Retrieving the Prize

Your daily briefing for Thursday, December 14, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

This Wednesday, National Assembly Speaker Julio Borges received the Sakharov Prize for Thought Freedom. He asked the European Union to send an official mission for presidential elections in 2018, in order to guarantee their fairness, and said that the opposition receives the prize on behalf of those who suffer and deserve a future of opportunities, and that the award honors the memory of Venezuelans murdered by the brutal repression against peaceful protests in 2017. Borges said that the fight to recover democracy will go on and that “sooner rather than later, the long fight for dignity, referred to by Sakharov, will yield its fruits and allow us to reconquer our freedom.”

European Parliament Speaker Antonio Tajani expressed his desire that Venezuela returns to democracy, and said that the award is for all Venezuelans in the world and that the National Assembly like all Parliaments in the world is a symbol of democracy and diversity of opinion and that by granting them this prize, they’re defending their respective Constitutions, their institutions and their branch autonomy, essential elements of democracy together with freedom of expression.

Despite the prize

  • The Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) approved a protective measure for professor Santiago Guevara, arrested by the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence in February, accused of treason and instigation to rebellion.
  • Amnesty International requested specialized medical attention for student leader Villca Fernández, in prison since January 2016, because she’s suffered from hypertension, bronchitis, back pains and gastrointestinal problems. The Prosecutor’s Office issued an order to transfer him to a hospital, but the transfer has been postponed five times.
  • Lawmaker Edgar Zambrano spoke for the rights of the Metropolitan Police officers and of former Security Director Iván Simonovis, prosecuted for the events in April 2002, in a letter to imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab demanding the granting of their respective judicial benefits.
  • After a year and a half of detention in SEBIN, the preliminary hearing of American Joshua Holt and his girlfriend Thamara Caleño, arrested during an OLP in Ciudad Caribia, was held this Wednesday. The judge sent them to trial.
  • Former mayor Delson Guárate escaped Venezuela through the Colombian border. He said that they wanted to take him back to SEBIN El Helicoide, where he was imprisoned for a year.

Silence isn’t peace

The IACHR’s Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Edison Lanza, spoke yesterday in a forum of NGO Espacio Público which studied the hate “law” imposed by the ANC, explaining its implications on human rights and confirming assessments regarding the leeway this represents for the discretional administration of a justice without independence. Created as one more instrument of political persecution and not as a law to prevent hate crimes, Lanza explained that there are “less restrictive ways to regulate this (hate crimes), but they’re using criminal law with severe punishments” and that no law in the hemisphere imposes such severe punishments to regulate expression, which means its purpose is censoring and inhibiting the dissemination of information, giving the government “an arsenal of tools to intervene contents, censor the media and establish sanctions for the media.” Lanza mentioned that the IACHR is preparing a report on Venezuela.


In OPEC’s most recent report, Venezuela reported that its current oil output is 1.83 million barrels per day, which was the minimum output back in the 80’s and represents a 6% drop compared to last month, proving that the collapse of oil production continues at an alarming rate. The report also shows the decline in the amount of active drills, which were about 70 up to 2016 and has now dropped to 40 in 2017. Another drop in production would collapse the necessary cash flow to sustain production and to pay debts, while the financial sanctions and the technical default make it much harder for partners to invest in joint ventures. PDVSA doesn’t have the capacity or the willingness to take the necessary measures to accomplish the changes it requires, even less in the hands of a general with no experience in energy matters. Ah! The GDP per capita is in 1955 levels. When you can, check the work of professor Francisco Monaldi in Prodavinci: PDVSA’s death spiral.

The misaligned

Nicolás ratified that Venezuela and the members of the Movement of Unaligned Countries pledge their full solidarity and support of Palestine’s cause, and condemn Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He had the nerve to call for “compliance with the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations, due to their binding nature,” as well as justifying Palestine’s fight with the “unalienable right to be free and their right to self-determination,” so he obviously condemns violations of international law (like every sentence ignored by the government) and actions without judicial validity (like the imposed “election” of the ANC), which are null and void (like the “laws” issued by the ANC). Isn’t he cute?

Brief and serious

  • The public transport fee in Caracas will rise to Bs. 1,000 starting on December 15.
  • They’re up again: Bs. 102,277 per dollar and Bs. 120,285 per euro!
  • The 60,000 tons of wheat that arrived to the country yesterday will only be enough to cover the national demand for 15 days.
  • Decrees N° 3.196, authorizing the creation of the Bureau on Cryptocurrencies and Related Activities, and N° 3.197, appointing Carlos Vargas Urbina as Cryptocurrency Supervisor, were published in Official Gazette N° 41.296.
  • This Wednesday, Zulia’s new governor Omar Prieto took his oath of office before the ANC. I don’t know what was prettier: whether it was him yelling “Chávez vive” after the induction, or Prieto explaining that he won thanks to his “socialist, humanist and deeply Christian” government plan.

María Gracia Sosa, a 29-year old surgeon who left the country for Uruguay, won this country’s Master Chef and was granted a vehicle, $200,000, a course in the Crandon Institute and a trip to Spain to receive training in the restaurant El Celler de Can Roca. The Venezuelan won by cooking rice with mussels, shrimp with plantain chips; shrimp with avocado cream and mango chutney, and passion fruit mousse with crispy chocolate!

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.