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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11 COMMENTS

  1. I was reading the AMLO-Serrano angle and I just got like a boomerang slap.

    Normally, I try hard to give people the benefit of the doubt, and not descend into crazy right wing “doña del Cafetal” mode where everybody left of me is a Chávez in the making.

    So I start reading the thing with a bit of scepticism. Hey, this may just be paranoia. Or not, I dont know that much about Mexican politics.

    Ok, so you saw Serrano over there… bit tenous evidence but ok, bit worrying. Keep reading.

    Link between Serrano and AMLO is Pablo Taibo II… wait I minute, I know that guy. He is Mexican/Spanish, one of the organizers of the Semana Negra here in Gijón, Spain, I’ve been sometimes, he was presenting people like George R.R Martin (The “Black Week” is in theory a noir literature festival, although it has spread to fantasy and science fiction too… and a big country fair with carnival attractions and stuff like that because thats the moneymaker).

    Ok, so thats why several years ago there was an actual Podemos rally inside the Semana Negra. I was not that impressed with that… but well… the guy sounded … well, normal, or as normal as one of us fans of genre literature… so whats the …

    … ok, so this Taibo guy is a big figure in AMLO party? And went and said that when AMLO is elected, if the big company owners “blackmail” him, he should expropiate them and people have to movilize to the tune of millions in the street to defend it?

    And then his daughter puts in social media that anybody disgusted by that declaration should very much get the fuck off of México now because they are going to win?

    Really? I mean, really?

    Note, it seems that AMLO didnt particuarly supported that brainfart and tried to distance himself from that kind of proposal but Jesus Christ on a pogo stick… isnt just having a LIVING EXAMPLE a few degrees to the south enough to make you change recipes?

    • Communists spent decades brainwashing people to vote for them at the end of the XX century and in the beginning of the XXI century.

  2. Wow, Naky, the news from Venezuela continues its explosive expansion daily, and you/Javier are, without doubt, best-in-class at reporting it.

    • Naky and Javier are good.

      As for the news, Venezuela is producing the same news every day, which is things are getting worse and Chavistas do as they please. It is sad and even boring. It’s becoming like a death watch.

  3. “While paramilitary groups did what they pleased…”

    It’s time to start making a reality that crazy ass lunatic lie the chabiztos spread about the protests since 2014.

    After all, gasoline and matches are fairly cheap, and colectivos are already like zombies anyway, one spark and poof, gone.

    • I can’t help but think it wouldn’t take much when it comes to “payback”.

      Upwind of colectivo barrios on a windy day? A match and a gallon of gasoline? Though it might get tricky finding gasoline soon enough.

      Life is full of consequences.

  4. It is sad and even boring. It’s becoming like a death watch.
    ——–

    Boring because the roles are seemingly fixed and no variation of the theme seems possible by the players involved. Change takes willing participants. If you are OK with the way things are (and “OK” means you are unwilling to risk whatever is needed to effect change), so it goes. If not, you revolt. You ain’t gonna talk the Chavistas out of power, and at this point, complaining sans action is equal to passively accepting things as they are. The idea that you can get something for nothing (somebody else forces change) seems to run pretty deep in Venezuela. I think most of the world is amazed that people would let this go on, moreso that many think they are incapable of doing anything about it. I believe if there was a grass roots movement to change things, the whole world would pitch in to help. But it’s lunacy to expect other countries to take risks the countrymen themselves are not willing to take.

    • “…complaining sans action is equal to passively accepting things as they are.”

      I’m thinking that the Chavista voting faithful are pretty accepting of their current situation. “Free” food once a month in return for their silent, obedient consent. I can find no other reason that they are not out rioting in the streets.

      A few thousand of these faithful are going to have to die at the hands of their heroes before things change.

  5. El Guapo…it seems like many of them that do want change are waiting for outsiders to come and do the dying for them. It’s hard for outsiders to care more than they do. And even if outsiders did come in and sacrifice blood and treasure to remove these thugs a new set of thugs would shortly be in control because ,as you have pointed out, the majority dosent think socialism is the problem but rather Maduro is the problem. How bad does it have to get before people really start to wake up to reality? I agree with you…I cannot understand why they have not made themselves ungovernable.

  6. It’s hard for outsiders to care more than they do.
    ——-

    “Care” is this regards is – what are you willing to do to change things? You. Not Colombia, Brazil, or Yankee Doodle. If the answer is nothing, you get nothing. Or in this case, more of the same.

    It’s getting to the point that when someone complains, or analyses the problem, the only comment should be: What are you going to DO about it but yack and scribble and cha cha cha.

    Nicaragua is on a roll. Hope they can sustain it and force change, and that the momentum rubs off on Venezuela. The blame-game and endless analyses is boring people to tears. The only reason outsiders are stepping up is that Socialismo is costing them money.

    As Ted just said, It’s hard for outsiders to care more than they do.

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