A Large Prison

Your daily briefing for Saturday, February 3, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

19 years ago, Hugo Chávez was sworn in for the first time as president. Early this Friday, chavismo decided to “celebrate” it by arbitrarily detaining 84-year old historian and lawyer Enrique Aristeguieta Gramcko, violating the Organic Criminal Code, violating the rights of the last living member of the Patriotic Junta of 1958. Lawmaker Delsa Solórzano denounced that at the moment of his detention, SEBIN officers didn’t show search or arrest warrant, but they still held him without revealing where, and later presented him before a civilian court where he was granted full freedom last night. The condemnation of Aristeguieta Gramcko’s arrest was general, but once again, the silence of the Ombudsman and the imposed Prosecutor General prove that they approve of any human rights violation. Read Univision’s work titled “Nobody shoots, this is a surrender” based on a police radio call on the morning of January 15, 2018, which confirms that Óscar Pérez and his comrades were captured alive, that they negotiated their surrender with National Guard mayor Rafael Bastardo and despite this, they all wound up dead with shots in the head.


Eugenio Martínez, the journalist specialized in electoral matters, said yesterday morning: “It seems that once again rectora Tania D’Amelio’s position supersedes Tibisay Lucena’s. So far, political party Primero Justicia (PJ) won’t be able to go to the second round of signature collection this weekend and will be invalidates like Voluntad Popular.” Later, lawmaker Tomás Guanipa, general secretary of PJ, denounced that the CNE had intentions of blocking the party from going to the second collection round, set for this Saturday and Sunday. Last night, rector Luis Emilio Rondón rejected the fact that CNE made a late alteration to the conditions of the party revalidation process “even violating the timetable that had already been approved and published,” to block PJ off the second signature collection drive. The organization denounced CNE’s discretionality, calling the decision “illegal, unconstitutional and an assault against democracy,” saying that it shows how the Venezuelan dictatorship operates.

With or Without You

Nicolás claimed to be willing to sign a definitive agreement, but warned that should it not be possible, he’d still hold presidential elections this year: “Enough with the delays, we already discussed everything we had to discuss, either we sign or we sign, we’re going to hold elections with or without you,” another way of kicking the negotiation table and letting CNE know that he wants a date. He also challenged his hand-picked contenders, Henry Ramos Allup and Henri Falcón; he repeated the remarks of his advisor Alfredo Serrano on Twitter against Rex Tillerson word for word only to claim that Venezuela is a country with a better future than the U.S. , and justified the ANC’s imposition with this phrase: “It was either the constituent assembly or civil war. It was either the assembly or the rifles that would be talking in Venezuela.” He also invented a new role for Diosdado Cabello: chief of the plan of anti-coup and anti-terrorist defense, and he’ll also defend sovereignty and the electoral victory. Move aside, Churchill.

And Then, Padrino López

But the first response to U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson came from Defense minister Vladimir Padrino López, and I insist, the guy needs a new creative writer for his speeches. The “outraged” minister claimed that urging the Armed Forces to topple the government which Tillerson didn’t do is a disrespect to an “institution based on the Constitution” and asked rhetorically whether the Armed Forces have been acting outside the law, only to say that they fully comply with their precepts. He spoke of free, popular, universal, democratic elections (and thus showed they’re anything but); he spoke of a fully transparent CNE (ask Andrés Velásquez); he emphasized that there can’t be a dictatorship or a tyranny when they allow political pluralism (the same day that PJ is shut off from revalidation), free speech (when Aristeguieta Gramcko was still detained) and all other liberties (when security forces were firing against kidney patients protesting in Barquisimeto for the lack of dialysis). Padrino López justified hyperinflation and shortages with U.S. sanctions, as if both phenomena weren’t older than those sanctions, as if they hadn’t been warned years ago. Delcy Rodríguez unwittingly erased a tweet where she replied to Tillerson’s parody account, but we saved a screenshot.

The Disqualified Wiseman

Miguel Rodríguez Torres condemned the disqualification imposed by the Comptroller’s Office due to alleged irregularities in his sworn statement of assets, calling it “a political action, as the government has always done, violating the laws and the Constitution, without allowing the right to due process and to a legal defense”; as if he hadn’t been a member of the same government for years. His explanation is that chavismo fears his proposal to defeat Nicolás and the unstoppable popularity he’s reached (?). He claimed that the CNE is Nicolás’ back office, that there won’t be appropriate electoral conditions and that Venezuelans must reclaim our rights. A true genius. Just like Henri Falcón, Torres believes that the candidate must be chosen by consensos and not through primaries; but he remarked that “anything can happen here, because the government is desperate.” As usual, he called on the Armed Forces to honor their commitment and vindicate themselves before the people. Ha!


  • The foreign ministers of Mexico, Canada and the U.S. Secretary of State expressed their concern for Venezuela and agreed that they’ll do what they can to restore democracy and to find a solution to the suffering of Venezuelans, restating that they can’t remain indifferent before the systematic collapse of our situation.
  • Tillerson said: “We would like a peaceful transition, if Maduro were to respect the Constitution, restore the National Assembly and dismantle the ANC and calls for fair elections, he can stay and be a candidate, but he has to return to the Constitution and we hope he will” the American official remarked.
  • David Malpass, representative for the U.S. Treasury Department, accused China of allowing the crisis in Venezuela by supporting Nicolás Maduro’s government with loans in exchange for oil.
  • On February 8 from Cucuta, president Juan Manuel Santos will announce the measures they studied in the Council of Ministers to respond to the colossal Venezuelan immigration to Colombia.

Venezuela becomes a large prison, managed by a group that arrests the elderly just as easily as they invalidate a political party. Meanwhile, people are starving, dying from treatable diseases, dying for the indifference of Nicolás and his henchmen.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.