Another autogol?

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: TSJ_Legítimo

The one point in the agenda for the National Assembly’s session this Tuesday, April 17, is the discussion about moving ahead with the preliminary hearing on merits against Nicolás, requested by exiled Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz before the TSJ in exile, in their session in Bogota.

Lawmaker Luis Florido, head of the National Assembly’s Foreign Policy Committee, said: “We are certainly going to approve the hearing on merits and we’re supporting the TSJ in exile so that they continue with the procedure established in the Constitution and the laws.” On Sunday, TSJ in exile chairman Miguel Ángel Martín met with American senator Marco Rubio to talk about “totalitarian power” and the “institutional takeover” that Venezuela experiences. Martín believes this process should continue, although we have no guarantees of any State institution that would obey a ruling against Nicolás. Institutionally bound as they are, the consequences for the lawmakers could be far worse than any consequence against Nicolás, causing the definitive collapse of the only public branch not under chavista control. Let’s hope the lawmakers’ debate will clarify the strategy after this move that seems to lack any viable support for now.

More corruption, less justice

Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab announced —as if it really was an accomplishment and not a disgrace— that so far 20 prosecutors have been arrested for corruption. The two prosecutors most recently arrested were illegally selling “confiscated food, medicines and strategic material.”

Saab claims he’ll be merciless in “the fight to recover the nation’s decency,” as if corruption was an aesthetic problem and the huge amount of corrupt chavista officials wasn’t a pattern of the party, but rather a Panini album of villainy. If he showed the same concern for the case of Geraldine Chacón and Gregory Hinds, whom SEBIN not only arrested through deceit but also have refused to release even though they were issued release warrants on April 2, he’d do a much better job. Meanwhile, the house of Vasco da Costa, former political prisoner and member of the Nationalist Movement, was raided and he was arrested again.

But also, innovating in shamelessness, CNE chairwoman Tibisay Lucena started a tour through Europe and Africa to explain “the strengths and guarantees” of the Venezuelan electoral system.

If her explanation was true, she wouldn’t need to waste State resources with this campaign. El Estímulo published a devastating work about the hushed deaths at the Santa Ana Maternity Hospital in Caracas: 112 babies died in three months, almost 20% of average child births for that period. All of these variables combined could explain why our country is increasingly unhappy. According to the World Happiness Report 2018, we rank 102th out of 156 countries.

We, migrants

There were lots of people in the Chilean Consulate yesterday, inquiring about the new democratic responsibility visa. Requirements aren’t different from those for the temporary residency, the difference is the limitation of processing it only in Venezuela.

Venezuelans are the second largest group of immigrants in the Dominican Republic, surpassing Haitians. The amount of connationals in this country increased by almost 650% in the last five years, according to Dominican Economy minister Isidoro Santana, who explained part of the figures of the National Immigration Survey. Brazilian Security minister Raúl Jungmann said that he sees no reason to close the border with Venezuela “and break a diplomatic and humanitarian tradition,” adding that he sees no reason to take “such a radical” measure, pointing out that closing borders is an attribution of the President of the Republic and not the Supreme Tribunal. There was also a lot of noise because three players of the Venezuelan U-20 rugby team deserted after playing a game in a tournament in Paraguay. It would seem like the right decision, because Humberto Figuera, head of the Association of Airlines in Venezuela (ALAV), said that since 2013, the country’s lost 20% of seats on international flights (40,000 seats!), a situation that grew worse with the suspension of Panamanian company Copa Airlines. Figuera remarked that the Venezuelan government still owes $3.8 billion to international airlines.

More tensions

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos accused the Venezuelan government yesterday of using criminal gangs to control society and seek to “hold on to power,” in his speech at the closing ceremony of the meeting of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), asking to “persevere in the fight to recover freedom in Venezuela,” after describing all the mechanisms of social control carried out by the Venezuelan government.

Colombian authorities detected a shipment of smuggled steel and aluminum from Venezuela. According to María Lorena Gutiérrez, minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, in order to save money, construction companies are buying this kind of uncertified material, increasing the risk of their constructions. Santiago Rojas, head of the National Tax and Customs Bureau, estimated the shipment at 30,000 illegal tons and announced that they are carrying out investigations against 45 companies marked for falsifying and smuggling the steel.

Several locales at the northeast of Colombia are partially shut down due to an armed strike imposed by former guerrilleros fighting with ELN rebels for the control of drug plantations, close to the border with Venezuela. Additionally, Colombia’s National Health Institute (INS) confirmed they’ve detected nine cases of measles imported from Venezuela in six departments of the country. Lastly, the terrorists of the Frente Oliver Sinisterra -FARC dissidents- suspended the process to hand over the bodies of the press team from Ecuador’s El Comercio.

This Tuesday, health workers will stage a national protest to demand proper salaries and better conditions that guarantee the rights to health and life of Venezuelans.

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.