An Excuse for the Petro

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Getty Images, retrieved

U.S. President Donald Trump blocked yesterday the use of the Venezuelan petro, the debt bond passed as a cryptocurrency, with an Executive Order forbidding “all transactions related to, provision of, financing for, and other dealings in, by a United States person or within the United States, any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token” issued by the government of Venezuela since January 9.

The Treasury Department cautioned in January that the Petro could violate sanctions against the Venezuelan government and this is the consequence.

Diosdado Cabello condemned Trump’s decision on behalf of PSUV, claiming that “Daddy Empire” is helping the opposition leadership with it.

The measure gives Nicolás an excuse to explain the petro’s absolute failure, although he’s been announcing millionaire revenues during the pre-sale phase with figures that are unbelievable even to him.


The Treasury Department has already sanctioned 56 active and retired Venezuelan government officials, with whom no American citizen or entity can do business, and whose goods and assets in U.S. soil are now frozen. The new names in the list are:

  • Carlos Rotondaro: former chairman of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS) and consequently responsible for this unprecedented humanitarian crisis, measured in preventable deaths.
  • Nelson Lepage: he took over as chief of the National Treasury Office, replacing Cilia Flores’ nephew Carlos Malpica Flores, also sanctioned. Lepage was removed from his post on March 15 and replaced by Reinier Merentes, son of former BCV chairman Nelson Merentes.
  • Américo Mata García: former head of Corpomiranda, but much more famous for accusations about his role in the contributions Odebrecht made to Nicolás’ campaign.
  • William Antonio Contreras: National Superintendent for the Defense of Socio Economic Rights (Sundde), a role which he’s carried out with total discretion; more effective for harassment and abuse, than for defending anybody’s rights.

Lift the sanctions

The recent batch of demotions and arrests within the Armed Forces has been so noisy that Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López had to publicly refuse any calls to lead coups d’état, because he disagrees with them, because nobody can split the Armed Forces and because military uprisings “have no place in this century.” The minister claimed that the brass is satisfied with the country and with their obligations, that the Armed Forces is cohesive and that’s why he asked “desperados” to be at ease. Padrino López conditioned the possibility of opening a humanitarian channel to the lifting of sanctions, blaming food and medicine shortages on them.

Meanwhile, Luisa Ortega Díaz said in Spain that there’s a systematic persecution against dissident soldiers within the Armed Forces, and that, considered traitors, they’re persecuted and tortured.

Without health rights

Lawmaker José Manuel Olivares, along with Dr. Julio Castro, revealed the results of the National Hospitals Survey in Venezuela, an initiative of NGO Médicos por la Salud and the Permanent Committee of Integral Social Development of the National Assembly. The survey collects data from 104 public hospitals and 33 private hospitals across 22 states of the country; making the government’s incapacity to guarantee the right to health even more evident. There’s an 88% shortage of medicines and a 79% shortage of surgical supplies nationwide; 76% of hospitals don’t have running water, 53% of operation rooms in the country are out of order and the rest experiences intermittent failures, causing hundreds of surgeries to be cancelled. The situation in labs is also critical: all of them have problems due to the shortage of chemical compounds to carry out the tests. All of this is happening amidst measles and diphtheria epidemics, on top of the significant rise in skin diseases due to the increase in the price of soaps and clothing detergents.

The unmovable date?

The National Electoral Council (CNE) announced that 20,531,029 voters could vote on the presidential elections in May and 18,923,049 will be able to do so in Legislative and Municipal Council elections. Just don’t forget that foreigners can’t vote in presidential polls. Furthermore, yesterday the CNE carried out the draw for the Electoral Service in the 2018-2019 period and once the lists of chosen voters are published, they will have 15 working days to submit exceptions exonerating them from service.

Journalist Eugenio Martínez made some clarifications on the matter — and the multiple legal violations committed by the CNE — which are worth reading:

Although Avanzada Progresista member Carlos Melo claimed that a new date for mega-elections is being discussed right now (second or third week of June), minister Jorge Rodríguez stated that the date for presidential elections won’t be altered again, promising that after holding them, Venezuela will know economic prosperity. Yahoooo!


  • In a meeting outside the summit of G-20, finance ministers in Buenos Aires from several countries agreed that they’ll ask the the IMF for the resources to assist Venezuelan migrants. The funds will reach host countries, with a priority on bordering nations. Additionally, the countries promised to pressure the government, even floating the possibility of imposing sanctions. Brazilian Treasury Minister Henrique Meirelles said that his country will demand that Caracas pay a $1.3 billion debat and “other countries will also demand their respective payments.”
  • The Peruvian government is working on measures to prevent Nicolás from participating in the Summit of the Americas and rejected the call made by Bolivia and Nicaragua to reconsider the decision to exclude him.
  • Ecuador’s Communications Secretary Andrés Michelena announced that his government stopped financing TeleSUR, a piece of the propaganda machine used to spread “21st century socialism.” Michelena didn’t justify the decision with TeleSUR’s abuse of information freedom and lack of journalistic ethics, he just spoke of budget limitations.
  • European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides explained that they’ll send two million euros to help Venezuelan migrants in Colombia. Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín restated that they’ll start a census of Venezuelans after Holy Week, so that they have access to basic rights and become migrants instead of refugees.
  • Guatemala will impose a “consulted visa” for Venezuelans with ordinary passports, according to General Migration Directorate spokesman Ardani Sical.

SENIAT announced the extension of the period to declare income taxes until May 31, an absurd measure amidst hyperinflation. The value of the funds collected in May will be much lower than at the end of March, increasing fiscal deficit, but that’s what BCV is for, eh?

Ah! Rosneft said yesterday that PDVSA paid over $3.2 billion out of the $6.5 billion it owes them and that it’s fulfilling its commitments “thanks to the cashflow caused by high oil prices.”

Lastly, Mateo Manaure, one of the greatest artists in this country, passed away at 92 years old. May he rest in peace.

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.