“I just spoke with president Maduro and told him that the recent situation is unacceptable for Colombia,” said Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, concerning the settlement of a Venezuelan military camp in Arauca department, at the border with Venezuela. During the phone call, Nicolás assured him that he’d ordered the troops out of Colombian territory and they agreed on keeping dialogue and open diplomatic channels until the situation goes back to normal, but Santos ordered Colombian troops sent to the place, to remain in the area to keep exercising full sovereignty.
Venezuelan soldiers (some outlets say 60, others 120) crossed to Arauquita from Apure state and set up camp. The major general in charge of the area, Santiago Sandia, said that the soldiers were in Venezuelan territory carrying out routine exercises and that “the limit is usually taken to be the Arauca river, but the actual limit is five kilometers beyond it.” Santos has no doubt about the violation, because according to current treaties, the border is determined by the Arauca river and the soldiers were on the Colombian side. Sandia says that the presence of Venezuelan soldiers in Colombia isn’t a threat, but Santos thinks otherwise and Nicolás agreed.
Elections, not suspension
A group of 14 American countries issued a statement that’s set to be put to a vote in the OAS Permanent Council next week, to increase pressure on the Venezuelan government, demanding the release of political prisoners, confirmation that elections will be held and guarantees regarding autonomy among branches of government. They’re lacking four votes and a few notions about the reach of local despotism, but for now, few countries support Venezuela’s suspension from the institution. This is the United States’ stance: although they think that the OAS is the appropriate institution to deal with our situation, that Almagro’s report is careful and that elections must be held as soon as possible, they don’t support suspension; neither does Mexico, remarking yesterday that said suspension must be a measure of last resort, that the dialogue that hasn’t happened must be re-established first. How many more people must starve to death to speed up diplomatic proceedings?
In any case, Foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez denounced the U.S. for trying to “impose a new Washington Consensus.” She also said she’s preparing another statement against Spanish political parties (PSOE, PP and Ciudadanos) because they expressed their support for Luis Almagro’s report yesterday and demanded the activation of the Democratic Charter in Venezuela.
No fuel, but we have propaganda
Chavismo has managed to impose policies of control and expropriations, the destruction of the production of goods and services, and economic contraction. Venezuela’s great triumph has been its diminishing oil output, imports, rights and liberties, as well as eradicating any vestige of the rule of law and checks and balances of government. Venezuela breaks global records on inflation, scarcity, corruption, repression, murder rates and impunity. And despite this depressing context, the government is capable of spending sorely needed resources on a trade fair about alleged examples of productivity in the midst of recession, without bread, without fuel, with yet more power outages and rationed water.
Nicolás opened the Expo Venezuela Potencia 2017, where he claimed that there are investors desperate to bring their money to Venezuela, but he didn’t dare call them out by name, to avoid any American conspiracy; he also claimed that he respects and celebrates private companies, that he lends them a hand —to slap them, of course— and called for the building of a real and solid economy, after destroying the one we had. Admitting the existence of social and economic wounds, he pointed out that “the social body remains strong,” that Venezuela has a powerful internal market —represented by long lines and no purchasing power— so he assumed that he was giving an important and firm step toward a new economic model yesterday.
Because according to him, 2016 was the last year of the oil rentist model and that’s why he ordered his economic cabinet to design a plan of action to pull the country out of the crisis, which they’ll have to announce next March 27th. “I’m not going to deceive anyone,” he said, to remark that progress won’t be fast. Sadly, he didn’t say that it will never happen with the PSUV in power. He stated that CADIVI times are over, that we must all find and invest dollars, claiming that over 90% of the country’s economy is in private hands, without mentioning how many businesses have gone bankrupt. He criminalized bakers to the point of making them the only ones responsible for the food crisis. The level of dissociation in his speech was beyond tolerable. During the event, he took the chance to hand out over $19 million and Bs. 9,000 million to financing to national companies. Alberto Vollmer was trending yesterday for all the wrong reasons.
Inaction and action
Once again, armed groups broke into the Universidad de los Andes (in Mérida) after the students protested to demand safety. The irony is huge, but what stands out is the inaction of security forces in the area to protect students within university grounds. Hours later, the forensic police (CICPC) reported on all social networks that its officers -attached to Interpol- arrested former Curazao Finance minister George Mohammed Jamaloodin in Valencia airport, wanted by authorities in his country for several crimes. We can’t call that justice. They caught one corrupt guy but left dozens of malandros to assault and harass ULA students, teachers and staff with complete impunity, as usual.
Once again, the preliminary hearing of political prisoner Steyci Escalona, lawmaker Gilber Caro’s girlfriend, was postponed, this time until April 24th.