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Maduro Venezuela tightens its grip on power, aided by a coronavirus lockout

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President Nicolas Maduro accuses opposition leader Juan Guaido of being behind a military raid designed to oust him during an online press conference in Caracas on May 6, 2020.

On Tuesday, the Venezuelan Supreme Court suspended the leadership of the main opposition party Primero Justicia and ruled that a pro-government MP must take responsibility. On Monday, the same thing happened to the second largest opposition party, Acción Democrática. Both decisions are based on complaints from party members issued.

A week earlier, the country’s highest court appointed a new member of the Electoral Council, a five-member body charged with organizing elections. Of the new judges, two previously served as judges at the same Supreme Court, and one was a former Socialist MP who has been under US sanctions since 2017.

The court, which has traditionally supported the president, made a decision even though the Venezuelan constitution said the National Assembly – controlled by the opposition – had to elect members of the Electoral Council. The ruling was part of a pattern in which the high court refused to recognize the legitimacy of the assembly.

Welcoming the verdict on Tuesday, Maduro stated: “We will change everything that must be changed in the National Assembly. With a lot of strength and a lot of confidence, our actions will be grandiose.”

The politics of corona viruses

The quick-succession decision by the Supreme Court showed that the balance was tilting in Venezuela and that Maduro felt confident enough to strengthen his power while the opposition had been effectively silenced by coronaviruses.

Until at least March 2020, Venezuela lived through a kind of institutional limbo: on one side was Maduro, who had ruled the country since 2013 and who was accused of rigging elections after elections and changing his presidency in a dictatorship. On the other side was Juan Guaido, the leader of the National Assembly recognized by the US and dozens of other countries as the temporary interim president as long as Maduro remained in power.

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Guaido has no authority in Caracas, but he has the support of the international community, which was exemplified when he was invited as a guest at President Trump’s state address in February.

Coronavirus changed all that: Suddenly political and institutional clashes were removed and Maduro declared himself responsible for fighting the pandemic.

He issued a curfew, received medical assistance from China, and began appearing on television detailing the steps and announcing new cases and deaths almost every day.

With populations locked up to prevent the spread of the virus, the opposition can no longer organize street protests or even gather directly at the National Assembly.

“It is quite clear that Maduro is taking advantage of this pandemic,” Geoff Ramsey, a Venezuelan expert at the Washington Office’s think tank for Latin America, told CNN. “If at any time in the last two years he seems weak or irresponsible, he makes it up now.”

To date, Venezuela has registered fewer than 3,500 cases of corona virus and only 28 deaths, although experts doubt the reliability of these figures because the country’s health system is in chaos and has limited capacity to conduct Covid-19 tests.

Luisa Ortega Diaz, a former attorney general who is an enemy of Maduro, told CNN that he could not believe the success story painted by the government. “I’m sick of Maduro claiming to be an anti-Covid paladin when he isn’t interested in people’s welfare.”

Ortega despite acknowledging Maduro was able to use a pandemic to strengthen his power.

Maduro’s big leap forward

Maduro’s latest steps have not been missed. On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the new Electoral Council “illegal” and said the sentence “took Venezuela further away from the democratic transition.”

Similar criticism came from the European Union and Group Five, which attracted several Latin American countries that did not recognize Maduro.

Venezuelan naval cruises crash into passenger cruises, self-destruct, sink

But aside from condemning the latest push by the Venezuelan leader, there seems to be little the international community can do to bring change to Venezuela for now.

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Maduro and some of his closest officials have been under direct US sanctions since 2017, followed by an oil embargo in 2019. He survived several attempts to bring him down and nearly as many negotiations aimed at mediating a peaceful solution. Despite all this, he still stands.

In addition, Latin America has become a pandemic hotspot and most of its governments are more busy fighting viruses than finding solutions to political deadlock in Venezuela.

“The pandemic is like a perfect opportunity for Maduro,” said Margarita López Maya, a Venezuelan historian at the Central University in Caracas.

His decision to hold the military responsible for the coronavirus’s response strengthened his social control, he said. [10] In March, the Venezuelan Army was deployed to impose strict social long-distance measures throughout the country, while recently the army has been managing gas stations for fuel rations.

“In Venezuela, we have an expression – fleeing to the front,” Lopez Maya said. “Obviously, the government feels this is the right time to make a big leap forward to position itself in the future.”

What happens next?

The future is still unclear in a volatile country like Venezuela.

One of the five new Election Board members, Rafael Simón Jiménez, told CNN that he saw himself as Maduro’s opponent and that the opposition should consider his appointment as progress towards fair elections.

Jimenez was part of a large group of opposition “chavista dissidents”: the politician who worked with Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez before disputing with the authorities. Similar to former AG Ortega Diaz, Jimenez is not an ally of Maduro, but also does not automatically become a member of the opposition led by Guaido.

Venezuela claims to have captured two Americans involved in a failed invasion

So far, Guaido said he did not recognize the decision of the Supreme Court, and that he would not participate in elections held by the new Electoral Council.

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Nevertheless, opposition parties new leaders appointed by court orders this week may decide to compete in elections, further destroying the sphere of opposition between groups that recognize the leadership of Guaido and groups that do not.

Ramsey, analyst, still found some hope for a peaceful solution in Venezuela.

The international community in particular, he said, still saw negotiations between Maduro and the opposition as the best outcome, and while condemning the new Election Council, it seemed open to the possibility that Maduro himself would participate in the next round of elections.

Maduro’s departure has long been cited as a precondition for any meaningful negotiations in Venezuela, but if the opposition will cancel the conditions, the government can be persuaded to engage in meaningful negotiations to get sanctioned assistance, Ramsey said.

Pompeo’s statement on Monday named five “key areas” as important for free and fair elections. None of them discussed Maduro’s role, leaving the door open for his eventual participation. “The window is small, faded, but the door is not fully closed,” Ramsey said.

López Maya on the other hand has more pessimistic results. “I don’t see the logic behind the government’s push,” he said. “Even by stealing the election and winning the National Assembly, what do they do? What happens the day after? More conflict and division and the Venezuelan people are bored with it.”

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets Ptix.bm For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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CRISTANO RONALDO CAN MAKE UP A GIANT IN CARIOCA AND PORTUGUESE TECHNICIAN SAYS ‘There will be room’

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CRISTANO RONALDO CAN MAKE UP A GIANT IN CARIOCA AND PORTUGUESE TECHNICIAN SAYS 'There will be room'

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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