Photo: Miami Herald

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice in exile started in Bogotá a preliminary hearing on merits against Nicolás for allegedly incurring in acts of corruption, specifically in illegal contracts signed with construction company Odebrecht. Nicolás didn’t attend the hearing, so he was assigned a public defender.

Luisa Ortega Díaz presented allegations gathered in investigations carried out by the Prosecutor’s Office, evidencing Nicolás’ responsibility in crimes of corruption and money laundering, emphasizing that “the entire web of corruption originates from a framework agreement signed by Maduro.”

Odebrecht left unfinished thirteen works worth $30 billion and in her view, this wasn’t investigated because Cilia Flores was Speaker of the National Assembly at the time. Ortega Díaz asked a declaration of the existence of merits to establish Nicolás’ criminal liability; the freezing of all his assets and accounts, and she requested Interpol to issue a red alert for his arrest.

The decision of the preliminary hearing on merits will be revealed on April 9.

Cleaning toilets

Despite the unprecedented crisis that public universities in the country are experiencing and the obvious dwindling of teacher and student populations, yesterday Nicolás opened the Martin Luther King University in Lara. He approved a 50% wage hike for all university sector employees, effective since April 1st, allocating Bs. 6.6 trillion for this decision; in addition to the Bs. 90 trillion to honor the sector’s labor liabilities. He also announced an increase in university scholarships: from Bs. 80,000 to Bs. 400,000.

He openly mocked the migrants who left Venezuela to “clean toilets,” as if it was dishonorable, as if it didn’t fully represent the magnitude of our emergency.

He also mocked Henri Falcón right before condemning the attack he suffered in Catia on Monday, claiming that 17 people were arrested, that he ordered an investigation and the highest penalty for detainees. He should be equally diligent with the accusation of State terrorism made yesterday by Hidrocapital employees.

Sinister stories.

At the National Assembly

Yesterday’s session was attended by the families of the people who died in Policarabobo dungeons, who demanded that the government exhume the bodies because they don’t believe that all of them choked to death, and also demanded that the government consider the complaints of the survivors of this incident, restating the theory that they were doused in gasoline. They denounced that police officers charged them in cash to visit their relatives. The Parliament approved an agreement to create a Special Investigation Committee to evaluate the Venezuelan prisons system and advance investigations to establish the criminal, civil and administrative liabilities of Nicolás, ministers Iris Varela and Néstor Reverol, and governor Rafael Lacava. While the Legislative Council of Carabobo denied the proposal to create a committee to investigate the incident, the IACHR issued a statement condemning the deaths and reminding the Venezuelan State of its duties, urging them to open a prompt investigation, to identify and punish the culprits, as well as to adopt the necessary measures to prevent the reiteration of this incident.

Vive la France!

“France demands fair and transparent elections that guarantee electoral equality and the independence of electoral judges,” said French Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian after meeting in Paris with his Argentine counterpart, Jorge Faurie; who said that Argentina “is trying to find a way for Venezuela (…) to recover its democracy, its civil and political freedom and its quality of life.” President Emmanuel Macron and his diplomatic counselor, Philippe Etienne, met with lawmaker Julio Borges, former mayor Antonio Ledezma and Carlos Vecchio, who explained them the Venezuelan crisis and requested urgent humanitarian aid, as well as the bona fides to hold free elections. Later, Macron said: “France is willing, along with its European partners, to adopt new measures if Venezuelan authorities do not allow the holding of democratic elections,” regretting the violations against the rule of law and human rights and pointing out that the conditions of May 20 elections won’t allow “a fair, free and transparent election.” Macron also emphasized France’s concern regarding the decline of the humanitarian situation in Venezuela and its repercussions in neighboring countries, restating his conviction that a solution to this crisis can only be peaceful and negotiated. The only reply that Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza could devise was mentioning Macron on Twitter, telling him not to interfere in our internal affairs, accusing him of being subordinated to Trump’s “guerresista” (sic) plans.

Abroad

  • Argentine president Mauricio Macri will propose prioritizing the Venezuelan case in his agenda during the Summit of the Americas, which already includes a bilateral meeting with Donald Trump, which could involve the evaluation of mechanisms so that Venezuela can recover democracy; as well as new ways to restrict the Venezuelan government.
  • Panama’s vice-president Isabel De Saint Melo said that the list of high-risk individuals was created to protect the financial system, emphasizing that it was an autonomous decision of the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee.
  • Peruvian Foreign minister Néstor Popolizio said about Venezuela: “We do not support the government’s decision to prevent fair and free elections with legitimacy and credibility; this denies the most basic notion of democracy and is an insurmountable obstacle for their participation in the Summit of the Americas.”
  • While Foreign Commerce minister José Vielma Mora started talks with South Africa to boost commercial exchange, Mining Development minister Víctor Cano broadened the range of exchange options with Russia, including agreements to improve mining exploration and production systems; allowing Moscow to explore and produce minerals here and to supply equipment for the mining industry. Six Russian technicians will visit the Orinoco Mining Arc to assess our potential.
  • Former Venezuelan vice-minister Javier Alvarado was summoned to testify before the Spanish justice on April 16 for receiving bribes from the Spanish corporate consortium Duro Felguera in exchange for contracts. In 2009, Duro Felguera was awarded the construction of a thermoelectric station in Caracas for over 1.5 billion euros. Alvarado has already proposed his attendance with various resources; if he fails to attend this time, the summons “might become an arrest warrant.”
  • The Administrative Registry of Venezuelan Migrants in Colombia will start this Friday. 523 stations in 51 municipalities will be made available for the census, and all citizens who wish to stay in the country must attend, including Border Mobility Card holders.

Bloomberg says that OPEC’s output fell to its lowest level in a year as problems in Venezuela intensify: our output fell by 100,000 barrels per day in March, and is down to 1.51 million barrels per day. Professor Francisco Monaldi says that in order to reach such low output levels, “You’d have to go back to 1950.” Bloomberg adds: “The International Energy Agency said in its last monthly report that the Latin American nation remains the biggest risk factor when it comes to supply disruption amid a worsening economic crisis.” Monaldi shared another detail that’s really bad for the country: “For the first time in history, Canada surpassed Venezuela as crude provider for the U.S. Gulf Coast.”

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