Belkis Lost Her Life

For Tuesday, November 14, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.


The Coalition of Organizations for the Right to Health and Life (Codevida) shared the testimony of Belkis Solórzano, a 50-year old patient who died yesterday after losing the transplanted kidney she’d had for 13 years. For three months, Belkis was unable to take the necessary medications to prevent kidney rejection because the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security stopped providing them. Codevida head Francisco Valencia has cautioned about the risk of organ rejection that suffer dozens of transplanted Venezuelans. “I lost my life, as many transplanted patients have,” said Belkis hours before dying.

How much more must we plead for the opening of a humanitarian channel to help stave off the shortage of medicine and food? How many more Belkis does the government need in order to understand the magnitude of this tragedy, this crime?

European sanctions

The European Union (EU) approved sanctions against Venezuela. After expressing their concern for human rights abuses and the excessive use of force, European countries banned the sale and supply of weapons, ammunition, vehicles and both military and paramilitary equipment. Additionally, European citizens and companies are barred from offering technical assistance or brokerage services, as well as financing (or providing financial aid) for military activities, and the embargo also extends to equipment susceptible to be used for repression, as well as technology that might be used for surveillance or for intercepting phone and internet communications.

The ban doesn’t include non-lethal military material and equipment used for border protection, regional stability and interception of narcotics.

Not even with a $200 barrel!

Oil output in Venezuela in October was lower than 2 million barrels per day (bpd), the lowest in almost three decades, according to data reported by OPEC. The figures show that Venezuela produced 1.95 million bpd in October, a drop compared to the 2.08 million bpd produced in September. The last time Venezuela produced less than 2 million bpd was in 1989.

Other production indicators, calculated using secondary sources, show an oil output of less than 1.86 million bpd in October, a difficult scenario in view of the drop in foreign currency from oil sales, which is 90% of the country’s dollar income, but PDVSA has been postponing crucial investment to boost production for years, on top of its voracious system of internal corruption.

And now that we mentioned corruption

Imposed Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab said that 10 people were arrested and two other were issued arrest warrants for the tampering of PDVSA oil output figures, which caused property damage to the nation for over one billion dollars. He estimated the payment of royalties for the State “for crude oil that was included in calculations but that doesn’t exist” at $266 million and the embezzlement of PDVSA’s financial cash flow at $21 million, emphasizing that figure tampering started during the process of crude exploration and production in PDVSA Oriente, with fake efficiency and marketing levels.

PDVSA Oriente managers are indicted for the crimes of breaching the special security zone regime, embezzlement of public funds and criminal association.

The meeting with bondholders

Bondholders were received in the White Palace by an honor guard for the first meeting with the government to discuss the restructuring of the foreign debt, which lasted only 15 minutes and concluded without any concrete proposals.

Less than a hundred investors left with bags of chocolates and coffee, and several of them had to remain in a room adjacent to the meeting, because OFAC-sanctioned Tarek El Aissami and Simón Zerpa were there.

The vice president read a statement criticizing the global financial system and the obstacles imposed against Venezuela and requested help from creditors to seek out ways to prevent the effects of sanctions, claiming that the government’s willing to keep honoring payments.

They want negotiation roundtables, but they didn’t even describe their size or color.

Additionally, the Committee of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) will meet today to continue discussing the technical default.

Last night, Fitch lowered PDVSA’s rating to Restricted Default.

And in the UN

In the Security Council meeting, OAS chief Luis Almagro demanded that the international community take actions against the Venezuelan regime, arguing that no country can ignore what’s happening here or remain complacent with the systematic violation of human rights.

Foro Penal representative Julio Henríquez demanded an end to the government’s pattern of persecution. Nikki Haley, American ambassador to the UN, said that Venezuela is edging closer to a “violent narcostate” that threatens the region and the entire world and criticized several Council members for choosing not to participate in the meeting.

Rafael Ramírez, Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, said that they wouldn’t accept any kind of meddling or tutelage and that the United States perverts the role of the Security Council.

Against social networks

While Nicolás spoke on Sunday about freedom of expression with Jordi Évole, chavista colectivos were assaulting the offices of newspaper El Nuevo País.

Yesterday, the Rodríguez siblings and Elías Jaua spoke about the reach of the “Law” Against Hate (we call it that because it’s easier, but you know it’s not a law because of illegitimacy). The relevant part? Jorge Rodríguez claimed that Conatel will exercise control and surveillance on social networks, just like they do with media outlets, “to prevent hate on social networks” so that networks don’t become a niche of impunity. Todo bello.


Yesterday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence thanked the Vatican’s state secretary Pietro Parolin, for their efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela, whose citizens, by the way, top the list of asylum requests in Brazil.

Spanish Defense Minister María Dolores de Cospedal said that the government is in the process of studying which entities are behind the disinformation campaigns coming from Russia and Venezuela.

The level of shamelessness with which Juan Carlos Monedero answered the questions of the Senate committee investigating the Venezuelan government’s financing for Podemos was epic.

For the first time in 60 years, the Italian soccer team is out of the World Cup. Russia 2018 won’t be the same.

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  1. Venezuela just defaulted, moving deeper into crisis
    by Patrick Gillespie @CNNMoney
    November 14, 2017: 8:10 AM ET

    Venezuela, a nation spiraling into a humanitarian crisis, has missed a debt payment. It could soon face grim consequences.

    The South American country defaulted on its debt, according to a statement issued Monday night by S&P Global Ratings. The agency said the 30-day grace period had expired for a payment that was due in October.

    A debt default risks setting off a dangerous series of events that could exacerbate Venezuela’s food and medical shortages.

    If enough holders of a particular bond demand full and immediate repayment, it can prompt investors across all Venezuelan bonds to demand the same thing. Since Venezuela doesn’t have the money to pay all its bondholders right now, investors would then be entitled to seize the country’s assets — primarily barrels of oil — outside its borders.

    read more here

  2. If the countries that boycotted the UN Security Council’s informal meeting to discuss Venezuela were honestly against foreign intervention, they would be demanding that all Cuban personnel leave the country.

    As for the hate”law”, it is no more than censorship. When the regime that generates a continual flow of disinformation considers any criticism of itself hate speech, it is taking a page from Stalin’s oppression manual.

    I hope the default spirals out of control. This government will let the people starve regardless of default. Ceasing the regime’s access to money will hurt the average Venezuelan, but it may also be the impetus to force this regime from power. The lawyers that are skilled in these default scenarios will run circles around the regime. The issues will be decided in US courts. That is where the regime will learn about an independent judiciary.

    A few scenarios to consider, A schism within the military as the dwindling pie that all of the generals are getting a piece of begins to disappear, one faction of officers may go against another to claim their “fair” share of the ill gotten gains. The skimming from the imports will become much tougher as less imports come through government channels. All of this time their assets in foreign banks will be getting frozen, making them more dedicated to getting their hands on cash for the future.

    Scenario 2, The lowly enlisted soldiers that are no longer getting enough food or money to buy food start deserting or rebelling. Without the loyalty of the National Guard and the Army, this regime can not survive. Does anyone believe that Cabello or Saab will face the crowds of starving Venezuelans.

    Scenario 3, A refugee crisis begins to overwhelm Venezuela’s neighbors. This may prompt action from other countries and OAS (US) members. The regions leaders that condemned Trump for suggesting military intervention may eventually be begging for intervention.

    Scenario 4, The unpaid bankers want their money and begin whispering in the ears of the politicians that something must be done. In this scenario the media will focus on the plight of the Venezuelan people. Starving children will be on the news. People dying from lack of medicine will be seen daily until President Trump intervenes or asks Congress for permission to intervene.

    The regime will need to open a humanitarian channel to avoid inevitable foreign intervention. There are real risks of a pandemic due to the lack of medicines hitting the country. The regime is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to a humanitarian channel for food and medicine.
    Allowing food and medicine into the country through aid organizations will eliminate the dependence on the regime and eliminate any remaining loyalty. I do not think that the aid organizations are so naive as to just send food and to rely on the government to distribute it. The same with medicine and medical care.

    I have asked people in Venezuela if they ever heard anything else about all of the wheat that Russia was sending. So far nobody has seen or heard anything regarding Russian “aid”.

    I think the most likely scenario is number 4. The moneyed class has much more influence with the politicians and the media. They have the ability to focus the political debate and to influence the news. Once that scenario begins to play out, it will gain momentum like a snowball rolling downhill. People will be saying that something must be done. The politicians will support it as a way to win favor with the Latino population, especially in Florida where many Venezuelan ex-pats reside and are watching intently as the situation deteriorates. As support builds within the Republican part of Congress, the Democrats will jump on the band wagon for fear that they are seen as abandoning their Latino supporters. The CIA has already been vocal as to the Cuban, Chinese, Russian, Hezbollah and Iranian influence on the regime. Add North Korea and we have every bad guy we can think of.

    In the meantime, the people suffer and die.

  3. The lawyers that are skilled in these default scenarios will run circles around the regime. The issues will be decided in US courts. That is where the regime will learn about an independent judiciary.

    Meanwhile the Chavistas will try and backdoor oil exports and get funds any way possible. Meanwhile the gov. is locked out of world financial markets and exit visas to anywhere but Cuba, Bolivia, Russia or Nicaragua are denied anyone associated with Chavismo.

    Realistically speaking, what ARE Chavismo’s options, now that the coin is basically all called for? These cockroaches ain’t gonna go easy.

    • If you ask the question, “Why does the regime need more financing?”, it goes directly to the heart of the matter.
      The people are not getting any tangible money.
      There are very limited, if any investments in infrastructure or reinvestment in the oil industry.
      Imports, especially of food and medicine are decreasing and the regime doesn’t seem to care.
      Unless all of the regimes billions have been frozen, which I doubt, it is commonly accepted that the upper echelons of power have stolen enough to live comfortably on. If they can find a safe haven, which does not seem very promising.
      The regime needs to fund the armed forces. Armies, even shitty ones consume a lot of money. Corrupt military regimes can become very expensive. Venezuela has approximately the same number of Generals as the US military. That is a lot of people that demand the finest of everything.
      If Maduro can not support the military, he can not stay in power.
      This can go in different directions as I said before. I would not be surprised to see a schism within the military, with different generals leading different factions. The pie is shrinking and people are going to start thinking that they aren’t getting theirs.
      The idea of the Chavista soldiers killing each other for a change, while attractive, is the worst outcome. This has the potential to result in different power brokers in control of different parts of the country. It is an enormous task to accomplish to get a small group of people to enter into peace talks. The larger the group the much more difficult the task.
      I still think that the behind the scenes activity is playing out in DC. If Venezuela begins to get ever increasing attention from main stream news networks, expect something to be in the works.
      I also believe that from the Trump / Tillerson perspective this is an opportunity to finish off Castro once the Venezuelan funding of the Castro regime ends.
      Foreign policy is similar to a world wide chess game. Very few things happen in a vacuum or without some type of repercussion. I was surprised to see Egypt aligned with Russia and China considering Egypt receives over $1 billion in US aid annually. I have missed something there.
      Any way that you look at this, the screws are turning on the regime.
      To answer your question, the regime’s only option is to cling to power. Possibly making a deal with the MUD for no prosecutions in a surrender of power, but I doubt that can be done and be legally binding. This would still not stop the US or other countries from initiating prosecutions.

  4. I don’t think there is enough usable (medium or blended crude) that they can sell on the open market to get above the 2M mark for monthly deliveries.

    India and others are refusing the muddy sludge parked in their docks.

    But the part about it not helping even if oil was $200/barrel (which is pure fantasy!!!) Is dead on.


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