Photo: T13 Chile
While the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Latin America, Alexander Schetinin, parroted chavismo’s argument that this humanitarian crisis is caused by U.S. sanctions and not by the haywire corruption of Nicolás and his cabinet, the United States accused Venezuelan security forces of carrying out a campaign of torture and extrajudicial executions during 2017. The State Department’s annual human rights report includes details about the government’s sponsorship of paramilitary groups known as “colectivos”; it also refers to the serious situation of Venezuelan prisons, as well as the increase in arbitrary detentions and the existence of political prisoner. The report also denounces the Judiciary’s lack of autonomy, the use of military tribunals against civilians, the arbitrary sentences against opposition mayors and the fierce censorship against the media. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch director José Miguel Vivanco asked the OAS Permanent Council to request the immediate release of the minors who were arrested in last year’s protests and remain in prison. Lastly, OAS secretary general Luis Almagro released a video cautioning that the OAS is implementing new mechanisms to aid Venezuelan migrants, referring to our situation as a “humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions in the Americas.”
In its tenth auction carried out this Friday, the DICOM exchange rate reached Bs. 82,000 per euro and Bs. 66,900 per dollar, which is a 10.82% depreciation expressed in the $317,000 that were paid, un realero! Aside from this information, Alejandro Werner, head of the International Monetary Fund’s Department for the Western Hemisphere, said that the Venezuelan crisis was one of the 15 worst in modern history and explained that it’s “too early” to talk about plans or economic recovery figures for Venezuela, an answer to the statement issued this Thursday by Colombian Finance Minister Mauricio Cárdenas. “As we’ve said before, we’re working towards a moment when there are authorities willing to correct the macroeconomic situation and the humanitarian situation, but given the uncertainty, the hyperinflation process and the lack of information, it’s too early to make calculations,” said Werner, adding that he supports the measures being adopted by various countries against Venezuelan officials, because the IMF backs “the efforts to prevent the financial system from being used as a vehicle for the proceeds of illegal activities.”
Leaving for Havana
Nicolás claimed that the May 20 election will be held regardless of what others say: “Whatever foreign governments say doesn’t matter at all in Venezuela (…) Venezuela’s legality is what matters,” he said before leaving for Cuba to meet with president Miguel Díaz-Canel, to discuss “new proposals to strengthen the alliance.” He restated his willingness to solve the conflict with Panama: “I’m willing to backtrack on the hard decisiones they forced me to make”; and he also repeated the tale of Operation Paper Hands because it’s been effective to capture “those who sought to inflate the price of the dollar to paranormal [sic] levels.” Later, Freddy Bernal, in his role of Protector of Táchira State, offered statements about the Operation Drone: “We’ve raided 13 car dealers and 200 vehicles were confiscated (…) 11 people have been arrested, four guns and a gas station, during a the dismantling of a gang linked to fuel trafficking to Colombia.” Bernal estimates that 100 people linked to the fuel smuggling gang will be arrested, but he didn’t explain the basis for this estimate. Yesterday, it was also revealed that Miranda State comptroller Yahir Muñoz requested a court to bar former governor Henrique Capriles from leaving the country, due to alleged irregularities during his tender.
Only ALBA’s left
The same day that Supreme Tribunal chief Maikel Moreno tweeted pictures from the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR); Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru announced the indefinite suspension of their membership in this bloc. The letter these nations sent to Bolivian Foreign Minister Fernando Huanacuni says that UNASUR has been adrift under Bolivia’s current temporary presidency. A source revealed the important detail: UNASUR works by consensus and there are currently such discrepancies among its members that it’s become inoperational. The Bolivian Foreign minister said that he had no official information and that a meeting is supposed to be called for May, adding —the show first, you know—: “UNASUR is a geographic and historic reality.” It’s likely that this bloc created a decade ago in one of el finado’s whims to counter the United States’ influence in the region, will perish with this decision. On ALBA’s left, and that body drains far more resources and is much more useless.
- In Nicaragua, the biggest protests that dictator Daniel Ortega has ever faced in his 11 years of government. So far, the brutal repression has left five dead, dozens wounded and journalists assaulted while doing their job. Vice President and spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said: “they’re like vampires demanding blood to nourish their political agenda.” Only Ortega’s wife could sum up like that the fight of a society that’s suffering the end of Venezuelan cooperation in their pockets.
- North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un announced that his country will suspend its nuclear and missiles tests, as well as the shutdown of the nuclear test center he has at the northeast of his territory. Donald Trump said this announcement was “very good news.”
- The separatist organization ETA issued a historic statement, for the first time apologizing for the victims caused during the years of their armed fight for the independence of the Basque Country and Navarre: “ETA (…) wants to acknowledge in this statement the demand we have caused in the court of our armed history, as well as showing our commitment to definitely overcome the consequences of the conflict and to non-repetition.” The general reactions to their statement weren’t favorable.
- In Peru, former President Alberto Fujimori appeared before a court after his release from prison four months ago, thanks to a controversial pardon issued by former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. After the hearing, the court has 15 days to issue a ruling about the prosecutor’s request to ban Fujimori from leaving the country. Also in Peru yesterday, former number two man of the organization Sendero Luminoso, Osmán Morote, imprisoned 30 years ago for terrorism, was released to continue his sentence under house arrest; the decision caused disgust and rejection from politicians, including President Martín Vizcarra.
- “What is this humanitarian crisis they’re talking about? There are economic issues, shortages, but we can’t call that a humanitarian crisis,” said former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa about Venezuela yesterday, in an interview in Havana.
- After closing off an 800-meter radius, evacuating 10,000 citizens and interrupting railway traffic, Berlin police diffused a Second World War bomb found in the Mitte neighborhood.
Roberto Patiño, member of the Broad Front for a Free Venezuela, called people to attend the citizen assemblies that will take place this Saturday starting 10:00 a.m. to debate how to overcome the country’s crisis and how to face the “fraud” of May 20 elections. In Caracas, the assemblies will be held in the San Martín square and Chacao’s Bolívar square.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.