Nothing is agreed

Your daily briefing for Sunday, January 14, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.


This Saturday, the government and the opposition concluded the third day of the third round of negotiations in the Dominican Republic. After 10 hours behind closed doors, president Danilo Medina said: “My words will be brief. Nothing is agreed, until everything is agreed.”

So the only agreement was meeting again next Thursday, January 18 at 9:00 a.m.

The government’s version

After pointing out that chavistas are characterized for refusing imperial pressure, minister Jorge Rodríguez repeated his favorite mantra: “We’ve found consensus in the vast majority of points,” smiling because that’s good news for everyone. He claimed that he knows there was intense pressure to finish off negotiations, adding that his right to denounce “the sanctions and attacks committed by Donald Trump” must be respected.

For some reason, he said that Venezuela’s giving the world an example of dignity (because of looting?, prison inmates armed for war?, hyperinflation?,) and he hopes that the agreement will be signed next January 18.

MUD’s version

Lawmaker Julio Borges said that they’re negotiating “to build a solution to overcome Venezuela’s colossal crisis,” and that they must make an effort to build it. He claimed that, far from helping, easy solutions would only intensify the crisis. Aware of the hopelessness of waiting for a new meeting, he explained that they can’t improvise, that they must persist and that there have been important progress regarding sensitive issues such as food and medicines, although he didn’t mention the humanitarian channel. He emphasized that they’ve kept the meetings going due to their solid stances, saying that: “We could never agree on something that won’t benefit the country.” For January 18, both parties must offer proposals for unresolved points.

Bile on social media

These three days went by among thousands of predictions regarding the resounding failure of negotiations, with rumors and rushed claims that didn’t coincide with closing messages. The process’ opaqueness didn’t help. MUD advisor team members tweeted their opinions; so, Colette Capriles wrote: “All negotiation processes are difficult but this one, which involves the defense of essential rights, of Venezuelan lives, is even more difficult”; while lawyer Juan Manuel Raffalli said: “The opposition remains firm in its stance. We’ve made progress to find solution. The crisis demands it and the country deserves it.”

Jorge Roig expressed his solidarity with the negotiation team for the strength they showed during process. Lastly, as a reply to a tweet from a guy with 54 followers who said “This is definitely a damn mockery,” economist Asdrúbal Oliveros wrote: “What’s the mockery? That the opposition remains strong in the demands they brought to the Dominican Republic and won’t accept just any agreement?”

Crisis in Guárico

This Saturday, several shops were looted in Calabozo, and their owners demanded the intervention of security forces and even the use of Army helicopters. Riots also broke out in Zaraza and San Juan de Los Morros, and in southern Valencia (Carabobo), the food stored in the “Casa del Buen Vivir” were also taken.

In the afternoon, Calabozo’s streets were militarized; Cumaná (Sucre) also remains militarized to prevent lootings. In addition to food riots, San Juan de Los Morros stood out because of the riot in the “26 de julio” prison, with prisoners threatening to blow up the building with grenades. They were demanding the transfer of 25 fellow inmates to Tocorón prison, according to lawmaker Adriana Pichardo, who denounced that 15 political prisoners were held in this prison, but they were transferred later.

Abroad

Thomas Shannon, U.S. State Undersecretary for Political Affairs, spoke of the coordination of new diplomatic actions to create a web of sanctions against the Venezuelan government, specifically against authorities who have engaged in violence against the people or against the democratic process; understanding sanctions as part of the pressure to persuade the government that the solution to the crisis hangs on a successful negotiation. Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza reacted saying that Shannon travelled to Spain to “convey direct orders for the European Union to keep attacking Venezuela” and that it would be sad for the EU to continue submitting to Donald Trump’s orders.

In Colombia, after the meeting held to discuss the peace process, UN secretary general António Guterres and president Juan Manuel Santos offered a press conference to talk about the consequences of the serious crisis that’s hitting Venezuela, with Guterres expressing his concern and restating his willingness to mobilize international support for the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from Venezuela.

Lastly, the Spanish Council of Ministers agreed extraditing former manager of PDVSA subsidiary Bariven César Rincón Godoy to the United States. The Spanish government still has former Energy vice-minister Nervis Villalobos in custody, along with former PDVSA security director Rafael Reiter and former Electricidad de Caracas finance director Luis Carlos León.

Sad news

Filmmaker Diego Rísquez died yesterday due to a brain tumor. He was 68 years old and he managed to create a style, a way of making movies, since his first film, “Bolívar, sinfonía tropikal,“ going through “Orinoko, nuevo mundo”; “Amérika, tierra incógnita”; “Manuela Sáenz”; “Francisco de Miranda”; “Reverón” and “El Malquerido”.

Julio Borges was clear, brief and informative. Not agreeing on anything until everything is agreed, means respecting the importance of each demand in the agenda while facing an contender like chavismo. I reserve my fury for them. They’re the only ones responsible for this crisis measured in deaths caused by malnutrition, treatable diseases, unpunished crimes, the shortage of certainties and despair. Chavismo is responsible for the lack of agreement.

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