A Bigger Fraud

For Thursday, February 22, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Globovisión


The Democratic Unity Roundtable announced that they won’t participate in April 22 elections, deeming them a fraudulent and illegitimate simulation of a presidential election.

Ángel Oropeza made the announcement and dared the government to hold the vote under other conditions: “With these conditions established in the document of the agreement in the Dominican Republic (which the government refused to sign), we’re willing and ready to participate. Otherwise, don’t count on MUD or the Venezuelan people to support the fraud.” Oropeza also called for the creation of a national broad front with social and political forces to obtain clean and competitive elections.

Shortly afterwards, Nicolás showed up to raise the bet from “double or nothing” to “all in.”

All the posts, no guarantees

Emphasizing that he’ll go to elections with or without MUD, Nicolás said that he’ll ask the ANC to “hold early elections to renew all powers and focus only on working,” taking the chance to say that Diosdado Cabello’s proposal was necessary and fair. So, the integral renewal includes Legislative and Municipal Councils, and Parliament, over 2,500 posts in an election where a government with 25% approval rating will be the sole challenger.

As a kind of justification, he said: “That way we can clear four years to focus on working exclusively on the country’s prosperity,” the same argument he used to justify the imposition of the ANC and the State of Emergency, which he has wielded for the past two years to rule with absolute powers as all indicators collapse. For some reason, Nicolás chooses to forget that back in 2000, el finado tried something like this and it was a complete failure; that although the terms of Legislative and Municipal Councils have expired, the AN is still in exercise and holding early parliamentary elections is only possible by violating the Constitution. The fact that Nicolás speaks about renewal when he seeks the reelection, is as disrespectful as accusing the opposition of being disconnected from the country, while he, compared to most starved Venezuelans, looks like a mammoth.

Reactions

Lawmaker Julio Borges, who headed the opposition commission in the failed negotiation in the Dominican Republic, wrote:

“Nicolás Maduro with this “mega election” farce, you’re committing suicide. Your days are numbered”.

Shortly after that, Delcy Rodríguez said she’d received the megaelection proposal, ratifying the ANC’s commitment to carry out Nicolás’ orders.

Most people agree that elections of such complexity would be impossible to hold on April 22 and that this new call is evidence of the regime’s need to finish any vestige of independent powers, which only predicts further decline for Nicolás’ already battered legitimacy in the international stage.

Henri Falcón, whose party signed MUD’s agreement, boasted that he’ll defeat Nicolás even “with all your tricks,” which garnered more scorn than praise.

Lastly, CNE authority Luis Emilio Rondón pointed out that an election such as the one proposed, violates the political rights of Venezuelans; he asked not to repeat mistakes and read the Framework Law of the Municipal Public Power, because it forces the holding of separate elections for municipalities and for the National Public Power.

Poorer and hungrier

The National Survey on Living Conditions (Encovi), carried out by the Central University, the Andrés Bello Catholic University and the Simón Bolívar University along with the Bengoa foundation and Red de Solidaridad Ciudadana, among other institutions, revealed dramatic data about our circumstances, starting with the report that 87% of the population lives in poverty, with a rise in extreme poverty from 24% in 2014 to 61% in 2017; 89% of Venezuelans think that their family income isn’t enough to buy food; 61% admit to going to bed hungry; 20% can’t afford breakfast and 63.2% have reduced their meals in order to save food. It makes sense, then, to read that Venezuelans lost an average of 11.4 kilos last year, as a consequence of the worst economic crisis in our history, between a severe recession and hyperinflation, with our income in ashes. Access to education dropped from 78% to 71% in two years, we have over a million unschooled children and severe academic lag reaches 15% among teenagers between 12 and 17 years old. I urge you to read the survey in detail, there’s too much important information to include this as a usual block in this daily briefing.

Chávez the corrupt

While Venezuelans were coming to terms with a new depreciation of the bolívar, evidenced in the results of the second DICOM auction, which went from Bs. 30,987.50 to 36,131.10 – 14.2% depreciation – imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab gave his accountability speech before the ANC, a performance in which he seemed strangely pleased to reveal the degradation that PDVSA reached under Hugo Chávez’s rule, estimating after his preliminary investigations, an embezzlement of $15 billion, excluding overpriced contracts and those assigned at will in the Orinoco Oil Strip. He should moderate the anger he reserved to accuse his predecessor Luisa Ortega Díaz of protecting great drug lords and corruption big shots, because talking about at least 100 people arrested to dismantle corruption schemes in the oil sector and money laundering operations, is admitting that Hugo Chávez was corrupt, that he chose corrupt cronies for key posts and that they did manage to operate with the necessary freedom to move the colossal sums of money mentioned by Saab. Either he benefited from such schemes or he was too relaxed in the control his post demanded.

The fun part was that, right before Saab’s performance, PDVSA forbade its employees to use social networks:

What’s the risk if the imposed prosecutor is already revealing the evidence of the corruption that destroyed the country’s main company as if it was an achievement?

Abroad

  • If it’s about corruption, the Swiss financial regulator Finma is investigating several Swiss banks to determine whether they complied with anti-money laundering laws, in a sprawling investigation on corruption for over a billion dollars involving PDVSA.
  • Brazil and Colombia announced that they’ll reinforce cooperation at the border and the exchange of information about the situation of Venezuelans who are fleeing from the crisis.
  • Julio Borges will meet with Panama’s Juan Carlos Varela today, and then with Venezuelans living there.

Dr. Julio Castro urges health workers to give their opinion about the conditions of the hospitals in which they work (public or private) by answering the National Hospitals Survey, which has been carried out for the past five years.

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