Photo: Prensa Presidencial
The first day of the military exercises to prepare professional and naive troops against imaginary invaders (that’s the multidimensional part) dozens of people were trapped for several hours in the foniculars of Caracas’ aerial tramway, pretty close to Miraflores.
Hours before this incident, with the sense of ridicule stuffed in the same closet where he keeps his red garments, Nicolás claimed that he’s studying a special plan to defend the National Electrical System, blaming the frequent outages on opposition sabotage, ignoring the militarization of the spaces or accepting that the military can’t even defend a power plant. He only spoke of starting to work on the plan and although Remigio Ceballos Ichazo, chief of the Armed Forces’ Operational Strategic Command, did speak of fighting off “the electrical war,” Nicolás reserved the expenses to other areas: “We’re going to invest more on anti-aerial defense, to make all the regions of the country unassailable,” he said, except that he approved resources for the Armed Forces in petros, not dollars, adding that he’ll travel to India to study the purchase of war material in that country. He promised a military carnet de la patria, exclusively for the Armed Forces, their families and the civilian staff of the Defense Ministry.
The dictator’s dictatorship
“Saying that I’m a dictator means that there’s a dictatorship here, it’s a profound understatement of the democratic values of republican rebellion (…) of this people (…) and I come from that people,” replied Nicolás to Chilean filmmaker and politician Marco Enríquez Ominami after he asked: “How do you prove to the world that you’re not a dictator?” The interviewer told him that he’d recorded a woman who couldn’t find a medication and Nicolás omitted that detail to do propaganda about the alleged visits of community doctors (that nobody receives), the 0800 Salud (that never works) and the war of some nations to block medicine shipments (that nobody’s fighting). He had the gall to claim that Venezuelans have better access to medicines than Chilean, Mexican and Colombian workers, believing that it’s an exaggeration to say that Venezuelans are dying for lack of medicines. Nicolás couldn’t answer how much a pack of pre-cooked corn flour costs and chose to make up some prices for the formal and informal sale, pretty far from the ones we actually pay. But of course, that was the best prelude to talk about the economic war.
No one’s elections
The special campaign of the Electoral Registry for Venezuelans abroad ended yesterday, although the majority of testimonies were complaints for the obstacles used by consulates to prevent registration. While Jorge and Delcy Rodríguez met with some opposition members to offer to delay elections until May, the online registration of candidates that started last Saturday ends today. Monday and Tuesday will be the days for online-registered candidates to formalize their candidacies by submitting the requisites demanded by the National Electoral Council (CNE); and between Monday and Thursday next week, they’ll be notified if their candidacies were accepted or not, and the campaign would start on April 2, although Nicolás has been wearing blue for weeks. Ah! This week the ANC will “discuss” possible dates for parliamentary elections.
Where are they?
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) supports the Health Ministry since November 2017 in a quick-response plan to put a check on diphtheria and measles. However, in its most recent updates, suspicious and confirmed disease cases have increased, and they’ve also spread to several entities in the country, including Caracas. According to PAHO, Venezuela has acquired, through the institution’s rotating fund, nearly 15 million doses of vaccines to prevent diphtheria and measles and over 9 million doses of triple bacterial and toxoid tetanus diphtheria vaccines, as well as more discrete quantities of other vaccines, but PAHO doesn’t reveal either the amounts of those purchases, nor the plans used (according to them) to properly administer them.
Aside from this, lawmaker Omar González reported the finding of a batch of expired supplies and medicines in a Health Ministry warehouse located in Píritu, Anzoátegui.
Descubren lote de insumos y medicamentos vencidos en depósito del Ministerio de Salud en Piritu, Edo. Anzoátegui, mientras pacientes se mueren de mengua en los hospitales públicos pic.twitter.com/6wwjCucS0Z
— Omar Gonzalez Moreno (@omargonzalez6) February 24, 2018
NGO Foro Penal staged a protest last Saturday before UN headquarters in Caracas to demand the release of all 234 political prisoners.
The National Telecom Commission (Conatel) penalized TV station Televen for allegedly violating article 27 of the Law of Social Responsibility by disseminating “messages with graphic images and real violence, during the electoral process for the ANC held on July 30, 2017.”
Conatel continues to break its own record in abuses against freedom of expression in Venezuela, but they’re not the only ones: this Saturday, journalists René Méndez (NTN24) and Daniel Cáceres (AFO) were arrested by Military Counterintelligence Directorate agents while they were covering military exercises in Táchira. Their equipment was seized, the material they had recorded was reviewed and erased, and they were later released without an explanation.
Informing the public isn’t a crime.
- The U.S. government respects the decision of opposition political parties to refuse the terms and conditions set for April 22 elections, in addition to condemning the call to replace the National Assembly, because it deepens the rupture of constitutional and democratic order and it won’t solve the nation’s crisis.
- This Monday, the foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) will discuss Venezuela’s situation and express their concern for the call to presidential elections, not agreed with the opposition. The EU doesn’t seek to impose further sanctions this time.
- Guyanese President David Granger cancelled his attendance to the Caricom meeting in Haiti to focus on domestic affairs, including visiting communities at the border with Venezuela.
- Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said that he invited the African Union to participate as observers in presidential elections, condemning the U.S. stance and uploading pictures of his trip to El Cairo which included a meeting with the Arab League.
- Nicolás announced that he won’t attend the presidential inauguration in Chile. This nation’s Foreign Minister, Heraldo Muñoz, said yesterday that “Venezuela isn’t a democracy.” The point is that on March 11, Nicolás will be on a tour through Asia to introduce the petro. I wish he explains to them that Venezuelans can’t access the petro because it isn’t sold in bolívares, only in dollars, euros and other cyptocurrencies.
- The UN Human Rights Council will hold its first session of 2018 this Monday. Jorge Arreaza will attend for Venezuela.
- Former U.S. State undersecretary Thomas Shannon said that the world is ready to help Venezuelans overcome the crisis, but the government “has to open the door”; he also explained that financial sanctions against officials who violate human rights seek “to show our disagreement and to pressure them but not to harm the Venezuelan people.”
The Venezuelan Institute of Press and Society opened the exhibition “Crónicas Insumisas” in El Anexo gallery, to tell the story of 11 attempts by chavismo to “stifle journalism.”
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