Yesterday, the democratically elected National Assembly discussed the United Nations’ report on the “extended and systematic use of force” against protesters, unanimously approving a motion to transcribe the discussion to make it a part of the UN’s file and summoning Tarek William Saab to appear before Parliament, due to his role as NONE-budsman, to explain the actions he took in cases of human rights abuses.
They also approved the request not to go to parliamentary recess and continue with extraordinary sessions.
During this session, both victims and relatives of victims denounced the threats, extortions, illegal arrests, isolated detainees and the use of military tribunals against civilians.
A year ago, the lawmakers got their last paycheck, thanks to one of the TSJ’s many assaults against the National Assembly. The Parliament’s payroll, excluding the lawmakers, is managed by the Economy and Finance Ministry, they’re demanding this institution the payment of up to Bs. 22 billion in debt which is currently affecting some 4,500 people.
The imposed assembly
The same day that NGO Foro Penal reported that 5,326 people have been arrested since April 1st and 1,048 of them are still detained; that 655 civilians were prosecuted by military tribunals and there are 676 political prisoners, chief justice Maikel Moreno proposed the ANC to raise the maximum penalty for treason, terrorism, homicide and robbery to 50 years and to include intolerance and hatred as crimes in the Criminal Code, as if Venezuelans were demanding crueller sentences instead of justice.
He also proposed:
- Reconsidering the corruption exercised by “the country’s enemies”
- “Revolutionizing” the judicial system
- Creating an institution solely responsible for overseeing security forces
- Resignations of all TSJ justices, including himself
The ANC authorized gubernatorial candidates Aristóbulo Istúriz, Carmen Meléndez, Jheyson Guzmán, Miguel Rodríguez, Héctor Rodríguez and Víctor Clark to temporarily leave any offices they currently hold, so in case they lose, they’ll have somewhere to return to.
The other instance
Delcy Rodríguez announced that the cases of civilians arrested during protests that were prosecuted by military justice will now be handled by civilian courts on Nicolás suggestion, which is enforced as an order.
It won’t fall on the Prosecutor’s Office to decide their fate either, but on the Truth Committee, which will be installed today and will include: Delcy as president; Larry Devoe as executive secretary, Carmen Meléndez, José Vicente Rangel Ávalos, Tarek William Saab, Alfredo Ruíz (acting Ombudsman); Numa Molina, María Eugenia Russián (from Fundalatin, which recently accused NGO Provea of engaging in psychological violence against public servants); Soraya El Ailin Guerra and Edgar Márquez from institutions for victims, as well as three members to be appointed by the National Assembly, meaning that 12 out of 15 members are chavistas, which allows them to impose their equanimity and sense of justice.
The Food Basket’s price rose by Bs. 304,932 in just a month, and is currently at Bs. 2,043,083 for July, a 17.5% increase compared to June and 339,3% compared to July, 2016 (which is 16.2 minimum wages.)
The gap between regulated prices and market prices is 10,433.5%.
Meanwhile, Venezuela made a third payment for $29.5 million to the Canadian company Gold Reserve. $99 million have already been paid to Gold Reserve out of the billion that they must receive as part of the arbitral award’s compensation and for the mining data of Las Brisas mine.
Additionally, the Canadian mining company Crystallex is trying to confiscate the shares of PDV Holding – a PDVSA subsidiary in Delaware – as part of the legal dispute after the State nationalized its operation in a gold mine back 2008. Crystallex is trying to collect $1,4 billion that the World Bank’s arbitral court ordered Venezuela to pay them as compensation for expropriating their mining project in Las Cristinas.
Pence in Argentina
While Jacqueline Faría claimed that the U.S. government is responsible for unemployment, violence and the shortage of food in Venezuela, U.S. vice-president Mike Pence said in Argentina:
“Today, the once-free people of Venezuela are being forced to endure this fate by the brutality of the Maduro regime. The Maduro regime has ignored and undermined the National Assembly; stifled the voices of the free media and the people alike (…) more than 130 brave Venezuelans have died in the desperate fight to restore democracy.”
He ratified that they have many options, but they’re confident they’ll find a peaceful solution, asking Latin America to “do more for Venezuela” and thanking Argentina for their regional leadership on this matter.
President Macri restated that force isn’t an option to solve the Venezuelan crisis, that a high “increase on political and economic pressure” is needed “so that political prisoners are released and branch autonomy restored as soon as possible,” amping up political demands and considering the country’s economic reality to see how they can help restore democracy.
Neither Jorge Arreaza nor Nicolás issued a response to the message of Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, vigorously condemning the deaths of Venezuelans during protests and the amount of political prisoners.
El Salvador’s Congress Speaker Guillermo Gallegos refused Nicolás’ request to convene a Celac summit to restore Latin American dialogue: “He won’t be welcomed by a vast majority of Salvadorans,” said Gallegos, condemning human rights violations in Venezuela.
The Federation of Central American Chambers of Commerce (Fecamco) urged the region’s governments to condemn the “brutality” of Nicolás’ regime, expressing their concern that Central American governments “blithely support the rupture of constitutional order that the Venezuelan administration is carrying out in its eagerness to deprive its citizens from the most fundamental civil and political rights.”
Lastly, Santa Lucia’s prime minister Allen Chastanet announced his plans to impose visa restrictions to Venezuelans as a preventive measure in view of the country’s severe situation.
Tarek William Saab reported yesterday that violinist Wuilly Arteaga was released, after he was illegally arrested last July 27th, beaten, tortured and burned. The National Guard released Wuilly in Plaza Altamira and the Foro Penal team picked him up at 10:40 p.m. to take him home.
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#15Ag 10:40pm Insólito! A Wuilly Arteaga nos dicen q lo liberaron y la GNB lo dejó en la Plaza Altamira. No nos avisaron. Ahora buscándolo
— Alfredo Romero (@alfredoromero) August 16, 2017