Winning With Null Votes

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, October 3, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Still brimming with “indignation for the brutal repression” he ordered against us during protests but condemned in Catalonia, Nicolás engaged in embezzlement again last night, campaigning for PSUV gubernatorial candidates while the National Electoral Council still hasn’t replaced candidates on electoral ballots, even though that is a judicial obligation.

By refusing to do it, CNE violates the right of Venezuelans to know the candidates who won in opposition primaries and increases the odds of PSUV winning the elections with null votes, as explained by campaign manager Gerardo Blyde, who restated that the CNE has up to ten days before elections to make the replacements, and said that in case they fail to do so, MUD already has the mechanisms in place to inform voters on who is the right candidate.

Additionally, CNE scrapped 77 voting stations and over seven thousand voting tables – all located in areas with historical trend to vote for the opposition –, without offering any technical or administrative reason to explain their decision.

The displaced and the shamelessness

During the opening ceremony of the 68th annual meeting of the UN Refugee Agency’s Executive Committee, UN high commission for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that the number of people who have been forcefully displaced in the world increased by two million in the first nine months of 2017, compared to 2016.

Without offering details or evaluating its reach, Grandi mentioned Venezuela’s situation, saying that political crisis and severe economic hardships have caused many to choose exile.

However, temporary Ombudsman Alfredo Ruíz denied that Venezuela is a country of migrants, and claimed that precisely the opposite is happening:

“The amount of people entering the country is greater than the amount of people leaving.”

He attributed the diaspora to discontented “middle class youth,” although he’d later mention employment and security issues, as well as numerous complaints about shortages of water, food and medicines, claiming that these are not the main human rights abuses in the country, but rather “people’s perception.”

Information for the Ombudsman in charge

Venezuela’s place in the annual report of the Economic Freedom Index, issued by the Fraser Institute in Canada, with support from Cedice Libertad, dropped by 30 spots between 2000 and 2015, and ranks 159th among the studied countries for the third year in a row.

Five components are studied to establish this ranking: government size; legal system and property rights; a stable currency; international trade freedom and credit, employment and business regulations. Venezuela got a score lower than 5/10 in all components, with the currency indicator receiving the worst score: the bolívar scored 1.9/10.

Hong Kong was the highest ranking country in the report, while Chile was the best in Latin America, ranking 15th worldwide.

But relax, Sudeban just started the 3rd program to guarantee banknote circulation: inspecting more businesses!

Information as a problem

After the pictures of women giving birth in the waiting room of the Dr. Pastor Oropeza Riera hospital (Lara) went viral on social media, minister Ernesto Villegas confirmed that the image was genuine and said on a couple of videos on his Instagram account, that the hospital is overwhelmed and patients are required to buy their own surgical supplies, labelling governor Henri Falcón as irresponsible and claiming that the Social Security Institute is taking “all patients.”

Later, NGO Funpaz denounced the arbitrary detention of a couple of medical students from the Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado for allegedly taking the labouring women’s pictures, evidencing once more that SEBIN is there to punish, not to investigate, since they didn’t summon the accused governor, or the hospital’s head. After being questioned for seven and a half hours, the students were released.

Denouncing chavismo

Prosecutor general Luisa Ortega Díaz attended the Convention of Public Prosecutors held in Lima, and said: “What has been established in Venezuela is not a rule of law, but rather a despotic State. It’s a tremendously powerful repressive and corrupt machine, responsible for my country’s terrible crisis.”

Ortega added that the documentary evidence she has will serve “to prosecute the Venezuelan ruling clique that has built an entire structure of corruption, money laundering and organized crime.”

She also denounced human rights violations, the destruction of the justice system and the absolute helplessness of citizens to combat it, remarking that anyone who tries to exercise any rights may become a prisoner for that “crime” and that “imprisonment, isolation and torture have become common practices in Venezuela.”


OAS chief Luis Almagro said that sanctions against Venezuela should be stronger and more general in order to help the country return to democracy, but that there must also be domestic pressure, so he urged the opposition to be strong.

Florida governor Rick Scott announced that he’ll sponsor a bill to strictly forbid the State and all its agencies to invest on any company doing business with Nicolás’ government.

Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela urged Nicolás to respect the results of gubernatorial elections, considering them as a first step for social peace.

Lastly, Nicolás will travel this week to Moscow to attend the forum “Russian Energy Week 2017.” According to Russian Energy vice-minister Anton Iniutsin, Nicolás will participate in the panel “Oil and geopolitics: causes and consequences,” scheduled for October 4th, where president Vladimir Putin and OPEC chief Mohammed Barkindo will also participate.

It’s hard to come to terms with the cruel shooting that abruptly ended the closing ceremony of the “Route 91 Harvest” country music festival in Las Vegas, leaving at least 59 people dead and over 525 injured, especially when the authorities have announced that the death toll may increase since several injured victims are in critical conditions. The alleged culprit was 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, who committed suicide before he could be arrested. The propaganda machine of the jihadist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

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.