Over the Weekend

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, December 19, 2017

On Saturday, while taking Omar Prieto’s oath of office as Zulia’s new governor and right after the third dialogue meeting in the Dominican Republic, Maduro once again accused AN Speaker Julio Borges of calling for international sanctions against PDVSA and demanded “the maximum level” of justice against traitors. “The right-wing travels all over the world asking for sanctions against the country, there’s Julio Borges, he left for ten days to call for sanctions in Europe and the United States against oil, against PDVSA,” Maduro said.

To underscore Maduro’s indignation for this assault on our sovereignty, on Sunday the Oil Ministry issued a statement reporting that he had “granted the Exploration and Exploitation License over Non Associated Gas” to Russian state-run oil company Rosneft for the development of the Costa Afuera Patao and Mejillones gas fields, in Sucre state, for a period of 30 years.

While Manuel Quevedo was taking some time off from his witch-hunt to sign these agreements, his predecessor and former Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, Rafael Ramírez, said he could join next year’s presidential race for chavismo. “Nobody decided that Maduro should be chavismo’s only candidate, they’re terrified of a different candidate within chavismo,” he said, boasting about his capacity to solve the country’s situation, his merits and moral standing because he worked alongside el comandante. What he failed to mention is that he’d have to return to the country to run for office.

At the Airport

Over 80 children and several adults were left stranded in Maiquetía Airport last Friday when a private Avior flight charted by NGO Unión Venezolana en Perú was cancelled by authorities, over alleged issues with the paperwork. The children were going to meet their parents in Lima and many of them had their passports invalidated. NGO members Martha Molina, Joseph Georgina Pérez, José Manuel Román and Meudis Bolívar were accused of human trafficking, criminal association and use of forged documents. They were released under reporting regime on Sunday after a hearing before the Judicial Criminal Circuit of Vargas state.

Monday collapse

Yesterday, Caracas bus drivers finally started charging passengers the fare hike they’d announced for last week, setting the new fare at Bs. 1,000. During an interview with Unión Radio, Hugo Ocando, head of the Association of Bus Drivers of Western Caracas, said that everyone is aware of the situation and that “the adjustment is insignificant. Sadly, users can’t pay it, but it’s the cheapest out there, because the so-called perreras are charging up to Bs. 3,000.”

In Ocumare del Tuy, however, the fare hike from Bs. 1,500 to Bs. 3,000 for buses going to Caracas was taken poorly by users, who clashed with drivers early in the morning, prompting them to leave the terminal after some of their vehicles were assaulted by the mob. Francisco Solórzano, head of one of the bus lines operating in the area, said that repairs for damaged units range between Bs. 100 and Bs. 120 million. Drivers and users met Lander municipality mayor Genkerve Tovar at noon to discuss the matter behind closed doors. Solórzano says that out of 152 drivers in his line, 90 agreed to revert back to the Bs. 1,500 fare until a new price can be decided with the Transport Ministry, and the National Guard will be deployed from now on in the terminal, along with a group of fiscales that will make sure drivers charge the legal fare.

Also in Valles del Tuy, a malfunction in the Santa Teresa power substation left several areas of Caracas, Miranda and Vargas in the dark for over five hours. The subway stopped working, transport on the ground went to hell and the whole area was sent into chaos for over five hours. According to minister Luis Motta Domínguez, the problem was caused when a bridge collapsed near the substation, damaging the wiring system.

The heist

Yesterday, a group of fifteen men reportedly dressed like Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) agents, broke into a National Guard station in Laguneta de la Montaña, Miranda state, subduing the guards and stealing 26 AK-103 rifles, three pistols and ammunition. The intruders wrote “Libertad 350” on one of the station’s walls, leaving the place in disarray and the guards gagged and tied.