“Cilia pampers me, makes my breakfast, she helps me with my socks, as it should be, hehehe” – Nicolás, honoring Venezuelan women.
I said on Monday that PSUV’s marches need no permission to go through Libertador municipality, much less to disturb the National Assembly’s plenary with threatening chants: “Y va caer, y va caer, esta Asamblea va a caer.” These were women honoring themselves by walking to see Nicolás and celebrate his brand of peace. The 60 femicides that have taken place so far in 2016 are beside the point. The shortage of maxi pads, contraceptive pills and folic acid in Venezuela, mothers being forced to show their children’s birth certificates to buy diapers or milk -in case they make it to the market on their assigned days- are trifles.
That’s why Nicolás cautioned them about opposition’s promotion of violence and denigration against women, how unacceptable it was to refer to female officials of the National Electoral Council as “malandras”, about the urgency of seeing Venezuelans protest against fascism, although he’s the one blocking the referendum, an ideal means for the expression he demands. In a brilliant twist, he presented the visit of Spanish Congress member, Albert Rivera, as evidence that the opposition wants to hand over the country to the Spanish oligarchy. A country that, according to him, beats machista violence records.
Venezuelan women are sacred, he said. Nobody can raise offense against them!, he yelled. Women can’t be touched with the shadow of a rose’s petal, he ad-libbed. Since verbal violence comes before physical, he asked women not to allow “ni una violencia más,” announcing that Tuesdays will now be dedicated to taking measures in favor of women. He offered public recognition to the affected female authorities, PSUV’s new barajita to attack the opposition, minimizing the extent of their own repression, their ongoing verbal violence and their own record-breaking Human Rights violations.
Annual report for 2015
One need only read the Venezuelan Program of Education-Action on Human Rights (Provea)’s annual report to know about these violations. The report indicates that the Operation for People’s Freedom -OLP- marked a severe rise in repression, with a 902% increase in violations against personal integrity compared to figures in 2014. In 2015, 17,337 violations to personal freedom were reported -a 496% increase-, and use of excessive force, executions and deaths caused by negligence rose as well.
According to Provea, Human Rights in Venezuela have regressed, and Nicolás’s presidency has worsened the situation. Diminishing social conditions, a failing economy -with almost 23 million people in poverty- and health care, with drugstores only able to provide seven out of every hundred requested medicines, to name one detail.
Slow and uncertain
The Democratic Unity Roundtable’s caucus in the National Assembly officially demanded the CNE to publish the signature collection schedule for the recall referendum. But CNE official Sandra Oblitas explained in a radio interview that they don’t have a date for the collection of 20% signatures to activate the referendum, saying that political leaders have the right to advance their campaigns. Which means that it’s absolutely legitimate for PSUV members to say that there won’t be a referendum this year.
“We have the capacity to carry out all the procedures,” said the CNE’s vice-president, demanding respect, because they’re doing their job -improvising obstacles, stalling everything- according to the law. However, according to Luis Emilio Rondón, also a CNE authority, it’s perfectly possible for the recall referendum to take place by late October. Referendum periods depend solely on the Electoral Branch, adding that citizens deserve certainty about every phase of the process, translated as: clear rules, conditions and schedules.
Criticism and support
Costa Rica’s parliament rejected and condemned Nicolás’ actions against the opposition, with a proposal approved by 24 out of 39 of the members present in the vote. The Foreign Ministers of Argentina and Brazil, were instead all for finding a “path of conciliation.” Despite acknowledging the Venezuelan crisis and attentively following events, they decided to trust Rodríguez Zapatero’s mediation.
But it was Albert Rivera, leader of the Spanish party Ciudadanos, who got the most attention. He said that the Spanish are friends and emphasised that the enemies of the Venezuelan people are hunger, scarcity of medicines and crime. Rivera, unlike Zapatero, believes that dialogue becomes more effective with conditions, Human Rights, guaranteeing food and medicine to the people, that aid is not political interference and that Venezuelans can count on his party.
The Comptroller’s Office, despite failing to demand an explanation from Diosdado Cabello on how he’s able to finance his lawsuits against national and international media outlets, issued a letter addressed to governor of Miranda state, Henrique Capriles, asking him if he’s paid for the trips he’s made abroad. The governor replied by demanding a debate in national cadena so that everyone present can publicly make their sworn declaration of assets and said that they “can investigate all they want.”
Everyday’s depreciation added almost Bs. 20 this Tuesday, with the Simadi exchange rate closing at Bs. 471.38 per dollar. Coca Cola shut down its production due to lack of sugar, the Federation of Flour Industry Workers (Fetraharina) warned that pasta and bread production will drop even more due to the shortage of wheat flour and Bridgestone announced that after 60 years operating in Venezuela, they’re shutting down their business forced by the economic crisis.
This Wednesday, the opposition plans to gather at TSJ headquarters to protest against the decision issued by the Second Court of Administrative Litigation last Saturday, restricting public manifestations around CNE offices.