Photo: BBC

Jorge Rodríguez continues his mission of granting interviews to change the perception about the government. This time he spoke to BBC Mundo. Journalist Juan Paullier didn’t make it easy for him to dispatch the questions about our crisis with lies and denials. I’ll spare you his parroting about the economic war and induced inflation, so let’s focus on the best argument he could come up with to explain why Nicolás is the best candidate to solve the crisis that he himself caused: because he’s loyal to Chávez! Defining chavismo as “highly self-critical,” he mentioned three variables: social missions slowed down (but the carnet de la patria saved us); the rentier model (which they’ll tackle by producing what we consume) and the drop in oil output, explained solely by corruption. At a political level, Rodríguez has no criticism for chavismo, but he does have some for the opposition leadership, those who “don’t recognize chavismo as a social, political and spiritual force.” Raúl Castro did a better job in his “acknowledgement of mistakes” published yesterday.

Denials and lies

Rodríguez denied that the Executive blocked the National Assembly’s authority and called the opposition racist; he denied the political disqualifications of opposition leaders, he lied about Leopoldo López’s case and about the imposed revalidation process for opposition parties. He had the nerve to claim that child mortality and shortage issues have dropped, celebrating that in Venezuela, public services are free, a simple explanation for their current collapse. He denied blackouts and defended the efficiency of the health system; he denied human rights violations; he claimed that branch autonomy isn’t compromised because it’s established in the Constitution and restricted the need for humanitarian aid to wars and catastrophes, saying that the only help they need is for sanctions to be lifted. It was beautiful to see him talk about distorted readings and twisted truths, about psychological and media warfare against Venezuela, but without mentioning chavismo’s own actions. Hooray for Juan Paullier. Shame on Jorge.

Sovereigns and petros

Yesterday, Central Bank chairman Ramón Lobo presented the monetary reconversion proposal before the ANC’s Economy Committee, as if they had any authority on that regard, once again sidestepping the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, one of the main cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, Bitfinex, reported that they won’t include the petro in their transactions, due to its features and the sanctions weighing on it.

A notable detail about the petro is that the minimum investment to buy it was fixed at 1,000 euros (for 20 petros), which is why it’s strange that Nicolás wants it to become a method for Venezuelans to pay for goods and services.

Additionally, Twitter announced that they will ban advertisement for initial cryptocurrency offers on their platform, mirroring similar restrictions adopted by Google and Facebook. This announcement hit the price of bitcoin, one of the most popular virtual currencies.

The looming horror

Five national guards were arrested by the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) for the kidnapping of two young men in Puerto Cabello, Carabobo.

Crime journalist Román Camacho tweeted:

The men were at the beach when they were approached by the guards, who asked them what they were doing there. Ignoring the reply, the guards fabricated the story that they were going to steal copper wiring in the area; they beat them and took them on a GN truck. Later, they demanded that the men give them the address to their homes, as well as the payment of Bs. 60 million and a pack of diapers for their release. The guards threatened to kill one of them and shoot at their house if they didn’t comply. Then, they released one of them to cover the demands, calling him from time to time to pressure him, while beating the other one. The released victim reported the incident to DGCIM agents and they coordinated the release, arresting the guards and rescuing the other man.

The involvement of police and military officers in this kind of crimes is increasingly frequent, sadly.

Abroad

  • Kim Jong-Un’s visit to Beijing is perceived as a significant step toward North Korean preparations for the talks agreed with South Korea and the United States. Kim guaranteed Xi Jinping that he’s committed to denuclearization.
  • Venezuela hasn’t offered to use petros to pay its debts with Russia, according to the chief of the state debt department of the Russian Finance Ministry, Konstantin Vyshkovsky.
  • The Center for a Secure and Free Society released a report detailing the activities of the extremist group Hezbollah in the world, and showing Venezuela as an epicenter of this terrorist group’s operation in Latin America. U.S. national security analyst Joseph Humire says that Venezuela is one of the essential territories used by the Islamic organization, with the support of the Venezuelan government, adding that, besides ours, Hezbollah uses other nations to engage in smuggling, establish operation centers and obtain financing to train their troops.
  • Lawmaker Delsa Solórzano asked the parliamentarians gathered at the plenary of the Inter Parliamentary Union to raise their voice and demand the opening of a humanitarian channel to bring medicine and food to Venezuela. In their speech, the Spanish delegation said: “Venezuela has gone from being the model democracy in Latin America to becoming a failed state.”
  • In 2016, Latin America was declared free of measles, but a new outbreak in Venezuela combined with the massive exodus threatens both that declaration and neighboring nations: Brazil now has 14 confirmed cases and Colombia three, all of them Venezuelan.
  • AP released and interesting work about the enormous challenge that waraos represent for Brazilian authorities charged with accommodating thousands of Venezuelans crossing the border. Not only do they arrive with more health problems than the rest, the sensible cultural and linguistic differences have forced the authorities to establish shelters exclusively for them. Brazil hopes they’ll be able to return to their lands, because integrating them to their society isn’t a realistic prospect. Read it when you can.

Hopefully, Enrique Ochoa Antich will come up with better statements in the future. The ones he offered yesterday were regrettable, unless his goal was not to “add votes” for Henri Falcón.

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