Photo: Fundación Reflejos de Venezuela

Late last night, the Supreme Tribunal’s Constitutional Chamber issued a ruling signed by its chairman, Juan José Mendoza, former PSUV lawmaker, who sworn his oath of office in December 2010 before the National Assembly with Cilia Flores as Speaker, violating the Constitution he’s pretending to defend now. The ruling partially voids the CNE’s call for revalidation of political parties imposed by the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), ordering that the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) be excluded from the process, because it’s an umbrella group of parties, which allegedly violates the ban on double membership. And thus, the TSJ surpasses the argument of open trials in severe states for alleged fraud in the signature collection process for the recall referendum in 2016, which had been preventing MUD from re-registering in those states, raising more obstacles for electoral participation, violating voting rights.

The ruling also orders the CNE to reschedule the revalidation calendar, giving it six months to carry out the order, a period that exceeds the time imposed by the ANC to hold presidential elections.

Lastly, rectora Tania D’Amelio believes that, since Voluntad Popular won’t take part in the revalidation process, it won’t be recognized by the Electoral Branch, in her words: “They annulled themselves.”

And speaking of bowing…

Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab said that they’ll request the arrest of former minister Rafael Ramírez and the activation of an international red alert to help with his capture.

Ramírez stands accused of embezzlement, money laundering and criminal association.

Saab also said that they’ll open an investigation against lawmaker Tomás Guanipa, for inciting violence during the protests of 2017, which makes him guilty of continued public instigation and criminal association.

He still had the nerve to offer condolences to the families of the victims of the massacre at El Junquito, “because they’re Venezuelan.” He said nothing about whether they’re investigating the events that led to an extrajudicial execution, but he called for a debate on human rights and for condemnation against an armed power grab.

Reactions

Rafael Ramírez tweeted that “the Prosecutor General’s infamous accusations constitute an abuse of power” and a reprisal for his proposal of holding primaries within PSUV, because according to him, they want to impose Nicolás’ candidacy, as well as “silencing and criminalizing dissent.” He later said on CNN (yes, on CNN) that the country’s situation is unsustainable, that there are no essential rights in Venezuela and that the authoritarian process is accelerating.

Lawmaker Tomás Guanipa also condemned Saab’s statements and said that jailing opponents won’t solve the country’s needs, cautioning that anyone who confronts the government’s decisions will be “accused, prosecuted and imprisoned.”

Lastly, lawmaker Delsa Solórzano replied to Saab in a long Twitter thread, where she not only calls his credibility as a human rights defender into question, but also urges him to answer very specific inquiries on human rights violations he hasn’t said a word about.

Medina calls for dialogue

From the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Dominican president Danilo Medina announced yesterday that the next meetings to resume dialogue will take place on January 28 and 29, because he still believes it’s “the best solution for Venezuela and for its people,” so he called for more voices in the international community to join negotiations, “to quell rather than intensify the rise in violence that will inevitably split Venezuela and likely all of Latin America in two, should it continue.”

Lawmaker Luis Florido replied to Medina

The opposition appreciates Medina’s efforts, he said, “but if the government is unwilling to make progress, if they won’t offer any signal that they’ll provide electoral guarantees and, on the contrary, they convene early elections and shut down Voluntad Popular, resuming dialogue will be impossible.”

The negotiating team is yet to issue a joint answer for Medina.

Venezuela, the black spot

Presidential elections in several Latin American countries were one issue the IMF used to explain the uncertainty regarding the sustainability of the current economic recovery. Latin America grew at a 1.3% rate in 2017 and the IMF estimates that it’ll rebound to 1.9% this year and will reach 2.6% in 2019. The only economy that suffered a contraction was Venezuela’s and it’ll happen again in 2018.

Venezuela is the black spot in the region and it has a disproportionate impact on the rest of the countries: our economy will contract by 15%, with huge instability and a greater distortion. IMF estimates 13,000% inflation for Venezuela and most Venezuelan economists on social media argued that this estimate is conservative.

Meanwhile, BCV Auction Committee chief Pedro Maldonado presented the new Dicom scheme and I won’t waste lines on it, once again, the economists agreed that it won’t help solve the economy’s ailments, because the problem resides in FX controls. Period.

Abroad

  • In a statement for La W Radio, president Juan Manuel Santos restated his condemnation for early elections: “Until there aren’t sufficient guarantees for a transparent election, I think nobody is going to recognize electoral results in Venezuela.”
  • The Venezuelan government decided to label Spanish Ambassador in Venezuela Jesús Silva Fernández as persona non grata, “in virtue of the constant attacks and recurrent interference in our country’s internal affairs.” Read the statement, the arguments they use to accuse Spain of being a poor administration, are an astonishing projection exercise.
  • Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis announced that the Council of Ministers “will take proportionate reciprocity measures.” He regretted that the Spanish ambassador was expelled from Venezuela and condemned the accusation that Spain promotes sanctions under U.S. orders, although he admitted that his country’s stance is quite active and that it leads that line of pressure in Europe.
  • Argentine president Mauricio Macri said: “I’m not at all optimistic about the likelihood of change in Venezuela; it’s not a democracy. Sadly, its citizens are suffering greatly and things are getting worse.”
  • Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, said: “Maduro continues to disregard the welfare of the Venezuelan people and rob them of their democracy […] The United States will not stand idle as the people of Venezuela continue to be victimized by the Maduro regime.”
  • Fully coherent with his rejection of foreign meddling, the Venezuelan government expressed its absolute solidarity and support for Luis Inácio Lula Da Silva, “for the anti-judicial procedure that seeks to disqualify him and block his imminent election as President of Brazil.”

Nicolás was bold enough to hold an event with women during which he claimed that he wants to register “at least five million women committed to vote” in the carnet de la patria system. He was profuse in barbarities, but it’s unacceptable that he defines himself as “defender” of women’s rights in a country where we’ve suffered an abysmal setback on reproductive rights, without sexual health services, or family planning methods, or even sanitary pads or tampons! It’s immoral for him to “celebrate with women” when maternal deaths spiked by 65% in just one month under his government. We have the second highest teenage pregnancy rate and cases of violence against women aren’t investigated or processed.

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