Wednesday’s Ashes

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

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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.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Wait–translation problem:

    “Chilean Foreign 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.”

    Keeps the invitation? Is he invited or not? I thought not.

    • From what I understand

      NPR
      “Peru’s Foreign Minister Cayetana Aljovin said Maduro’s “presence will no longer be welcome” at the Summit of the Americas, a regional policy gathering scheduled this year to be held in Lima in April.”

      Telesur
      “Chile: Foreign Minister Invites Maduro to Piñera’s Inauguration”

    • As far as the inauguration per the article, Chile says that they invite countries not governments ….their position on Venezuela is clear however.Maduro is technically invited but no way he show up.

    • I believe the invitation stands IF Maduro agrees to reschedule the elections. Diplomatic pressure to meet international norms or be humiliated, not that that emotion is in his DNA.

  2. Naky, nit: tenure, not tender. Criminal law is already “humanized” in Venezuela, with 98% of criminals (including murderers) not even seeing prison, due to Caldera’s COPP law (he also gave us HCF, by pardoning him)–so much for the effectiveness of an upper-class family adopted “Socialist”/Leftist two-time President. But, MM/Govt. seek for the 2% actually jailed a more humane treatment–perhaps letting them work on Mision Chamba Juvenil with no jail time, or, even more humane, creating “Mision Malandro”, which would cover a fair segment of the total population, especially the youth….

  3. “What’s perhaps worse than the scale of the problem is the qualification of those that are leaving, no longer just common laborers but engineers with years of experience. This will further harm PDVSA, which is already struggling.”

    “In late January, Venezuela’s oil minister said that it could “can easily manage” an oil production increase of 1 million bpd this year to lift its production capacity to 2.472 million bpd”

    “Now that PDVSA workers are leaving in droves, if we are to believe the media reports, the production increase Manuel Quevedo told S&P Platts about looks increasingly unlikely.”

    Link → https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Venezuelas-PDVSA-Faces-Mass-Exodus-Of-Workforce.html

    • You don’t just need qualified workers, you need field maintenance, to keep production from dropping 15/+ %/yr.–there is no capital to invest, and Schlumberger/Halliburton/et. al. are owed $ billions and are not willing to work without pay.

  4. [A special mention to Banco de Venezuela, whose digital platform was left out of order “for reasons beyond our control”]

    Beyond our control? whose control is it in? God’s?

    • Rory, further to those comments, I think many of CC readers don’t understand the significance of Banco de Venezuela’s platform collapse, which continues to this hour.

      Many Venezuelans live day to day…..that’s to say, they don’t buy groceries for the family for a week, they buy what they need for today, and eat it today. Tomorrow they worry about if tomorrow comes. I guess it’s a cultural thing.

      There are right now a lot of people in a world of hurt because the ONLY money they have is now trapped inside Banco de Venezuela and they cannot transfer it out.

      • This was posted several hours ago on Aporrea – Fake News?

        “Banco de Venezuela restores services in offices, use of cards and ATMs”

        https://www.aporrea.org/economia/n321033.html

        “Morales stressed that after hard work ‘we have ignited the data center without incident and we are normalizing our services (…) In the next few hours to stabilize the platform we will be'”

        Maybe they shouldn’t have ignited the data center. ..

        • AG, we’re pretty much dead in the water here. We’re doing some business with clients we know well, allowing them to leave with merchandise for later payment, but so far not a single client has arrived today saying B de V is up and running again.

          • MRubio, on the ball as always. The Banco Venezuela story is just as big as the Corpolec story if you actually live inside of Venezeula. People outside do not realize if there are nation wide blackouts, or even rationing, THERE IS NO CASH ON THE STREETS. The economy will come to a complete halt. Punto de ventas (card swipers) do not work, ballgame over. Rioting in the streets. As you said, people live day to day here.

            This is why they arrested the Corpolec Union leader immediately. My girlfriend has many contacts inside Corpolec and they are afraid to talk and all are in agreement it is on the verge of collapse if they maintain the present course.

            Right now there should be electrical rationing while they are doing maintenance, but this government is hellbent to keep the electricity on till April 23rd.

  5. The other day, during a howling blizzard, some shingle flew off my neighbors house and landed in my front yard. I couldn’t help but think….

    SABOTAGE!

    That the shingles were about 20 year old and peeling anyway was beside the point. What was important was the interpretation of events! Occams Razor be damned!

    Who cares if the electrical infrastructure is rotting, that maintenance is non existent! Its how you spin it! And even better if some criminal element decides to steal some copper, or a horned up Mr Iguana wants to get it on with a lusty Ms. Iguana on top of a transformer… more proof of the vast conspiracy!

    http://drjradiolive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Giorgio-Tsoukalos.png

    Or… Ancient Aliens… might be more believable

    • Yeah, saw that. Maduro is trying to put on a charm offensive for the world. Busy watching press conference now on telesur youtube. Wish the chick from the Washington Post would have gave Maduro a follow up question after Maduro said “we will send our oil elsewhere. ”

      That is: “President Maduro do you realize that Venezuelan heavy crude cannot be refined just anywhere. You need specialized facilities that are multi-year, multi-million (if not billion) dollar projects that just do not magically pop up overnight. Indeed, President Maduro: where do you plan on sending oil to and are there already facilities in place to refine Veneuzuelan heavy crude if a US oil embargo does occur? Please be specific.”

  6. The problem is just this: Maduro, per the civilized rules of the world, has always said, “Never mind those. We are going to do this.” Oil money alone allowed him and the Chavistas to do so. Now that is running out and may well be shut off presently. That is, the very money that allowed him to run amok with socialismo will soon be worse than gone. He will be 100s of billions in the hole, and he can’t skate on his bill via his silly Petro.

    Poor guy doesn’t realize that sooner than later he wont be able to “do this.” Since he cannot change, the whole Chavismo adventure will go down in flames. There appears no other way since doing other than what they have always done is not in the cards for the bus driver and his passengers.

    What will get thorny is when the IMF and others will start offering conditions for a bail out and “doing this” is not an option. They’ll have to “do that,” and no one seems to know how.

  7. Even if sanctions dont scalate , Pdvsa and the Govt are just a step away from activating a full scale attack from those creditors which will not be paid amounts due to them this year ..question of time ……in which case producing , selling and recieving payment for any oil that gets sold is going to be a very big problem , first they will go after the Pdvsa imports in machinery and feedstock and light crude (most of it of US origin) which Pdvsa imports in order to be able to produce the oil and blend it with the extra heavy crude that now represents most of the crude being produced, then if somehow it gets sold they will go after the recievables which are generate by such sales in almost any country in the world , while some oil might get sold and paid back using russian and chinese intermediaries to sell the oil , even that is going to lead to legal attacks on the companies acting as intermediaries or on the funds they have in US or EU bank accounts……, the battle is just starting , thats why we have april elections because anything done after that date is going encounter bigger obstacles that any time before !!

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