For Friday, March 11, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
A horrible day for Bolívar
Bolívar State is jam-packed with on-site government officials, law enforcement and the military. Tumeremo’s outrage about the massacred miners made them react. Despite this deployment, musician Larrys Salinas, founder of the Children’s Integrated Choir of Guayana was found murdered this Thursday. Teaching through music, showing all the forms of communication that music allows, is priceless. Doing it for kids with special needs adds another layer to the task: the importance of integration, of developing social skills and the concept that discrimination isn’t overcome through opacity, but rather through the constant labor of beating the odds, opening paths for equality. That’s what Larrys did as the director of the Children’s Choir of Guayana. There’s a beautiful video in which he and his children are part of an awareness campaign for children with down-syndrome supported by Franco De Vita with a version of his song “Tú de qué vas”.
Larrys Salinas’ murder is mourned by many and sadly shows the power of criminals. Despite the armed forces, ministers and delegates on the area, impunity keeps being their main ally. Peace for Larry, justice for his family.
Find the miners now
Zair Mundaray, director of the Prosecutor’s Office, said that 16 out of the 28 missing miners have been identified through interviews with relatives and witnesses. He also said that the Prosecutor’s Office called the miners’ parents to provide DNA samples to help the investigation; meanwhile, Luisa Ortega Díaz, Attorney General, said that “the investigations being carried out at the moment will soon bring results.” I won’t make a summary of the rest of the statements offered by authorities involved in this fruitless effort. The fact is that the miners went missing on March 4 and they still haven’t been found, that’s why the hashtag used today on social media was the title for this paragraph.
Correo del Caroní
Today, a final decision is reached on the slander charges against Correo del Caroní for its reports on corruption within Ferrominera. The newspaper was sued for its coverage on 2013, of accusations and investigations carried out by the Prosecutor’s Office on corruption within Ferrominera Orinoco. Thanks to Correo del Caroní’s work, several corrupt individuals lost their jobs, were arrested and indicted, including businessman Yamal Mustafá, who claims he was dishonored, after walking free when the criminal case against him was dismissed.
The case should’ve prescribed after 18 months, it had been filed for three years and yet, judge Lira ignored the prescription. Carlos Correa, director of NGO Espacio Público, says that this is a mechanism of institutional violence that shows a deliberate malice in the way the judicial system is used against a newspaper that was simply doing its job: informing. It’s a way of forcing self-censure, creating disastrous precedents so that, in the future, other media refrains from whistleblowing, or face the same situation as Correo del Caroní: “These kinds of measures simply diminish the strength of the discussion; because freedom of speech is not saying whatever you want, but not suffering further reprisals for it,” said Correa.
The extended decree
Mark Toner, deputy spokesman of the United States, said that his country’s bans don’t apply to the Venezuelan people, since the decree contains measures limited only to certain individuals. The State Department hasn’t received an official notice from the Venezuelan Government informing them about the recall of chargé d’affaires, Maximilian Arveláez. Hopefully by now it’s clear that the decree isn’t against the country, Bolívar’s sword or our independence, but against a bunch of corrupt people who have regrettably been promoted to higher government posts precisely because they were marked by the U.S.
In the National Assembly
The Bill for the Framework Law on Referendums was approved in its first debate. It seeks to reduce the CNE’s discretion on the method. A Bill Against Drug Trafficking was also approved, along with an agreement to request the International Labor Organization’s technical assistance to work on issues sensitive to syndical freedom in the country. The PSUV’s arguments to resist the Special Law of Humanitarian Crisis on Health, were ludicrous. The shortage of 80% of essential medicines and an unpaid debt of four billion bolívares owed to the pharmaceutical industry, weren’t convincing enough evidence for them. It’s obvious that they will oppose requesting humanitarian aid.
This Thursday, Nicolás approved the creation of a National Bank of Supplies for small and medium industries, under the decree of economic emergency. He also approved $230 million through the Chinese Fund, to import raw materials to produce diapers and clinical towels.
“I accept my mistakes but I also accept the responsibility of creating a good, productive alliance,” said Nicolás. He also said that, as soon as he knew of the European Central Bank’s decision to cut interest rates to 0%, he understood that he’s on the right path. Meanwhile, Pérez Abad said that unlike Mexico or Colombia, where industry has been destroyed, Venezuela is secure. Atahualpa Fernández -the maker of el finado’s bags- reappeared as the beneficiary of resources to produce three million pairs of shoes; the Army itself sold 60 Tm of fabric to textile companies at “lower prices than in the capitalist market,” according to Padrino López. The needles used for the foreign exchange acupuncture had to work for something.
The news of Lula da Silva’s preventive arrest led Nicolás to declare that: “If Lula goes to jail, he’ll be as big as Mandela.” A few days ago he compared Evo to Mandela too, but it’s funny how he assumes that prison is a mark of quality in leadership. Since we’re talking about corruption, at least I hope that the ability to post a seven million dollar bail, becomes still more evidence against Rafael Esquivel.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.