Between an idiot and a prisoner of conscience

Your Daily Briefing for Saturday, July 23, 2016.

For Saturday, July 23, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

“Children are the most human of humanity, they’re truly human” – Nicolás Maduro.

This experienced philosopher of the wheel, launched the second phase of the Urban Agriculture plan this Friday, accompanied by the corresponding minister, who must be sniffing what she’s sowing. According to them, more than 9,000 productive units have been activated, but since the goal is 30,000 units for 2016, there’s still much to do. Maybe they’ll achieve it by distributing sowing kits, which they announced this Friday as if they were talking about corn flour. “When December 24th comes, each home will have hallacas, produced by us,” said Nicolás, adding that the government declares itself in defense of the right to a happy Christmas and in just 21 and a half weeks, they’ll sow and harvest the necessary ingredients to make hallacas. I want to see those olives.

Vladimir Padrino López’ words, saying that the Armed Forces has sown sixteen thousand hectares in all the forts, or those of Antonio Álvarez, chairman of el Poliedro de Caracas, saying that an area of 3,200 meters was prepared for urban agriculture in the space that offered big concerts some years ago, were fabulous. Nicolás concluded with his own version of the gospel according to the PSUV: “If Chávez gave his life for us, we must give ours for Chávez’ dreams.” Write this down: Kimberly Clark will now be called Cacique Maracay Productive Plant.

Now what?

This Friday, the Inter American Human Rights Commission exhorted the government to take appropriate measures in view of the shortage of food and medicine: “We urge the State to take integral measures to overcome this crisis,” considering the shortage of medicines and the serious infrastructure and service issues in the healthcare system. The UN’s office for refugees (Acnur), also cautioned about the “silent arrival” of a considerable amount of Venezuelans to Colombia, where they seek safety and medical attention to face the crisis.

Cara e’ tabla

Jorge Rodríguez, the signature verifier, thinks that while National Assembly Speaker, Henry Ramos Allup, and some opposition leaders continue to use a discourse of violence and incite hatred, the dialogue proposed by the government will be hard. He criticized Ramos’ posture regarding dialogue and called for: “peaceful protest against these kinds of demonstrations, because the language of barbarity precedes barbarity, the language of hatred, precedes the outpouring of hatred, the language of violence precedes violence,” cautioning the opposition that, should they persist on calling for hatred, there won’t be any dialogue. Just hours before, Nicolás had said that Ramos Allup hates dialogue. The synchrony between their key messages is shameful. So poorly executed that it’s useless for their purposes.

Give us the date for the 20%

The Democratic Unity Roundtable issued a statement this Friday night, to summarize the status of the talks with UNASUR’s mediators and the key points for dialogue. We already knew that the catholic church had been invited, and also the replacement of the Dominican Republic as the meeting scenario. The MUD says that a sizable proportion of the political prisoners arrested after the mediators’ arrival have been released without restrictions, stating that they won’t accept any more political prisoners. The respect that the rest of the government’s branches owe the National Assembly will be discussed later. Finally, about the recall referendum, they expect the CNE to call for the signature collection of 20% registered voters and to establish the conditions to advance in compliance with the schedule set forth on the Referendum Regulation. Once this is done, they’re willing to start the dialogue.

Spoken but not public

The appeal hearing for Leopoldo López and the three young men who share trial with him wasn’t public. Lilian Tintori said that international lawyers, the media and accompanying public figures were forbidden access to chamber 1 of the Appeals Court of Caracas. The chamber was full of Prosecutor’s Office employees and members of the Committee for guarimba victims. Lilian says that upon entering the chamber, Leopoldo shook the hands of each Committee member and said: “I want to get justice for each of your cases and mine. We’re working for justice in Venezuela.” It was revealed that defense lawyer Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office all presented their arguments. Leopoldo’s participation has been sporadic, but he’s still expected to present his arguments.

This Friday morning, the words of Rosa Amelia Asuaje, PhD in Linguistics and Classical Philology, went viral. She made the report that served as support for Leopoldo’s sentence, but clarified that her report shouldn’t have been used as damning evidence. In contrast, AN deputy Diosdado Cabello said later that Leopoldo López will remain in prison “because they have to pay for the crimes against Venezuelans.” During the hearing, the defense presented a 40-minute video with Rosa Amelia Asuaje’s statements explaining that her analysis was distorted by judge Susana Barreiros to condemn Leopoldo.

Lepoldo’s statement

In an audio uploaded to his Soundcloud account and shared through his Twitter account, Leopoldo López says: “I’m innocent of the crimes for which the Prosecutor’s Office has indicted me, such as arson, damages, instigation, crime association. I take full responsibility for denouncing the Venezuelan government as corrupt, incompetent, anti-democratic and repressive, as is my constitutional right to do so. I take full responsibility for calling to protest peacefully in the terms established by the Constitution, as is my right and the right of all Venezuelans to do so. I take responsibility for exhorting Venezuelans to dream of a better country. I take responsibility for telling Venezuelans that a better country’s possible. I take responsibility for telling Venezuelans about the principle of coexistence enshrined in the Constitution, which establishes the mechanisms to consolidate and build these changes. I take my quota of responsibility. I deny the crimes of which the Prosecutor’s Office has accused me.”

For safety reasons, the defense has requested the hearing to be suspended twice, but the request has been dismissed. So it goes on and information comes out drop by drop. Tomorrow will be a new day.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.