Wednesday’s Ashes

For Thursday, February 15, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Dailyn Sánchez

Due to another power outage, Caracas began the day in the dark. Omitting the important detail of having all power stations and substations under military custody, minister Luis Motta Domínguez explained on Instagram that substation Santa Teresa 3 was “sabotaged” and this caused an explosion and a fire: “This is part of the empire’s plan,” the eficient minister claimed, although any other person in his office would already have resigned after such a mediocre tender.

This outage affected Metro de Caracas’ service, so hundreds of passengers had to walk through the subway’s tunnels to reach the surface; the water supply service was also affected and Hidrocapital reported that the failure hit Caracas, Miranda and Vargas.

A special mention to Banco de Venezuela, whose digital platform was left out of order “for reasons beyond our control” — unofficially, they spoke of short circuit — as if lack of investment wasn’t a decision but a circumstance.

Other ashes were reported last night when a fire broke out in Valencia’s Arturo Michelena Airport.

Electoral guarantees?

National Electoral Council authority Sandra Oblitas said that so far they’ve recorded 180,000 changes in the Electoral Registry (RE), between voting center transfers to new registrations, restating that Venezuelan citizens have until February 20 to make any changes or register, because they’ll publish the final cut for elections on March 5. Oblitas obsessively repeated the word “guarantees”, speaking of the CNE’s disposition regarding the RE, meetings with political leaders or Plan República and other irrelevant details that won’t solve the real issues: CNE operates as an institution at Nicolás’ service, this call for elections is illegal and illegitimate and they have no explanation to justify the violation of the minimum six-month period to organize clean elections.

Judicial year

Find some adhesive tape to keep your mouth closed, because yesterday, ignoring our crisis’ dimension, Nicolás chose to celebrate the start of the judicial year!, full of tricolor trinkets, in an obsessive exercise of denying reality.

TSJ chief Maikel Moreno was more convincing threatening dissidents than talking about his tender’s achievements:

  • The TSJ’s support for the ANC
  • The broadening of the school supply program
  • Wage increases and health insurance for their employees
  • Restoration of judicial offices
  • Humanization of the judiciary and its judges (they didn’t look well as robots)
  • The statistical growth in judicial performance
  • The claim that judges “asserted justice”

He was bold enough to ask political actors to “be in line with Venezuela’s current historical moment” and promised to present an integral proposal that will change criminal law, its procedures and application to promote expedite prosecutions and access to justice.

The candidate’s turns

At least an hour after his recording, Nicolás imposed a cadena to talk about the TSJ, with his campaign logo (a tricolor M just like Timochenko’s) preserving the abuse of power and the money laundering. Nicolás claimed that the call to early elections was agreed upon with the opposition, so “there will be elections [on April 22] no matter the circumstances.” As usual, he accused the American embassy of supporting “terrorists to plan a coup d’état (…) there won’t be a coup in Venezuela, Venezuela will only have presidential elections,” he said. The script was confusing, so he used the Con el Mazo Dando style to talk about Julio Borges’ asylum request (which Borges already denied); he ordered the reopening of the Venezuelan consulate in Miami, a decision that’s a tad hard to enforce after the consulate has been closed for six years, without an office, staff or equipment, but the important thing is that “he ordered it.” He insisted on having celebrated the happiest carnivales in the past 40 years and utterly contradicting imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab, he also celebrated the rise in military presence at the Colombian border, guaranteeing another monologue for tomorrow to talk about that matter, to coordinate the security plan for the border: “There’s only one destiny for the people of Colombia and Venezuela, which is to be brothers, to live in peace, to share the future,” said Nicolás. Sadly, he said nothing about the massive resignations of PDVSA workers.

The opposition hasn’t announced a common decision regarding these imposed elections. According to lawmaker Stalin González, the decision was to be made between yesterday and today.

Riot

Lawmaker Adriana Pichardo denounced that political prisoners Alexander Tirado, Juan Poletti, Antonio Gabi and Jesús Albi were kidnapped along with 50 detainees, by common inmates at Tocuyito prison.

The inmates requested to be transferred to other facilities due to the overcrowding they’ve been suffering for years. Pichardo asked the Ombudsman’s Office, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Prisons Ministry to intercede in order to solve the situation, while lawyer Theresly Malavé said they’d been cautioning that something like this could happen.

Additionally, political prisoner Raúl Isaías Baduel remains in isolation.

Regional absurdities

The drivers of over 117 public transport routes in Maracaibo will go on an “intermittent strike” for the sector’s crisis, they’ll only work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. At Zulia’s Metropolitan Zoo Park, some animals are being sacrificed to feed others, and they’re also losing species apt for human consumption due to recent robberies; the most chilling tale. It’s worth considering the possibility of donating those animals to zoos in neighboring countries that can keep them in the conditions they deserve.

Vargas Governor García Carneiro decided to expropriate the grounds of the Caraballeda Golf Club to build a school, without explaining where they’re going to get the funds to raise it, as if it really was a priority in the face of malnutrition or the maintenance that must be performed on other educational facilities in the state.

Lastly, Junín municipality in Táchira was declared on sanitary emergency, due to the collapse of the local garbage collection service.

Abroad

  • Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement ratifying her stance after the Lima Group met to insist on their request for elections to be called on a proper schedule, with the involvement of international observers and including all political actors.

  • Brazilian President Michel Temer met with members of his cabinet to design a humanitarian action at the border with Venezuela. Minister Sergio Etchegoyen restated that the Armed Forces will broaden their presence at the border to exercise a better control on the area and identify the needs of new arrivals. These and other measures will be briefed on a decree that will be released this Thursday morning.
  • Colombia’s prosecutor general will request Interpol to issue a red alert against leaders of the guerrilla group National Liberation Army (ELN) whom he claims are currently hiding in Venezuela.
  • Chilean Fforeign Minister Heraldo Muñoz ratified that his country keeps the invitation for Nicolás to attend the presidential inauguration in Chile, set for March 11, and said that he doesn’t imagine the Venezuelan government reconsidering the call to elections as the Lima Group is requesting him to do.
  • OAS Venezuelan mission accused the U.S. government and its “regional subordinates” of being behind the decision adopted by the Peruvian government. Carmen Velásquez demanded an immediate end to “all attacks and threats,” recommending Lima Group member nations to take care of their own terrible internal issues, citing corruption, drug trafficking and electoral fraud among them. Isn’t she cute?

An image taken by Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt (@rschemidt) is one of the six candidates announced yesterday for this year’s World Press Photo award.

Juan Barreto (@jbarreto1974) was also nominated for his coverage of the Venezuelan conflict.

His series is nominated on the “Spot Stories” category.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.