French president Emmanuel Macron met on Monday with the Speaker and the Vice-president of the National Assembly, lawmakers Julio Borges and Freddy Guevara. He was particularly interested to know how he can help Venezuela overcome the crisis, and offered his full support to Parliament. Borges requested the opening of a humanitarian channel and said that “Dozens of countries have offered to donate medicines and food and the greatest obstacle is the government itself.”
They also met with Senate President Gérard Larcher, who said that “Parliamentarian democracy is the strongest bulwark against authoritarian regimes, Parliament is the only legitimate authority.” He demanded the release of political prisoners and respect for dissident’s rights. They agreed on establishing the Inter-Parliamentary Committee between the Foreign Committees of the Senate and the National Assembly.
In the Chamber of Deputies, Borges and Guevara met with National Assembly Speaker Francois de Rugy, who restated their absolute support and recognition for Venezuela’s Parliament.
The tour continues today, when they’ll meet with Spanish president Mariano Rajoy.
Barring Lilian Tintori, wife of Leopoldo López, from traveling as part of the international tour caused international outrage.
Also, the Venezuelan Banco Occidental de Descuento (BOD) said in a statement that money withdrawals in large amounts of cash is usual for certain clients, answering for the origin of the 200 million bolivars (around 10 thousand dollars) in cash confiscated from Tintori’s vehicle, a case which has already garnered her a summons to testify and is allegedly the reason for authorities preventing her from leaving the country.
Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza handed notes of protests yesterday to the ambassadors of Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom for interfering in the country’s affairs. According to Arreaza: “You were manipulated by Mrs. Tintori (…) Everyone knows the truth,” cautioning that Nicolás will take measures if they keep assaulting the country’s sovereignty.
Nicolás will speak at the UN
According to UN information handed by human rights spokesman Rolando Gómez on Monday, Nicolás would speak on September 11th, during the opening meeting of a three-week session of the Human Rights Council. “We’ve received verbal notice that he’s coming,” said Gómez. If he did, he’d have to speak right after high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who presented a report on Venezuela last August 30th, summarizing the barbarity the dictatorship made Venezuelans suffer during the months of protests.
So far, Nicolás hasn’t confirmed the information, and some reports say he might not even speak at the meeting.
Maduro has also remained silent about reports that the Finance Ministry and the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) are pressuring the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) to finance them without the National Assembly’s approval, violating the Constitution and the Appropriations Law.
Luisa and Germán
In an exclusive interview for W Radio (Colombia), prosecutor general Luisa Ortega Díaz said that she has evidence incriminating Nicolás in the Odebrecht scandal: “I have information, I have all the evidence, not just testimonial but also documentary, incriminating Nicolás Maduro, Diosdado Cabello, Jorge Rodríguez.”
She added that she’s met with several of her counterparts in the continents to exchange information, remarking that “international cooperation is fundamental and it works.”
She restated that there are deep rifts within the government and claimed to have the support of several members of the regime, the military and civil society.
Her husband, lawmaker Germán Ferrer, said they were considering applying for asylum in Brazil, Colombia or Chile and that they’re not planning to return to Venezuela.
Even though the CNE hasn’t announced the electoral timetable, Francisco Castro, head of MUD’s Primaries Committee, reported that 977 voting stations will be deployed on September 10th, with a total of 3,110 voting tables for the country’s 14,835,000 registered voters. The voting process will be manual and they estimate that results will be made public that very night.
Castro said that they expect a big turnout, and remarked that primaries are a mechanism to pressure the regime, pointing out that elections will be suspended in states where candidates reach a consensus in the next few days.
In their Social and Environmental Management Report for 2016, PDVSA says that the number of oil spills decreased, but the volume of leaked oil was larger, both on land and in rivers or the sea. 182,317 barrels have been spilled. That’s 58,471 barrels more than in 2015! 47,2% more in a year! But hey, at least the amount of incidents went from 8,796 in 2015, to 8,250 in 2016, a 6.2% drop. Wow! Most spills took place in land oil fields (146,192 barrels,) while 36,124 were spilled in water.
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos announced the armistice with the guerrilla Army of National Liberation (ELN) as a result of negotiations between both parties in search of an eventual peace agreement. The ceasefire will come into effect on October 1st and last for 102 days, until January 12th, 2018 and “it will be adjusted as negotiations develop,” Santos added.
Meanwhile, in Guatemala, the Supreme Court blocked president Jimmy Morales’ attempt to declare Iván Velásquez, head of the National Committee Against Impunity in Guatemala, persona non grata and expel him from the country. The file will be sent to Congress to establish a committee to investigate the accusations and proceed the preliminary hearing on merits against president Morales.
In Mérida, Heladería Coromoto, a 1996 Guinness Book of world records holder for having over a thousand flavors, shut down due to lack of supplies.
Today, Tuesday, September 5th, Venezuela will face Argentina in the Monumental stadium at 7:30 p.m. (Venezuela time) in the qualifying rounds for the Russia World Cup 2018.