On the eve of his tour through several Latin American nations, U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson spoke yesterday before an audience at the University of Austin. He criticized the Venezuelan government and called its officers corrupt and hostile, emphasizing that Nicolás clings “to a false dream and an antiquated vision for the region,” that has already failed Venezuelans. Tillerson summed up Venezuela’s great tragedy: although this could be one of the most prosperous countries in the region, it is one of the poorest in the world. After advocating for the return to constitutional order and free, open and democratic elections, and saying that they will continue to “pressure the regime to return to the democratic process that made Venezuela a great country in the past,” he adopted a different tone during the Q&A session.

No marines

Tillerson spoke of the possibility of regime change either through Nicolás’ resignation or through a historical pattern: “In the history of Venezuela and other South American country, the army is frequently the agent of change when things are so bad and the leadership can no longer serve the people,” he said, adding that the U.S. wants this to be a peaceful change, because it’s better than violent change. The State secretary also stated that the easiest way would be for Nicolás to leave power on his own: “I’m sure that he has friends in Cuba who could give him a nice estate by the beach and he could even live a good life there.”

And this happened on the same day that undersecretary Thomas Shannon announced his retirement after 35 years of service.

Reforming criminal laws

During a meeting with TSJ chairman Maikel Moreno, imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab and Prisons Minister Iris Varela, Interior Minister Néstor Reverol spoke about a new Judicial Depositary Law and the creation of a document for prisoner extradition, claiming that he’s doing this to guarantee all the necessary policies that allow for an adequate judicial system (after 19 years in power) and “strike at the logistical platforms” of kidnappers and corrupt individuals (although the people being prosecuted come from within the government itself). The most developed idea was the projection of 79 houses of justice in municipalities with the highest crime rate, for the “municipalization of justice.” A hit.

Rodríguez Torres disqualified

The Comptroller’s Office barred former minister and current dissident Miguel Rodríguez Torres from running for office due to an investigation on a sworn statement of assets. He’s been barred for 12 months and can’t hold any public office.

The Comptroller’s Office’s notice says that the former minister has 15 days to appeal the measure or to request its nullification before the TSJ’s Political Administrative Chamber.

After violating human rights in 2014 protests, in 2017 Rodríguez Torres criticized Nicolás’ administration for following his example and, thus, betraying el finado’s legacy, claiming that he has the formula to defeat Nicolás.

Also yesterday, Henri Falcón proposed that the unitary candidate could be chosen through a survey backed by the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference and the Association of Rectors, among other institutions. He should read the detailed report released by UCAB’s human rights center called “Voting isn’t the same as choosing,” where they explain in detail why, besides the illegitimacy and unconstitutionality of the call to elections ordered by the ANC, in the face of an eventual change of President, he couldn’t be autonomous because his mandate would be limited, not by the Constitution, but by the ANC’s schemes.

No dialysis

Some 17,000 people are in risk of dying in Venezuela for lack of dialysis supplies, said patients and healthcare NGOs this Thursday: “There are no filters to replace the kidney in dialysis. If patients don’t get immediate attention, they die,” said Codevida chairman Francisco Valencia. According to El Nacional, 32 out of 129 hemodialysis centers in the country are out of order due to lack of inventory.

Medicine shortages in Venezuela is now at 85% and the shortage of medical supplies is about the same.

Last Tuesday, Nicolás approved a budget of 12.3 million euros to acquire medicines, supplies and reagents, but many fear that they won’t get here on time. Read the stories of the seven warao children who died due to lack of medicines. With data supporting its analysis, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed its solidarity with those who suffer the consequences of this crisis, urging the State to respect and guarantee the rights to food and health; restating the possibility of visiting the country to assess the exercise of human rights.

Another failed ranking

The Rule of Law Index 2017-2018 presented by the World Justice Project (WJP) placed Venezuela in the last place, at 113! The study evaluates eight aspects: limits of power, absence of corruption, open government, essential rights, order and security; regulatory compliance, civil justice, and criminal justice. In Latin America, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Chile had the best scores, while Venezuela goes hand in hand with Honduras and Bolivia.

As if proving the validity of three variables of the ranking, CNE rectora Tania D’Amelio released the list of 17 parties with national reach that are currently valid, restating the argument of Voluntad Popular’s “self-exclusion,” the TSJ’s ruling against MUD and taking the opportunity to explain that Somos Venezuela – which Nicolás called a new party – is just a new name for the party Nuevo Camino Revolucionario (?), summing up the process as “a normal action in the life of political parties.” What about double membership, Tania?

Abroad

  • In order to compete with Rex Tillerson’s tour, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza started a tour yesterday “to strengthen the supportive and sovereign union,” with Cuba as his first destination.
  • Colombian Foreign Minister María Ángel Holguín called on business owners in Colombia not to exploit Venezuelans in the workplace, reporting that 600 companies have been sanctioned for hiring Venezuelans outside the law.
  • In other matters, the general commander of Colombia’s Military Forces, Alberto José Mejía, said yesterday that “Venezuela continues to be, as it happened in the past with FARC, the main refuge for the leaders of the National Liberation Army,” adding that this armed group is recruiting Venezuelans.
  • The United Kingdom already clarified that its citizens and companies may freely do business with Venezuela, that the only restriction is an embargo on weapons and material that could be used for repression, approved by the European Union in November, 2017.

An article about illegal trafficking of gasoline in the Venezuelan Guajira written by Venezuelan-based Spanish journalist Alicia Hernández, won the King of Spain Journalism Award in the Press category. You can follow Alicia on Twitter via @por_puesto.

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