the protests began.
Opposition leaders are not allowed to leave the country
Henrique Capriles states that he was deprived of his passport at the airport and will not return it until 2020. Capriles would travel to New York to meet the UN Human Rights Commissioner.
Judges are blacklisted in the United States
The US Treasury Department is said to have placed eight members of Venezuela’s highest court on its financial black list as punishment for undermining the democratic process by depriving the National Assembly of its power.
Military is deployed in Táchira
Defense Minister Vladirmir Padrino announces that reinforcements of 2,600 people will be sent to the state in the west to prevent further riots and looting. The capital of San Cristóbal is largely paralyzed and soldiers guard stores and businesses. Three people have been killed in Táchira during the week, including a 15-year-old. The protests in the country that have been going on almost daily for seven weeks have now claimed more than 40 deaths.
New assembly will write new constitution
Maduro states that a Constituent Assembly should be appointed, consisting of “ordinary” citizens with the task of writing a new constitution. According to the president, the political crisis should thus be solved, as the opponents who “threaten the country” are blocked. Opposition leader Capriles calls the proposal constitutional fraud. The Constituent Assembly replaces the elected National Assembly.
Venezuela plans to leave the OAS
Since the OAS voted to hold a foreign minister’s meeting following the crisis in Venezuela, the government states that the country will leave the organization. According to Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez, the two-year exit process should start immediately. The unrest in the country continues and the number of casualties is approaching 30.
Silent march for death victims
Thousands of people take part in silent demonstrations around the country to honor the approximately 20 people killed during three weeks of unrest. According to the protesters, police and loyalist militia are behind the deaths. Many of the participants are dressed in white.
Violent protests against the government
It becomes violent in many places when tens of thousands of people take part in a giant demonstration which organizers call “the mother of all protesters”. At least three people are killed and many are arrested, but the violence is not as extensive as feared. Eleven leaders in Latin American countries had expressed concern in advance of the protest, which is the culmination of a wave of protests that arose after HD’s announcement of the National Assembly and the ban on Capriles to participate in politics. Protesters demand that the government resign and elections are held. Maduro has urged its supporters for counter-demonstrations and has ordered soldiers out into the streets. Members of the regime-armed Armed Forces “Bolivarian militia” have been invited to defend the government.
Opposition leader suspended
Henrique Capriles, Governor of Miranda, announces that he has been ordered to stay away from political posts for 15 years. Capriles, who has been driving the demands of a referendum to castigate Maduro, says he does not intend to resign as governor. If the ban is upheld, Capriles cannot stand in the 2018 presidential election.
HD denies Parliament influence – but is forced to back down
The Supreme Court takes full responsibility for the legislative work of the National Assembly (see also September 2016). The OAS chief Almagro accuses the government of having carried out a so-called autogolpe, a coup d’état against itself. Peru revokes its ambassador in protest and critical comments come from several Latin American countries. After a few days, HD announces on its website that the decision has been withdrawn.
Maduro appeals to the UN for help
24th of March
President Maduro states that he has asked the UN for help to cope with the acute shortage of medicines in the country. According to a medical association, hospitals now have only 3 percent of the drugs and equipment they need. The request for assistance means that the government recognizes acute problems in the country for the sake of unusualness.
The appeal from the outside world about choice
A number of countries in North and South America are calling on the Venezuelan government to release political prisoners and “re-establish” democracy by holding elections. The governorship election that would have been held by December has not yet been scheduled. However, the 14 countries – whose statement is being conveyed by Mexico’s foreign ministry – do not reflect a threat recently announced by the OAS chief to close Venezuela from the regional cooperation organization. Behind the statement are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and the United States.
Growing conflict over bread supply
The government threatens to fine bakeries if people have to queue to buy bread, as all shortages of goods are considered to be due to “economic war”. The bakeries are accused of using the flour they are allocated to bake cookies instead of plain bread. Now a rule is introduced that 90 percent of the flour must go to bread, and the government threatens to expropriate bakeries that do not follow the rules. According to the bakeries, there is a shortage of flour.
UN envoys should mediate in border conflict
Norwegian Dag Halvor Nylander gets commissioned by UN chief António Guterres to try to resolve the border conflict with Guyana.
CNN turns off
Authorities order the US broadcaster CNN to cease its Spanish-language broadcasts in Venezuela and accuse it of spreading propaganda. CNN has reported that fake passports are issued by the Venezuelan Embassy in Iraq, and that Vice President El Aissami has been involved in the handling.
US sanctions against the Vice President
The US puts Vice President Tareck El Aissami on his sanctions list for “drug kings” and accuses him of playing a pivotal role in international drug trafficking. This means that the vice president’s assets in the US are frozen and he is banned from entering the country. Sanctions are also being imposed on well-heeled businessman Samark López, who is accused of being close associates of El Aissami.
Increased power for the Vice President
In a decree, Vice President Tareck ElAissami gives Maduro increased powers, such as seizing property and approving the ministries’ budgets. Some analysts believe that Maduro is preparing to let El Aissami take over. The 42-year-old vice president is accused by the opposition of having links to drug paraphernalia.
Three new banknotes come out in the trade, between 500 and 20,000 bolívares. The now highest denomination corresponds to around SEK 50. Inflation is projected to reach 1,600 percent during the year.
Suspected cupmakers arrested
Authorities say four opponents of Maduro have been arrested, suspected of planning an armed uprising. Following the opposition’s new attempt to oust the president, he has now launched an “anti-coup patrol” led by the new Vice President El Aissami.
The National Assembly is trying to oust Maduro
The opposition, which dominates in Parliament, adopts a statement that in practice the president “abandoned his post” by allowing the country to end up in an “unprecedented economic crisis”. As usual, the Supreme Court is expected to annul the play (see also September 2016).
The minimum wage is increased by 50 percent
President Maduro announces that the minimum wage will be raised by 50 percent and says the increase also applies to pensions. The message comes in the TV speech the president holds every week. This is the fifth time in a year that the minimum wage is being raised. Critics claim that the raises are only blocking the already galloping inflation.
New President appointed
The opposition appoints Attorney Julio Borges as new Speaker of the National Assembly, following Henry Ramos Allup. Borges is one of the founders of Justice First, the largest party in the opposition alliance MUD.
New Vice President appointed
The President appoints Tareck El Aissami as new Vice President. El Aissami was Minister of the Interior and Justice in 2008-2012 and then Governor of Aragua. He is specifically tasked with fighting “right-wing terrorists,” the opposition that Maduro says is dedicated to destabilizing the government.