Although the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) has made no progress towards its purpose, to write a new National Constitution, yesterday they approved, illegitimate and all, a Law against Hate and created a Committee for Peaceful Cohabitation, only with chavista members.
Two tools to criminalize dissent and further erode free speech. If its provisions were fair, several government authorities should be punished immediately. Hundreds of political prisoners aren’t enough for them.
In his strange interpretation of our history, Nicolás proposed this law to the ANC because the protests that took place between April and August were not a reaction to the crisis and the impositions of his dictatorship, but were instead inspired on messages of hate on social media.
The “law” establishes sentences of up to 20 years in prison for anyone who promotes or commits hate crimes and threatens to shut down media outlets and even illegalize political parties. It also establishes punishment and sanctions against outlets that spread hate messages and makes it obligatory for the media and social networks to remove improper messages, a huge window for their long-awaited regulation of social media in Venezuela.
The potential penalties against the media are an important incentive to reinforce both censorship and self-censorship.
Ah! The text also stipulates prison sentences of eight to ten years against policemen or military officers who refuse to prosecute hate crimes: they’re thinking of July 5th and the brave National Guard that allowed the assault on the National Assembly.
At war but in peace
With Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López’s introduction, talking about how the bolivarian project came to being within military facilities, thanks to el finado, and guaranteeing his profound loyalty to the administration, Nicolás spoke of peace only to explain the “warm-up formula” that the opposition created “to push the people toward a civil war” and how the ANC averted that war.
He repeated empty messages about his role as a man of dialogue, the twisted role played by Luisa Ortega Díaz, the opposition’s sole responsibility for the people wounded and killed during protests this year and the Truth Committee as the great provider of certainties. “No more violence, no more guarimbas, no more golpes ,” claimed Nicolás, adding shortly after: “We’re democracy and freedom.”
He praised Pérez Jiménez and said that presidential elections will be held in 2018, with nobody to hate him.
The Venezuelan Society of Nephrology (SVN) asked the government to declare the National Healthcare System in emergency due to the profound lack of resources to treat patients in dialysis units, the shutdown of the organ supply system and the risks transplant patients are in due to ongoing shortages of immunosuppressive medication – to avoid the rejection of transplanted organs –, so they demand that a humanitarian channel is immediately opened in order to stave off the situation, as well as to recover and maintain programs for kidney health, dialysis and transplants. The SVN offers its scientific and technical knowledge to provide advice in whatever is necessary and cooperate to overcome this critical situation.
If they want to attend…
Sources within the petroleum world said yesterday that PDVSA has transferred most of the funds to pay its creditors, but this didn’t stop the market’s negative reaction regarding Venezuelan bonds, just a few days before the first meeting with investors convened by Nicolás to restructure foreign debt, with the intervention of a committee that doesn’t have a single economist among its six members.
Bloomberg revealed that the U.S. Treasury Department told investors who want to attend that they could do it, but keeping in mind that they can’t deal with Vice President Tareck El Aissami or with Minister Simón Zerpa, due to the sanctions imposed on them and that the repercussions for violating sanctions might include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $10 million.
Additionally, Venezuela agreed the restructuring of the $3 billion debt with Moscow in terms previously discussed with Russia, said its Finance minister Anton Siluanov.
Strength through unity
The European Union is read to impose an arms embargo against Venezuela and will consider more sanctions in response to the political crisis. The measures approved yesterday are a platform for the work of the Foreign ministers that will meet next Monday. Apparently, the inflection point for EU member governments were gubernatorial elections and the regime’s inexplicable victory.
Yesterday, in any casy, the legal foundations for sanctions were established and once the arms embargo is approved, a ban will be imposed on equipment that might be used for internal repression. This prepares a solid foundation that will also allow imposing individuals sanctions against regime authorities.
- The UN Security Council will discuss Venezuela’s crisis next Monday, at the U.S. request. The Lima Group was invited, and Luis Almagro will be one of the speakers.
- Argentine president Mauricio Macri also discussed our crisis with UN chief Antonio Guterres, who said that he’s following the situation with concern and has asked the WHO for a report, as well as assessing Caritas International’s participation to provide assistance in the emergency.
- Colombian Foreign minister María Ángel Holguín said that our political situation is a setback for the process of regional integration and that the outlook is quite grim, not just due to the ANC but also due to the problems within the opposition.
And while Venezuelan government representative Carmen Velázquez denounced the “use and abuse” of Luis Almagro in his OAS office to “destabilize and oust” Nicolás; Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza celebrated that Venezuela was elected as part of UNESCO’s Executive Council. Sadly, he didn’t clarify that the Council has 58 members.
UNESCO was created in 1945, after two World Wars that reinforced the idea that lasting peace cannot be built only with agreements, but it’s also founded on mankind’s moral and intellectual solidarity. This is why UNESCO works so that all children have access to quality education; that there’s support for cultural diversity; that progress and scientific cooperation continue and that free speech is protected as an essential condition for democracy, development and dignity. The Venezuelan government doesn’t comply with any of these principles; on the contrary, it violates them with malice and cruel laws.