At the Vanguard

For Friday, March 9, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: El Pitazo

 

The newly-created Frente Amplio Venezuela Libre offered a press conference yesterday to present a united platform in the face of coming presidential elections, made up of political parties, the student movement, workers, business owners, churches, NGOs, repression victims and dissident chavistas. Former Ombudswoman Gabriela Ramírez opened the event and said that this initiative was advanced to defend the Constitution and fully exercise our sovereignty. Rafaela Requesens, head of the Federation of University Centers, restated the need for a broad alliance to demand free, fair elections without repression; as well as to condemn the “fraudulent elections” called for April 22. The Frente Amplio’s first proposals are two marches: one on Monday, March 12, to UNDP offices to request the UN not to support the results of May 20; and another one for Saturday, March 17, which they hope will surpass our borders. Besides its member sectors, the Frente Amplio Venezuela Libre will have a national coordination and coordinators in each of the 23 states, 335 municipalities and 1,136 parishes; a challenge! This initiative doesn’t exclude MUD’s work.

The well-founded fear of Venezuelans

The UN Agency for Refugees (ACNUR) issued an orientation notice regarding the exodus of Venezuelans leaving the country, elevating considerations of international protection and urging host States to allow them access to their territory and to continue to adopt resolutions aimed at protecting them. ACNUR said that they’re ready to work with the States to create proper protection mechanisms, understanding this as a humanitarian action, not a political one.

Ligia Bolívar, head of UCAB’s Human Rights Center, said: “This is a significant statement (…) ACNUR is telling us that it’s demanding the countries to apply the Cartagena Declaration,” extending the traditional concept of well-founded fear to the Venezuelan case because, even though we’re not at war, our migration behaves in a similar way: the vast majority fears death for lack of access to food or medicines, most fear an irreversible collapse. For Ligia Bolívar, the UN’s message is “tremendously serious and important, and it takes us to a different scenario.”

Internal pressure forever

Rocío San Miguel, head of NGO Control Ciudadano said that: “There’s enormous pressure within the Armed Forces, which has been increasing in these past two years, with arrests and desertions, while numerous military officers are requesting their termination.” Rumors about military uprisings are less frequent than Nicolás’ cadenas, but they inspire far more fervor in the people. For San Miguel, the degradation and expulsion of 24 military officers ordered by Nicolás is illegal, since most of these cases lack a solid sentence, crucial to impose that penalty, calling it “a moral sanction unprecedented in Venezuela’s recent history.” Despite its unlikelihood, San Miguel considers this an increasingly sensitive variable “caused by an agreement of military chavismo.”

Luisa’s evidence

Exiled Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz claimed to have the evidence of a “direct connection” between Óscar Pérez’s murder and Nicolás, accusing him of being “the murderer who ordered the Massacre at el Junquito.” She also claimed that the person who led the operation was CEOFANB chief Remigio Ceballos and that the only person who has the power to activate CEOFANB for an operation is the president. Ortega Díaz said that the Special Action Forces (FAES) is an institution created to institutionalize the “criminal state, to repress, murder and kidnap Venezuelan citizens.” She announced that next week, she’ll submit all the incriminatory evidence against high-ranking government officials for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Debts and bargains

The Venezuelan government faces a new debt: $1.3 billion for 13 expired bonds that, as time goes by, increase both interests and threats of sanctions against Venezuela in a default event. In addition to these 13 expired notes, there are four more bonds in grace period that collectively add up to $700 million in debt, according El Nacional analyst Alejandro Guilarte, who added that debt non-payments will continue.

Reuters released an interesting investigation on how multinational companies have modified their operations to sidestep price controls imposed by the government through SUNDDE, to sell their dwindling production at a loss, which further complicates their continued, half-mast operations amidst economic depression and hyperinflation.

Abroad

  • Cristóbal González, Spanish ambassador to the UN, said that the solution to the crisis the Venezuela’s experiencing is the capacity to hold “transparent, credible and legitimate elections,” involving all political forces with the appropriate guarantees.
  • The UN clarified that secretary general António Guterres doesn’t have the power to assemble an electoral observation mission for Venezuela, because such a mission requires “a specific mandate from the General Assembly or the Security Council.”
  • Steven Griner, head of OAS Staff Association, said that the solidarity campaign they created to raise money, medicines and food to Venezuela through NGO Visión Democrática and Acción Humanitaria por Venezuela ends today.
  • The U.S. embassy in Venezuela asked the government to release political prisoners and allow them to participate in fair elections, while Florida legislators approved a law that forbids this state to invest in companies doing business with the Venezuelan government, due to its “use of extreme violence and political persecution.” The act is expected to come into force on July 1st, after governor Rick Scott sings it.
  • Probably inspired on the fourth consecutive presidency of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza met in Argel with director Abdelramane Benguerrah, in order to “strengthen bonds of bilateral cooperation.”
  • Opposition lawmakers presented before the Peruvian Congress a new request to impeach president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, for lying about his ties to Odebrecht.
  • After surviving two heart attacks an a heart surgery, FARC candidate Rodrígo Londoño AKA Timochenko dropped his candidacy.

“We we stop, the whole world stops.” That was the motto of the feminist strike supported by Spanish women, with impressive demonstrations. Newspaper El País counted 300 demonstrations in over 200 locales, while unions said that six million people had joined the strikes. Women have demanded that equality be real and effective. Even though Spain was the only country to hold a strike supported by unions, there were demonstrations in over 170 countries, with events in Iran being the most significant due to all the risks participants had to face there. Also yesterday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urged regional States to guarantee the full exercise of the rights of women, girls and teenagers, and to abstain from adopting measures that have a negative or regressive impact on the guarantee of their essential rights. Now we just Nicolás to read it and understand it.

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