A Necessary Prisoner

Your Daily Briefing for Friday, March 3, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

One day before completing his 8 year sentence, a military tribunal convicted former Defense minister Raúl Isaías Baduel of new crimes, ordering his transfer from Ramo Verde military prison to the Martial Court at Fuerte Tiuna. The general is accused of crimes against the nation’s integrity, independence and liberty. Merely a week ago, the newspaper Últimas Noticias released a news article that no other outlet covered: the arrest of nine medium rank officers were allegedly plotting a Coup d’Etat. They presumably met in December to plan an assault on Company 4209 to steal 52 rifles, 312 clips, 3,200 cartridges, 20 9mm pistols and two thousand units of ammunition for them. The article claimed that the group had “support and firepower in Caracas, Bolívar, Carabobo and Zulia,” and that they’d serve as a security ring for Baduel. The specifics of what they were planning to steal were almost as baffling as the capacity and influence attributed to them.

Although the list might grow

Lawmaker and Voluntad Popular leader Freddy Guevara said this Thursday that the Anti-coup Command headed by vice-president Tareck El Aissami seeks to illegalize his political party through the “Plan Siembra,” which consists of linking VP’s leadership to military sectors, by planting evidence to accuse leaders and activists of civilian and military rebellion, in addition to crimes such as terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking. Guevara detailed the cases of party leaders that have been accused so far and the pattern behind the accusations, many of which also linked with Raúl Isaías Baduel.

Meanwhile, Alejandro Zerpa’s defense lawyer said that SEBIN refuses to comply with the court ruling ordering his transfer to the Hospital Militar where he must undergo a surgery for a life-threatening cervical injury. Curiously, Ombudsman Tarek William Saab issued a statement yesterday, but regarding mayor Delson Guarate, who has been diagnosed with cancer in prison, saying that he’ll receive medical attention in private clinic and denying reports that he’s still being held in El Helicoide. Interestingly, he explained that he’s in touch with SEBIN head Gustavo González López, after so many complaints about that institution’s countless abuses, only to claim later that the request to activate the Inter American Democratic Charter is a disturbance and a provocation to the progress of the dialogue that hasn’t happened.

Our situation

“What Nicolás Maduro’s regime is doing in Venezuela is genocide,” said National Assembly Speaker Julio Borges, during the presentation of the National Survey on Living Conditions (Encovi), the research carried out by professionals from the Andrés Bello Catholic University, the Central University and the Simón Bolívar University. According to Borges, Nicolás “operates outside the Constitution, outside democracy, outside of what it means to provide the people with quality of life.” Additionally, according Bloomberg’s Global City Breakfast index, released this Thursday, Venezuelans must work at least nine hours to be able to afford their breakfast, while residents of Abu Dhabi, Osaka and Zurich need less than five minutes. The disparity is the widest in Latin America: from 2.4% in Monterrey (Mexico), to 111% in Caracas.

Oh, the empire!

While Venezuela’s Foreign ministry and the chavista caucus of the National Assembly condemned the U.S. Senate’s support for the activation of the Inter American Democratic Charter, in a U.S. Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Democrats and Republicans evaluated the possibility of applying sanctions to more Venezuelan officials and urge other governments in the region to pressure for regime change. Bob Corker, head of the Senate’s committee specified that the U.S. has rescinded the visas of 140 Venezuelan officials and said: “Our government is certain about the criminal activity and the corruption in the Venezuelan government.” Ben Cardin –from the same committee- thinks that they can reinforce sanctions and work with other countries to increase their effectiveness while he talked about a bill to authorize the American government to provide humanitarian aid to Venezuelans.

But that’s not all. According to the United States annual report on drug trafficking, Bolivia, Venezuela and Myanmar have “factually failed” in their international obligations in the fight against drugs, cautioning about the severe global threat posed by money laundering and the use of new technologies to finance illegal activities.

Calling out the Comptroller’s Office

Opposition lawmaker Edgar Zambrano filed a request before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice to nullify the Comptroller’s Office’s administrative action against the National Assembly, which he considers illegal. Parliament believes that the General Comptroller severely abused his authority by ordering the intervention of the AN’s Internal Inspection Department, violating the AN’s Internal Rules, the Framework Law of the Comptroller’s Office and the Rules on Public Contests to Appoint Inspectors. Remember that Galindo threatened to storm the National Assembly if necessary.

Demands for the CNE

News outlet El Estímulo says that some MUD parties filed a document before the CNE demanding that the restrictive conditions imposed for party renewals be improved, so that the renewal process is performed individually rather than simultaneously, that more centers and captahuellas be enabled, in addition to demanding the depuration of the Voter’s Registry and urging electoral authorities to publicly establish the rules by which voter signatures will be nullified and how can they be fixed, so parties can have a stronger system to guarantee the uniformity of the support they obtain. To conclude, the MUD thinks that the CNE must review and adjust the schedule for the renewal process.

Tareck El Aissami and the rest of the cabinet will present their annual report for 2016 before the TSJ today, violating the Constitution and backed by the favorable ruling issued by that same tribunal. Since this is a government with clear priorities, yesterday their propaganda machine invested significant effort in justifying the events with which they plan to commemorate the fourth anniversary of el finado’s death.

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.