A Storm of Disease

Your daily briefing for Friday, September 30, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

For Friday, September 30, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

This Thursday, the National Assembly approved the agreement ranking the outbreak of malaria in Venezuela as an epidemic, urging the government to take measures to hold its spread. Lawmaker Américo de Grazia explained that there have been no investments to treat the disease since 2013 and there could be 350,000 cases by the end of 2016. The only chavista lawmaker who spoke during the discussion was Luis Soteldo, and he did it only to criticize the opposition for using these matters to cement their electoral platform.

He didn’t say that the epidemiology bulletin hasn’t been released since 2014. He didn’t say that seventeen children have already died of diphtheria in Bolívar state. We’re talking about diseases that could be controlled with vaccines and health care campaigns. Additionally, Miguel Viscuña, director of epidemiology at Salud Miranda, urged the government to increase fumigations and abatizations due to the new African virus called “mayaro fever,” carried by the aedes aegypti, the same mosquito that carries zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever; Venezuela hasn’t reported official figures on these diseases either. Forget Matthew, this is the storm we’re facing.

Dialogue with elections

While Colombia’s government supports ongoing efforts for the dialogue that’s yet to happen but which appears to be an useful marketing tool, pollster Alfredo Keller y Asociados published a study saying that 69% of Venezuelans would vote in favor of a recall referendum, compared to 18% who don’t want it to take place. Moreover, 62% of respondents said they’re willing to provide their signature and fingerprints, while 19% would not. 51% of citizens believe in the probability of a recall in 2016, while 41% think it’s unlikely. Disapproval for Nicolás’s administration peaks at 77%.

The Democratic Unity Roundtable announced that a delegation from the Vatican could arrive to Venezuela in the next few days to mediate in negotiations. They also report that they will keep demanding the National Electoral Council to increase the amount of captahuellas, since the present amount was determined to fulfill only scarcely with the 20% requirement, violating the right of many voters who might want to sign as well. Allegedly, the matter about the amount of machines and their locations is yet to be decided in the CNE, just like the threat that the Supreme Tribunal of Justice might invalidate the MUD as a political party.


Chúo Torrealba said yesterday that there will be political change in the country with or without the recall, because the economic crisis combined with general dissatisfaction, support the call to elections: “People are hungry, people are desperately looking for medicines in this country,” said Chúo. Meanwhile, former lawmaker Blanca Eekhout said that the MUD’s trying to incite violence in the country with protests to pressure the CNE, but also added that the recall referendum is an option and could still take place if constitutional parameters are met.

A few more days

Russia’s government extended Venezuela’s deadline to repay the debt of over $2,8 billion, according to reports from Russian state-operated news agency Ria Novosti. Payment will be made in three years through even transactions to be carried out every six months. The first payment must be made by March 31st, 2019, at an annual interest rate of 8%, that could be hiked to 12% if payment isn’t made on schedule. In June, 2015, Russian president Vladimir Putin had extended the deadline for the payment of the credit granted to Venezuela until December 31st, 2016.

Freezing the rectoras’ assets

Florida senator Marco Rubio requested president Barack Obama to impose sanctions on the CNE’s rectoras and former Interior and Justice minister for Human Rights violations. Rubio demands the assets of Tibisay Lucena, Sandra Oblitas Ruzza and Miguel Rodríguez Torres in the U.S. to be frozen, and that they’re denied access to visas, reminding that the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act -approved by the U.S. Congress in 2014- forces the government to “impose sanctions against individuals who have committed significant acts of violence or Human Rights abuses.” Rubio’s argument is supported on the CNE’s decisions against the recall, political prisoners and even the shortage of medicines. Delcy, prepare your writers.

Other absurdities

In addition to the statements issued by former Spanish president Felipe González, calling the Venezuelan government “an arbitrary tyranny that mocks its own legitimacy” and “Latin America’s worst problem,” Argentine president Mauricio Macri described the most critical areas of our collapse and confessed his indignation and concern, and the moral duty that Argentines have toward Venezuela, “the first [country] to welcome exiles during the dictatorship,” adding that Venezuela’s admission to Mercosur has contributed absolutely nothing to the institution, and that the country hasn’t even fulfilled the democratic requirements to be a full member. Macri promised to keep doing all in his power to guarantee a recall for 2016.

Human Rights at the UN

Oscar Cabello Sarubbi, Paraguay’s Foreign Affairs vice-minister, requested the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to create programs to protect Venezuela’s food security, a request rejected by Venezuela, on the basis that it incited interference and only served imperialist interests. Paraguay’s request had the support of 30 nations while Venezuela was supported by two speeches: Nicaragua, speaking on behalf of ALBA’s member countries, and Cuba, which added the support of 88 countries. @LuisCarlos released a video he made alongside Mercedes De Freitas, head of NGO Transparencia Venezuela, commenting on this event.

Our everyday depreciation: the Simadi exchange rate is up Bs. 1.38, closing at Bs. 657.55 per dollar. Meanwhile, Nicolás expresses his joy for the agreements reached by the OPEC which foresee a $10 hike in the price of the oil barrel for 2017. This, despite the fact that Carabobo state governor Francisco Ameliach already speaks as Diosdado Cabello’s campaign manager; even though the PSUV’s seemingly reorganizing for Nicolás’s absence.

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.