For Thursday, October 27, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
As I wrote this, neither General Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz nor Ombudsman Tarek William Saab have issued statements regarding the unjustifiable repression carried out by paramilitary armed gangs and “security” forces in Aragua, Barinas, Guárico, Lara, Mérida, Nueva Esparta, Sucre, Táchira and Zulia. Saab won’t be able to say much after the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions downgraded the Venezuelan Ombudsman’s Office for its lack of autonomy: “He is not prepared to speak firmly and promote respect for Human Rights regarding credible complaints of severe Human Rights abuses committed by government authorities.” Undeniable.
On social networks, a lot of people mentioned this student who was shot in the eye and killed in February, 2014, while she watched the demonstrations outside her house in Valencia. The government repeated the pattern of shooting people in the face with pellets, using guns against peaceful protests and carrying out arbitrary arrests.
Yesterday’s repression was unacceptable. This OLP against civilians brings to mind the repression in 2014, while the man who was responsible for it, Miguel Rodríguez Torres, dared to speak yesterday morning about the relevance of dialogue and order in the country. To speak about justice when most of the soldiers responsible for Geraldine Moreno’s murder remain free, when Rodríguez Torres himself hasn’t faced justice for his actions, is an outrage.
The Takeover of Venezuela
Hopefully, the “Committee of Victims of the Fraud” was following nationwide protests through social networks. Hopefully, so was signature verifier Jorge Rodríguez, because it was an important exercise to show that the 1% signature collection could be fulfilled with no tricks at all, thus disproving the only argument that blocked the possibility of a recall referendum. Unlike chavismo’s march on Tuesday, the people who marched yesterday had no government credentials, no attendance lists. Retaking public spaces is important, so we can measure our strength, so we know we’re part of a multitude, even to criticize our leaders for their recent mistakes. That’s what many of us did yesterday in the Francisco Fajardo highway when the leaders of the Democratic Unity Roundtable arrived, and much more when they climbed to the stage.
Yes, but on November 3rd, once Nicolás is declared politically responsible for the crisis. That’s why MUD leaders called for citizens to stand beside Parliament -which declared permanent session-; they also announced a 12-hour strike for Friday, October 28th; a meeting with the Nuncio of Buenos Aires to raise the issue that the government must restore citizens their electoral agenda: recall referendum or general elections. That’s why the third action was the march to Miraflores, to deliver Nicolás his termination letter, although they stated a condition to suspend the event: the government must reactivated the 20% signature collection drive for the recall. ¡Ay, Tibisay Lucena!
National Assembly Speaker Henry Ramos Allup didn’t attend the National Defense Council’s meeting convened by Nicolás. In his terms, he wasn’t willing to “go to that theatre, that circus.” Meanwhile, Nicolás was as cynical as Rodríguez Torres and restated the call to dialogue for peace. Deploring Ramos Allup’s absence, which he assumed as a another proof of the National Assembly’s contempt, he claimed that he would go to the national dialogue.
Without opposition representation, I guess he’ll negotiate with all the PSUV’s factions. Inspired by Elías Jaua, who said that Miraflores belongs to the people, not the oligarchy; Nicolás said later that no yankee oligarch will ever set foot in that Palace again, and took the opportunity to warn Ramos Allup not to mess with him or underestimate him. A challenge for everyone who has to listen to him.
The guy who sees no alternative but dialogue, claimed that the opposition is desperate and that everything that’s happening was ordered by Barack Obama. He also demanded the country’s workers and businessmen to ignore the call to strike, while he promised “new actions to guarantee justice in Venezuela.” Nicolás was summoned by the National Assembly for Tuesday, November 1st, to exercise his right to defend himself concerning his political responsibility. Many things can happen before then.
Foreign Affairs minister Delcy Rodríguez claimed that the political trial against Nicolás isn’t applicable because that action doesn’t exist in the Constitution. “It’s made up, an illusion, maybe inspired by recent parliamentary coups, such as the one against Dilma Rousseff,” she said, before reiterating that the Venezuelan opposition’s discussing “a kind of of non-conventional economic war to oust the constitutional government” that represents a vigorous democracy, according to her. It’s more than mere cynicism for her to dare remark that people deserve peace, after yesterday’s savage repression. I insist, they’re mad.
Mgr. Diego Padrón, head of Venezuela’s Episcopal Conference, clarified that dialogue won’t start on Sunday, October 30th, explaining that the goal for that day is different: “There will simply be a meeting to discuss important points and once agreement on these points is reached, then the dialogue process will slowly begin,” asserting that Mgr. Emil Paul Tscherrig, Pope Francis’ envoy, is exploring the willingness of political actors to sit down and talk.
As I walked yesterday, I heard people talk about the recall, the resignation, Nicolás’s birth certificate, general elections, removal from office and the political trial. The National Assembly’s argument is that Nicolás abandoned his office when he failed his constitutional duties. That’s a fat bill to pay.
With their decision to block the constitutional rights of a sizable opposition majority, the government wants conflict, which means that they’re willing to do anything and yesterday’s repression proves that. The opposition has the challenge of raising their own stakes, transcending the usual march to a stage. By repressing protests, the government brings disidents together; by denying the crisis, they multiply our anger.
VTV’s script didn’t foresee this, even though they don’t want to admit it. Yesterday, SEBIN delivered a second summons for mayor Carlos Ocariz. That might be the piece they’ll move in the next few days, in their ongoing persecution against opposition leaders. Every person wounded or arrested yesterday adds to the dictatorship’s bill. This keeps changing fast. Be careful.