An Authoritarian Streak

For Saturday, January 27, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: El Venezolano News

CNE rectora Tania D’Amelio said yesterday that the National Electoral Council (CNE) will comply with the TSJ ruling that partially nullifies the call for the revalidation of political parties, planned for this weekend, and that includes an order to exclude the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) from the process.

Rector Luis Emilio Rondón rejected the Constitutional Chamber’s ruling, calling an absurdity that shows “a profound ignorance of the Law of Political Parties, the valid law for matters of political organizations, which the tribunal has been reiteratively disregarding.”

Primero Justicia general secretary Tomás Guanipa said that they’ll take part in the revalidation drive convened by the CNE and, since it’s no impossible to validate MUD’s ballot, they’ll offer PJ’s ballot for the coalition.

Lawmaker Juan Andrés Mejía, from Voluntad Popular, claimed that when they announced their decision not to validate their political status, they did it in full awareness of the implicit risks of an “unconstitutional and illegal” process, emphasizing that collective interest is above individual intentions: “We must consolidate a national coalition that goes beyond all political parties.”

Child malnutrition in Venezuela

Christophe Boulierac, spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), denounced clear signs of considerable levels of malnutrition among Venezuelan children due to the economic crisis, as well as the lack of reliable data showing children’s nutritional situation in the country. Boulierac didn’t specify which signs he meant, and about the study carried out by Caritas, he said: “it’s not a representative study, but it’s an indication of the ongoing decline of Venezuelan children’s nutritional levels.” He criticized the lack of a coordinated policy and emphasized that more must be done, like obtaining reliable data to paint a picture of actual malnutrition levels in the country.

Planning minister Ricardo Menéndez claimed that Unicef’s report has no credibility because it doesn’t show “figures” regarding the complaints of considerable malnutrition in Venezuelan children and also, it undermines the “seriousness and prestige of this institution.” It’s unacceptable that Unicef doesn’t use all that data published by the government…! Oh, wait!

For the petty cash box!

Due to a joint resolution issued by the Planning and Economy ministries (Official Gazette N” 6.360,) the government created the Unit of Arithmetic Calculation of the Minimum and Maximum Threshold (UCAU).

The name suggests a wink to the phrase Gustavo González López used when he was Interior minister.

The UCAU will be used for public contracts, travel expenses and petty cash boxes of government entities and its value was established at Bs 10,850, but it may be periodically revised to adapt it to the economy’s circumstances (meaning: hyperinflation).

The decision to implement this new unit is based on the ANC-approved Law against the Economic War. The UCAU doesn’t replace the Tax Unit (UT) for the rest of the operations of the public administration or the national economy and with it, Venezuela now has three calculation units, since the ANC also approved the Sanctioning Tax Unit, which has no established value yet but will replace the UT in cases of fines and penalties.

Mining is the future

While thousands of people reported power outages in Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Carabobo, Cojedes, Guárico and Yaracuy, without an explanation from Corpoelec about the reason for malfunction of such proportions; Nicolás promised young citizens that he’ll create mining farms for all existing cryptocurrencies, especially the Petro, requesting in exchange for such an electoral offer: “to defend the right to Venezuela’s definitive future.” Sadly, he chose not to say that Nicaragua will no longer export products to Venezuela: “there were transactions until last October, but that changed late this month. Exports are currently shut down, there’s no intention of selling to Venezuela this year,” said the manager of the Nicaraguan Association of Producers and Exporters, Mario Arana. Nicaragua, eh.

Throwing pearls to the pigs

The National Assembly said it was an outrage for the government to declare Spanish ambassador Jesús Silva Fernández persona non grata, and deplored that the Administration had ordered him expelled from the country. Similarly, the European Union condemned the decision, calling to reverse it because it goes against “the need to keep diplomatic channels open.”

Meanwhile, the Spanish government decided to declare ambassador Mario Isea persona non grata, thus reacting to the measure adopted by the Venezuelan government “in strict reciprocity.”

The editorial of El País regarding the docility with which their government has handled Nicolás’ insults and abuses was tough and necessary:

We must show Maduro that he’s wrong and that the attacks against Spain will multiply the efforts from the side of the Atlantic to ensure that Venezuelans live once again in freedom and democracy. This appeal extends to former president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero who, despite his initially laudable intentions, is only contributing now to offering an alibi for the regime to continue repression.

Increasing sanctions

France condemned the expulsion of the Spanish ambassador in Caracas and deplored MUD’s exclusion from presidential elections because it’s “a new coup against electoral fairness,” already damaged by the decision to change the electoral timetable without a consensus with the opposition.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of increasing sanctions against government officials in coordination with the rest of the EU and not limiting them to individuals: “we’re witnessing a new unacceptable authoritarian streak. Things are going the wrong way and recent decisions make them worse,” he said after meeting Argentine president Mauricio Macri in Paris. Macron said that, beyond European sanctions, “there are other countries with more economic ties with Venezuela that could adopt more effective sanctions.” Macri took the opportunity to accuse Nicolás of “increasingly violating the system,” restating that he doesn’t see a solution to the Venezuelan situation.

U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson will go on a tour in the first week of February with visits to Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica to request, among other points in the agenda, “greater regional attention to the Venezuelan crisis.” The second-to-last country in his tour will be Colombia, where he’ll meet with president Juan Manuel Santos, who restated yesterday his request not to recognize elections in Venezuela without transparent conditions. Meanwhile, Dominican president Danilo Medina said upon returning to his country, that the opposition may not attend the dialogue he convened for this weekend: “their commitment with us is that there will be dialogue this 29th, if they choose not come, that’s up to them.”

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