Image: Efecto Cocuyo
Yesterday, foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) formally adopted sanctions against seven high-ranking government authorities for the constant decline of Venezuela’s situation. The first individual sanctions adopted by the bloc, which had already approved an embargo on weapons and supplies susceptible to be used for repression, imposes restrictive measures against these authorities including frozen assets and a travel ban throughout European territory, as they’re considered responsible for human rights abuses or for violating the rule of law.
- Interior Minister Néstor Luis Reverol. The EU deems him responsible for serious human rights violations and repression against the opposition, particularly the prohibition and repression of political demonstrations.
- TSJ head Maikel José Moreno. He is accused of having facilitated government actions and policies that have undermined democracy and the rule of law, and of being responsible for actions against the National Assembly (AN).
- Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab. In his previous role as Ombudsman, he undermined democracy and the rule of law by supporting actions against the opposition, as well as stripping the AN of its faculties.
- Former National Guard Commander Antonio Benavides Torres. Participated in repression and is held responsible for serious human rights violations committed under his orders.
- CNE chairwoman Tibisay Lucena. Has undermined democracy and the rule of law with her political actions, specifically for facilitating the ANC’s installation.
- PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello. Has acted to undermine democracy and the rule of law, using State-run media to attack and threaten political dissidents, other media outlets and the civil society.
- SEBIN director Gustavo González López. Responsible for arbitrary detentions, inhuman and degrading treatments and tortures, as well as repression against civil society and the opposition.
Diosdado Cabello said that the sanctions are “a shot in the heart for dialogue,” that they’re not individual and that their goal is isolating Venezuela, but according to him, he’ll never give in. He memorably requested Nicolás to apply “with immediate reciprocity” measures against the European Union (EU) and admitted his belief that a humanitarian channel would open the door to international forces who want to intervene Venezuela.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza expressed regret that the EU is “subordinating is foreign policy to the United States’ imperial, supremacist and racist policy.” According to him, these measures undermine institutionality and democracy.
Maikel Moreno claimed that the TSJ has promoted dialogue and that its rulings have promoted peace in the country; I don’t think I need to comment on that.
Minister Jorge Rodríguez claimed that the EU committed a “shameful action under orders from the American government,” saying that sanctioned government members are honorable and that the Venezuelan democracy (?) is solid. He urged the countries to get more sanctions ready because there’s still “more democracy” to come.
Funny: only Néstor Reverol understood sanctions as individual, although he called them immoral.
González López, Benavides Torres and Lucena didn’t make any comments.
Breaking the silence
After a week of absence, of a noxious silence that prolonged the human rights violations suffered by the families of the victims of the massacre at El Junquito, the imposed prosecutor general and the Ombudsman finally came out of the woodwork just to read a statement full of complicated language to say the same that the other sanctioned individuals said. Their cynicism is anachronistic and the submission, neocolonial. As always, there was far more arrogance than sense.
Individual sanctions don’t affect the nation but those responsible for massive human rights violations. The sanctions don’t isolate the country, that’s what chavismo’s done by not paying what they owe to airlines, closing off borders, breaking commercial relations and handling passports as a form of extortion. Honoring the guarantees on human rights isn’t meddling, it’s coherence.
But these authorities don’t know anything about that.
As head of the committee investigating the massacre at El Junquito, lawmaker Delsa Solórzano said that there’s a denominator in the corpses that allows conjectures about the actions of security forces: “There’s a pattern that predicts the execution,” she said before requesting an autopsy, since it’s the only way of discovering the truth. She said that the National Assembly will request compensation for children and relatives of those killed in the massacre; that many of them (including friends and employers) have received threats and that they require protection, because they’re already gathering reports of illegal home raids, serious injuries and torture.
Neither the Prosecutor’s nor the Ombudsman’s offices have answered requests for comments on the State’s actions, as demanded by the special committee.
Las Tres Gracias
The rally called by the movement Soy Venezuela at Las Tres Gracias Sq, ended with clashes between protesters and PNB officers. María Corina Machado spoke of the sacrifice of Óscar Pérez and his comrades: “Today the best tribute is fighting, the best tribute is fighting restlessly to topple the tyranny,” she said, adding that the people won’t give in, while she urged the Armed Forces to choose whether they stand by the tyranny or by the people. Once she ended her speech, the clashes between the PNB and protesters started.
11:20 am #Caracas | Inicia actividad "en honor a los caídos", en la Plaza Las Tres Gracias, de Los Simbolos, organizada por la alianza Soy Venezuela que encabeza la dirigente pilítica María Corina Machado #22ene pic.twitter.com/9nVNdyzgh0
— El Pitazo (@ElPitazoTV) January 22, 2018
There were abundant pellets and tear gas with which the government proves its intolerance towards protests, their willingness to repress, to violate university autonomy and reactivate the disproportionate use of public force. Aside from that, Avanzada Progresista (AP) “announced that they’d announce” the creation of a new coalition of parties, made up of Copei, MAS, UNT and AP, because “MUD has run its course.”
Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis underscored that the EU sanctions are “an incentive to help in negotiations” and the decision “may be reversible.” Canada’s foreign policy department applauded European sanctions and tweeted:
The international community will not tolerate further abuses by #Venezuela's Maduro regime. Canada welcomes the European Union's decision to impose sanctions. We stand with partners in defending #democracy & #humanrights in #Venezuela & around the world. @EUCouncilPress https://t.co/2snlMcgqHw
— Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) January 22, 2018
“The international community will not tolerate further abuses by Venezuela’s Maduro regime.”
The Lima Group will meet today, January 23, in Santiago de Chile, to study Venezuela’s situation.
Meanwhile, the immortal Bs.100 banknote was extended once again until March 20.
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