By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Sunday he was “anxious” for regional elections to take place in order to “beat up” the opposition, after days of violent protests have resulted in one dead, almost two hundred arrested and scores injured.
"I am anxious for elections to be called so I can answer them with votes,” Maduro said during a public event, adding that he will “beat up” the opposition, conjuring images of recent street violence against demonstrators. One university student was killed by the executive-controlled National Police while demonstrating against Maduro Thursday night.
“They are good for nothing”, Maduro said of the opposition.PROTESTS?
About the protests, which according to media were the most violent since 2014, Maduro claimed, “yesterday, the whole country was in peace.”
No TV stations in the country carried the vast protests, with Globovision -- the 24 hour news station -- showing Argentina Falkland/Malvinas Islands history.
Even the National Assembly's channel -- now controlled by the opposition -- was blocked, along with VivoPlay and VPI TV, which broadcast the protests online, but found access blocked. CNN en Espanol was blocked since February.
But, human-rights NGO Foro Penal said 164 demonstrators were arrested, although some of them were released by Sunday afternoon. Venezuela has some 100 political prisoners as it is, some of which like Leopoldo Lopez, have been in jail since precisely the 2014 protests.
The Maduro-controlled CNE electoral board has delayed or cancelled every major election since December 6th, 2015, when ruling party candidates lost the legislative in a landslide defeat. State governors and city mayors, the majority of which are pro-Maduro, are serving with expired terms since late 2016, since no elections have been held.
Maduro maintains the numbers are on his side, in spite of having single-digit approval ratings.
“More than 75% of Venezuelans reject the National Assembly because it is useless,” the President asserted, without identifying the pollster.
The Maduro-controlled Supreme Court has stripped the Assembly of all its powers and functions.
The President also said Sunday he is not announcing personal appearances or travels anymore, not even inside Venezuela, for security reasons. “The right wing has gone nuts and they want to harm me, personally. So, no, I no longer will we announce my trips,” Maduro said.
There have been two incidents involving the Presidential motorcade over the last six months. Last year, the motorcade was attacked while carrying Maduro on Margarita Island. The President had to dismount and was physically and verbally attacked. Shortly thereafter, the CNE called off the recall vote against Maduro.
And last week, official vehicles doing advance work for the motorcade in Eastern Venezuela suffered an accident, which resulted in one member of Maduro’s security detail dead and two others injured.