This Friday, UN high commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein asked the government to open the doors for the UN to verify what country’s situation on the field: “We haven’t been invited and we haven’t been allowed in. If not everything is as bad as others say, then, why don’t they let us in?”, asked Zeid, emphasizing that he’s been requesting it since he took office, almost four years ago. In his view, the Venezuelan government should say what is it they don’t want the UN to see and above all, why don’t they want it to be seen, remarking that his team will keep investigating in the distance.
Nicolás didn’t answer the specific questions, he just insulted al Hussein: “He’s a biased person who lost equilibrium about Venezuela and about all other matters in the world. He’s a piece of the U.S. State Department, embedded like a tumor in the human rights system,” adding that Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein is a militant of “the right that has propped up golpistas (…) they’ve supported a military intervention against Venezuela, he’s a person who have lost all qualities to talk about our country.” Additionally, Nicolás seems to know UN regulations better than spokesman Stéphane Dujarric and insisted that the Secretary General can in fact decide to send a mission for the elections, reducing the procedures and authority of the General Assembly and the Security Council to “bureaucratic steps”; the undisputed evidence of his respect for norms and his love for branch autonomy. I suppose he was thrilled with the picture of the meeting held yesterday between OAS chief Luis Almagro and António Guterres.
Corruption in PDVSA
PDVSA Litigation Trust filed a civil lawsuit against 42 people accused of using privileged information stolen from PDVSA servers to score contracts. In 2004, providers Francisco Morillo and Leonardo Baquero founded the company Helsinge Inc. in Panama, charged with organizing the web of corruption that included: manipulating prices, tampering with contract bids and eliminating the competition, as well as stealing highly classified information by cloning PDVSA servers with a mirror server installed in Helsinge headquarters in Miami, giving them real-time access to information about offers of future competitors and bids. Lukoil Petroleum, Glencore Ltd, Vitol and Trafigura AG, are some of the companies mentioned in the lawsuit, which also mentions bribe payments to several PDVSA officials, including current executive vice-president Ysmel Serrano, who’s close to vice-president Tareck El Aissami. PDVSA has lost at least $11 billion in the last decade, according to estimates.
Without a plan
Henri Falcón believes that we must practice politics and not anti-politics, so he celebrated the launch of the Frente Amplio and claimed that he convened all MUD factors to look for joint strategies to accomplish regime change and improve electoral conditions. He also spoke of true unity, deeming all of these initiatives as necessary as his candidacy. He said that next week he’ll meet António Guterres to establish “the electoral observation mission” which, given CNE’s timetable, would be impossible. When you can, read José Ignacio Hernández’s text in Prodavinci, explaining the eight types of electoral assistance the UN can provide. Falcón said that the CNE has technical (not legal, eh) difficulties to hold elections of municipal councils together with presidential elections and those of legislative councils, so it is possible that they will be held in separate. According to him, polls show that 70% of the population wants to vote, as long as conditions improve and he’s allegedly working on that, as much as he’s working on a “serious” government plan. Strange, he wants to be president in two months without having a government plan.
The same day that Moody’s risk agency lowered Venezuela’s credit rank to “C”, estimating that it will continue to default on its obligations due to debt-restructuring limitations; Tareck El Aissami claimed that U.S.-imposed sanctions “won’t prevent Venezuela’s economic and social development,” adding that in 2018 we’ll see the results of a diversified economy. To beat down oil dependency, El Assami called for retaking agricultural practices (without grains, fertilizers, equipment or people,) but he thinks it’s crucial that the country return to self-sufficiency in agricultural products, as we were before chavismo destroyed our productivity. Amidst a humanitarian crisis, he said that the government “is willing to resolve food for our people and everything else they need.” Perhaps it was this last point that inspired the foreign ministry to tweet dozens of pictures of the meeting between Foreign Commerce ministry José Gregorio Vielma Mora and his Indian counterpart. They came up with a funny story, claiming that the new Law on productive foreign investments was designed by Nicolás.
And now Tarek
Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab answered to the complaints made by the UN high commissioner on human rights, claiming that all human rights violations are investigated in Venezuela and “exemplarily punished”; reducing the comments derived from UN investigations to mere opinions. Later, he reported the arrest of four people for using “Canaimitas” (computers donated for educational purposes) in gambling establishments, as well as in commercial activities, blaming corrupt officials for stealing the equipment. He said that they confiscated 912 Canaimitas across the country, and those were stolen by only four people? He also announced the request made by Education minister Elías Jaua to investigate misplaced supplies meant for the School Food Program. A real caraetabla.
– Venezuelan childbirths in the public health network of Boa Vista (Brazil) doubled in a year, and local authorities are concerned about the serious state of patients, as evidenced by premature childbirths and mothers in terrible health conditions, which have increased public maternity death rates in Roraima states.
– There are over 115,000 Venezuelans in Peru and only 31,300 of them hold a Temporary Stay Permit (PTP), the document that allows them to work and pay taxes with full labor rights, said National Migrations superintendent Eduardo Sevilla, adding that Venezuelans who have exceeded their stay period can opt for the PTP until December 31.
– FAO director José Graziano Da Silva said yesterday: “Between 2015 and 2017, the amount of people suffering from hunger has increased in 2.5 million in Latin America. 80% of them come from Venezuela. We’ve offered support to the Venezuelan government, but we await their decision to accept it.” This after rewarding this government “for its work on reducing poverty and hunger.”
– With the mess unleashed by the announcement of new tariffs for steel and aluminum imports, Trump made a big deal yesterday to announce that he’ll meet with Kim Jong-Un to discuss his nuclear program, a meeting that could take place in late May, but he’ll attend the Summit of the Americas in Peru first.
Nicolás said he’ll soon start a tour across the country. Imagine the production challenge of having him walk outdoors in any town or city.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.