Reckless “Present” CIA to Venezuela

Hours ago it was revealed that the top brass of that espionage agency works with the governments of Colombia and Mexico to destroy Venezuela.

Thus was written this Wednesday by an Argentinean journalist to the unconditional service of Washington.          

His name, Andrés Oppenheimer, New Herald columnist and well known in other U.S. media circles and for special services of that country.

Now he got published a significant title: “The Gift the CIA Gave to Nicolás Maduro.”

It begins asserting, Trump’s government “is the most inexpert and inapt regarding foreign policy ever remembered in recent history.”

And he adds, but what the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, did when he talked about Venezuela “is a huge stupidity.”

He affirmed last July 20th that they worked hard for the reestablishment of democracy in Caracas.

And he added, I was in Mexico City and Bogotá two weeks ago, speaking about this issue.

“Trying to help them understand what they could do, so that they can get a better result for their side of the world and our part of the world.”

Soon after, said Oppenheimer, Pompeo’s comments were in YouTube.

“The United States conspires against Venezuela, the head of the CIA confirms”, read a headline in Telesur, the television network that broadcasts in all Latin America.

Hours later, Oppenheimer continued, Maduro was on television, taking advantage of Pompeo’s “screw up” and attacking the governments of Mexico and Colombia.

Then the North American journalist tried to mend both images saying that they have been active in the efforts so that Maduro reestablishes the democratic order in Venezuela.

Unable to answer, Oppenheimer turns to the intrigue (made in U.S.A.) regarding the supposed dominant role of Cuba in that South American nation.

Earlier, Nicolás Maduro had summoned the governments of Mexico and Colombia to clarify the statement of the CIA director.

Faintly, very faintly, they tried and failed miserably.  

According to Oppenheimer Venezuelan and Latin Americans “followers of Telesur”, they believe that agency is still bent on overthrowing governments.

For them, he wrote, Pompeo’s words sounded like alarms going off.

Hence Mr. Andrés Oppenheimer helped to explain why he symbolizes one of the most despicable personalities in the journalistic world of this region.

He is ideal to serve those who trained him and awarded him in the United States and today hire him further south.

But the core matter is, once again they’ve silenced the multiple aggressions Venezuela has suffered and implicitly they justified it, because they are accomplices.

All that thanks to the testimony of the CIA Director they were caught “red handed.”

New Sanctions Show US Insistence on Hostility toward Iran: Senior MP

A senior Iranian lawmaker deplored the US Congress move to pass a bill to impose fresh sanctions on Iran, saying it proves Washington’s persistent animosity toward the Islamic Republic.

“Today, it is no secret to anyone that the Americans are still the Iranian nation’s number one enemy,” Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, the rapporteur of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told Tasnim.

The fresh embargoes signify that Washington keeps on the path of hostility toward Iran and applying pressure on the country, he added.

They show that the Americans are not going to pay any attention to international demands and live up to their commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Naqavi Hosseini said, referring to a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, including the US.

Now that US officials have demonstrated their disregard for the JCPOA, he said, all related bodies in Iran, including the diplomatic apparatus, should proceed with “revolutionary and decisive” measures against Washington’s breaking of laws and breaches of commitments.

Naqavi Hosseini went on to say that the parliament plans to hold a special session on Saturday to discuss a motion to counter the United States’ adventurous and terrorist activities in the region as well as its recent sanctions on the country.

On Thursday, the US Senate voted overwhelmingly to impose new sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea.

The Senate backed the bill by a margin of 98-2.

The legislation will now be sent to President Trump to sign into law or veto.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives already passed the bill on Tuesday in a 419-3 vote to impose new sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani had on Wednesday vowed that the US congressional bill on new sanctions against Tehran will receive the necessary response.

The Islamic Republic of Iran will certainly show a reciprocal reaction to the US Congress’ new measure, President Rouhani said.

“We… withstand the pressures and sanctions, and will take reciprocal action,” he stressed.

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Russia retaliates over new US sanctions

Russia retaliated Friday to new sanctions from Washington by announcing it would seize US properties and demand a reduction in American diplomatic staff, according to reports.

The Kremlin took the tit-for-tat action in the wake of the US Senate vote to slap new financial sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea over President Trump’s objections.

The bill now awaits the president’s signature.

Russian officials said the US Embassy in Moscow and consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok must cut the number of their “diplomatic and technical employees” to 455 by Sept. 1, the Washington Post reported.

That staffing level would equal the number of Russian diplomatic staff in the US.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also said it would seize a Moscow warehouse and recreation complex used by the American Embassy.

A US Embassy spokesman could not immediately say how many people work for the Embassy and consulates in Russia.

The new US legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad.

It bars Trump from easing or waiving the penalties on Russia unless Congress agrees.

In December, President Obama kicked out 35 Russians described as “intelligence operatives” and seized two Russian diplomatic compounds because of Russia’s interference in the election.

The Russian Foreign Ministry recommend that President Vladimir Putin respond by expelling US diplomats, but he said he would wait, apparently hoping the newly elected president would reverse the decision after his inauguration.

US-Russian relations dropped to a post-Cold War low after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and interference in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

The new package of sweeping sanctions aims to hit Putin and his inner circle by targeting alleged corrupt officials, human-rights abusers and crucial sectors of the Russian economy.

Russia dismissed the new sanctions as “creating unfair competitive advantages for the US economy.”

“This kind of blackmail aimed at restricting the cooperation between Russia and other nations is a threat for many countries and global businesses,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

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Thousands of CIA, FBI Documents on JFK Assassination Released for First Time

The US National Archives have made 3,810 CIA and FBI documents on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 public for the very first time. Among the trove are 400 documents previously unavailable in any form – the rest were hitherto redacted, in some cases heavily. The pile is likely to prove a goldmine to conspiracy theorists.

In 1964, Chief Justice Earl Warren, then overseeing the Warren Commission, the US government's first official public inquiry into the Kennedy assassination, was asked by journalists if the full record of their investigation would be made public.

"Yes, there will come a time… but it might not be in your lifetime," Warren responded.

While the fate of the reporters is unknown, the 1992 JFK Assassination Records Collection Act stipulated all documents on the killing must be released by October 2017 — and the latest release marks the first document dump of the year.

The taking is modest — official estimates suggest around 40,000 documents remain classified, of the original five million — but nonetheless is undoubtedly chock-full of scintillating nuggets for conspiracists to get their collective teeth in to, particularly as 400 of the documents have never been seen by public eyes.

These documents were "withheld in full" as they contain information deemed at the time "security classified" — while a tantalizing classification, they may have been mundanely withheld to protect confidential sources, privacy, tax and grand jury information — all information routinely classified in the vast majority of criminal cases.

A cursory look at the contents of the files reveals that on top of CIA and FBI documents, included in the tranche are testimony and other records of the Warren Commission (which concluded alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald likely acted alone) and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (the second official inquiry into Kennedy's assassination, which concluded Kennedy was "probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy"), records from the National Security Agency and other Defense Department offices and files from the Church, Pike and Rockefeller Committees (which investigated the activities of US intelligence services), and many pages relating to the interrogation of Yuri Nosenko.

Nosenko, a KGB officer who defected to the US shortly after the Kennedy assassination, was and is a controversial figure in both government and conspiracist circles.

He claimed to have seen KGB files on Oswald prior to the assassination, when the former US Marine briefly defected to the Soviet Union. He claimed while Soviet intelligence services had monitored Oswald, they had not attempted to recruit him.

However, other disclosures offered by Nosenko contradicted those of another Soviet defector, Anatoliy Golitsyn — which led the CIA to conclude Nosenko was a KGB plant.

As a result, he was incarcerated in solitary confinement for three and a half years, spending 16 months of this period in a small room with no windows, furniture, heat or air conditioning, or human contact, and four months in a ten-by-ten-foot concrete bunker. Allowed a shower once a week only, but permitted no television, reading material, radio, exercise, or toothbrush, he was frequently and aggressively interrogated. Nosenko also claims he was tortured, and even dosed with LSD.

His allegation were flatly denied by Richard Helms, CIA Director during much of Nosenko's internment — although Stansfield Turner, CIA Director 1977-1981, subsequently judged Nosenko's treatment to be "excessively harsh" — and called on senior CIA officers to "make certain [it] will not again be repeated."

It's questionable whether the documents will shed conclusive light on the key questions which have hung over the assassination almost ever since that third fateful shot delivered a coup de grace to then-President Kennedy on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, much less offer a "smoking gun" for any them.

Did alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald act alone, or at all even? Did individuals or agencies within the US government have foreknowledge of the assassination? Did authorities collude and obfuscate to prevent a full investigation of the crime?

Nonetheless, they are also equally unlikely to quell the countless assassination conspiracy theories which have circulated.

Perhaps most popularly, researchers suggest JFK was killed in a plot engineered by CIA agents — Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Mossad, the FBI, the Secret Service, the Mafia and Cubans (whether by Fidel Castro, or anti-Castro rebel groups) have all been fingered as potential directors and/or conspirators in the assassination.

Such suspicions are not restricted to the public. For instance, three of the Warren Commission's seven members — Senator John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana and and Senator Richard Russell of Georgia — doubted the inquiry's single shooter conclusion, and Johnson later publicly voiced concerns about the Commission's findings.

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Venezuelan Foreign Minister Denounces CIA Interference

CIA Director Mike Pompeo revealed the U.S. advises Mexico and Colombia on how to manipulate the outcome in Venezuela.

Venezuela’s foreign minister condemned CIA schemes to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro, denouncing the CIA’s dealings with foreign governments such as Mexico and Colombia to manipulate events in Venezuela.

RELATED: Ambassador to Mexico Says Venezuela Needs No 'Tutelage'

Samuel Moncada took to Twitter, posting notes from a question posed by Vanessa Neumann, president of Asymmetrica — a business intelligence firm — to CIA Director Mike Pompeo during an extended briefing, where Pompeo said, "We are very hopeful that there can be a transition in Venezuela and we the CIA is doing its best to understand the dynamic there."

"The head of the CIA says he works with Colombia and Mexico to overthrow the democratic government of Venezuela."

Pompeo added, “America has a deep interest in making sure that (Venezuela) is stable, as democratic as possible ... The Colombians, I was just down in Mexico City and in Bogota a week before last talking about this very issue trying to help them understand the things they might do so that they can get a better outcome for their part of the world and our part of the world.”

Following a U.N. meeting with the chief of staff of the U.N. Secretary General in New York City, Moncada said he alerted the official of U.S. maneuvers to destroy democracy in Venezuela.

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A la Jefa de gabinete del SG-ONU, explicamos las violaciones al derecho internacional por parte de EEUU contra el pueblo venezolano.

"We explain the violations of international law by the United States against the Venezuelan people to the Chief of Staff of the SG-UN."

Moncada called the pending threats from President Donald Trump to take “take strong and swift economic actions” in the event that the National Constituent Assembly election vote takes place on July 30 as “anti-democratic, unhumanitarian, and imperialistic."

Moncada also accused U.S. intelligence of organizing violent demonstrations and spurring on the opposition.

The diplomat commented that Venezuela hopes to work with the United Nations under the foundation of respect and cooperation to counter the matrix that has been built against Venezuela.

Vice President of Parlasur Daniel Caggiani also emphasized Monday the importance of not intervening in the "internal situation" in the country. "Venezuela is of concern to us, but I think it is not good for the bloc itself to comment on the internal situation in the South American country," he said to Radio Uruguay.

Caggiani highlighted the role Uruguay played as mediator at the last Mercosur summit Friday, refusing to sign a statement condemning Venezuela.

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With Trump, racism is pleased

The dilemma the US people are experiencing today goes from bad to worse, since they are victims of a widespread fear that made them fall into the clutches of one of the most racist presidents that ever ruled in the United States: Donald Trump.

In his yet brief power, racist attacks have multiplied everywhere; hatred is so strong that people with white skin, blonde hair and green eyes are considered inferior people, for the sole fact of being Latin American. There people say the “dirty Hispanic race”, thus tell me acquaintances from the state of Georgia, with an infamous record, for being one of the main centers for burning hundreds of thousands of blacks at the stake.

Andrés Openheimer, a reactionary journalist who is not prone to leftist considerations, voices his concern over the rise in racism on US soil, the division of families, what mankind could suffer in the future with a president like Donald Trump in the presidency of the United States.

Notorious enemy of the Cuban Revolution, Openheimer admits that Trump has separated longtime friends and created tensions in family tables, "charming the masses with rhetoric full of hatred, blaming foreigners for the problems of their country". And he recalled that during the election campaign he did not see "cars in the streets of Miami with decals supporting the presidential candidates", because people were afraid of being insulted, or that someone could scratch their cars, in addition of having little enthusiasm for the candidates, obviating the widespread idea that Florida and the support of the Miami mafia contributed to Trump’s victory.

It’s been several months since his inauguration, but the president does not change his view that most Mexican immigrants "bringing crime" and are "rapists". Racism and xenophobia have split that country as never before in recent history.

Trump encourages his audience with racist comments against Hispanics, African-Americans, Muslims and other ethnic groups. And the saddest thing is that his public celebrates it in big way.

It is not surprising that the Ku Klux Klan, closely linked with Fred, Donald's father, is still celebrating euphorically his arrival in power, and leads victorious marches in various states, while neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups now feel represented in the White House.

Thanks to Trump, the ideal of neo-Nazi groups in an Aryan country, once relegated to the darkest corners of the Internet, is now closer to socially acceptable political discourse.

A recent report by the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission states that hate crimes against Latinos in that city rose by an impressive 69 percent.

And another study from the Southern Poverty Law Center states that Trump's presence "is producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and increasing racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom".

The report adds that "teachers have noted a rise in abuse and intimidation of students whose race, religion or nationality has been targeted" by the current president.

It is symptomatic how a reactionary like Openheimer says he did not vote for Trump because he is a demagogue that incites hatred, who is supported by neo-Nazi groups, who is dividing Americans, and who speaks as if he were above the Constitution, an opinion highly shared by progressive Noam Chomsky, famous US political scientist and linguist, who considers that Trump's popularity is due to "fear" and is the result of a "society broken" by neoliberalism.

"People feel isolated, helpless and victims of more powerful forces, which they do not understand or cannot influence," said the 87-year-old intellectual, who claimed his age allows him to compare the current situation in the US election campaign with the 1930s, during which United States suffered the so-called great economic depression.

“Poverty and suffering were much greater, however, even among the poor and the unemployed, there was "a sense of hope, which we lack today”, the scholar said.

He attributed it to the growth of a militant labor movement "and" the existence of political organizations outside the main currents and added that the fact that pre-candidate Bernie Sanders and UK’s Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who lead popular ideas implemented in the 20th century, are now labeled as extremists, indicates that the whole political spectrum "has turned to the right during the neoliberal period".

The also US activist praised Sanders, although he considered the politician had no chance, because of the "largely rigged" election system, which rules in the United States. So, shortly before the elections, he warned that the victory of the Republicans would have serious consequences for mankind.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigation

Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

One adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

Do the political preferences of Mueller's team risk its independence?

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

With the Russia investigation continuing to widen, Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.

A conflict of interest is one of the possible grounds that can be cited by an attorney general to remove a special counsel from office under Justice Department regulations that set rules for the job.

Responding to this story on Friday after it was published late Thursday, one of Trump’s attorneys, John Dowd, said it was “not true” and “nonsense.”

“The President’s lawyers are cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller on behalf of the President,” he said.

Other advisers said the president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances.

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.

Trump has repeatedly refused to make his tax returns public after first claiming he could not do so because he was under audit or after promising to release them after an IRS audit was completed. All presidents since Jimmy Carter have released their tax returns.

July 19, 2017 President Trump speaks at a luncheon with Republican leadership about health care in the State Dining Room of the White House. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

“If you’re looking at Russian collusion, the president’s tax returns would be outside that investigation,” said a close adviser to the president.

Further adding to the challenges facing Trump’s outside lawyers, the team’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, resigned on Thursday. Corallo confirmed Friday that he has resigned but declined to comment further.

Corallo’s departure is part of a larger restructuring of Trump’s team undertaken in recent days. Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s New York-based personal attorney who had been leading the effort, will take a reduced role, people familiar with the team said. Meanwhile, veteran Washington lawyer John Dowd, hired last month, will take the lead in responding to the Special Counsel and Congressional inquiries. Jay Sekulow, a lawyer who has been a familiar face in conservative media in recent years, will serve as the group’s public face, appearing frequently on television.

Sekulow said in an interview Thursday that the president and his legal team are intent on making sure Mueller stays within the boundaries of his assignment as special counsel. He said they will complain directly to Mueller if necessary.  

“The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel’s office and any changes in the scope of the investigation,” Sekulow said. “The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there’s drifting, we’re going to object.”

Sekulow cited Bloomberg News reports that Mueller is scrutinizing some of Trump’s business dealings, including with a Russian oligarch who purchased a Palm Beach mansion from Trump for $95 million in 2008. 

“They’re talking about real estate transactions in Palm Beach several years ago,” Sekulow said. “In our view, this is far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation.”

 The president has long called the FBI investigation into his campaign’s possible coordination with the Russians a “witch hunt.” But now, Trump is coming face-to-face with a powerful investigative team that is able to study evidence of any crime it encounters in the probe — including tax fraud, lying to federal agents and interference in the investigation.

“This is Ken Starr times 1,000,” said one lawyer involved in the case, referring to the independent counsel who oversaw an investigation that eventually led to House impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. “Of course, it’s going to go into his finances.” 

Following Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey — in part because of his displeasure with the FBI’s Russia investigation — Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel in a written order. That order gave Mueller broad authority to investigate links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” and any crimes committed in response to the investigation, such as perjury or obstruction of justice.

Mueller’s probe has already expanded to include an examination of whether Trump obstructed justice in his dealings with Comey, as well as the business activities of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

Trump’s team could potentially challenge whether a broad probe of Trump’s finances prior to his candidacy could be considered a matter that arose “directly” from an inquiry into possible collusion with a foreign government.

The president’s legal representatives have also identified what they allege are several conflicts of interest facing Mueller, such as donations to Democrats by some of his prosecutors.

Another potential conflict claim is an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011, two White House advisers said. A spokesman for Mueller said there was no dispute when Mueller, who was FBI director at the time, left the club.

Trump also took public aim on Wednesday at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein, whose actions led to Mueller’s appointment. In an interview with the New York Times Wednesday, the president said he never would have nominated Sessions if he knew he was going to recuse himself from the case.

Some Republicans in frequent touch with the White House said they viewed the president’s decision to publicly air his disappointment with Sessions as a warning sign that the attorney general’s days were numbered. Several senior aides were described as “stunned” when Sessions announced Thursday morning he would stay on at the Justice Department.

Another Republican in touch with the administration described the public steps as part of a broader effort aimed at “laying the groundwork to fire” Mueller.

“Who attacks their entire Justice Department?” this person said. “It’s insane.”

Law enforcement officials described Sessions as increasingly distant from the White House and the FBI because of the strains of the Russia investigation. 

Traditionally, Justice Department leaders have sought to maintain a certain degree of autonomy from the White House as a means of ensuring prosecutorial independence.

But Sessions’s situation is more unusual, law enforcement officials said, because he has angered the president for apparently being too independent while also angering many at the FBI for his role in the president’s firing of Comey. 

As a result, there is far less communication among those three key parts of the government than in years past, several officials said. 

Currently, the discussions of pardoning authority by Trump’s legal team are purely theoretical, according to two people familiar with the ongoing conversations. But if Trump pardoned himself in the face of the ongoing Mueller investigation, it would set off a legal and political firestorm, first around the question of whether a president can use the constitutional pardon power in that way.

“This is a fiercely debated but unresolved legal question,” said Brian C. Kalt, a constitutional law expert at Michigan State University who has written extensively on the question.

The power to pardon is granted to the president in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, which gives the commander in chief the power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” That means pardon authority extends to federal criminal prosecution but not to state level or impeachment inquiries.

No president has sought to pardon himself, so no courts have reviewed it. Although Kalt says the weight of the law argues against a president pardoning himself, he says the question is open and predicts such an action would move through the courts all the way to the Supreme Court.

“There is no predicting what would happen,” said Kalt, author of the book, “Constitutional Cliffhangers: A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies.” It includes chapters on the ongoing debate over whether presidents can be prosecuted while in office and on whether a president can issue a pardon to himself.

Other White House advisers have tried to temper Trump, urging him to simply cooperate with the probe and stay silent on his feelings about the investigation.

On Monday, lawyer Ty Cobb, newly brought into the White House to handle responses to the Russian probe, convened a meeting with the president and his team of lawyers, according to two people briefed on the meeting. Cobb, who is not yet on the White House payroll, was described as attempting to instill some discipline in how the White House handles queries about the case. But Trump surprised many of his aides by speaking at length about the probe to the New York Times two days later. Cobb, who officially joins the White House team at the end of the month, declined to comment for this article.

Some note that the Constitution does not explicitly prohibit a president from pardoning himself. On the other side, experts say that by definition a pardon is something you can only give to someone else. There is also a common-law canon that prohibits individuals from serving as a judge in their own case. “For example, we would not allow a judge to preside over his or her own trial,” Kalt said.

A president can pardon an individual at any point, including before the person is charged with a crime, and the scope of a presidential pardon can be very broad. President Gerald Ford pardoned former president Richard M. Nixon preemptively for offenses he “committed or may have committed” while in office.

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Dry Run Vote Shows Venezuela Wants Peace, Dialogue and a Future

Supporters have expressed the belief that changes to the constitution will bring peace and stability to the country.

On Sunday, Venezuelans took part in a historic dry run vote for the National Constituent Assembly. Described as the largest one in 18 years, thousands of people across the country took part, chanting and waving signs in support of President Nicolas Maduro and the National Constituent Assembly.

RELATED: Mass of Venezuelans Vote in Peaceful, Dry Run Assembly Vote

"I have never seen a situation where opening times for a practice run of an election have to be extended," Hector Rodriguez, head of the Zamora 200 Campaign Command, said at a press conference.

"It is clear that the majority of Venezuelans want peace, dialogue and a future," he said, adding, "Today a new machine has been born, one that will push forward a new history, a new dawn."

Supporters have expressed the belief that changes to the constitution will bring peace and stability to the country.

Venezuelans line up to take part in the dry run vote. | Photo: teleSUR


Voters queued outside the practice polling centers from as early as 5 a.m. to test voting equipment and receive instructions for the upcoming July 30 official vote.

Nearly 1,942 voting machines were deployed in the dry run to help voters learn how to use the machines.

Venezuelans lined up well into the evening to take part in the process.

RELATED: Unexpectedly High Turn Out for Venezuela's Dry Run Vote for Constituent Assembly

"I already voted. It was wonderful, quick," Maria Canela, a resident of the La Candelaria neighborhood in Caracas told AVN on her way out of the Andres Bello High School.

"This is a truly democratic, participatory and civic process. We are peacefully and joyfully taking part in the dry run," she added. Some 496 polling centers were authorized in all the municipalities of the country, 55 of which functioned as pilot centers, according to the National Electoral Council.

Tibisay Lucena, president of the CNE, said Sunday that the voting exercise was particularly important to ensure that the voters can exercise their right to vote in safe conditions.

She explained that part of the exercise was to identify those localities within the municipalities where the safety of voters could be threatened during the electoral event.

"We continue to evaluate measures that protect the lives and physical safety of voters because there have been expressions of fear about going to vote ... We assure people that we will continue to look for measures so that they can come out and vote peacefully on voting day," Lucena said.

Voters form queues ahead of the opening of polling booths.| Photo: AVN

Voters wait outside one of the polling stations. | Photo: AVN


While there were some reports of violence, the dry run vote was largely carried out in a festive mood.

President Nicolas Maduro described the event as the "biggest and most impactful dry run of all dry runs that have taken place in the last 18 years" in a tweet Sunday.

Calling it "a hymn to peace," Maduro said the people of Venezuela through their extensive participation in the constituent electoral process have shown that the way to solve the country's problems is through peace and urged the opposition to dialogue instead of violence.

"Compatriots, let's give peace a chance, let's give the constituent an opportunity. I ask that we give the opportunity to the only way we have for peace," said the head of the state.

"The people want freedom, they have said yes to peace and no to violence, no to traitors, no to the guarimbas," Maduro said at a press conference.

The dry run vote for the National Constituent Assembly coincided with a symbolic referendum called by the opposition which asked people to vote whether they want a constituent assembly or not; whether they want the armed forces to support the existing constitution and the decisions of the national assembly; and whether they want immediate general elections.

@telesurenglish Mass participation in today’s country-wide electoral tests ahead of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly voting taking place on

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Venezuelans in other parts of the world also participated in the non-binding referendum.

Opposition leaders claimed that more than 7 million Venezuelans participated, 98 percent of whom opposed the assembly, but short of the 11 million they had hoped for in a country of just under 20 million eligible voters.

  • Published in World
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