Elections Without Agreement

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

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.

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