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For Thursday, March 1, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Henri Falcón

It’s likely that one of Henri Falcón’s intentions when he registered to run in the election is to earn the notoriety he lacks, and in order to fulfill that goal, he and his party comrades have started creating controversy about everything.

Freddy Pérez, who says he’s a teacher but can’t even write a tweet without spelling mistakes, accused MUD members yesterday morning of being racists and introduced the concept of “Caraquenian oligarch white supremacy,” which in his imagination, despises Falcón for being a “black man from the province.”

Eduardo Semtei, incapable of saying eight words consecutively—listen to him and prove it— also linked the 48-hour extension that the National Electoral Council gave for presidential candidacies to a possible registration of Acción Democrática and Un Nuevo Tiempo candidates. Henry Ramos Allup demanded that he face his decision “without soiling others,” and also told him to ditch poor-grade hallucinogens.

COPEI chairman Pedro Urrieta clarified that his party didn’t approve of Falcón’s registration, saying that those who did it assumed representation they don’t have and that COPEI will challenge the registration.

Today, Falcón will sign an agreement with Jorge Rodríguez regarding the results of April 22.

When Drácula didn’t have a car

A few days ago, chavista governor Rafael Lacava said in a VTV show that he was a “pran” in high school, saying that he would control his classmates by sheer coercion, as criminal leaders do in Venezuelan prisons; a mark of honor for any civilian authority. The Spanish newspaper El País revealed an investigation proving that Lacava hid funds in Switzerland and Andorra, and that in 2009, he tried to move the fees he allegedly received from a company for “mediation services” in the construction of an oil refinery. Reports don’t show the sums he transferred during these operations, as they were written before Rafael Lacava was mayor of Puerto Cabello. To conceal the money trace, according to the bank, Lacava turned to a home-brewed mercantile structure: he created a company behind his Andorra account (Iberoamerica Assets Corporation) and placed a front man behind it, who revealed the identity of the true owner: the governor of Carabobo.

Let’s talk economy

During January, the price of the Basic Basket, which includes food and essential services, reached Bs. 35,392,706.24, a 40.9% increase (Bs. 10,269,269) equivalent to 41.3 minimum wages. The yearly variation between January 2017 and January 2018 was 4,152.6%, 129 minimum wages. The BCV announced that the third Dicom auction resulted in a exchange rate of Bs. 43,489.65 per euro, a 21.36% increase (Bs. 7,718). This is the bolívar’s third depreciation in three weeks, with this version of Dicom that has shown a Bs. 12,502,156 increase, translated into a 29% depreciation and a variation of over 40% on the value of the exchange rate. Additionally, Reuters reports that PDVSA’s Venezuelan refineries will operate at 43% of their total capacity in March due to lack of spare parts, light crude and raw materials. But don’t worry, starting today, March 1 (and until March 31 at midnight), the National Tax Service (Seniat) will start the campaigns to declare and pay Income Taxes (ISLR).

Dismantling

Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab said that a network trafficking drugs from Caracas to Europe and the Middle East was dismantled. Ozer Murat and Mohammad Nasser Fares were arrested in France and the Prosecutor’s Office is requesting that they be extradited to Venezuela. According to Saab, Murat is already under investigation but since he must accuse Ortega Díaz’ administration of any evil, there was no arrest warrant against this drug trafficker. He spoke of 14 people arrested in Venezuela and four arrested abroad, including Yorlenny Santiago and Juan Pablo Díaz, detained in Maiquetía on January 18 with almost 33 kilos of cocaine in their carry-on —a brazen decision— and Saab had the gall to claim that they managed to bring the drug due to complicity with an airport official. Brilliant!

Luisa’s short memory

The National Assembly’s Interior Policy Committee met vie Skype with exiled prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz, who announced that she’ll request the Netherlands Parliament to expel the Venezuelan ambassador (Haifa El Aissami) from the International Criminal Court because “she has become a disturbing element for any investigation.”

The prosecutor condemned the government’s call for early parliamentary elections and said that they seek to scrap the National Assembly just like they did with her. “Nobody should be prosecuted for their convictions; there mustn’t be thought prisoners,” said Ortega, but she was the one who created that sentence.

Aside from this, lawmaker Delsa Solórzano said that the Interior Policy Committee is investigating the video showing Valentín Santana alongside Erika Farías, Ernesto Villegas and Fabio Zavarse, because Santana has three arrest warrants against him and he’s still at large despite meeting with State officials.

Abroad

  • Mario Vargas Llosa thinks that April 22 elections in Venezuela could only be a fraud, that they’ll be a farce and that there are no precedents in Latin America of a country that has been impoverished as fast as Venezuela. The writer said that Venezuela’s case must serve as cautionary tale for Mexican voters, to prevent that nation from falling back to populism and demagoguery. In his defense, López Obrador simply claimed that Vargas Llosa “is a good writer, but a bad politician.”
  • Former Colombian president César Gaviria said that he deeply regrets that Venezuela “had lost its democratic way,” and urged Nicolás Maduro to get accustomed to being called a dictator.
  • The United States criticised that countries with questionable human rights records are members of the UN Human Rights Council, citing Venezuela and Burundi. Mary Catherine Phee thinks that the Council’s work is undermined because the Council’s member countries should have the highest human rights standards; and that “people known to be human rights abusers” shouldn’t speak before the Council.
  • Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador in the UN, said that she agreed to keep working with Guatemala in favor of the human rights of Venezuelans so that they “can take back their government democratically.”
  • After hopping for joy for his meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Jorge Arreaza claimed in the Disarmament Council that “the international judicial regulations to prevent threats against peace are being violated by the tag team of warmonger countries that seek to crush countries that don’t bow to their will.” As if Russia was producing candy instead of nuclear weapons. Call him “el coherente” when you see him.
  • Haiti removed its ambassador at the UN after the special representative of Secretary General António Guterres said that he gladly accepts a corruption investigation on the way that $2 billion in oil loans from Venezuela were spent. My love to Rafael Ramírez and Petrocaribe.
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