Electoral Drill-ception

For Monday, May 7, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: MINCI

In my brief exploration this Sunday, I visited three electoral stations with more people registering on “puntos rojos” —the spaces used by PSUV to coerce the beneficiaries of social programs— than in lines to participate in the voting drill. Lots of red, lots of brand-new shirts with the mammoth’s capital M, ratifying that this was a dress-up general rehearsal for carnet-holding militants who’ll have to answer for the reach of their circuits’ QR code, tune up their blackmails and tie up CLAP boxes, because the census must have consequences and the turnout, despite what the entire public media system might claim, was neither massive nor diverse.

CNE chairwoman Tibisay Lucena said that they were satisfied with the event’s development and that participation was excellent. Eugenio Martínez, the journalist specialized in electoral matters, brought up a couple technical questions about the May 20 electoral drill: the operation of the “select all” button and its limitations for foreign voters who can’t vote for the presidential office, and the possibility of voting null by marking and unmarking an option. Eugenio says that it was impossible to do it this time. He also points out that “holding the presidential election with the process to choose the 251 members of regional parliaments violates the law.”

Buzzing lies

While Electrical Energy Minister Luis Motta Domínguez keeps justifying the collapse of the electrical power system with sabotages —this time against Nicolás’s successful campaign— governor Omar Prieto claims that illegal cryptocurrency mining is what’s affecting the electrical system in Zulia.

But shortly after, Nicolás would accuse the old board members of the company Energía Eléctrica de Venezuela (Enelven) of being responsible for the alleged “electric war” that the country’s experiencing, so he ordered their arrest during his campaign event in Cabimas, remarking that they’ve sabotaged the electrical system “because they want to confuse the people; they want to anger the people.” Meanwhile, Remigio Ceballos, head of CEOFANB, reported yesterday that they’ll “maximize security in electrical and technological facilities for May 20” in coordination with Corpoelec, to prevent all the sabotage they’ve allowed thus far. Meaning that there will be electricity for one day.

The only candidate

After his voting drill, Nicolás said that the balance for Banesco’s intervention was “very positive,” repeating the script of this bank’s alleged actions to cause “the collapse of the financial system,” also restating that after winning on May 20, he’ll deploy a campaign to confront financial and commercial mafias, that he’s prepared “a very radical plan” against them, and admitting that yesterday’s drill turnout wasn’t what he expected, but don’t worry, he’s certain that it will easily be surpassed by turnout on May 20; because, according to minister Vladimir Padrino López: “abstentionism is a show of weakness.” He said that after reporting about the meeting that the brass will hold with all the candidates to answer their questions about Plan República. I’ll spare you the rest of his lessons on “sovereignty”.

To vote or not to vote

“During all these years, I always thought that elections were the only solution to the conflict in my country. I still think that. And this is precisely why I think that Venezuelans must abstain on May 20”; these are the opening lines how Alberto Barrera Tyszka’s article, reviewing the unlikelihood of Henri Falcón’s victory and other reasons why not voting isn’t an act of passive resignation. In a similar line, former Spanish President Felipe González says that Venezuela’s destruction committed by Nicolás will soon cause the breakdown among power factions and he believes “that the best the democratic opposition can do is not participating in this farce in any way,” even mentioning the possibility that Falcón might come to an agreement with Nicolás. Georgetown University professor Héctor Schamis also talks about the matter in his article titled “Chavismo’s metamorphosis,” in which he comments on a lunch meeting held between ambassadors of European Union countries and Falcón, where they mentioned a great political agreement prepared by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, to “guarantee stability and to launch a plan for economic recovery,” with Falcón as “the leader of an opposition tailored for the regime.” Schamis says that the key question lies on how the countries plan to disregard May 20 results. Former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos resolved the false dichotomy with this: “Faking an electoral process where the vast majority of leaders can’t participate (…) is a farce.”

Abroad

  • Reuters reported that the company ConocoPhillips made progress in its efforts to take over PDVSA’s assets in the Caribbean to enforce the arbitral award for a decade which granted them $2 billion. The facilities they mention are located in Bonaire and Sint Eustatius and they play a critical role for exports, because Venezuela depends on those terminals to process, store and mix the oil. In any case, ConocoPhillips represents less than 3% of the pending lawsuits against PDVSA.
  • In April, we reached a new low: oil production was 1.41 million barrels per day, a drop of 80,000 daily barrels compared to the average in March and 540 less daily barrels compared with the output for April 2017. Many experts believe that Venezuela will stop perceiving net oil revenues by year’s end. By the way, Nicolás ratified Manuel Quevedo as PDVSA chairman and included Economy and Finance minister Simón Zerpa, sanctioned by the U.S., as external director.
  • U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo expressed his concern for Venezuela’s situation and said that citizens who flee the regime need to be supported: “a dictator today in Venezuela cripples his economy and starves his people, we need a strong State Department to help the millions of Venezuelans who flee the corrupt regime,” he said.
  • The UN World Food Programme (WFP) suspended the granting of food bonuses to Venezuelan families in Cúcuta, after Colombian nationals who also demanded the aid caused disarray on Saturday. Several of them arrived there without knowing that in order to access the benefit they must have children below 5 years old and be in a state of vulnerability.
  • The European Union approved the issuance of a visa by the EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) to 15 Latin American countries. The ETIAS was created to manage a vetting process on each applicant and determine whether they are authorized to enter any country of the Schengen zone. The requirement will come into force starting 2020. The member countries of the Schengen zone are: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Letonia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Sweden and Switzerland.

This weekend, a video showing Jacqueline Faría amidst a protest for labor benefits went viral. Faría asked for the removal of the “right-wing press” because they’ll use the information against the government. The employees sided with the press, for the possibility that they’ll help them show how their rights are being violated. Great message for the official propaganda machine. We go on.

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