Yesterday, while the National Electoral Council (CNE) called for the representatives of presidential candidates to “debate about electoral guarantees,” Nicolás put up a cadena for the signing of the second collective bargaining agreement for teachers, using a State event as a campaign act to “approve” huge funds to allegedly pay off the government’s entire debt with the sector, and also to confirm that he won’t attend the Summit of the Americas, as if someone was expecting him there. However, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry announced that a government delegation arrived in Lima this Tuesday to participate in a parallel summit. Nicolás claimed that the summit will be “a true waste of time,” which is far more fitting for the May 20 election, but just so you know, CNE vice-chairwoman Sandra Oblitas cautioned that media outlets and political actors who openly call for abstention could face legal sanctions.
About Nicolás’ trial
Supreme Tribunal Chief Justice Maikel Moreno dismissed the declaration of the preliminary hearing on merits against Nicolás, saying that the actions are absurd and reckless and claiming that he’ll demand the arrest of the justices of the TSJ in exile, accusing them of being “a criminal organization that affects Venezuelan justice.” In the National Assembly, the “16 de julio” fraction requested the inclusion of the ruling of the TSJ in exile in the session’s discussion, but AN Speaker Omar Barboza said that the Parliament’s board has not received a formal notice, remarking that if the decision about the request is favorable, they’ll need the votes of two thirds of lawmakers to approve it. Yesterday, the Venezuelan Observatory of Justice (@AccesoJustica on Twitter) described some details about the TSJ in exile and an eventual preliminary hearing on merits against Nicolás: “In order for the justices to have authority, besides being inducted by the AN, they had to take office within the following 10 days,” a step that exiled justices didn’t fulfill; adding that the Constitution establishes the principle of territoriality (they must be in the country) and that since Nicolás is the current president, he has immunity except in a trial for crimes against humanity, which isn’t the case. Judicially speaking, the rulings of the TSJ in exile are not obligatory in Venezuela, the Observatory concluded.
Malaria in Venezuela
Luis López, Health Minister and chairman of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security, reported that 400,000 malaria cases were recorded in Bolívar state alone in 2017, while 175,000 cases have been recorded in 2018 thus far, claiming that this is one of the “lowest” levels obtained, ignoring that we’re just in April. Optimistic about the fumigation plans and the 500,000 vaccines they have available for that state, López forgot to compare his data with what the government itself reported to the Pan American Health Organization, as if ceasing the publication of the epidemiological bulletin was enough to eradicate the pattern of an epidemic that has forced the activation of a vaccination plan. Actually, doctors in Margarita denounced that there are almost 2,000 malaria cases in the island, demanding clear statistics, as well as more medication to treat patients, while new cases are reported due to lack of monitoring. HIV patients staged a tough protests in Lara state: they extracted their own blood and made signs with it to demand medicines and respect for their right to life and health. When you can, read the messages under the hashtag #VenezuelaQuiereVivir.
Goldman Sachs’ privilege
According to The Wall Street Journal, American investment bank Goldman Sachs received an interest payment that PDVSA owned holders of the 2022 bond, better known as “hunger bonds.” This payment for some $90 million took the market by surprise due to the increasing delays accrued by PDVSA and the government with Wall Street funds —Rendivalores reports that 17 bonds have expired thus far, plus two notes currently in grace period—
but Goldman Sachs was the center of a controversy last year precisely for acquiring almost the entire issue of PDVSA 2022 bonds and were accused of extending Nicolás a financial lifeline, and they’re now one of the few bondholders that have managed to get any compensation! Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo posted some funny tweets about his meeting with the Cryptoassets Bureau to see how PDVSA will use petros in their transactions; sadly, they didn’t start with Goldman Sachs. All of this while the dollar keeps rising, with an average price of Bs. 450,000, but surpassing Bs. 500,000 on money desks.
- Panama approved measures of retaliation against Venezuela, suspending both passenger and load aerial transport which includes the operations of the airlines Aeropostal, Avior, Conviasa, Turpial, Santa Bárbara Airlines and Láser, among others. The measure will come into force on Wednesday, April 25, for an extendable period of 90 days. Never a dull day for Venezuela!
- Donald Trump cancelled his plans to attend the Summit of the Americas “to oversee the American response to Syria.” Vice-president Mike Pence will attend. Several analysts see the Syrian issue as an excuse to cover the real reason: the scandal of Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen with the FBI involving porn actress Stormy Daniels.
- Presidents Mariano Rajoy and Mauricio Macri stated their absolute condemnation of the Venezuelan regime, ratifying that they won’t recognize the May 20 elections and that they’ll do their utmost so that other countries do the same.
- The International Migration Organization (IMO) launched a regional action plan in 17 Latin American countries to help manage our diaspora. IMO spokeswoman Olivia Headon explained that the plan will require $32.3 million in financing and it will support currently active efforts to help the governments that host and shelter Venezuelans.
- Carlos Trujillo, U.S. ambassador before the OAS, said that the May 20 election is an assault on democracy, adding that “Venezuela must be the power it used to be once again,” as well as advocating for a resolution to our migration wave.
- Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra restated that Nicolás isn’t invited to the Summit of the Americas, but pointed out that he’s not barred from entering Peruvian territory; meanwhile, Ronald Sanders, ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda before the OAS, announced that Prime Minister Gaston Browne won’t attend the Summit due to Venezuela’s exclusion.
- But Santa Lucía Prime Minister Allen Chastanet had more interesting statements to make, recalling his nation’s long friendship with Venezuela and saying that he understands Antigua and Barbuda’s reasons: “Venezuela pardoned the debt of some countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States,” so their “support” of Venezuela is coherent. Chastanet said that some of Nicolás’ practices violate the rule of law and democracy, and be believes it’s necessary to “call for Venezuela to change its course.”
- According to AFP, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza will meet today in Brussels with European chief diplomat Federica Mogherini. The source said that Mogherini is also set to meet with the opposition “in the coming days.”
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