Panama’s Purge

Your daily briefing for Thursday, March 29, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Globovisión

Panama adopted the lists published by other countries about Venezuelan citizens (natural, judicial or final beneficiaries) politically exposed (PEPs) to money laundering and the financing of terrorism, in order to prevent these crimes. The National Committee against Money Laundering, Financing of Terrorism and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction issued two resolutions, one about the prevention of acts of terrorism by the UN Security Council, and another urging the countries to adopt policies and procedures to limit PEP operations and transactions. So far in the Venezuelan case, we’re talking about 55 natural persons and 16 companies. Panama is the first Latin American country to adopt measures against Venezuelan government officials.

Venezuelan PEPs

Starting with Nicolás, there are 55 current and former chavista officials which are considered by Panama to be “of high risk in terms of money laundering, financing of terrorism and financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” The initial list includes all CNE authorities: Tibisay Lucena, Tania D’amelio, Socorro Hernández and Sandra Oblitas. From the TSJ, Maikel Moreno Pérez, Lourdes Suárez Anderson, Calixto Ortega and Gladys Gutiérrez; also imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab. From the ministerial cabinet, María Iris Varela Rangel, Ernesto Villegas, Elías Jaua, Néstor Reverol Torres and Carlos Osorio. From the brass: Antonio Benavides Torres, Gustavo González López, Fabio Zavarse Pabón and Bladimir Lugo. From the governors and mayors, we have Rodolfo Marco Torres, Carmen Meléndez and Erika Farías. And from PSUV: Diosdado Cabello, Hermann Escarrá, Freddy Bernal, Adán Chávez Frías, Américo Mata, Alejandro Fleming, Elvis Amoroso, Carlos Malpica Flores, Justo Noguera, Julián Isaias Rodríguez, Francisco Ameliach, Carlos Rotondaro, Simón Zerpa, Carmen Zuleta, Katherine Haringhton and Francisco Rangel Gómez. These persons are banned from carrying out commercial or financial operations in Panama. The Ministry of Economy and Finance remarked that this list will be updated.

Official silence

The fire in the dungeons of the Carabobo Police Command appeared on important international media but not in the public media system. Apart from the three tweets of imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab and a statement issued by governor Rafael Lacava promising new prisoners, the 68 known victims of this tragedy are invisible for the State. Neither Prisons minister Iris Varela nor Interior minister Néstor Reverol have issued any statements. Official media only shows the Holy Week translated in security campaigns, churches to visit and adequate beaches. Governor Lacava says in his statement: “we assume the commitment to create a higher security council (…) to allow clearing out of police detention facilities and the creation of new spaces for prisoners in Carabobo state,” adding that the culprits “must pay for their crimes they’ve committed both in action and in omission,” sending condolences, support and solidarity to the families. Moving.

The flip side of the cell

The bodies of the 68 victims at Policarabobo headquarters were treated even worse than they were treated in life. The recount from the yard where the autopsies were practices describes the violation of several protocols, the serial butchery to open bodies and close them back with plastic bag threads in less than 15 minutes each to fill express death certificates, as denounced by NGO Proiuris. And thus, the bodies were handed to the families of the victims, as they demanded justice and an investigation on the incident. From one of the windows of the Policarabobo Station, some survivors of the fire shouted their version to the media, explaining the detail that they were doused in gasoline and that everything started with a clash with police officers. They say the number of casualties is much higher than the confirmed by prosecutor Saab and they pointed out that one of the deceased was a visitor.

Investigate the incident

Lawmaker Juan Guaidó announced that the National Assembly will open and investigation on the deaths of these 68 citizens. The United Nations Commission for Human Rights urged Venezuelan authorities to carry out an expedient investigation, expressing their consternation for this incident and denouncing the general overcrowding and the terrible detention conditions in Venezuela. European Parliament Speaker Antonio Tajani wrote: “How much longer will Maduro’s dictatorship cause the death of his citizens? Profound solidarity with the families of those killed in the fire in Carabobo!”; adding the prediction that democracy will win out in Venezuela.

A new frog!

Scientists from Venezuela and Colombia identified a new frog species in the Perijá mountain range. The Hyloscirtus japreria lives in rivers and streams at an altitude of 1,000 meters and it was discovered during expeditions carried out a decade ago. Its name pays homage to the japreria, a dwindling native tribe in Perijá, Zulia state. With this finding, published on the scientific journal Zootaxa, there are 37 species from the Hyloscirtus genus. The work made by AFP has beautiful details about the scientific effort of these biologists which included bioacoustics analysis in habitats so complex that they can only be accessed on foot after days of travelling. It’s a beautiful accomplishment to get to know our biodiversity.


  • The Cucuta Diocese donated 250,000 communion wafers to the Catholic Church of Venezuela so it can celebrate the central mysteries of the Holy Week, staving off our shortage crisis. The wafers were handed over at the Simón Bolívar International Bridge.
  • Florida governor Rick Scott signed the law banning the state and its agencies from doing business with companies that have engaged in commercial transactions of have “collaborated” with the Venezuelan government.
  • Yesterday, the UN restated that it has no plans to send electoral observers to May 20 elections and clarified that they rarely ever establish those missions. Jeffrey Feltman, undersecretary for Political Affairs, remarked that the UN only intervenes in electoral processes to try and improve the voting system to “improve the election’s integrity and technical merits.”The invitation for lawmaker Julio Borges to attend the Summit of the Americas as representative for Venezuela was ratified.
  • Yesterday, Guyana requested the International Court of Justice to confirm that the arbitration award of 1899 on their borders with Venezuela is legal, valid and binding. Foreign minister Carl Greenidge delivered the request to ICJ Secretary Philippe Couvreur. According to Guyana, Venezuela never showed any evidence to justify their late repudiation of the Award of 1899.

The University of Los Andes (ULA) was founded on March 29, 1785, under the name of Royal Seminar College of San Buenaventura of Mérida, which would later be elevated to seminar and finally recognized as an university on September 21, 1810. Yesterday, the ULA turned 233 years old.

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.