Photo: Raylí Luján

There were protests yesterday in several hospitals around the country demanding the opening of a humanitarian channel to allow the access of supplies and medicines, demanding better wages and denouncing the terrible conditions of healthcare centers. On Twitter, citizens condemned the presence of chavista paramilitary in many hospitals, but they broke into Hospital Vargas, threatening protesters and journalists covering the demonstration. With firearms and impunity, they beat several journalists and kidnapped VivoPlay cameraman Héctor Sánchez, and then wounded Univision cameraman Alejandro Molina. Sánchez was released after they took all of his equipment.

The crisis in the health sector has been repeatedly denounced, but the Executive has done nothing, refusing the possibility of accepting humanitarian aid with the disgraceful excuse that it will be used for a foreign intervention. While paramilitary groups did what they pleased, SEBIN inspected the timetables for Táchira’s schools carrying heavy weapons. The underlying threat of education.

And since we’re talking of protests

The Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (OVCS) reported 927 protests in April, with an average of 31 protests per day and a 25% increase compared with April 2017. Out of the 927 protests, “395 were combined, demanding different rights simultaneously. In percentile terms, this modality represented 43% of the total registered,” said the report; adding that 89% of protests were to demand economic, social, cultural and environmental rights and the remaining 11% were to demand political and civil rights. Protests for basic services (electricity, cooking gas and drinking water) ranked highest (388 out of the 927,) followed by protests for food (156) and for the collapse of the transport system. 11 people have been murdered in the context of protests in the first four months of 2018: 100% of these took place during protests demanding food, better salaries and basic services.

No, thanks

Distrust in the National Electoral Council (CNE) will determine the turnout for the May 20 process. According to a survey carried out by UCAB’s Center of Political Studies and the company Delphos, 60% of respondents distrust the CNE and only 14% said to have “great trust.” Three out of every four Venezuelans don’t trust the CNE. 51% of respondents is “sure of going to vote,” 14% says “maybe”, while nearly 20% say that they’re “sure of not going to vote” which, together with the 9% who “perhaps would” and the 6% who “don’t know,” add up to a low participation level compared to the historic turnout in presidential elections. The main reason for not going to vote is the belief that the CNE isn’t impartial as an electoral authority (38%), while only 15% won’t participate because they don’t like any of the candidates. When asked what would it take for them to go vote, 28% of people who won’t participate demanded a new CNE and greater transparency. UCAB and Delphos’s survey also focused on leadership: 56% want a non-chavista leader, while 25% are thinking of a chavista leader other than Nicolás and an astonishing 14% want him to continue. Important: 55% of Venezuelans prefer that change comes with elections, and crucially, almost half of the population fear (or doubt) the consequences of their vote, 54% think they could lose the government’s benefits or suffer some kind of attack if they vote for an opposition candidate.

No united candidacy

Candidate Javier Bertucci accused Henri Falcón of lying when he said that he has the witnesses to defend the votes, asking him point-blank: “Are you really running to win or to legitimize something?”. Bertucci restated that he won’t drop out in favor of Falcón and said that doing so would be deceiving the people. According to him, if Falcón supports his candidacy, they could win over Nicolás by 20%, claiming that “all analyst recommend that you should drop your candidacy in favor of mine.” In Nueva Esparta, Nicolás announced the takeover of that state’s waste collection system and claimed that governor Alfredo Díaz “has destroyed the island.” He parroted the same speech, promising more bonuses, restating that every carnet de la patria holder who votes on May 20 will get a reward and that, from now on, all houses will be handed over through the carnet. He accused lawmaker Julio Borges of being a traitor and of selling out the country. “Prison is waiting for you here,” he said. Borges replied: “The actual treason is the sham you seek to impose on May 20. Treason is ruining the country.” The Education Ministry reported that school activities will be suspended between May 15 and 21, including both dates, for the May 20 process. The order includes both public and private institutions.

Abroad

  • In an op-ed article, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence once again demanded that countries in the continent increase their pressure on Nicolás and advance towards suspending Venezuela from the OAS.
  • While the fifth cycle of peace talks between the Colombian government and the ELN resumed in Cuba, Trump announced the summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, set for June 12 in Singapore, but it was also revealed that the disgraceful Alfredo Serrano Mancilla (Chávez and Nicolás’s main economic consultant) is also aiding Manuel López Obrador. The mastermind of Venezuela’s economic destruction could also destroy Mexico.
  • The Venezuelan government finally said something regarding ConocoPhillips’ actions! With a couple of tweets expressing their condemnation for the actions and their intentions to pay the company. Except this last message (“assuming the commitment to honor the decisions emanating from the arbitration”) was erased shortly afterwards.
  • Brazil’s Supreme Court denied the request for the release of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, imprisoned on April 7 for corruption.
  • Human Rights Watch’s executive director José Miguel Vivanco denounced president Daniel Ortega’s harassment against independent press and freedom of expression in Nicaragua.
  • Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero said that there’s no democracy in Venezuela and that the May 20 process isn’t a “democratic, transparent [election] with guarantees,” adding that the Lima Group will urge the government to hold free elections during next Monday’s meeting in Mexico.
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Islands’ Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, announced that a “group of Caribbean leaders” will come to observe the May 20 process, given Caricom’s absence. Gonsalves didn’t say who would be a part of this group.
  • The alleged violations of civil and political rights during the electoral campaign in Venezuela were a part of the discussion of the IACHR’s fourth round of hearings. Representatives of the civil society denounced the violations of rights and demanded a new date be set for May 20 elections. They also denounced restrictions to free speech and violations against young citizen’s rights in the electoral process, and accused the government of using social programs as political instruments to benefit Nicolás. They requested the IACHR to “add its voice” to the demand for a new date for elections in the last trimester of this year.

Inés Quintero, the extraordinary historian and head of the National Academy of History, was inducted into the Mexican Academy of History. It’s the first Venezuelan to obtain such honor! Salve, Doña Inés.

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