More wounded, fewer arrests

Your daily briefing for Wednesday, May 31, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

NGO Foro Penal reported that 69 people have died during protests, 49 of them have been murdered and the rest have died of various causes. Alfredo Romero said: “The pattern has changed, arrests don’t seem to be the focus of repression. While arrests drop, the number of injuries and deaths keeps rising.” He added that repression is becoming far crueler, and he condemned the use of marbles in pellet cartridges because they can be lethal, making those who fire them as responsible as those who condone such practice. Romero requested the wounded to denounce these attacks before the Prosecutor’s Office in order to keep a record of injuries.

The pleasure of impunity

The National Guard and the PNB set up an ambush against protesters on Tuesday, once again, beating and robbing them, with smartphones and cameras as the loot of choice. Lawmaker Miguel Pizarro denounced that they’d been ambushed in Chacaíto, with a disproportionate use of tear-gas. Attacks on opposition leaders seek to cause panic: if this can happen to a leader, what are my odds?

Additionally, the National Anti-Terrorism Command illegally searched several homes in Bello Monte early in the morning and also raided Plaza Francia in Altamira. 

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants for five Bolívar state police officers and a Bolivarian Militia sergeant for their involvement in the death of student Augusto Puga Velásquez, indicting them for the crime of aggravated intentional homicide, and for cruel treatment and mishandling of a service firearm against the remaining wounded students.

Threats and reasons

While Interior minister Néstor Reverol tweeted a picture with the rest of the men responsible for repression (GN commander Antonio Benavides Torres, PNB director Alfredo Pérez Ampueda and Integrated Police System chief Edylberto Molina,) announcing that they were reviewing strategies for “persistent protests,” NGO Control Ciudadano revealed the results of their study about the patterns of Plan Zamora, cautioning that the Armed Forces are in violation of article 3 of the Geneva Convention and that implementing the plan “constitutes a fertile context for the commission of terrible crimes and severe Human Rights violations.” Control Ciudadano emphasized its concerns about massive repression, the history of violence and impunity, the territorial configuration for demonstrations and protests, the GN’s inaction before lootings and crimes of armed civilians (colectivos), the retaliations against homes and stores, the use of hate speech and the amount of illegal weapons and ammunition in the hands of civilians.


CNE chief Tibisay Lucena explained how candidates may register for the imposed Constituyente, a process which will take place on Wednesday and Thursday. The requisites, all of them detailed on the CNE’s website, must be submitted before municipal boards between June 6th and 10th. The most relevant distinctions between this expedient process and the recall referendum that they blocked last year, were summed up by journalist Eugenio Martínez on his Twitter account @puzkas, and include: requisites for Constituent Assembly candidates will be verified in a week, as opposed to the four months the CNE took to validate signatures and fingerprints for the referendum. For the Constituyente, only a sample of signature forms will be verified. Gone are the days where they checked signatures and fingerprints individually, which means identity theft doesn’t concern the CNE this time, so we won’t be able to denounce whether our signature was used without our approval. Lastly, only Tibisay Lucena and Nicolás know how the voter sub-registry for the eight sectors was established, as well as how much this election will cost and who’s going to approve the additional credit required for it.


Repeating the words previously used by ministers, rectora Socorro Hernández turned out to be a much better PSUV militant than a CNE authority, so she claimed that nowhere in the Constitution does it say that a call for a Constituent Assembly must be put to a popular vote, saying that they’ve always worked with the same speed, that the opposition’s to blame for the recall referendum’s suspension for “not doing things right” and that the political context would be quite different had the opposition engaged in dialogue. The rectora compared the State with a (profoundly dysfunctional) family in which: “Nicolás Maduro is the father, the Constitutional Chamber is the mother and the remaining powers are the siblings.” She couldn’t dress her answers with any sort of technical proficiency and remarked that the board’s still discussing because they still don’t have the Constituyente’s full timetable, contradicting (perhaps by mistake) PSUV’s claims that their imposition’s success is imminent, ignoring the argument that brings citizens of all sectors together: that the problems of Venezuelans won’t be solved by a new Constitution.

Cheap bonds

A U.S. State Department official said yesterday that the Goldman Sachs’ purchase of PDVSA bonds is highly problematic due to the operation’s potential illegality since it wasn’t approved by the National Assembly. Goldman Sachs defended the transaction in a statement released by EFE in which they say: “We recognize that the situation is complex and evolving and that Venezuela is in crisis. We agree that life there has to get better, and we made the investment in part because we believe it will,” adding that the bonds were purchased in secondary markets through a broker in an operation in which they never directly dealt with the government. They surely had to directly deal with the Venezuelans who protested before their headquarters.


The most relevant issue prior to the meeting to discuss Venezuela’s crisis is the resolution proposed by Caricom member countries in which they recognize the crisis and the need for a renewed dialogue and negotiation process (suggesting specific timelines) and demand full respect for human rights, but fail to condemn Nicolás’ Constituyente and urge the Venezuelan government to reconsider its decision to leave the OAS, opening the possibility for Delcy Rodríguez to attend the meeting today. Caricom is composed of 14 countries and this resolution’s supposedly unanimous, so it’s unlikely that any other resolution will be approved unless the members of this bloc don’t back down.

Get some popcorn to watch the march called by Elías Jaua yesterday to “tell the governments that will meet at the OAS [today], seeking to approve interventionist measures in Venezuela, that Bolívar’s homeland deserves respect and that we’re no longer part of that colonial institution,” while most countries agree that our crisis will be solved through negotiations in good faith, so they think it’s necessary to create a group to establish a new mediation.

The Vinotinto beat Japan! Undefeated, no goals against, on Sunday in quarter finals. They’ll face the winner between the United States and New Zealand!

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.