The foreign ministers of the Lima Group agreed that Nicolás is no longer welcome at the 8th Summit of the Americas to be held in Lima; they rejected the government’s decision “that prevents the holding of democratic, transparent and credible elections” and urged them to reconsider the unilateral call and to present a new agreed timetable. They took note of the IACHR’s report on Venezuela, of the announcement made by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and also called for the government to allow the opening of a humanitarian corridor. Once again, it was Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, whose speech was blunt, as she said that the regime was fixed on “a path that does not lead to an agreement”; stating that they won’t recognize elections that bar leaders and parties from participating, that force authorities to give their oaths of office before the ANC, and pointed out that there are reasons to believe that Nicolás won’t act legitimately and in compliance with international parameters. By the way: the Lima Group really takes its time, eh.
The Executive’s interference
After the statement issued by the four United Nations rapporteurs on extreme poverty, food, health and housing due to Venezuela’s alarming living conditions, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued its third report on Venezuela called “Democratic institutionality, rule of law and human rights,” which includes the recommendations they ask the Venezuelan State to adopt with maximum urgency to improve the protection and guarantee of human rights. In their analysis, the IACHR remarks that the serious interference of both the executive and judicial branches on the legislative branch is one of the key elements of our crisis and accounts for the intense levels of corruption, the existence of a matter of reprisals, severe restrictions to freedom of expression, the rise in violence and crime and the general shortage of food, medicines and medical supplies. The report was handed to OAS chief Luis Almagro and will also be handed to each member nation to read and study.
After the Spanish goverment agreed last Friday to send former Vice-Minister Nervis Villalobos and former Electricidad de Caracas Finance Manager Luis Carlos León Pérez over to the U.S., to be tried in that country; the U.S. Justice Department accused them this Tuesday of allegedly engaging in criminal association and money laundering alongside Rafael Reiter Muño, former PDVSA manager; Alejandro Istúriz Chiesa, Bariven manager, fugitive; and César David Rincón, also extradited by Spain, the only one who testified before judge Stephen Smith. For Criminal Division Vice-Prosecutor John Cronan, corruption “threatens economic and political stability and victimizes law-abiding citizens”; meanwhile, for Mark Dawson, special agent of the Office of National Security Investigations, this case “is an example of what can be achieved when international police agencies work together to prevent complex transboundary crimes.”
A new massacre
17 men and one woman were murdered when the Venezuelan Army stormed the Cicapra mine in Guasipati, Bolívar, early last Saturday, February 10. The original version said that the victims had fired against the authorities and that they had various weapons in their possession, including pistols, revolvers, shotguns and grenades. Governor Justo Noguera told journalist Carlos Suniaga that “there was an attack against a military commission that was performing sovereignty patrols” and that the “glorious” Army, in compliance with the protocols and the doctrine, repelled the attack. According to the official report, all victims had several firearm wounds, while all officers were unharmed, which is inconsistent for a shootout. The victims’ families say that they were murdered and that none of them had any police records. Lawmaker Rachid Yasbek said that he’ll request the National Assembly to create a special committee to investigate this incident.
After Roy Chaderton’s brilliant words on VTV claiming that Colombia is one of the countries “prepared to invade Venezuela,” imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab denounced in a sort of theatrical statement that Colombia is staging a military incursion into the country and, just like Chaderton claimed that Venezuela “has more than enough technology, ammunition, courage and motivation,” Saab called on the Armed Forces, the people and “legitimate institutions” —oh, the irony— to face the threat. But Alberto Mejía, commander of the Colombian Military Forces, denied any plan to invade or bombard us, saying: “we have so many issues in our country that we’re dedicated and focused. We only want to solve the problems of Colombian citizens.” Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín took the opportunity at the Lima Group’s forum to reject the accusations and restate that they have enough problems “to be thinking of a military intervention.” Chaderton and Saab should check president Santos’ speech on corruption as one of the worst forms of violence, citing Venezuela as the most pathetic example. If you want to refute him, consider that yesterday, Venezuela once again lost voting rights at the UN General Assembly for holding the highest worldwide debt with the institution. $25,200,296.
The best carnivals?
There were arrests and people injured during protests in Táchira on Youth Day. Ányelo Quintero, a young man wounded in the head during 2017 protests, unfortunately died after facing difficulties to find medicines. A shootout during a carnival parade in El Callao left three people dead and five wounded, while Youth Day was commemorated in the Eastern Cemetery, honoring the protesters killed during 2014 and 2017 protests. Over twenty people were poisoned after eating bitter cassava in Aragua, and eight of them died. Despite all of these successive tragedies, yesterday Nicolás congratulated the country for celebrating the best carnivals in recent years in Venezuela, for being an example “of peace and joy.”
Article 124 of the Framework Law on Electoral Processes establishes that any voters who holds “residence or any other regime denoting legality of permanence outside Venezuela” must be allowed to vote. However, the Venezuelan embassies that have reactivated the Electoral Registry, included obstacles against voters, demanding permanent (definitive) legal residence and attending citizens by ID card number, as if it was a line to buy price-controlled products instead of a political right. Patience for all those who will update their information, read the requirements carefully.