Voiding Everything

Your daily briefing for Monday, November 6, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Last Friday, vice-president Tareck El Aissami excitedly interrupted Maduro to report that the Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s Plenary Chamber had voided the parliamentary immunity of lawmaker Freddy Guevara, first vice-president of the National Assembly.

El Aissami pointed out that the ruling would be carried out by the ANC – which only means they’re ignoring the fact that, according to the Constitution, only the National Assembly has the authority to remove its member’s immunity and that the lawmaker is also barred from leaving the country.

A ruling issued by the Judiciary is relayed by the Executive Branch in a political event attended by soldiers. What better summary of the state of public powers in Venezuela?

No hearing on merits

The Plenary Chamber declared that Freddy Guevara had allegedly engaged in criminal association, continued public instigation and use of teenagers for criminal acts. According to Justice Marco Medina Salas, in cases of flagrant crimes, such as the ones Guevara is accused of, there’s no need for a preliminary hearing on merits and any trial against him must be carried out by competent civilian courts.

SEBIN agents surrounded the lawmaker’s home and yesterday, the Chilean Foreign Ministry confirmed that Freddy Guevara had requested protection at their embassy in Caracas, remarking that honoring their humanitarian principles, they took him in as a guest.


El Aissami condemned the decision.

The Venezuelan National Assembly, as well as several parliaments, foreign ministries, international organizations and figures voiced their concern and condemnation before this new violation against the Rule of Law in Venezuela, unanimously demanding respect for branch autonomy.

Revolving doors?

Political prisoners Yon Goicoechea (arrested in August, 2016) and Delson Guárate (arrested in September, 2016) were released from prison on Friday, with precautionary measures.

Not keen on having vacant cells, Nicolás claimed that same day that Julio Borges is guilty for U.S.-imposed economic sanctions and asked imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab to prosecute him for treason. He also threatened to arrest governor Juan Pablo Guanipa.

On Sunday, Avanzada Progresista secretary general Luis Romero announced that, two days after his release, Yon Goicoechea would be their mayoral candidate for El Hatillo municipality.

Six months

The Central Bank stopped publishing official data in 2004 and, for the past decade Venezuela hasn’t authorized the International Monetary Fund to perform the annual review of economic indicators, which all member countries must comply with. Consequently, the institution set a six-month deadline for Venezuela to provide official economic data. Non-compliance could mean that the IMF might decide to expel the country. In the statement they explained that the Executive Board meeting (the decision makers) took place in advance and bears no relation to Nicolás’ announcement to start a process of restructuring the foreign debt for $120 billion.

All IFM predictions about our economy are alarming: 12% contraction in 2017, 6% more in 2018; a 652% inflation rate this year that will increase to 2,349% next year; as well as a colossal 44.6% cumulative contraction between 2014 and 2018.

Debt and trust

During the opening ceremony of the Military Academy of Medicine, Nicolás announced another cabinet reshuffle, including Jorge Rodríguez as communication minister, Ernesto Villegas for Culture and Jorge Márquez as Chief of Staff.

Describing Venezuela as a solid and reliable country, he angrily asked why we suffer a risk-country ranking that’s worse than some countries at war. Claiming that this is a matter he wants to discuss with bondholders “face to face”. Meanwhile, El Aissami said that he’ll meet with them on November 13th in Caracas, after denouncing attacks and financial persecution by Donald Trump’s administration, as well as emphasizing that Venezuela has fulfilled foreign debt payment for $71.7 billion in the last four years.

Sadly, he didn’t explain how their financial probity has impacted Venezuelan citizens.

In any case, Venezuelan bonds in dollars sank by almost 20 points by the end of last week, alongside Venezuela’s ranking, and non-payment risks became much more probable.

Only China said something different about the risk of default.

Another sanction

Canada imposed new sanctions against high-ranking and former members of the Venezuelan regime, including Nicolás, El Aissami, Adán Chávez, Gustavo González López, Rodolfo Marco Torres and José David Cabello.

The Canadian Foreign Ministry remarked that the sanctions freeze the assets of people included in the list and barre them from moving through Canada’s territory. Foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said that her country is committed with the protection of human rights and the fight against corruption.

These sanctions add up to those imposed on September 22nd against other 40 chavista figures and only three names appear again: Nicolás, El Aissami and González López. The best answer our Foreign minister could come up with was accusing Canada of having “imperial aspirations,” a hit!

Where’s Jesús Medina?

A month ago, Jesús Medina, journalist for Dolar Today, and two foreign journalists were arrested in Tocorón while they were performing an investigation inside that prison. They managed to walk free and Medina shared shocking images of the dynamics of a prison dominated by pranes and characterized by luxury. A few days ago, Medina denounced threats against him; and, on Saturday, November 4th, he disappeared after sending a message alerting a colleague: “They’re taking me, urgent,” he wrote.

The National Union of Press Workers (SNTP) and the Press and Society Institute demand that the State answer for the journalist’s whereabouts; a demand mirrored by Edison Lanza, IACHR’s special rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.

This happens the same day that an investigation made by Armando.Info was granted second place in the Latin American Investigative Journalism Award. Military outsourcing collects a series of articles that show how active soldiers with their own companies became contractors for the State, a relation forbidden by Venezuelan laws, benefitting no less than 785 officers.

The indestructible black market dollar starts the week at Bs. 44,347.76.

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.