The UN Knows

Your daily briefing for Thursday, August 31, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights arrives for a news conference on Venezuela at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The report released by the OHCHR denounces multiple abuses and human rights violations during protests in Venezuela, concluding that there’s “a policy to repress political dissent and instil fear in the population,” emphasizing generalized and systematic use of excessive force, so they’re requesting the UN Human Rights Council to consider taking measures to prevent the situation from worsening, because the strategies used by the authorities in response to protests were pursued “at the cost of Venezuelans’ rights and freedoms.”

All the abuses committed during protests were detailed in the report and the presentation made by UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, is the most important summary of the Venezuelan State’s abuses made thus far.

The regime’s reaction

With unimaginative arguments, the statement issued by Venezuelan ambassador Jorge Valero focused on insulting and discrediting the OHCHR’s work:

“It’s a pathetic demonstration that this office and, especially, the high commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein himself, have decided to insult Venezuela’s participative and leading democracy.”

He dismissed the report as unfounded and biased, arguing that it wasn’t requested by any appropriate authority.

Maikel the dutiful

Since the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) approved on Monday a motion to prosecute opposition leaders who called for economic sanctions, in their view, and punish them for treason, chief Justice Maikel Moreno mused that “impunity is a scourge that undermines justice,” so he’s waiting for Delcy Rodríguez’s formal request in order to start the investigations that will allow him to prevent “prerogatives” from becoming “a licence for crime.”

The UN expressed concern over all the trials for treason being held in Venezuela and the high commission of human rights pointed out that this institution will keep alert because the government’s recent actions “increase the feeling that what is left of democratic life in Venezuela is being squeezed (…) democracy is barely alive, if alive,” said Zeid.

What about Choroní?

Professor Francisco Monaldi explained that Houston has almost 20 times Venezuela’s GDP per capita, and yet, Nicolás will support the victims of hurricane Harvey with $5 million that he’ll hand over through Citgo, according to Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza, who announced an integral program to support the victims and explained how Citgo will use a percentage of gas sales for the construction and replacement of houses, even offering medical supplies.

We aren’t sure if Arreaza knew that Venezuelan bonds won’t get paid at the moment of making such a generous offer of cooperation, or that sanctions imposed by the U.S. on PDVSA’s Finance chief Simón Zerpa have blocked some of their crude export, because American banks and investment funds refuse to give letters of credit to potential buyers of Venezuelan oil.

Meanwhile, there are areas of Choroní that remain isolated, but of course, it wasn’t caused by a hurricane but by a river, and revenue in that town can’t be compared with that of Houston.

Denouncing Venezuela

The Second Committee of Colombia’s House of Representatives revealed that they asked their administration to denounce Venezuela before the UN Security Council for violations against Colombia’s national sovereignty, including unauthorized airspace incursions and attacks on civilians.

Today, the committee’s members will visit the department of La Guajira to hold a session there and verify the situation at the border. There have been no less than four Venezuelan incursions in Colombian territory thus far this year.

However, Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza demanded the Colombian government “to cease provocations with false assertions (made-up scenarios) to force some sort of reaction from our Armed Forces.” He took the opportunity to deny Colombia’s complaints, but said he hopes that they can “resume respectful relations.”


Yesterday, the U.S. condemned the ANC’s motion to prosecute dissidents for treason, alleging that they’ve requested and supported economic sanctions. State Department representative Heather Nauert said that “Venezuela’s economic situation is the result of the misguided policies and corruption of the Maduro regime,” adding that “in democracies, ideas and opinions are not crimes.”

Chile and Jamaica agreed yesterday on calling again for political forces in Venezuela to find an immediate and peaceful solution to the political, social and economic crisis. President Michelle Bachelet said that they’re “monitoring the situation with concern for the entire continent.”

While Arreaza condemned the “interfering statements” of French president Emmanuel Macron, France’s Foreign minister remarked that Venezuelan authorities must establish immediate guarantees of respect for the Rule of Law and fundamental freedoms. Based on this, they said that France and the European Union will review their relations with the country, and that Venezuela’s situation is concerning. They demanded a “believable, sincere and serious [dialogue] that involves the region’s countries.”


At 10 a.m. yesterday there was a 4.5 magnitude tremor in Caracas and the country’s central region. The epicenter was 9 km to the north of Vargas state.

But the real earthquake was revealed by the people of Econométrica shortly afterwards, estimating inflation for August at 32% “pushed by a new increase of prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages,” which makes it the highest monthly inflation in Venezuelan history.

Yesterday we took to the streets again with signs representing our dead and political prisoners, with the piloneras singing, with our faces bare in the warm afternoon, united in our peaceful protest against a repressive government, against dictatorship. It was a brief and heartfelt march, a simple and necessary event.

We go on.

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.