For Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
Although the signature authentication process should conclude this Wednesday, Sucre municipality mayor Carlos Ocariz presented the document confirming the results of the validation process of the 1% signatures required by the National Electoral Council this Tuesday. According to the document, 407,622 signatures were received and 243 were duplicates, for a total of 407,379 of which: 399,413 matched, 1,326 didn’t, and 6,641 gave an error. Most importantly, this process took only two days: two, out of twenty days reserved by the CNE for the task. The document indicates that, with the satisfactory fulfilment of this regulation as well as all the required activities -without any observation-, the phase concludes, the document is verified and signed in approval and compliance. The only thing that remains now is setting a date for the next phase of the recall referendum procedure: the signature collection for the 20% of voters.
Ni matando tigres
Econométrica calculated the inflation rate for June at 24.8%. This Tuesday, Cendas-FMV updated the price of the Basic Food Basket for June: Bs. 277,432.88. It increased Bs. 50,979.71 -22.5%- in a month, and 766.3% in a year. 18 minimum wages are required to cover the basket’s price for a family of five. The price of all products increased and half of them are affected by shortages. A couple earning minimum wages and cestatickets only gets Bs. 67,272.30 monthly, which only covers 13 days of food, so most Venezuelans choose to do additional activities –matar tigres, as we call it here- to face the crisis with a slightly higher income.
By the way, Colombia and Venezuela agreed not to allow more provisional crossings at the border while they work to reopen it definitively: “The border will remain closed next weekend as we work to open it permanently (…) it’s unusual for a country to get 120.000 visitors in a single weekend,” said María Ángela Holguín, Colombia’s Foreign Affairs minister.
Enrique Márquez, the National Assembly’s first vice-president, said this Tuesday that the board of directors will restitute Amazonas’ challenged deputies to their seats, since it’s been six months and the TSJ’s yet to issue a decision: “The Electoral Chamber wants to put this to rest without making a decision, which violates the rights of Amazonas’ deputies, the voters and the Assembly (…) We’ve made the decision, we’ll carry it out.” The legislator said that the government’s intention is to prevent the AN to reach the two-thirds majority. Julio Ygarza, one of Amazonas’ challenged deputies, said: “If they imprison us for winning the elections, for beating the government and the PSUV’s candidates, so be it. The people voted for us (…) They can threaten us with prison, but we’ll occupy our seats.”
Nicolás’ Constitutional Chamber
The TSJ’s Constitutional Chamber declared the constitutional validity of Nicolás’ decree N° 2,371, which extends the economic emergency in the country for 60 days. The same Chamber nullified the Parliament’s “Special Committee to recover the TSJ’s institutionality,” as well as its creation, its actions, reports and other instruments they’ve produced, due to lack of validity, existence and judicial efficacy. The decision N° 614 presented by chief justice Gladys Gutiérrez, invalidated the Parliament’s action and declared that any Committee, device or action advanced with the goal of cancelling the justices’ appointment is null and void, since it subverts the constitutional procedure to remove the justices.
The UN and Venezuela
While Nicolás travelled to Nicaragua to celebrate the 37th anniversary of Sandino’s revolution, the Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote: “We urge the government to accept humanitarian aid in support of the efforts to distribute food and properly supply medicines, and to guarantee the distribution is fair.” The spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani remarked that her office is paying close attention to Venezuela’s situation due to violence, crime, food shortages, food protests and the arrests carried out in them, which reveal the government’s excessive use of force. That must be why Delcy has denied the High Commissioner the visa required to perform an observation mission in Venezuela since 2014.
The lawsuit goes on
Gary Redish, Diosdado Cabello’s lawyer, reported that the lawsuit for libel against The Wall Street Journal goes on: “We withdrew the lawsuit against News Corp because the company’s not directly involved with the newspaper.” The lawyer explained that Dow Jones is the newspaper’s owner and that’s why the cause continues against them. The document both parties filed before the Court of the Southern District of New York, states that the lawsuit against News Corp is dismissed according to an agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant. Colleen Schwartz, spokeswoman for Dow Jones, said: “The lawsuit against Dow Jones continues and we will vigorously defend The Wall Street Journal against this lawsuit.” Both confirmed that the preliminary hearing was postponed for September 7th.
The Ombudsman, Tarek William Saab, said that a notice has been sent to the court that processes the cause of Aramita González (a political prisoner), requesting that her extraordinary circumstance of mental health be taken into account. The results from the medical tests carried out in the Hospital Militar confirm that Aramita is indeed in need of medical attention, but the Hospital Militar itself has refused to proceed with her psychiatric treatment for political reasons. Arrested on Jun 24th, 2014, and accused of criminal association and instigating violence due to an alleged complaint filed by cooperating patriots, Aramita’s rights have been violated with absolute impunity. I lost count of the amount of times her initial hearing has been postponed: two years imprisoned without a trial! My recognition for the invaluable work of her lawyer, José Vicente Haro, who has described and decried this case in all possible instances.