While Nicolás distributed the donations he took to Cuba to help those affected by hurricane Irma, Canada imposed sanctions on 40 high-ranking Venezuelan officials —including him— “in response to the government of Venezuela’s deepening descent into dictatorship,” as a way to put pressure on the Maduro regime to restore constitutional order and respect the democratic rights of the Venezuelan people. “Canada shows its solidarity with the Venezuelan people in their fight to restore democracy in their country,” Foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said, adding that this is a clear message that anti-democratic actions have consequences. You’ll find the list of sanctioned officials in a separate entry at the end of the briefing.
William Brownfield, who has just retired from his position as U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, said that the U.S. believes that Venezuela is edging closer to be a “narcostate” because members of the government are involved in drug trafficking activities, actions that according to him, could lead to more sanctions in coming months. “I don’t want to call a country, a government, a narcostate until it truly fits that category.” In his opinion, this is a good moment to start discussing whether Venezuela has become a narcostate or not, although there’s no definitive answer yet. Brownfield explained that sanctions against Nicolás are justified on his anti-democratic practices, but “that doesn’t mean that there isn’t evidence that could support a decision to impose sanctions for other reasons.”
Heart of the people
Last May, NGO Transparencia Venezuela requested the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate Nicolás for alleged illegal financing of el finado’s electoral campaign back in 2012. This Friday, the matter resurfaced because thanks to an agreement with her country’s justice system, Mónica Moura, wife of Brazilian publicist Joao Santana, confessed that she received $11 million in case straight from Nicolás’ hands when he was Foreign minister, adding that there was a pending payment for $15 million that was never made. In the document revealed by the Supreme Federal Tribunal, she states: “Maduro, then Foreign minister, demanded Moura to take almost all payments for Chávez’s re-election campaign ‘off the record’, with payments made through companies Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez.” Wonder if Luisa Ortega Díaz or Tarek have anything to say about this.
Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Venezuela’s situation with his Brazilian counterpart Aloysio Nunes. “I explained him our position, stating that this is about a country that have started down an authoritarian path,” Nunes said, restating that Venezuela “experiences a deepening political crisis (…) and there’s an exodus caused by the profound disarray of the economy.” Both agreed that the crisis has worsened.
In his speech before the UN yesterday, Spanish Foreign minister Alfonso Dastis asked the Venezuelan government to “give the Venezuelan people back their voice” and to start a “true dialogue” with the opposition, because Spain “fervently wishes that Venezuelans are able to return to democracy, peace and freedom.” President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski held a meeting with Vatican State Secretary Pietro Parolin, to talk about the need for Venezuela to “allow the access of humanitarian aid.” We’ll see what the Vatican does.
Lastly, Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted pictures and videos of a meeting he held with his counterpart Luis Videgaray, taking advantage of Mexico’s condition as one of the “allied countries” that will mediate the dialogue that hasn’t happened. Watch Videgaray’s expression and draw your own conclusions.
– Support for Venezuela: the platforms Venezuela Somos Todos and VenEuropa submitted over 112,000 signatures before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to demand faster proceedings that would allow the opening of a preliminary review of alleged crimes against humanity. The signatures were collected during four months across 76 countries and are “an expression of support for the complaints,” said lawyer Tamara Suju.
– Rubles and yuans: the government ratified that they’ll only grant foreign currencies other than the U.S. dollar and asked businessmen to open bank accounts in Europe or Asia, keeping the FX controls implemented back in 2003, but blaming the crisis on the American “blockade.”
– Journalism isn’t a crime: the National Union of Press Workers (SNTP) denounced that the National Guard arrested Dutch journalist Bram Ebus in Puerto Ayacucho, Amazonas. He was researching the impact of the Mining Arc. On September 3rd, Ebus released a work titled Arc of Desperation, where he details how criminal gangs led by pranes control the illegal extraction of gold in that area. He was released hours later.
The electoral campaign for regional elections formally starts this Saturday. Also this Saturday, the Lima Group will reveal their conclusions in the discussion regarding Venezuela’s crisis.
Sanctioned individuals on Canada’s list
Executive Branch: Nicolás. Vice-president Tareck El Aissami. Ministers Elías Jaua, Néstor Reverol and Freddy Bernal. Jorge Rodríguez, Mayor of Libertador Municipality. Carlos Pérez Ampueda, Head of the PNB. Gustavo González López, Head of Sebin. Antonio Benavides Torres, Government Chief of Caracas; as well as: former ambassador Roy Chaderton, and gubernatorial candidates Aristóbulo Istúriz and Carmen Meléndez.
Electoral Branch: Tibisay Lucena Ramírez, Tania D’Amelio Cardiet, Sandra Oblitas and Socorro Hernández.
Judicial Branch: Maikel Moreno, TSJ Chief Justice. Gladys Gutiérrez, former Chief Justice. Constitutional Chamber: Juan José Mendoza (President), Arcadio Delgado (Vice-president) and justices Luis Damiani, Lourdes Suárez Anderson, Carmen Zuleta de Merchán and Calixto Ortega. They also included public defender Susana Barreiros.
Moral Branch: Tarek William Saab, Imposed Prosecutor General and Manuel Galindo, our nepotic Comptroller General.
ANC: Delcy Rodríguez, President. Elvis Hidrobo Amoroso, Vice-president; and constituyentes Diosdado Cabello, Hermann Escarrá, Andrés Eloy Méndez, Iris Varela, Pedro Carreño and Francisco Ameliach.
Armed Forces: Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López. CEOFANB Commander Remigio Ceballos. GNB Commander Sergio Rivero Marcano. Army Commander Jesús Suárez Chourio and Bladimir Lugo Armas, responsible for the National Assembly’s security.
Get those replicas of Bolívar’s sword ready, or polish the ones you’ve got left!