Elections Without Agreement

For Thursday, February 8, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

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Photo: Reuters

The government didn’t refuse to sign the opposition’s version of the so-called agreement, it was just that minister Jorge Rodríguez signed his own version early yesterday to later depart and leave everything in the suspense of his imposition.

The statements of former president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero were shameful.

Just not much worse than those of Dominican President Danilo Medina, who used all the ornaments available.

Julio Borges said that they didn’t sign the agreement with the government because they won’t allow them to abuse Venezuelan people’s rights, later explaining the differences between the document that the opposition handed over yesterday and the one left signed by the government. Their document details the aforementioned rights and specifies the opposition’s demands, while the other is a bunch of sui-generis statements, as is usual in chavista documents. Borges said that Nicolás “doesn’t own Venezuela’s democracy, which belongs to Venezuelans, and they must be respected.”

Leaving PSUV

National Electoral Council chairwoman Tibisay Lucena reappeared in her office after weeks of absence and met with Delcy Rodríguez, who formally changed the name of party NCR for Somos Venezuela. NCR is remembered because in 2017, it had to go to a second signature collection round for revalidation (the same process denied to Primero Justicia) although you probably don’t know a single militant of that cause. Don’t worry, Delcy said that in order to avoid double membership, she quit PSUV.

Hours later, however, Nicolás claimed that Somos Venezuela isn’t a political party but a movement (?), and remarked that the opposition didn’t sign his version of the agreement because “Julio Borges got a phone call from Bogotá and someone spoke to him in English,” although he assumes that the agreement was settled even without a single opposition signature. He restated that he wants Henry Ramos Allup to be his contender and that he’ll fulfill everything he signed, taking the chance to call president Juan Manuel Santos “garbage”. He made a cryptic announcement about the creation of a “network of intellentuals” (sic).

Once and for all

Tibisay Lucena played her role and announced that presidential elections will take place on April 22, in compliance with the ANC’s decree and the date established by the document signed by the government in the Dominican Republic. The Electoral Registry will be open until February 20, with a special campaign for voters who want to register for the first time or change their place of residence so they can be included in the total number of voters to be released on March 5. Lucena said that nominations will be made over the internet between February 24 and 26 and candidates will have 48 hours from then to submit their requirements. The electoral campaign will take 16 days, starting on April 2 (although Nicolás has been on that for weeks now) and they foresee “15 inspections and all the guarantees for a transparent and reliable election,” features that couldn’t possibly be reached in such a small window of time, and she knows it.

Oh! Electoral table members will be the same as in regional and municipal elections.

He doesn’t agree

Rector Luis Emilio Rondón rejected the call to elections due to lack of guarantees to create trust for Venezuelans, pointing out that he reserved his vote in view of these rushed decisions, “since this is the country’s most important election, with the largest turnout of Venezuelans (…) less time and less guarantees.”

According to him, the CNE establishes 63 days for such a relevant process, so he asked Venezuelans to “demand full compliance with their political rights.” His most crucial question was: “Is the Constitution of Venezuela valid or not?”

Inflation

Inflation broke the 80% mark for a second month in a row, according to the estimates of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee.

That’s second highest inflation rate recorded in the country’s recent history.

“We must stop hyperinflation and for that we must dismantle currency exchange controls and stop the printing of inorganic money,” said lawmaker Rafael Guzmán, remarking that “the only person accountable for the tragedy we now live is Nicolás Maduro.”

Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross believes that Venezuela lives a difficult social-economic situation and it’s monitoring how the crisis evolves to offer aid whenever possible. Operations head Dominik Stillhart said in United Nations headquarters that the Red Cross has an all-terrain team that works with the Venezuelan Red Cross. If that’s true, then maybe he should be informed, for instance, of the measles outbreak that has been affecting four parishes of Libertador municipality between December 2017 and January 2018 (Sucre, La Pastora, 23 de Enero and El Junquito) and the Health Ministry has remained silent about the virus’ spread, despite it being a highly contagious viral disease that can be prevented with vaccination.

Heavy sanctions

U.S. State Secretary Red Tillerson said that his country draws closer to imposing sanctions against the Venezuelan oil sector and they’re planning on mitigating their impact at once: “there’s great unanimity in the region and certainly in the hemisphere that we all want to see some progress on this situation in Venezuela which only gets worse day by day.” Describing president Trump as an understanding man, he explained that he’ll work on the options and leave the call to him, because they’re concerned as to how to mitigate the impact of potential oil restrictions, not only on Caribbean nations but also on U.S refineries that import Venezuelan heavy crude. In any case, Jamaican prime minister Andrew Holness suggested that the region is already making progress after years of dependency to subsidized Venezuelan oil.

Abroad

  • After European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini demanded an agreement for “free, credible and transparent elections,” in addition to lifting bans on opposition candidates and guaranteeing the CNE’s impartiality, three demands that were ignored yesterday, the Eurochamber plenary will vote on a resolution that will include their condemnation for the call for presidential elections as well as the expulsion of the Spanish ambassador, and a resolution to expand EU-imposed sanctions to new high-ranking members of the Venezuelan government, including Nicolás.
  • OAS chief Luis Almagro said that he met with U.S. senator Marco Rubio to discuss Venezuela’s political situation and define coming actions and regional commitments against the government.

By signing an agreement with himself, Nicolás opens the door for more severe sanctions, as well as international disregard for his presidency, all of this only for refusing to accept elections with guarantees. Everything comes from recognition and acceptance. Neither a new party nor an early date for elections will solve the emergency of those who are starving to death and dying of treatable diseases every day; they won’t stop epidemiological outbreaks or shortages; they won’t put a check on inflation or stop the diaspora. Nicolás in his labyrinth. So sadistic that he could never inspire pity.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Politics 101: Any time some pet project blows apart and whatever amount of effort you put into it comes to nothing, it makes you look like an incompetent. Which is what José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is: incompetent.

    He didn’t care about Venezuelans. He cared about the process, and how this bit of statesmanship on his part would give him some political legs. Now, since his efforts were fruitless, he must blame someone else, since his efforts were “superhuman”… preferably the opposition, as they are powerless. And maybe my history fails me, but isn’t he a Socialist? So I think we know where his loyalties lie.

    What matters is that the opposition didn’t back down.

    • A leftist accepting responsiblity for his own actions? I’d been waiting to see that but have instead shifted my focus to the skies in the hopes of seeing a flying pink unicorn.

  2. Has EL Universal newspaper shutdown? The last articles on their web site are from 2/2/2018. nothing new has been post their over the last 6 days.

  3. From Foreign Policy website: Elephants in the Room:Cuba Is Making the Crisis in Venezuela Worse. Putting pressure on Caracas means holding Havana accountable.

    So what more can the Trump administration do to hold Cuba accountable?
    Here are some recommendations:

    Suspend the working groups between the U.S. and Cuba established by the Obama administration, especially the U.S.-Cuba Law Enforcement Dialogues, which involves intelligence-sharing on counterterrorism, counternarcotics, and other criminal activity. Cuban President Raúl Castro desperately craves legitimacy through these meetings, even as common sense screams out about their utter incongruity.
    Expand U.S. drug investigations in Venezuela to Cuban officials based there. Venezuela is a full-blown narco-state, with numerous high-ranking officials implicated in facilitating drug shipments from Colombia through Venezuela and on to the United States and Europe. Given Cuba’s intimate standing in Venezuela, it defies belief that some Cuban officials are not likewise complicit.
    Oppose Cuba’s participation in the eighth Summit of the Americas, to be held April 13 and 14 in Lima, Peru. Although there has been no word on Cuba’s participation, it attended the 2015 summit with the acquiescence of the Obama administration. Cuba’s ongoing, destructive role in Venezuela merits vociferous opposition on the part of the United States this time around.
    Target Cubans operating in Venezuela with sanctions. In its first year, the Trump administration sanctioned more than two dozen Venezuelan officials for narcotrafficking, assaults against democracy, and human right abuses. It should extend those sanctions to Cuban officials in Venezuela. While they are not likely to have assets in the United States to be frozen or visas to be withdrawn, sanctions would target their dealings with entities that come into contact with the U.S. financial system. Secondly, the stigma of U.S. sanctions is a powerful psychological tool, especially when targets are named and shamed before the Venezuelan people.
    To raise the economic costs to Cuba, reactivate Title IV of the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act, which denies U.S. visas to foreign persons profiting from confiscated property in Cuba claimed by U.S. nationals. In 22 years, the provision has only been invoked a handful of times. Reintroducing this threat will have a chilling effect on the Castro regime’s effort to lure foreign investment in its tourism industry, the Cuban military’s cash cow.
    Return Cuba to the official list of state sponsors of terrorism. The Obama administration removed Cuba for purely political purposes to facilitate its normalization process, despite there being no evidence the Castro regime had mended its ways (in fact, the evidence points to the contrary).

    There is very little to be optimistic about regarding Venezuela. Some liken it to an out-of-control bus that needs to crash before anything can be done. But that is an abdication of responsibility by those in a position to prevent such a tragedy and a disservice to the Venezuelan people. Moreover, there will be those who claim the United States has no moral authority to act in preventing the destruction of Venezuela. It’s very likely, however, that not many of them live there.

    • “There is very little to be optimistic about regarding Venezuela. Some liken it to an out-of-control bus that needs to crash before anything can be done.”

      LOL, an out-of-control bus. Just imagine who’s at the steering wheel.

      “Moreover, there will be those who claim the United States has no moral authority to act in preventing the destruction of Venezuela. It’s very likely, however, that not many of them live there.”

      He doesn’t realize they they don’t live there because of a finely-crafted strategy of not paying the Venezeulan captor, Nicolas Maduro. They’re actually helping average starving Venezuelans by not contributing to the economy in any way whatsoever. Feed a Venezuelan, feed Maduro. The man should try to keep up.

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