The Dictator’s Costly Freedom

For Thursday, March 22, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: AFP

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK) was president for just one year, seven months and 21 days. He resigned before facing the second removal motion in the Congress, after the crisis unleashed by the illegal pardon he granted to dictator Alberto Fujimori. A letter sent to Parliament and a recorded message broadcast on TV, summarize this resignation, accelerated after videos and audios surfaced incriminating his lawyer, a minister and other political partners in the paying off congressional votes in exchange for public works. Escorted by his ministers, Kuczynski didn’t admit any fault in his resignation and categorically refused the accusations against him. According to Peruvian Parliament Speaker Luis Galarreta, the resignation will be discussed today and Vice-President Martín Vizcarra — acting as ambassador of Peru in Canada — will be sworn in this Friday as president. Kuczynski is leaving and Fujimori is free.

Chavismo’s euphoria

The Venezuelan government sits on a pile of far worse corruption cases, flagrant violations against the Constitution, the destruction of the rule of law and every democratic institution. Venezuela faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, and the man responsible for it seeks reelection only because he controls the Electoral Branch. PPK resigns accused of accepting Odebrecht bribes, which pale in comparison to the amounts chavismo handled while the Prosecutor’s Office fails to open any investigations on the matter. We Venezuelans are losing a great ally with PPK, who worked at an international scale for our cause, but even more importantly, who facilitated many procedures for Venezuelan migrants in Peru. Chavismo should restrain its euphoria; apart from corruption, the lesson in this resignation lies in the value of branch autonomy.

17 years later

Chavista general Víctor Cruz Weffer was arrested in the Maiquetía airport, by order of the Prosecutor’s Office. Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab announced on Twitter that the former chief of Plan Bolívar 2000 was detained thanks to an arrest warrant and a red alert against him, but Cruz Weffer wasn’t wanted by Interpol. Read the work of journalist Lisseth Boon explaining how in 2001, the former Army commander left the government accused of corruption, for the assets he couldn’t justify before the Comptroller’s Office, but which could be explained by irregularities in the Plan Bolívar 2000 and Fondur. Cruz Weffer kept doing business with the Venezuelan State despite the corruption and money laundering charges against him. He’s been arrested after 17 years of impunity and this is supposed to be an achievement.

And unusual decision

The Administration Council, top authority of the International Labour Organization (ILO), reached a consensus to appoint an Investigation Committee for Venezuela, due to the severe and persistent violations against ILO agreements and the Venezuelan government’s refusal to implement the institution’s recommendations.

The Investigation Committee doesn’t require the government’s approval and will investigate the complaints about the violation of workplace regulations, including freedom of association and the right of workers to organize.

ILO’s most recent investigation of this kind was carried out in Zimbabwe in 2008, and there’s only been 12 in the last 60 years.

More than 96 wages!

In February, the food basket reached the extraordinary price of Bs. 37,517,912, an increase of Bs. 13,115,145 (53.7%) compared to January and of 5,536% compared to February 2017, when its price was Bs. 665,682.12. Cendas explains that in order to pay for food in February, a family would require 96.5 minimum wages (Bs. 392,646). The price of all products increased. Just a matter of time before Nicolás links these figures with the humanitarian crisis, the mass exodus and the uselessness of his wage hikes without changing the economic model.

Non-existent dollar

The ANC approved an agreement condemning the sanctions imposed by president Donald Trump against the petro. During the session, chavistas claimed that the U.S. seeks to undermine the country’s stability and attack the government, intensifying what they insist on calling “the economic blockade.” The funniest part of the document says that Trump seeks to reduce “the international impact that the petro has had in its first issues,” accusing him of imposing illegitimate measures that violate international law to disturb our (solid) financial system. The ANC also ordered opening an investigation against opposition leaders to determine the degree of responsibility they might have in Trump’s sanctions against the petro; without clarifying if this theory matches the WhatsApp messages Nicolás was complaining about last Tuesday.

In any case, Delcy Rodríguez has already reached a conclusion: to her, Trump’s executive order “is evidence of a criminal alliance with the Venezuelan right-wing.” She also claimed that “the petro is reminding the dollar that it lacks support, that it doesn’t exist”; if this is true, why do they keep exchange controls up?

Abroad

  • Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said that Spain will promote new sanctions against the Venezuelan regime at the European Union, if presidential elections are not held in full freedom; remarking that they’ll be sanctions against regime officials and that they won’t advance any measures against the economic system.
  • China could keep providing ways for Nicolás to pay pending loans, but they wouldn’t grant any further funds to relieve his liquidity crisis. Reuters’ long analysis about this topic concludes by comparing Nicolás with Mugabe and Venezuela with Zimbabwe: “a case where China had a poor return of investment.”
  • Eurochamber Speaker Antonio Tajani proposed sending a parliamentary delegation to two of Venezuela’s posts at the border with Brazil and Colombia “to assess the humanitarian situation.”
  • During his visit to Chile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the U.S. will continue applying sanctions against those responsible for destroying Venezuela’s democracy. President Sebastián Piñera said that ours “is a humanitarian crisis and it’s compromising the lives of Venezuelans.”
  • Yesterday, the Brazilian  government asked the World Health Organization to modify the agreement signed by the members of the Pan-American Health Organization in order to force Venezuelans to take vaccines as they enter its territory.
  • The Red Cross cautioned about the growing needs of Venezuelans who cross over to Colombia and asked the international community for support.
  • The OAS asked Brazil’s government to include Venezuelan migrants in their workplace training and insertion programs. Brazil’s interim Labour Minister Helton Yomura said that the government is already making progress on the matter.
  • Soon after Kuczynski’s resignation, Uruguay issued a letter in which President Tabaré Vázquez urged Peru to invite Nicolás to the Summit of the Americas.

The Miss Venezuela pageant is going on hiatus to wait out the public opinion crisis created by the clash between former misses and TV hosts. The complaints about corruption and prostitution won’t disappear by suspending castings.

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