By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- The delegates to the Constituent Assembly, elected Sunday which haste and under fraudulent circumstances, have not been sworn in as of this writing Thursday and they will take possession of the National Assembly Friday, not Thursday, the government said.
Caracas daily “El Nacional”, which turned 74 years old Thursday, sums it up like this in Thursday’s blaring opening headlines: “In the midst of fraud scandal Maduro postpones installation of the Constituent.”
Not only fraud claims, but also violence marred Sunday’s vote. Thursday morning Johnny Colmenares, 25, succumbed to gunshot wounds received during the election, while protesting against Maduro. El Nacional said he was the latest victim of “colectivos”, armed pro-Maduro gangs.
Colmenares thus became the latest victim of an exceedingly bloody election day, which took the lives of at least 10 Venezuelans, according to the Attorney General’s Office, while the opposition says 16 demonstrators and security forces lost their lives Sunday in events related to the vote or protests against it. The election was rejected by 90% of Venezuelans, polls show, a sentiment the government was fully aware off. All in all, 130 Venezuelans have died since the present democratic breach crisis started in earnest in late March.
Worldwide and nationwide, nobody believes the government’s version of 8 million voters electing Maduro’s candidates (all others were barred) to the Constituent Assembly. More than 40 countries, including the United States and the European Union, have denounced the elections and/or their outcome as fraught with fraud.
Smartmatic, the company that has provided the software, hardware and technicians for every Venezuelan election since 2004 disowned the results, saying the ones announced were off by “at least 1 million votes.”
Wednesday night, Maduro did not swear in elected Constituents, including his son Nicolasito and his wife Cilia Flores, to an oath of allegiance. Instead, he told them to get prepared: “Take a class, get prepared”, the President said on live television, although he didn’t specify on which subject.
Economics, however, is emerging as a topic: the dollar in the black market surged to new heights after Sunday’s vote and was trading at Bs 15,500 Thursday after the Constituent’s postponement. An ATM only dispenses Bs 10,000, tops, or about $0,80. And, as it is, Venezuela already has the highest inflation rate in the planet, with the latest surge in the black market dollar expected only to propel consumer prices further, as Venezuela imports about 90% of all the goods it needs.