Venezuelans were still coming to terms with the fact that inflation between January and June hit 176% —it reached 21.4% in June alone— and with governor Mata Figueroa’s announcement regarding the electoral drill for the Constituyente, set for Sunday, July 16th, the day also set for the plebiscite proposed by the opposition, a process which will be guaranteed by university rectors.
We’re still astonished by Katherine Harrington’s sudden rise in the ranks —from usurper to stowaway— and the removal of prosecutor Narda Sanabria for helping her illegally access the Prosecutor’s Office’s headquarters, right when an audio recording circulated by Runrunes reveals the agreement between paramilitary groups and National Guard officers for the assault on the National Assembly, stating that: “If we let these guys do whatever they want (…) they’ll oust this government in less that fifteen days.” Additionally, VTV and the Prensa Presidencial Twitter account were exhibiting discrepancies between the “live” broadcast and the events already reported on tweets, saying that this Friday was venezolanísimo. We went to bed and then…
The crown jewel of Venezuelan political prisoners, Leopoldo López, was granted house arrest by the TSJ’s Criminal Chamber. According to its brief notice, presented by chief justice Maikel Moreno, there were two key reasons: irregularities in the case file and health issues. As a result, the TSJ decided it was appropriate to grant the political leader a humanitarian measure, transferring him from Ramo Verde military prisoner early this Saturday.
Following protests before the Prosecutor’s Office back in 2014, López had been sentenced to 14 years in prison for the crimes of public instigation, damage to property, arson and criminal association. Back then, the country also woke up to news of his arrest while Nicolás was flying to Cuba.
During the welcome message for the Buque Escuela Simón Bolívar, Defense minister Vladimir Padrino López said that the measure was the result of Nicolás’ dialogue efforts and that the TSJ ratifies branch autonomy by granting López this benefit “despite being responsible for the death of 43 people” – he was never indicted for this crime- and that the measure must “be accepted by all Venezuelans.” Padrino López said that the measure shows Nicolás’ clemency.
But for former minister Iris Varela, the scenario isn’t so sweet and she demanded the Constituyente to bring justice “to end the impunity of the fascist right-wing’s actions,” angrily admitting (in truth, her only known emotion) that she doesn’t agree with the decision but she accepts it, that they’ve taken a lot of flak “from every corner of the revolutionary people’s country” but saying that it’s “the best decision that could’ve been made.” Sadly, VTV cut her broadcast short.
Tarek William Saab, more tangled up than a ton of yarn, tried to reinforce three lines: the government’s good even with bad guys, while the Prosecutor’s Office is a disgrace; institutions are operational in Venezuela and he’s a human rights genius. He made the worst mistake while answering a simple question: what was the cause for López’s alleged health issues.
He ended up saying that the reason for the judicial benefit was the government’s generosity and not health issues. Same as with Varela, VTV cut Saab short to read tweets from Communications minister Ernesto Villegas, whose contribution was: with the full powers of the Constituyente’s Truth Committee, there will be more new dissident arrests.
9. La ANC será el escenario para impulsar cambios por aplicación efectiva de la Justicia, esclarecer la verdad y reparar a las víctimas
— Ernesto Villegas P. (@VillegasPoljak) July 8, 2017
Clumsy, exceedingly clumsy. He must be the one who wrote the tweets for the the Guarimba Victims Committee, seriously diverging from his most frequent messages and offering a reconciliation that so far denies its own purpose.
All chavistas agreed on three points: taking it as a fact that Leopoldo López is now unprotected, obsessively repeating that his integrity depends on his family from now on; that we must comply with the TSJ’s decision and this is evidence of Nicolás’ democratic vigor.
Obviously, chavistas in the military reacted poorly. The sole fact that the TSJ decided to call López a “political leader” in its press release, rather than “the Monster of Ramo Verde,” is a severe symbolic blow. Check out some of their blogs, with popcorn, preferably.
Nicolás lied when he said he has moral standing to discuss Leopoldo López’s case because he had nothing to do with his trial, making the Prosecutor General responsible for everything, even though the case’s prosecutor was the recently removed Narda Sanabria, and the judge was Susana Barreiros, who was rewarded for it.
Nicolás demanded for Leopoldo to be taken back to prison for being a “fascist” and the Attorney General’s Office (which operates under orders by the Executive Branch) adhered to the accusation against him, with the consent of Giuson Flores, Nicolás’ brother-in-law.
Back in 2015, he proposed a swap of the two Lópezes (Leopoldo for Óscar, the Puerto Rican nationalist,) saying that it was the only possibility for Leopoldo to leave Ramo Verde. If he wanted to dull the impact among chavista ranks, he failed, but following Ernesto’s lead, he announced that the Constituyente’s Truth Committee will be headed by Delcy Rodríguez.
Some jerk decided to hack the beloved singer’s Twitter account and report his death yesterday morning. Yordano posted a video on Instagram, denying the news: “Hey, friends, I’m waking up to news that someone killed me but I didn’t die (…) I’m fine and I thank you for your solidarity,” adding on the video’s caption: “I’m alive, we’re alive. Don’t let them distract us, we still have so many songs to sing and I know we’ll do it together, in our country and in freedom.” Impossible not to love him.
It’s humiliating that chavismo talks about the Rule of Law, about separation of powers and institutionality, while they keep finding ways to make their threats. But changing Leopoldo López’s situation is a sign that there’s a chance for something that was impossible up until now: a space for negotiation.
We’re the street, only we can cool it down or keep it hot. The magnitude of the crisis demands that we play on both boards simultaneously. There’s still much we don’t know about this government move which has already inspired all kinds of conspiracy theories. See you today at 11:00 a.m. at the Francisco de Miranda avenue near Chacaíto.
It’s been 100 days of protest against Nicolás now. The reasons have only multiplied. We go on.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.