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.

Abroad

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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