From the Summit to the Pit

For Friday, February 16, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Prensa Presidencial

The Lima Group materialized yesterday one of the consequences of not imposing sanctions on authorities: Nicolás claimed that he’d attend the Summit of the Americas “no matter the circumstances”.

While he remarked that he’s driven them mad, that they fear him, that he can talk about the country and requested invitations to do so, to meet with them face to face, in addition to demanding proper judgement from his peers. On that line of denying reality and poorly-shown cynicism, he denied the existence of a diaspora of Venezuelans and blamed all the information about it on media labs; he pointed out that the movement of troops at the borders with Colombia and Brazil is a consequence of the tour made by U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson; he lied about the invitation allegedly extended by Colombia to deal with the issue at the border and claimed that despite the infamous original motive, agendas could revolve around peace. Well, he even came up with the term “ideological racism.”

Leave to other places

With the U.S., Nicolás hopes and expects that “diplomacy will overcome the conflict” (especially after the statements issued last Wednesday at the OAS, for instance); saying that American treatment towards him is “a political, strategic and diplomatic mistake.” Lastly, Nicolás claimed that the restructuring of the foreign debt is going well, better than he expected! — without offering any information — but denouncing the mad foreign persecution against bank accounts owned by Venezuelans and blaming the drop in oil output on corrupt sectors that created a straitjacket for investment. “Venezuela doesn’t depend on an oil embargo from the U.S. (…) we have market in other countries and we’d take our ships and leave to other places,” he said. Irresponsible, as usual.

Cara’e tabla

Exiled prosecutor general Luisa Ortega Díaz claimed that Diosdado Cabello pressured her to say that opposition leader Leopoldo López was responsible for the deaths that took place during 2014 protests: “I was pressured to say that the author of Bassil da Costa and Juan Montoya’s death was Leopoldo,” she said in a radio interview, adding that the prosecutor appointed for that case wanted to issue an order against López for homicide and terrorism and she objected it. Ortega doesn’t feel responsible for the collapse of democracy in Venezuela, despite her role and the time it took for her to reveal the corruption she was involved in: “I was never their accomplice. On the contrary, I unmasked many things,” she said, restating the things she objected to and emphasizing that her shift in stance wasn’t caused by political interests and that she doesn’t aspire to any publicly elected office. It’d be great if she explained judge María Lourdes Afiuni’s case sometime, huh?

A hundred thousand

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (Acnur) underscored the growing number of Venezuelan citizens requesting asylum abroad, which surpasses the 100,000 applications, adding some 130,000 people who have chosen other forms of immigration. Acnur’s representative for Central America, Cuba and Mexico, José Samaniego, acknowledged that the amount of Venezuelan applicants “has increased across the American region,” with the lack of medicines and food, polarization, violence and crime as the main causes of the exodus. Samaniego emphasized that this migratory phenomenon poses a new situation for the American continent, where Venezuelans weren’t known for asylum applications, so he asked host countries to deal with this situation with more attention and information.

Let’s talk about children

Yesterday, a 4-month-old baby died of child malnutrition in the pediatric emergency of Dr. Manuel Núñez Tovar hospital in Maturín. It’s the fourth malnutrition death so far in February in that state. Lawmaker Sergio Vergara reported that the legislators will meet with officials of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare to review the status of 52 Venezuelan children who were abandoned in Northern Santander: “We want to know if they have families in Venezuela and whether it’s possible for these families to take care of them,” he said.

Problems at the J.M. De los Ríos Children’s Hospital haven’t stopped. This time, it was lack of water that prevented children to undergo their hemodialysis therapy.

Katherine Martínez, head of Prepara Familia, demanded that the State respect the rights of the most vulnerable, especially those who have been hospitalized or suffer from chronic diseases.

Additionally, yesterday lawmaker Mariela Magallanes regretted that Venezuelan families lack the resources to feed their children and used the recent intoxications caused by consumption of bitter cassava to explain the government’s inefficacy to guarantee proper access to food.

Miserable

While the annual misery index issued by Bloomberg, estimated by adding the inflation and unemployment rates of 66 countries, placed Venezuela first for a fourth year straight, focusing on black market exchange rates as a way to measure inflation, Venezuelan bonds allegedly experienced a rebound following news that Nicolás had removed sanctioned official Simón Zerpa as PDVSA’s Finance vice-president and appointed Iliana Ruzza (formerly PDVSA’s treasury manager,) to try and ease the way for crude exports and debt negotiations. Zerpa made it impossible for American entities to help PDVSA refinance its debt, even before U.S. sanctions.

Abroad

  • In defense of human rights, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia supported the restrictive measures imposed by the European Union against Venezuelan government officials.
  • The Colombian government issued a statement to deny Nicolás’ claim that he received a letter from president Juan Manuel Santos to meet and pointed out that they did send a notice to seven nations to seek protection from the Amazonian countries.
  • Yesterday, Brazilian President Michel Temer issued a decree recognizing the “situation of vulnerability” in Roraima state in the wake of the massive arrival of Venezuelans fleeing the humanitarian crisis. The measures will be coordinated and supervised by a Federal Committee of Emergency Attention.
  • Former Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga requested urgent new sanctions to isolate and pressure the Venezuelan government, adding that Lima Group members must denounce Nicolás and his cronies before the International Criminal Court for alleged human rights violations.

  • Several Peruvian political parties called for a public demonstration on April 12 in Lima against the Venezuelan dictatorship, as reported by former prime minister and lawmaker Jorge del Castillo, “in view of [Nicolás’] insolence and defying attitude, even though he’s not welcome and he’s actually repudiated by the international community,” wrote Del Castillo on his Twitter account.

Businessman Lorenzo Mendoza dismissed the possibility of presenting his candidacy for presidential elections. Can we overcome the “outsider” theory now?

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