The last mambí

Your daily briefing for Friday, April 20, 2018. Translate by Javier Liendo.

Photo: AFP, retrieved

That was the title chosen by trovadour Raúl Torres to flatter Raúl Castro for leaving the presidency in the hands of his successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel. “And so, you can leave in peace, in the trust that you won’t be the last mambí, in the trust that there are millions of arms with their machetes here,” the lyrics go. Poor guerrilleros of independence compared with criminals like the Castro. Raúl Castro decided to move ahead with Díaz-Canel’s anointment so that he can assume the leadership of the Communist Party in the event of his death. The first presidential speech had all the necessary tropes: the commitment to continue the revolution of his predecessors, praises for the “historic generation” that led the country (he didn’t say where) since 1959 and the promise of leaving that model, so profitable for those in power, unchanged: destroying all forms of dissent in the name of sovereignty and independence. He had the gall to say: “The changes that might be necessary will be sovereignly decided by the Cuban people,” as he stands as evidence of the denial of that possibility. Nicolás congratulated him and restated his unrestricted support and the insolubility of the less profitable alliance ever established by Venezuela.

Then, Mnuchin

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin issued a statement yesterday, cautioning public and private creditors not to provide financing for the Venezuelan government due to its lack of legitimacy. Mnuchin explains that they studied the dimension of our crisis and the consequence that brings them together: Venezuela is now a threat for regional stability. They reviewed migration flows out of Venezuela, Nicolás’ refusal to accept offers of international humanitarian aid and also the use of food as a mechanism for social control through the CLAP. It’s interesting that Mnuchin mentions “a briefing based on shared financial intelligence of the known identities of corrupt individuals who are stealing from this program,” saying that concrete actions are required to restrict the ability of corrupt officials and their support networks. And so, they agreed to “strengthen international cooperation and continue to share information (…) on the assets of such individuals and networks.” Mnuchin speaks of the support of the international financial community for a new government that recovers Venezuela’s economic prosperity, adding that this recovery will take time and the great external support we’ll need.

And concretely?

Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the U.S., France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Pery, Spain and the U.K. agreed to work together to locate and confiscate the proceeds derived from the corruption of Venezuelan government officials. They also discussed ways to provide quick financial and humanitarian aid to Venezuela, such as substantial debt relief, in case Nicolás is replaced by a government they consider more legitimate and committed with the economic reform. The participants also agreed to prevent this bankrupt government from pawning off valuable assets abroad such as oil refineries and the Houston-based company Citgo in search of fresh cash to prolong the government’s grip on power. In order to wall off Nicolás and his allies, they urged the remaining countries to follow Panama’s example and blacklist questionable Venezuelan officials due to the “high risk” of money laundering. All of this happens the same day that César Rincón, a PDVSA high-ranking executive, pleaded guilty for aiding in hiding millions of dollars in bribes payed to high-ranking oil industry officials in exchange for contracts and the fast payment of pending bills. So far, American prosecutors have secured the culpability statements of 11 individuals as part of a broad investigation on corruption in PDVSA.

In the same line

Colombian Treasury  Minister Mauricio Cárdenas announced a proposal in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of financial recovery for Venezuela for $60 billion for macroeconomic stabilization, which would apply when there’s a government willing to implement the “correct economic policies.” The minister said that the proposal allocates the $60 billion fund “based on the minimum imports level for Venezuela, it must be able to import supplies for its agriculture and its industry, and its food to guarantee a basic diet.” Cárdenas said that it’s a priority to “put a check on hyperinflation, caused by disorderly fiscal management, where money’s being printed to patch the colossal fiscal deficit.” On Wednesday the World Bank expressed its best intentions to alleviate the crisis in Brazil and Colombia of refugees escaping from the Venezuelan debacle.

“¡Viva México, cabrones!”

The Mexican Senate’s Gazette issued yesterday includes an agreement of the Committee of Foreign Relations, Latin America and the Caribbean, based on a substantial briefing about the Venezuelan crisis. With the support of 5 out of 6 of its members, the committee authorizes the Mexican Senate to express their rejection for the CNE’s decision to hold early presidential elections “without the minimum guarantees for a free, transparent and fair election.” The Senate also urges the Federal Government to maintain joint diplomatic actions and study the pertinence of applying sanctions including the freezing of assets and the prohibition to enter Mexican territory against Antonio Benavides Torres (GN); Delcy Eloina Rodríguez (ANC); Diosdado Cabello (PSUV); Maikel Moreno (TSJ); Néstor Luis Reverol Torres (SEBIN); Tarek William Saab (Prosecutor General); and Tibisay Lucena (CNE), “in order to end impunity enjoyed by high-ranking officials of the Maduro regime.”


  • Yesterday, EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini issued a statement summarizing the EU’s stance on Venezuela’s critical matters: the lack of legitimacy of the May 20 election, the existence of political prisoners and the obstacles to restrict the participation of parties and candidates. Once more, she asks for “free, transparent and credible elections,” with all the necessary technical guarantees to comply with international regulations. She cautions that they’ll monitor the election, and they’ll react in consequence.
  • Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza expressed his rejection for these statements, but restated his willingness to establish “a constructive dialogue based on mutual respect.” Arreaza urges Mogherini to carry out all the necessary procedures so that European financial institutions unfreeze the Venezuelan State’s funds and transactions, but claiming that these blockades are acts of submission to Trump. Brilliant.
  • The European Commission evaluated the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and Venezuela and expressed the European Union’s support for a prompt solution to the problems ailing the Venezuelan society.
  • Panama’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing its intention to reestablish commercial relations with Venezuela.
  • Nicaragua has gone through two days of repression and censorship, with 33 people wounded in the protests against the social security reform. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has ordered six independent channels pulled from the air just for reporting on the protests.

The country stopped but the world didn’t, my friends.

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.