Maduro the Weasel

Nicolás is as incapable of pronouncing the letter “s”  in his speeches as he is of sticking to a coherent script. Yesterday, he said: “I come to recognize the National Constituent Assembly’s absolute power. As Head of State, I subordinate myself to it,” admitting that they started considering the Constituyente option just three days after the government’s defeat in the 2015 legislative elections. According to him, his administration has an approval rating of 35%, which allows him to threaten the opposition with forcing them to negotiate “whether they want to or not.” He celebrated that the opposition decided to register their candidates for gubernatorial elections and criticized them for the months of protests with a memorable phrase: “so much swimming, only to die on this shore?” He demanded the ANC to imprison “any murderer, anyone who called for violence;” sadly, he didn’t include his paramilitaries or his security forces. He also ordered military constituyentes to activate the process to strengthen the Armed Forces.

What else did he say?

He claimed that he’ll reveal evidence of corruption within the Prosecutor’s Office under Luisa Ortega Díaz’s management. He announced that the time has come to build a Communal State and claimed that the Truth Committee “will have the power to remove parliamentary immunity.” He asked Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza to get in touch with Donald Trump; to ask Salvadoran president Salvador Sánchez Cerén to arrange a meeting with all Latin American presidents to “repudiate American meddling;” to make sure that presidents Trump, Santos, Kuczynski and Macri accept the challenge of meeting with him; to ask CELAC to create a dialogue commission and to let the world know that the Lima Declaration threatens Venezuela with military, commercial and financial blockades.

More on the ANC

Delcy Rodríguez said that the items approved by Constituent representatives were published in the Official Gazette: the decree to legislate on various matters -in order to “heal the country”- ratifying that all State institutions must obey their decisions, as well as the plenipotentiary nature of the ANC and the Truth Committee. This committee will be able to access any file, hold hearings, visit detainees, establish criminal and political charges, propose precautionary, substitutive and ancillary measures and even grant pardons or amnesties. We’re all counting on the latter, right?

Persecution

The Venezuelan Mayors’ Association condemned the TSJ’s rulings against mayor David Smolansky. Mayor Gerardo Blyde explained that 23 mayors are either being subjected to judicial proceedings or were removed in violation of the principles established by the Framework Law of the Municipal Public Power: “Since 2014, the government has kept an ongoing coup against the municipal power,” he said, remarking that Constitutional Chamber justices are usurping the capacity to disqualify mayors, since only criminal judges have that authority.

Deliberate lies

Once again, chavismo describes itself. The pattern of persecution against opposition mayors ratifies the statement of the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights concerning systematic human rights violations committed by this government. However, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing this Office of “deliberately spreading lies,” claiming that their report is based on “unverified, biased accusations and false assumptions,” saying that it’s unacceptable for the UN to “insist on openly deceiving the international community” about what’s happening in Venezuela, denouncing their stance as “biased, shameful and a violation of the country’s sovereignty” and claiming that this report damages the UN’s credibility, impartiality and good faith. A diplomatic hit.

Movilnet

Over half of State-owned mobile carrier Movilnet users were left offline due to an alleged cyberattack. Science and Technology minister Hugbel Roa said that “terrorist actions” destabilized Movilnet’s GSM platform and denounced that they documented nine cases were fiber optic wiring was cut, leaving seven of the country’s states without internet service: “The attacks took place with the cooperation of foreign agents, once again trying to interrupt our nation’s connectivity system,” Roa claimed, adding that security agencies already launched an investigation. A little shame wouldn’t hurt them from time to time. Sometimes silence could be better than statements.

Abroad

During his official visit to Israel, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said that the international community must keep pressuring the Venezuelan regime and attempting to create democratic solutions for the country. Uruguay’s president Tabaré Vázquez admitted that Uruguay approved Venezuela’s suspension from Mercosur for fear that its member nations would impose commercial sanctions against his administration, saying that Nicolás never showed “a positive disposition” to the possibility of negotiating with the opposition. Chile’s Chamber of Deputies demanded their government to ask Nicolás to release political prisoners and cease all political persecution, saying that even the most fundamental rights have been violated in Venezuela. Panama is processing assylum status for two justices recently appointed by the National Assembly: Gustavo Sosa Izaguirre and Manuel Antonio Espinoza Melet.

Bad Russia, Good Russia

Rosneft won’t grant PDVSA further credit. After pre-paying $6 billion to the Venezuelan State-owned company, “they have no immediate plans to make any further advance payments to the company.” However, yesterday the Russian Foreign ministry denounced that the individual sanctions against Venezuelan government officials make “the normalization” of the political situation even more difficult, claiming that the ANC is a key factor for stabilization. Russia says that sanctioning corrupt authorities dismantles the dialogue that never happened, so their conclusion is: “There’s no alternative but direct and responsible negotiations between the government and the opposition.”

Credit Suisse

This bank banned its agencies from trading either PDVSA bonds or sovereign bonds, after conditioning all future business with Venezuela to their reputational risk office’s approval: “In light of the political climate and recent events in Venezuela, and actions taken by the current government, we want to ensure that Credit Suisse does not provide the means for anyone to violate the human rights of the Venezuelan people,” the bank doesn’t want to get involved in any transaction that allows the regime to keep violating human rights.

Nicolás: let us know how many presidents accept your “challenge”. In the meantime, ouch!

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