Overflowing Corruption

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Prensa Presidencial

It was revealed during last weekend that Rafael Ramírez’s cousin, Diego Salazar, collected payments from contracts that el finado granted to Chinese companies, and also that Nicolás ordered a $4 billion payment to Odebrecht after he was elected. The Brazilian news outlet Estadão said it has access to documents proving that Odebrecht provided $35 million to the campaign and in exchange, Nicolás would release pending payments. Estadão says that “part of the information can be found in the statement of Odebrecht’s former executive Euzenando Azevedo, who testified on December 15, 2016, before the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.” The documents of the Venezuelan government that Estadão accessed are signed and commented by Nicolás.

Yesterday, lawmaker Juan Guaidó once again accused Nicolás of financing his electoral campaign with Odebrecht funds.

Finishing what was started

Although he made an effort to focus his energy on the strange celebration of the even stranger holiday of 24th anniversary of el finado’s release from Yare prison, Nicolás responded to the Odebrecht case with the following offer: “Wherever Odebrecht left unfinished works, I’m going to assign them to the country’s governors so we can finish them,” without saying a word about the notable combination of being the only country where the judiciary hasn’t set a stance on this corruption scandal, despite having profited the most from Odebrecht money. In honor of el finado, Nicolás approved the creation of the Hugo Chávez University of Political Sciences, headquarters will be at the Yare Penitentiary Center. He claimed that Holy Monday commemorates the day when “Jesus arrived at the temple and chased off the merchants and the bachaqueros.”

Other “accomplishments”

Vice-President Tareck El Aissami claimed: “We’ve reached the goal of 100% pensioners,” and Nicolás added that by April, they have to reach the mark of four million homes protected by the Hogares de la Patria bonus; while he celebrated the deposit of the Holy Week Bonus and approved almost 12 trillion bolivars to finish 472 unfinished works across the country. Well, coherence is not their forte. On Saturday, he bashed Spain for having Catalan political prisoners “just for their ideas,” pointing out that his comments weren’t “meddling”, but rather an accusation of political persecution; he also mused about the need to dedicate more budget “to education rather than the military” and even promised a crusade to vindicate people of African descent, to force Europe to answer for what they did to us.

No crude, no staff

Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is moving to shut down three of its four largest refineries for lack of maintenance plans, oil for processing and staff to do it. Iván Freites, an executive of the United Federation of Oil Workers of Venezuela, said that the Cardón refinery (Falcón state) would only be used to produce lubricants and supply fuels for the market. Cardón has a total capacity of 310,000 barrels per day; while the Puerto La Cruz and El Palito refineries can produce 187,000 and 145,000 barrels per day respectively. “Our union records show that 70% of plant operators and 75% of process engineers have resigned from PDVSA,” said Freites. PDVSA’s four largest refineries in Venezuela are operating below their capacity and have a myriad maintenance issues.

This is a tragedy.

Distinct tactical focus

Henri Falcón said yesterday that there hasn’t been any discussion about changing the date for presidential elections, so Carlos Melo must’ve fabricated the option of delaying them until June. Falcón doesn’t know whether the UN will send an electoral observation delegation, so he’s expecting the government to reassure him. For some reason, even though he claims he’s still working for better conditions, in his view, the most important guarantee is “the will of a country that wants to decide,” because according to him, 70% of citizens want to vote I’ve only talked to members of the remaining 30% in the street— so “if we become safekeepers of our vote and our will, they can’t trick us,” reducing all of chavismo’s advantages to the possibility of maximizing votes. He claimed to have met with MUD and PSUV members and that, with MUD, he keeps “a distinct tactical focus, but we share one strategic focus: saving Venezuela.”

Brief and serious

  • Ecosocialism and Water Minister Ramón Velásquez announced water cuts during Holy Week for Miranda, Vargas and the Capital District, as if we had any, estimating that at least 11 million people would travel for tourism. Ha!
  • The validity of the eternal Bs. 100 banknote was extended until May 20, once again forgetting the immediate demonetization they announced in December 2016.
  • Venezuelan NGO CEPAZ, Center for Justice and Peace, denounced that the CNE changes the electoral timetable “secretly and surreptitiously,” which constitutes “a new irregularity that prevents voters from accessing proper information about electoral offers.”
  • Vanessa Barroso, linked to the Óscar Pérez case, was released with precautionary measures, and so were Johnny Calderón, Everth Celis and Gilberto Quintero. All of them are under reporting regime, barred from leaving the country and forbidden to offer statements to the media.
  • Hermann Escarrá said that the ANC will be firm and strong against treason, as one of the fundamental aspects of Venezuela’s new Constitution.


  • In the plenary of the Inter Parliamentary Union, the ANC delegation was denied access and credentials. Elvis Amoroso’s trip and shameful statements prove that the ANC isn’t writing a new Constitution but trying, even in spaces they don’t control, to replace the National Assembly, whose representatives did access the plenary.

  • According to Infobae, the U.S. and Argentina are working on a plan of action about Venezuela, dismissing the military way and proposing the distribution of public and private funds to ease the crisis caused by the regime. It would be unveiled in the Summit of the Americas.
  • Diego Beltrand, head of the International Organization for Migration, declared the importance of regulating Venezuelan migration flows, as well as the supply of documents to avoid intensifying the crisis.
  • The court of second instance of Porto Alegre gave the green light for judge Sérgio Moro to put former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva behind bars. This sentence depends on what the Supreme Tribunal decides about the habeas corpus measure requested by Lula. The Supreme Tribunal will vote on April 4.

Maestro José Antonio Abreu was honored with music. Nicolás and Cilia gave his family a replica of Simón Bolívar’s sword and the government decreed three days of mourning.

Yesterday, Globovisión unwittingly created an extraordinary meme by leaving one of its presenters in the dark about the maestro Abreu.


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.