Deeper rifts

Your briefing for Saturday, May 20, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Daniel Rodríguez, a 17-year old student wounded on Thursday night while protesting in Santa Ana (Táchira), died early this Friday. His community has been beaten down by lootings and the rampant violence of armed civilians. A bullet entered the back of his neck and exited through his forehead, making him the fifth person to be murdered in Táchira (five have been killed this very week) and the eleventh minor out of the sad balance of 49 deaths during protests. The Prosecutor’s Office appointed 22nd national prosecutor and 4th prosecutor of Táchira state, to investigate his death.

Governor Francisco Ameliach (Carabobo) reported on Twitter that Carabobo police officer Jorge Escandón died this Friday, after he was shot in the head on Monday during a protest. Unfortunately, he ignored lawmaker Delsa Solórzano when she said in Valencia that Plan Zamora is just a mechanism to hike repression and that “Human Rights violations are now constant in Venezuela.”

Seven innocents

While Defense minister Vladimir Padrino López commended National Guard commander Benavides Torres, for “imposing peace,” his military peers were unconstitutionally trying 14 Margariteño boys in Anzoátegui in military courts, after illegally arresting them, since the testimonies of all mothers agree that they were dragged from their homes. Seven of these kids were sentenced to jail and sent to La Pica prison. The news dealt such a blow to one of the fathers that he suffered a heart attack right there. What they’re doing in these tribunals is abhorrent.

The legacy from this side

General Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz condemned Nicolás’ Constituyente, saying “It isn’t necessary, wise or pertinent to reform the State by writing a new Constitution in order to solve the undeniable and unprecedented crisis that the country is experiencing.” She also thinks that el finado’s Constitution is perfect. Ortega Díaz continues,: “instead of promoting balance or creating a climate of peace, I believe it would accelerate the crisis, due to its sectorial or corporatist nature of “indirect representation.” The General Prosecutor points out that the current Constitution had to be convened through a referendum and then approved through elections, and she also warned that instead of promoting national reconciliation, a Constituent Assembly would spark tremendous uncertainty for the people.

Let’s negotiate with votes

This Friday, after the meeting with the presidential commission for Nicolás’ Constituyente, MSGR Diego Padrón, head of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference (CEV), that the Constitution must be complied with, not rewritten, and that what the people demand “are food, medicines, safety, peace and fair elections.” He urged the commission to use negotiations to consult the people on whether they want a Constituent Assembly or not. “Legitimate dialogue is with the people.They’re the social core of democracy and elections are required for it to work.” He emphasized the urgency of a humanitarian channel to bring food and medicines to the country.

And so, Nicolás

Even though Maduro made an appearance earlier to say that the country will start getting 60,000 tons of wheat per month from Russia, he had Ernesto Villegas recording creepy videos of his free transit through Caracas. He didn’t use the cadena to say that he extended the Bs. 100 banknote’s validity for another month (until July 20th,) but instead tried to persuade us that the Constituyente is inevitable and that the meeting with the CEV was a success.

He complained about being blamed for everything and insulted “donaltrumafter donating money for his inauguration via Citgo. He spoke of corruption in Brazil but said nothing about his links to Odebrecht and claimed that only chavismo is a guarantee of “peace, respect, stability, tolerance,” right after insulting the opposition and OAS chief Luis Almagro. An aside: Nicolás will attend Lenín Moreno’s inauguration in Ecuador. Yesterday, Quito mayor Mauricio Rodas denied any plans to give him the keys to the city or declare him an honorable guest, an acknowledgement that all other heads of state in attendance will receive.

It’s personal

US State Department spokeswoman Lydia Barraza said that the sanctions imposed on the eight justices of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice have no impact on the Venezuelan people or the country’s economy: “These sanctions are aimed at these eight judges who have been a part of the judicial decisions that usurped the National Assembly’s powers,” ratifying that the sanctions represent the United States’ support and commitment to the defense of democracy. He added that they’ll continue to work at the OAS to see how they can “keep supporting democracy and democratic institutions in Venezuela.”

Oh, Maikel!

TSJ chief Maikel Moreno condemned these sanctions (which include him) and claimed that they seek “to coax the conscience of TSJ justices (…) in their attempt to impose their imperial power, the measure will not transcend, since the duty of each of the members of this tribunal lies strictly in complying with the Constitution.” He demanded international legal instances to also condemn “these actions that violate proper judicial proceedings and international agreements.”

Foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez said that the government will take actions before the attacks against the justices and that “Venezuela does not recognize these extraterritorial measures.” But governor Henrique Capriles requested that the Spanish government yesterday start an investigation on assets owned by government officials and extended this request to any country in the democratic world, remarking that they’ll send the U.S. Treasury Department other profiles “for them to review.”


The meeting with the Episcopal Conference was yet another relevant blunder for Nicolás, desperate as he is to provide a semblance of legitimacy for his imposition, a Constituyente without support that didn’t managed to distract the opposition but instead obliterated chavismo’s already scarce political support. Even if he launches 20 cadenas a day, Nicolás lacks the auctoritas to persuade anybody that the Constituyente is a fact and much less to present it as the axis of our non-existent peace, which he attacks with ever growing ferocity. Protests multiply even though mass media isn’t covering them; condemnation for Plan Zamora is more evident and that’s why the Church and other actors emphasize the relevance of elections amidst the most absurd radicalization. I repeat: Nicolás killed Chávez much more thoroughly than cancer ever could.

Today’s the 50th day of peaceful protests in Venezuela: there are millions of us! See you there!

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.