Admitting atrocities

Your daily briefing for Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Defense minister Vladimir Padrino López issued a statement this Tuesday about the criminal conduct of his subordinates: “I don’t want to see another National Guard committing an atrocity in the street. Whoever breaks from the State’s line, from the preeminence of human rights, from respect for human rights and behaves unlike a professional, is going to be held accountable.”

This happens after 67 days of protests in which repression has only dialed up in tandem with GN and PNB crimes.

The admission of the crimes isn’t enough. Making justice and reparations to the victims is an imperative.


Mérida governor Alexis Ramírez confirmed the death of 25-year old Edwar José Paredes, shot in the abdomen during a protest in Ejido on Monday. In Carabobo, 15-year old student and football player Luis Guillermo Espinoza was shot in the head by the GN in El Tulipán neighborhood. He underwent surgery yesterday and prognosis is reserved since the bullet grazed the base of his skull, according to his aunt.

In Caracas, the GN repressed Metropolitan University students, wounding more than 12 with pellets and tear-gas canisters. The @VPITV team was prevented from covering repression, even though the right to information can’t be suspended even during states of emergency.

Violating rights

Gonzalo Himiob, lawyer for NGO Foro Penal, denounced the cruel treatment suffered by several of the people arrested last Saturday in a TransChacao bus.

Tear-gas canisters have been thrown in their cells and the women in the group have been sexually harassed. One of them was even offered payment for sex. Himiob said that judge Yoani Villafañe was taken aback by the complaints and ordered protective measures for the detainees. 11 out 38 was sent to prison, three were released under precautionary measures and the remaining 25 were also released under precautionary measures, but with a guarantor. One of the girls, Yusneibi López, tried to jump off a window in the courts after the hearing, according to human rights lawyer Elenis Rodríguez Martínez.


Argenis Chávez, brother of el finado, was sworn in as governor of Barinas state yesterday, after Zenaida Gallardo resigned for medical reasons. The former head of Corpoelec vowed in his speech that neoliberalism would never again rule Venezuela, because “the children of Bolívar and Chávez (must be weird to be your own brother’s son) are willing to give their lives” for the Revolution, although he’d later say that the government’s doors will remain open for all Venezuelans. So cute.

Speaking of cute

Prisons minister Iris Varela attacked general prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz because, in her view, Díaz hasn’t done justice for the opposition’s violence, adding that she’s dusting off baseless accusations against chavismo and that she’s removing prosecutors who don’t follow her orders, which shouldn’t shock her if true, because it’s a well-known practice of chavismo. Varela threatened that the Constituyente will make “that lady and those fascist” pay “for every single drop of blood and tears shed by our people.” Pure peace.


The International Epidemiology Situation Bulletin created by Cuba’s Health minister offers information on Venezuela that the PSUV refuses to release. Hemorrhagic fever (also known as guanarito fever) caused 142 suspicious cases and 26 fatalities in 2016. Until February, 2017, Venezuela reported 52 probable infections and six people dead. The amount of suspicious cases in Venezuela has increased since 2015 and “initial morbidity figures for 2017 anticipate that this year will also be epidemic,” according to the Venezuelan Society of Public Health. We’re as vulnerable for our lack of information as we are for our lack of medicines. The government’s irresponsibility is astounding.

Human rights

The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke at the opening of the 35th session of the Human Rights Council, pointing out that our growing crisis on the matter underscores the urgency of an impartial analysis and swift assistance: “I urge the government to accept my request for a work mission in the field,” insisted Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Meanwhile the U.S. denounced the Venezuelan government repressing protests against it. Ambassador Nikky Haley declared that if Venezuela can’t fend off human rights violations, the country “should resign willingly from its place in the Council, until order is restored at home,” saying that the only thing we Venezuelans need is a free election. The Venezuelan ambassador, Jorge Valero, replied: “Being a part of the Council is a privilege and a country that violates human rights shouldn’t be allowed to sit at the table,” boasting an enviable coherence. The OAS’s Foreign Ministers meeting about Venezuela will reconvene on June 18th in Mexico, a day before the General Assembly.


Henrique Capriles said last night that there are differences between Nicolás and Diosdado, because the former wants to find a space for negotiation and the guy with the mace, much more radical, won’t accept that. He also mentioned growing tensions between GN commander Benavides Torres and Interior minister Reverol. Technically, they’ve already realized they won’t be able to squash protests in 10 days, although Reverol will lose his spot if he doesn’t deliver. “If all of us don’t take to the streets [today], then Reverol will impose his agenda,” said the governor, asking the young frontliners of the protests to be careful with infiltrated agents. He asked minister Padrino López who was the highest authorities in Defense matters, him or Reverol, and whether he’ll guarantee the lives of Venezuelans, urging him not to stay in words but to take action, because we’ll go out to protest today.

Parents of J. M. de los Ríos patients who have died for the unresolved contamination in the hospital went to the Prosecutor’s Office yesterday to file their complaint. An guard prevented them from entering in the company of lawyers from Cecodap and Prepara Familia, two NGOs that have followed these cases closely. Despite this violation, they could still accomplish their purpose. If the Prosecutor’s Office wants to earn a few extra points with history, it should shake up corruption in the healthcare system.

See you today, on the street.

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.