Emergency in Numbers

Your daily briefing for Thursday, November 23, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Four children died of malnutrition in November in San Cristóbal’s Central Hospital and six more died in July in the same state, while half of the 16 beds in that hospital’s pediatric emergency ward are occupied by malnourished children coming from families who live in extreme poverty.

The Pan American Health Organization confirmed reports of 166 cases of diphtheria across 17 states in the country (between September 2016 and October 2017). Venezuela has 74.3% of all potential diphtheria cases recorded in the region. 54.3% of patients are between five and nineteen years old and 51% of cases are women.

The Health Ministry’s vaccination campaign, carried out 17 months after the disease’s reappearance, is insufficient. Nine million doses won’t cover the recommendation of the World Health Organization: vaccinate 90% of the population.

The Health Ministry hasn’t issued any report on the campaign nor resumed the necessary publication of weekly epidemiological bulletins. Who could estimate risks with such opacity?

Bye bye, Rotondaro

Carlos Rotondaro was sacked as head of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS) this Wednesday, and replaced by the oh-so-efficient Health Minister Luis López. Rotondaro headed IVSS for 10 years, with brief absence between 2009 and 2010, when he was health minister. This soldier leaves the IVSS without medicines, one of the main reasons for the constant reports of a humanitarian crisis, in addition to his extensive history of corruption.

Human rights

Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of Iván Simonovis’ arrest, and the fifth month since engineer Roberto Picon’s detention.

Seven out of the eight people arrested in conjunction with Antonio Ledezma’s escape were released; except for Carmen Andarcia, the mayor’s office’s Finance Manager, who remains under arrest in El Helicoide without being taken before a court.

Iris Azocar, mother of political prisoner Víctor Ugas, who was accused and sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for cyber-crimes, denounced that Ugas served his sentence five months ago, but SEBIN officers won’t release him from El Helicoide, disregarding all release warrants.

Yesterday, dozens of human rights NGOs rejected the ANC’s illegitimate hate law, calling it an assault on free speech. Carlos Correa, head of NGO Espacio Público, said that the law violates the Constitution, and it’s also a policy that seeks to cause fear, among other reasons because of its ambiguity, as it doesn’t use a rigorous criteria to determine guilt, establishing the platform for discretionary punishment.

The statement released by the 47 organizations was handed over to the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

Imposed propaganda

Without any conflict of interests, from National Electoral Council headquarters, current Communications Minister, former head of CNE and PSUV campaign chief Jorge Rodríguez claimed that opposition candidates will have access to public media outlets during the campaign for municipal elections through cadenas, loved by all Venezuelans.

He went on about how Venezuela has the “most efficient and transparent electoral system in the world,” but he didn’t mention that even though the campaign kicks off today, the CNE is yet to publish the list of accepted candidates, and said nothing about the fraud in Bolívar state denounced by Andrés Velásquez, because tampering with results in vote tallies isn’t a potential hazard in these elections, right?


Primero Justicia leader Carlos Ocariz revealed the opposition’s demands for CNE in the face of presidential elections, to guarantee that they’re free and transparent, emphasizing that they’ll take them befor all coming negotiations and international organizations. The conditions proposed are: appointing a new CNE; updating the Electoral Registry (including Venezuelans abroad); choosing new miembros de mesa, new national, municipal and parish boards; declaring electoral amnesty by eliminating political and administrative disqualifications; presence of national and international monitors; banning Puntos Rojos (spaces for control and blackmail); controlling the State’s resources in the electoral campaign and equal exposure through the State’s media outlets.

Without dollars but forgiving debt

Not only did Saime suspend appointments for passport renewals until further notice, but also the Complementary Currency Exchange Rate System (DICOM), reported that its 15th auction, that took place on August 31st, was nullified due to the impossibility of paying the people who were selected, blaming such an irregularity on the “illegal blockade unjustifiably and arrogantly imposed by the U.S. government.”

However, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza proudly announced that Venezuela will forgive Dominica’s debt on short and long-term bonds granted by Petrocaribe for that country’s reconstruction, a debt of over $100 million.

Better late than never

While Emmerson Mnangagwa was appointed provisional president of Zimbabwe (despite his record in violence and espionage), Ratko Mladic, the “butcher of Bosnia”, was sentenced to life in prison for genocide. He’s responsible for the deaths of more than 8,000 men and children in Srebrenica, as well as other war crimes. The 74-year old criminal was a fugitive of justice for 15 years, but no more. “Today’s verdict is a warning to the perpetrators of such crimes that they will not escape justice, no matter how powerful they may be nor how long it may take. They will be held accountable,” Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said yesterday.

We go on.

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.