The threat of protests

For Wednesday, April 25, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: El Pitazo

On Monday night, the protests caused by power outages in Zulia ended in repression with 48 people arrested for alleged lootings, as well as the murder of 15-year-old Anderson Luis Oliveros Núñez, reported by the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict. Early this Tuesday, thirty people were arrested, including councilmen and journalists, with several human rights violations, for attempting to protest before Corpoelec headquarters.

With such a severe and extended crisis in a vital service, chavismo doesn’t even coordinate their lies anymore. So Electric Energy Minister Luis Motta Domínguez contradicted the statements issued by Governor Omar Prieto, and both theories were unrelated to the explanation offered by Corpoelec vice-president Francisco Martín. Prieto spoke of the recovery of 90% of the power service, allegedly affected by rains and an attempted wire robbery. Motta Domínguez claimed that the blackouts are caused by “a purely political sabotage” planned by Un Nuevo Tiempo and Primero Justicia leaders; but at least he acknowledged that the sabotage had been more effective than his work, although it didn’t cause his removal from office for incompetence. Lastly, engineer Francisco Martín explained that Zulia’s demand is over 2,500 daily megawatts and the state currently receives only 900 megawatts, estimating a period of a month and a half to recover the necessary power generation in the state. Also unlikely, but that’s how denial of realitity works, meanwhile, the legitimate right to protest is violently abused.

Bankrupt

Hyperinflation devoured the capital of the Venezuelan banking system, after a decade of regulated rates that stripped local banks from any profitability. Only chavismo refuses to understand that injecting capital at a loss is an absurdity. An article published by Reuters says that “the value of the 31 private financial entities still standing at the end of 2017 was $40 million at the official exchange rate,” so the banks that are still operating, do so without expanding the credit: by December 2017, banks had lent a volume of money equal to $13 per person; the regional average is $2,000 per person. Professor Leonardo Vera sums it up in one phrase: “An economy without credit doesn’t grow,” and just like Halliburton reported yesterday a $312 million loss in Venezuela  —mostly on accounts receivable— asserting that they’ll stay in the country, most banks and companies will do so with reduced operations and with them, job posts. The data of the Inflationmeter of Caracas, created by Cedice Libertad, report that the inflation rate for the second half of March reached 20.81% while the rate on April 15 increased to 37.33%; services and food were the areas with the greatest price variation. According to this instrument, prices have quadrupled between January 1 and April 15.

And in the National Assembly

Once again the GNB prevented the media from entering the Federal Legislative Palace, ratifying (as if we needed it) the scope of their abuses. The Parliament unanimously agreed yesterday to open an investigation on PDVSA’s corruption network.

The lawmakers also agreed to denounce the human rights violations against the people of Nicaragua during the recent protests before international instances (United Nations, European Union and OAS, among others.) Furthermore, the AN will demand explanations from Trinidad and Tobago for the case of 82 Venezuelans deported last weekend, a decision criticized by UNHCR. Aside from this, Parliament Speaker Omar Barboza announced that he’ll travel to Belgium to meet this Tuesday with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs. He’ll be accompanied by lawmakers Julio Borges, Edgar Zambrano and Elías Matta.

Playing maracas

While candidate Luis Ratti requested that a single candidate be chosen to challenge Nicolás (through a national survey) and National Electoral Council (CNE) rector Luis Emilio Rondón said that the postponement of the May 20 election is unlikely, Delta Amacuro State authorities celebrated that this Tuesday had been decreed non-working to receive Nicolás, so that state personnel could forcefully attend his campaign event. Yesterday’s event included the reactivation of Tucupita’s National Airport, which has been inoperational for years, but what’s another act of embezzlement? Nicolás blithely said: “I scratch your back, you scratch mine, I support you and you vote on May 20,” with carnet de la patria in hand, after talking about all the social benefits that only he can provide. He said that dolarization was “anti-constitutional” and a way of losing so many years of independence, and promised international observation from Asia, Europe, the United States and Latin America for elections, but sadly he didn’t explain who they’d be. He arrived in Carabobo yesterday and to be honest, there were more people in the early protests for lack of public transport, although they weren’t wearing read uniforms. Nicolás’ voice is already hoarse after two days campaigning; the problem of getting accustomed to talking in closed spaces, as narrow as his judgement.

Abroad

  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that Venezuelan migration to Colombia has grown and that they think the country “is about to implode.” Santos hopes for a peaceful implosion (?) and rejected the possibility of a military intervention in the country.
  • European Parliament Speaker Antonio Tajani urged the leader of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker, to create a strategy to help the citizens displaced by the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. “The urgency of the situation calls the European Union to help European citizens in the Caribbean,” says his letter, in which he requests the activation of an instrument of aid and attention.
  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced that there have been “unjustified murders” during anti-government protests in Nicaragua, demanding a “swift, profound, independent and transparent [investigation] on these deaths.” They urged authorities to respect and allow the exercise of freedom of expression to all citizens.
  • Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza asked before the UN General Assembly that the organization resorts to tools such as preventive diplomacy “in good faith” and not as an instrument to interfere in the internal affairs of member States. So cute.
  • CNE chairwoman Tibisay Lucena met in Moscow with the vice president of the Russian Federation, who promised to send electoral observation for May 20 elections. Her successful tour has cruised through Ethiopia, Tunisia and the Russian Federation, all of them solid democracies, eh?
  • Panama’s measure restricting Venezuelan flights that will isolate both nations comes into force today. President Juan Carlos Varela urged Nicolás to reconsider for his people’s sake. Nicolás replied that he’s been waiting for his call for four days: “If he wants a solution, he should call, I don’t believe in microphone diplomacy.” A true statesman.

The head of the World Health Organization issued alarming data about the progress of malaria in Venezuela: we’re the the country with the greatest global increase of cases.

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