Up in the Air

Your daily briefing for Thursday, September 15th.

For Thursday, September 15, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

While the PSUV was making a — notably questionable — effort to revive the “1% fraud” talking point, with terrible speeches by lawmakers Tania Díaz and Héctor Rodríguez, Juan Carlos Caldera — who represents MUD on electoral matters — reported that National Electoral Council authorities were to meet yesterday at 2:00 p.m. to discuss the conditions for the 20% signature collection drive. The day ended without any news from the electoral institution.

To fill CNE’s silence

Journalist Eugenio Martínez dedicated yesterday’s article to the CNE’s technical proposal which includes enabling 5,342 captahuellas (the MUD demands 19,000) for the collection of the 20% signatures to activate the recall referendum: a minimum of 3,913,403 registered voters. The other discrepancy lies in the 4,000 voting centers proposed by the CNE, even though the opposition demands 6,500.

What could slow down the process? The fact that, on top of placing their fingerprints to verify them in the Integrated Authentication System, voters will have to sign and place their fingerprints on the books.

Two important details: the CNE could repeat the strategy they used to hinder the 1% signature verification process, installing voting centers located in distant and sparsely populated areas, and ignoring the Constitution by demanding the 20% signatures to be collected regionally instead of nationally. The MUD called for a protest with pots and spoons for this Friday, to launch a nationwide cacerolazo. ENT specialists must be full of expectations.

The diplomacy of peace

Foreign Affairs minister Delcy Rodríguez claimed that — despite the agreement announced on Tuesday by Mercosur’s founding members — Venezuela holds the institution’s temporary presidency and they won’t allow violations against the bloc’s agreements: “Attempting to destroy Mercosur through anti-judicial schemes is evidence of political intolerance and bureaucratic despair,” says one of her five tweets, in which she made another reference to the “triple alliance” even though consensus was reached by four countries. Delcy promised to expose the truth about Venezuelan laws, although she put more emphasis on how shocked she is by… political intolerance!

Meanwhile, Rigoberto Gauto, Paraguay’s vice-minister of Economic Affairs and Integration, said that there’s no interest in expelling Venezuela from the bloc and that’s why an extension was granted for the government to adequate national laws to the bloc’s judicial demands, remarking that Venezuela would not be expelled, only suspended. The challenge for the PSUV is ratifying Mercosur’s agreements -including Human Rights-. Some reports speak of the modification of 300 laws and the adoption of 40 international agreements, but how are they going to change laws if the National Assembly doesn’t exist for them? If the Supreme Tribunal of Justice disregards all of Parliament’s decisions with the excuse of contempt?

Other spheres of diplomacy

Former ambassador Roy Chaderton spoke in Margarita about the need for in chavismo to look carefully at its own record, the importance of correcting past mistake and accepting responsibilities. According to this champion of cynicism, there are officials within the government who have failed Chávez, Nicolás and the process: “Nobody resigns here. Those who are accused don’t stand up to defend anything but instead hide and look for other activities within a kind of defeat that harms the country’s economic and political wellbeing (…) We must have political maturity and create a capacity for rectification and assuming responsibilities,” he added. Sadly, he didn’t provide any names, either for those he disapproves, nor for the bunch of delegations that have refused the invitation to participate in the NAM summit.

With equal measure of cynicism but much less mastery, the government’s permanent representative before the UN in Geneva, Jorge Valero, condemned the statements issued by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights, in which he denounced that his office’s experts have been denied access to the country. Valero regretted “the bias of [Zeid’s] statements, disconnected from reality,” concerned for the lack of equanimity because, according to him, the full exercise of all Human Rights and fundamental guarantees is secured here like never before in history. SEBIN’s detainees could ratify it whenever Zeid wants to ask them, just in case. Padrino López has admitted issues in the supply of rice, coffee and deodorant, so violations and violence take place in several areas simultaneously.

Another step

The Inter American Human Rights Commission and their Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Speech condemn the wave of threats, detentions, searches and the opening of criminal procedures against members of opposition political parties, peaceful protesters and journalists, the the midst of a series of restrictions to the exercise of fundamental rights imposed by the Venezuelan regime against those who express their support for the promotion of the recall referendum. They also regret massive layoffs of public servants and the TSJ’s Constitutional Chamber’s decision that declares all of the AN’s decisions as null, invalid and lacking judicial efficiency. They urge the Venezuelan government to cease detentions, to guarantee due process and remember that nullifying all of the decisions issued by the National Assembly -a power elected by popular vote- could constitute an inappropriate restriction to the exercise of political rights and produce a severe alteration of the democratic system’s operation.

Who’s the IAHRC talking about?

There was a party In San Juan de los Morros’s prison in Guárico, but instead of confetti, the cotillón at the end contained a grenade, leaving two dead prisoners, and wounding sixteen other prisoners as well as six relatives. But relax, the National Guard claims to have the situation under control. While prisoners can play with grenades, a mayor can’t take pictures of some trucks. Virginia Vivas, mayor of Córdoba municipality in Táchira, was intercepted by Army officers who threatened with arresting her if she didn’t hand out her cellphone. Four out of five soldiers showed their rifles to the mayor and after a brief discussion, they allowed her to move on.

Oblivious to this story, the Venezuelan Mayors Association offered a press conference to set a stance about the political persecution of several of its members, remarking that the Framework Law of the Public Municipal Power establishes only certain kinds of reasons to ratify an mayor’s absence from his office: resignation, death and recall. Baruta mayor Gerardo Blyde provided a summary on the hostilities, explaining that the Prosecutor’s Office hasn’t opened any investigations against the mayors SEBIN has recently summoned, so he urges the government to use a recall referendum if they want to remove mayors from their offices. Chacao mayor Ramón Muchacho said that, from the group of mayors elected in December 2013, 26 have open trials and accusations before the Prosecutor’s Office for political reasons and that several have been illegally removed from their offices.

In Barquisimeto’s Day, Domingo Carrasquel, an icon of the Cardenales de Lara, died at 78 years old. He led the team to their first title in Venezuela’s Professional Baseball League, after 25 years of its foundation. Carrasquel created the Cardenales de Lara baseball school for minors that triumphed last year in the Latin American Children’s Baseball Tournament to proceed to the Little League Baseball World Series. His remains will be taken today to the Chemán Ramírez stadium. May he rest in peace.

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.