Photo: UN Human Rights
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, presented this Wednesday his annual report on the world situation on human rights before the Human Rights Council, reserving one section for Venezuela’s political, social and humanitarian situation. Regarding the political situation, he denounced that “The fundamental principle of separation of powers has been severely compromised, as the National Constituent Assembly continues to concentrate unrestricted powers,” adding the circumstance of political parties invalidated by the CNE and expressing his concern “that this context does not in any way fulfill minimal conditions for free and credible elections.” Zeid also spoke of how freedom of expression, opinion, association and peaceful assembly are repressed and restricted: “My Office has also received credible reports of hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years, both during protests and security operations;” saying that he’s deeply alarmed by the possibility “that crimes against humanity have been committed” during 2017 protests, in addition to the notable erosion of democratic institutions.
What else did Zeid say?
Regarding the humanitarian crisis, he officially condemned the way in which the government distributes its assistance: “Malnutrition has increased dramatically throughout the country, affecting in particular children and the elderly, and credible reports indicate that government assistance programs are often conditioned on political considerations.” He showed great concern for the growing exodus of Venezuelans to neighboring countries, seeking essentially food and access of basic services. Once again, he requested an investigation on alleged human rights violations committed in Venezuela. Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza merely answered by condemning the “unfounded, interventionist and irresponsible claims” made by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein; an unexpected, original reaction.
That was the word used by David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme, to describe Venezuela’s food situation. Beasley explained that the WFP can’t act in any country without its government’s approval, saying that they’re doing all they can in a “delicate situation.” Beasley will travel to Colombia to talk about Venezuelan refugees crossing the border and said: “We will be committed, increasing [the WFP’s] participation”; adding that they’ve sent staff, they’ve held negotiations and they expect improvements; because the WFP provides food to the victims, so they need an on-site structure to guarantee effective aid.
Chavismo represents the opposite perspective, that’s why 12 people — including Manuel Castillo, head of Apure’s Stock Farmers Association — were held in custody since Tuesday for trying to distribute 100 tons of cheese and refusing to hand out the percentage of the production that San Fernando municipality Mayor Ofelia Padrón was demanding at a significantly lower price. They were arrested “after being attacked with tear gas and pellets,” according to a statement of the Venezuelan Federation of Stock Farmers (Fedenaga).
The most recent report issued by the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (CCSPJP), a Mexican NGO that creates a yearly list of the 50 most violent cities in the world, ranked Caracas as the second most violent city worldwide in 2017, with 111.19 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants. Caracas left the first place it held for two years in a row to Los Cabos (Mexico), which had a rating of 111.33 homicides — such a small gap! — but it continues to be the most violent capital in the world. The ranking also includes: Guayana, 9th place; Maturín, 23rd place; Valencia, 27th and Barquisimeto, 33rd.
The National Assembly’s Interior Policy Committee approved a report on the events that took place on Monday, January 15 in El Junquito, where seven citizens and two police officers were murdered. The report will be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC), an instance that opened a preliminary examination on Venezuela for human rights violations. Lawmaker Delsa Solórzano criticized that the Prosecutor’s Office hasn’t opened a criminal investigation for the massacre “against perpetrators and masterminds, nor against those who covered up such a serious incident like this,” adding that there are examinations that can’t be performed because the evidence was destroyed along the house where the massacre took place.
The week’s depreciation
DICOM held its rising trend during the fourth auctioned made by the BCV, which established the exchange rate at Bs. 49,656 per euro, Bs. 6,167 more than last week. So, the implicit dollar reached Bs. 40,221, increasing Bs. 4,593. The bolívar depreciated by 12.42% regarding last week’s rate; in scarcely six weeks the DICOM rate rose by 60.25% and the bolivar depreciated by 37.59%! Additionally, the holders of Venezuelan 2034 bonds are coming together to sue the country before a New York court to demand their payments. That would be the first legal action caused by Venezuela’s default.
- Donald Trump talked over the phone with Pedro Pablo Kuczynski about Venezuela’s situation and the coming Summit of the Americas. Trump didn’t say if he plans to attend but he did “underscore the need for the region’s countries to work together to restore democracy in Venezuela,” said the White House statement.
- Cuba has backed Nicolás’ tantrum for his “right” to enter Peru to attend the Summit of the Americas. Yesterday, in a show of profound coherence, they prevented former presidents Andrés Pastrana and Jorge Quiroga (IDEA) from entering their territory to retrieve the Oswaldo Payá Award. They were held at the airport and then deported after being declared inadmissible, because fuck logic!
- Chile’s Chamber of Deputies approved a resolution rejecting the ANC’s usurpation of the National Assembly’s powers, demanding the Venezuelan government to stop moving against lawmaker Freddy Guevara. They also reject all the government’s actions that disregard legitimate institutions.
- Reynaldo Bignone passed away yesterday. He was the last de facto president of Argentina, and he managed the transition to democracy with a single goal: preventing the horrors of State terrorism to reach trial. May he burn in hell.
“We’re destined to protect life, to develop it and elevate it to its highest value, in cohabitation and solidarity with each other,” said Lori Corriveau, chargé d’affaires of the Canadian embassy in Venezuela, during the 9th edition of their human rights prize. The special mention of this year was Aracelis Sánchez, from the Organization of Families Victimized by Human Rights Violations (Orfavideh); a woman who organizes and accompanies victims, as she said herself. The price of this 9th edition was granted to Codevida’s tireless Francisco Valencia, a transplant patient who defends the rights of his peers before all necessary instances; a constant voice, with data, with emotion and a huge commitment to his cause. Congratulations!Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.