Luisa Ortega Díaz presented a report on recent protests as a sort of appeal with authority, for the Rule of Law, her office’s role and its exclusive authority to initiate criminal action: “The Prosecutor’s Office investigates because it is entitled to initiate criminal action, and of course we’ll demand due punishment for those responsible. Let no-one dare to pursue proceedings different from those enshrined in our Constitution,” adding that the Fiscalía isn’t part of the security services, but the body entitled to initiate criminal prosecutions and that’s why they’re responsible for qualifying offenses. The Prosecutor General urged respect for due process —which must be enforced even during states of emergency— keeping information transparent and guaranteeing the security of criminal proceedings because “the country needs judicial security.”
She further reported that, according to her records, 26 people have died, 437 have been wounded and 1,289 have been arrested so far. This last figure is far smaller than the one released by NGO Foro Penal. She said criminal groups are involved in the incident in El Valle, admitted that most dissidents who protest do so peacefully, and asked all political leaders to lower the tone of their statements and relaunch negotiations to overcome the crisis.
Luisa Ortega Díaz distanced herself from the government, she didn’t use newspeak and acknowledged the gravity of the situation. She acknowledged opaque proceedings during arrests and in certain court rulings. She condemned violence and even contradicted some statements issued by Interior minister Reverol and Nicolás himself. It was a reasonable and necessary statement, which increases the cost of her peers’ raving chavismo. We should ponder the relevance of such a fracture in the solid concrete block that the government used to be.
The flip side
Diosdado Cabello accused opposition leaders of taking advantage of protests to murder people, claiming once again that the opposition needs a coup d’État. “They started it with the National Assembly, they don’t have the ovaries to just say they’re committing a coup d’État.” He cautioned chavista militants that they must be on the street to counter the opposition’s marches and said that the opposition only needs power to “hand the nation over to imperialism” (in place of Cuba); privatize PDVSA (they destroyed it) and dissolve State powers (like they did,) but that they could accomplish it only through a coup d’État. Amidst a demonstration for peace, Diosdado said: “We must strike back to eliminate the enemy.” So much hatred from such a puny man.
Venezuela, leaving the OAS?
Yesterday, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry condemned the statements of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and ended direct negotiations for a solution to the Mercosur controversy, activating the arbitration process; she ignored the statements of France and the UN’s Human Rights Office regarding their concern for escalating violence against protests; as well as the discussion the European Parliament will hold to condemn “the brutal repression against peaceful protests in Venezuela”; of course, she also ignored the announcement of the Mercosur Board’s visit scheduled for May 5th, but the fact that the OAS Permanent Council called for a meeting to decide whether they would hold a discussion about Venezuela’s conflict was more than Delcy could handle, so much so that she launched this threat: “President Nicolás Maduro has instructed me to start proceedings for Venezuela to leave this institution,” because, once again, in her view there can be no discussion about a dictatorship and its abuses without said dictatorship’s approval. Fortunately, she already called for an extraordinary meeting of Celac for May 2nd. All experts on the matter agree: judicially speaking, it’s complex to leave the OAS, but politically, Venezuela could simply disregard the institution. Chavismo excels in malice and arrogance. If they’re leaving, they should at least pay their huge debt with the OAS.
“The fascist right-wing”
Minister Néstor Reverol reported that security bodies arrested 14 people for their alleged responsibility in the death of 11 citizens in El Valle. All the detainees were wanted “for homicide, theft or drugs” and he said that they’re being questioned to “establish the responsibilities of those people” who use them to commit vandalism. He also spoke about arrests in La Vega and Mérida and claimed that on Monday night in San Martin, there were “people hired by the fascist right-wing,” strange, because they didn’t arrest anybody and still he comes up with that explanation. He accused the opposition of promoting violence and reminded mayor Ramón Muchacho of his responsibility for the destruction left by violent demonstrators. He spoke as a chavista, not as a minister, if he has ever been able to even pose as the latter.
Three days, Tarek
Parliament approved via majority vote the agreement rejecting the lack of response of the Poder Moral concerning the serious misconduct of the TSJ’s Constitutional Chamber justices. They gave None-budsman Tarek William Saab three days to activate the process to remove the Constitutional Chamber justices: “Once this term expires, the National Assembly will consider him as an accomplice of the coup and will act accordingly,” said Freddy Guevara.
Meanwhile, lawmakers José Guerra and Tomás Guanipa denounced before the Prosecutor’s Office the government’s hate campaign and demanded the opening of an investigation into the reach of Plan Zamora and Diosdado Cabello’s Revolutionary Fighter’s Handbook. By the way, AN Speaker Julio Borges rejected the request to meet former president and dialogue mediator Leonel Fernández.
Rights and pledges
TSJ head Maikel Moreno issued a statement condemning, rejecting and deploring violence in recent protests, claiming that violence as a way of protest “isn’t a right, it’s a crime.”
Nicolás remarked that he’ll make “historic announcements (…) that will shape the course of the country’s working class” on May 1st, because a “new stage of the working class revolution” has started and the revolution is going on “popular offensive” mode. Nicolás said opposition protests have caused losses worth Bs.100 billion and also ratified the call for a counter-march of public employees today, to Bellas Artes.
The opposition’s challenge is overcoming the distinguishing mark of authoritarian government: violence. Non-violent protest is boring for many, but it’s an overwhelmingly effective tool to expose chavismo‘s illegitimacy. Violence merely plays into the government’s hands and, actually, international support is bound to the institutional agenda, not to anarchy. Most if not all of us are fed up, it’s a deep social rage that the government insists on ignoring to push it to other stages more favorable to them. These are troubled days. Take care.