Nicolás is campaigning while the country mourns. Yesterday, he imposed a cadena at the same time governor Henrique Capriles Radonski was scheduled to issue his response regarding the political disqualification imposed by the Comptroller’s Office (CGR) for 15 years.
Once again, Nicolás turned to Syria and the alleged injustices suffered by his buddy Bashar Al-Assad, without even having the decency of mentioning Jairo Ortíz, murdered last Thursday when a National Guard shot him through the heart, according to eyewitnesses in Carrizal. He didn’t mention Jairo Ortíz even though Interior minister Néstor Reverol did, blaming the death on National Policeman Rohenluis Leonel Mata Rojas, claiming that the officer acted on his own volition, but failing to explain why a traffic officer was armed. Nicolás’ version of the country he keeps calling on people to defend with blood, isn’t even close to the country the rest of us live in.
Funny that the CGR has said nothing about Odebrecht’s corruption scandal that shocked Latin America, or PDVSA’s case, denounced by the National Assembly’s Comptrollership Committee. But it does disqualify political leaders, even if it means usurping the Judiciary’s functions. In order to sanction popularly elected officials, the Constitution demands a solid judicial ruling, but this is a dictatorship and Capriles’ disqualification adds up to the coup d’État, it’s a new violation of the Constitution and further evidence of the rupture of constitutional order.
Henrique Capriles did the right thing: dismissing his disqualification and turning it into just another reason to strengthen the civic cause, the protest and the undeniable need for political change. He asked his team at the Governor’s Office for help in touring the country: “I’m already campaigning, not as a candidate, but to achieve change Venezuela.” He remarked that only Nicolás is disqualified here, and that the General Comptroller’s action is evidence of the opposition’s progress. He said to his work team: “We got here through votes, and we’ll overcome this through votes (…) any action other than elections will find us on the street, defending what we must defend.” He vigorously urged the people to protest this Saturday. If the goal of this measure, besides getting rid of electoral challengers, was to fracture the opposition, I sincerely thank Nicolás for the strategy.
Today, I must acknowledge the reaction and company of leaders from different political parties, all of them playing their roles, with the seriousness demanded by the moment, plus yesterday morning’s creative protest, with the symbolic shutdown of the Ombudsman’s Office. That’s a boost for anyone’s hope. It’s necessary for a dissident leader to tour the country with the message of democracy, the moment demands a narrative about a possible country and how to achieve it. Overcoming this disgrace requires illusion, perspective, optimism and motivation, precisely because it won’t be easy and it will take time.
Conatel ordered Venezuelan ISPs to block the websites of news outlets VivoPlay and VPI TV, the only outlets that have been broadcasting the opposition’s recent protests, keeping tabs on repression. Luis Carlos Díaz -Elecé for usual readers- explained earlier that these kinds of bans were also imposed back in 2014 against hundreds of pages, in a time when censorship and self-censorship prevented Venezuelans to know what was happening in a version different from the regime’s. You access VivoPlay, VPI TV and other outlets blocked by Conatel through their applications, but if you want other tools, check out @LuisCarlos on Twitter, there you’ll find a straightforward guide to learn how to change DNS addresses.
Compromising the future
And bankrupting an already broke nation. We already know that Venezuela and PDVSA must repay nearly $3 billion in debt next week, and part of this severe crisis is explained by that. Lawmaker José Guerra said yesterday that Central Bank head Ricardo Sanguino and Finance minister Ramón Lobo, agreed on a repurchase agreement operation with the investment fund Fintech Advisory. In his words: “They handed over bonds of the Fintech vulture fund for $1.4 billion with a 68% discount (…) Now the government’s drowning on a debt they contracted themselves, and is giving away national assets: they get $32 in cash for every $100 in bonds (…) They just betrayed the country, they handed over $1.4 billion to get $450 million in return.” Like everything chavismo does, this is extremely serious.
The world’s eyes are on us
This Friday, El Salvador’s Congress condemned the formal imposition of a dictatorship in Venezuela and supported the role played by OAS head Luis Almagro. Also yesterday, during an interview for El País, Colombian Foreign minister María Ángela Holguín admitted that democratic order is broken in Venezuela and even though she still backs dialogue, she established several conditions for it to be sustainable: issuing an electoral timetable, restoring the Assembly’s constitutional powers, electing new Amazonas lawmakers and releasing all political prisoners.
eIn a surprising but no less cynical move, Ernesto Samper admitted our crisis in Venezuela and like Holguín, he also demanded an electoral timetable and fully restoring Parliament’s authority. Lastly, the eight Foreign ministers of Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance condemned the regime’s repression against recent protests and announced that they will continue to explore diplomatic alternatives to help in the crisis’ resolution.
Miserable, like Nicolás
I conclude with a couple of décimas, out of many others with which a couple of singers “honored” Nicolás in the east of the country yesterday. It’s unthinkable to turn a galerón into a threat, and this particular one said:
Almagro agarró a la OEA
y la convirtió en pupú
igual que Ramos Allup
hizo aquí con la Asamblea.
El que sea de oposición
tendrá un final prematuro
una cosa sí les juro
que aunque tengan mucha plata
quedarán bajo la pata
del presidente Maduro
They also called for the death penalty against traitors, during children’s daytime schedule, but Conatel doesn’t censor that.
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