Another exemplary punishment

Your daily briefing for Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo

This Tuesday 13th in the afternoon, Bolivarian Service of National Intelligence (SEBIN) agents arrested former Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres without a judicial warrant or handcuffs. His whereabouts are still unknown. The statement that the newscaster at VTV tried to read accuses Rodríguez Torres of planning criminal actions, including armed operations, conspiracies and plots “that had the vile intention of assaulting the monolithic unity” of the Armed Forces. They could detect and dismantle all of this due to “the determined effort” of intelligence bodies. For some reason, they called the arrest a “capture” (as if the former minister was a fugitive) but they had the courtesy of reminding us that Rodríguez Torres was kicked out of the government “once he was proven to be linked with U.S. intelligence agencies, ties that the subject later acknowledged.” Sadly, they didn’t explain who verified those ties and much less whether Rodríguez Torres acknowledged them.

Ratilation as a drive

The Army major general, former DISIP chief —which he turned into SEBIN during his tender— and former minister wasn’t arrested for human rights violations, abuse of power or State terrorism. This is another example of discretionality, another arbitrary detention that surely awakened all the hostility he’d sown under his miserable administration in so many people, but this isn’t justice at all. This exemplary punishment is meant to help measure the support Rodríguez Torres still has within chavismo (both political and military); make dissident chavistas assess the consequences of their choices (as well as intimidate anyone who seeks to break the “monolithic unity”) and also, split the Broad Front early on, as it already faces issues to persuade public opinion to accept its size and scope. Exacerbating revenge diminishes the understanding between radicals and moderates. Without institutions, restraint is nearly a luxury; but civility demands human rights for everyone, including a human rights abuser like Rodríguez Torres. Downplaying this is moving on the board designed by chavismo, the same board they’ve used for years.

And about retaliation

While the review of the Official Gazette N° 41.357 confirmed that the administration extended the “state of economic emergency” for another 60 days given the extraordinary circumstances in all fronts, the party Patria Para Todos (PPT), subject to PSUV, requested the Prosecutor’s Office to open an investigation and criminally prosecute lawmakers Julio Borges and Luis Florido for treason. In their version, these parliamentarians are cooperating with foreign actors to plan “actions against the country, inciting mercenary attacks in our borders; foreign military, economic and financial aggression.” The crimes that PPT says were committed by Borges and Flores are established in the Venezuelan Criminal Code and punished with up to 30 years in prison. The cherry on top was the request that they’ll file before the ANC: modify the Constitution so that lawmakers can also lose their nationality if they commit crimes against the country. The detail is that according to international law, every person must have at least one irrevocable nationality.

And so, human rights

The Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (OVCS) released its latest report, accounting for 594 protests during February, almost 20 per day, which is a 40% increase compared to February 2017. 93 protests were to demand the right to health and yesterday morning, Codevida denounced the second death in a week: Luz Marina Funes, kidney transplant patient, rejected her organ due to lack of medication. Radio Fe y Alegría denounced the death of 15 Warao children (between 7 and 14 years old) due to lack of treatment against measles in Mariusa, Delta Amacuro state. In Lara state, the Intertrade Alliance for the Defense of Health and Life was created, and began requesting cooperation from the Colombian Consulate to open a humanitarian channel. Check the work by Tal Cual about the teenagers who work in Metro platforms as part of the Chamba Juvenil program; keeping security criteria for children in the same pocket where they keep the Framework Law of Protection of Children and Teenagers. And lastly, the government found a way to stump on the rights of the elderly as well, so Banking Sector Bureau chief Antonio Morales announced a pilot plan to pay pensions by ID card number during three preferential days; but don’t worry, elderly citizens can keep standing in line in the dark hours of the morning as usual, because Morales blithely admitted the cash crisis without offering any solutions.


  • Donald Trump removed State Secretary Rex Tillerson from office with a tweet. He also announced that he’d be replaced by CIA director Mike Pompeo, while Gina Haspel will be take over as new CIA director.
  • Reuters says that Venezuelan oil exports to India dropped to its lowest level in five years. India is another country that pays us in cash, eh.
  • Further substantiating PPT’s demand, Julio Borges had a meeting with the new Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero, who expressed his solidarity and regretted our situation.
  • Cuba and Venezuela agreed in Havana to cooperate in the judicial sector to tackle administrative corruption, prevent transnational crimes and exchange technical information; an agreement signed by prosecutors Darío Delgado and Tarek William Saab.
  • David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), announced that he’ll request urgent support so that Colombia can face the crisis created by the massive arrival of Venezuelan migrants.
  • The Foreign Ministry delivered a note of protest to U.S. chargé d’affaires Todd Robinson, for his statements in social media, which they believe might destabilize the country. This is the second note of protest inspired by Robinson’s incipient tender in Venezuela.
  • All of Henri Falcón’s fanfare about meeting with UN Secretary General António Guterres was reduced to a meeting with Political Affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman, but accompanied by Samuel Moncada, that noble representative of the Venezuelan government.
  • To show how clear its priorities are, Venezuela is attending Moscow’s International Tourism Fair, according to Tourism Minister Marleny Contreras.

Tibisay Lucena spoke yesterday to report the publication of the rescheduled electoral timetable; to emphasize that we’re in a candidacy nomination process and reminding the 53 political organizations involved that “candidacy nominations must fulfill gender inclusion quotas.” Spaces “won” by imposition are so inspiring.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.