Bernal’s OLP

For Monday, May 14, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: @VPITV

On Friday Night, the head of Fedenaga, Carlos Albornoz, denounced the death “in irregular circumstances” of cattle farmer Carlos Manuel Tarazona (AKA Cocha), owner of a slaughterhouse in Rubio municipality, Táchira State.

Shortly after, governor Laidy Gómez demanded on Twitter an official version of the incident, because “the strange conditions of his death” had caused consternation in the population. On social networks, people blamed the murder on Urban Agriculture Minister Freddy Bernal, who was appointed “protector” of Táchira, a role invented by chavismo to impose trumped-up authorities on those democratically elected. On Saturday morning, Bernal issued a statement —still without electricity, as is usual in Táchira— claiming that Mr. Tarazona had an arrest warrant against him because “he was financing paramilitary groups at the border and he was also financing right-wing groups,” adding that most of the cattle he slaughtered “was smuggled across the border,” that he altered the price of meat in the area at leisure and calling him a “mobster and a paramilitary”. He claimed that Tarazona fired against the commission that went to look for him and that they had to fire back.

The minister’s entire statement was a justification of the incident’s conclusion but not an explanation; a justification of an OLP-like death.

The silent Prosecutor’s Office

Beatriz Tarazona, daughter of the victim, denied Bernal’s version and denounced the murder and the robbery they suffered afterwards. The Ombudsman’s Office has become increasingly useless with time, so any expectations about its actions is almost null. But imposed prosecutor general Saab, so slow with matters of the nation’s embezzlement, has been even less effective in ordering an investigation to solve this incident. Meanwhile, lawmaker Delsa Solórzano, head of the National Assembly’s Interior Policy Committee, announced that they’ll open an investigation on Tarazona’s case and pointed out that lawmaker Franklin Duarte even went to the morgue with the farmer’s family.

The right to life doesn’t depend on whether a citizen is good or bad, that’s why Freddy Bernal’s testimony about the case and later statements issued from Táchira State are so hard to believe. We can add his walks alongside men with long weapons and no uniforms, and we can forget about Westworld.

The walking dead

Diosdado Cabello spoke this Sunday about the May 20 process. According to him, the fact that the opposition won’t participate —aside from the disqualification of political leaders and parties and the disregard for the negotiation process in the Dominican Republic— shows that they knew they wouldn’t win, and he also spoke of “the human miseries,” which prevented them from agreeing on a single candidacy. And so, he said that non-participation is influenced by the United States, by an “imperialism” that’s currently “on a radical phase,” and cautioned that the U.S. won’t be able to prevent the May 20 process. Relieved because migration of Venezuelans “isn’t the revolution’s fault,” blaming it on a campaign against self-esteem which “has turned a certain amount of people into zombies.” He had the gall to urge migrants to return and say that they won’t allow any humanitarian channel because “Venezuela has money to pay for whatever it needs.” Who produces it?

Giveaways, the common strategy

The fury in social media over the elections is endless. In the street, as Michael Penfold aptly sums up, people suffer the vertigo of hyperinflation in the price of food.

According to him: “Any other recent experience in Latin America pales in comparison to the speed of this process. It’s clear that we’re on the brink in Venezuela.” Meanwhile, candidate Javier Bertucci keeps giving away soups, hiring entertainers for children and offering free haircuts in all of his events. Henri Falcón throws Bs. 50 and Bs. 100 banknotes and announces Claudio Fermín as his vice-president. Nicolás keeps putting up useless exercises on Facebook Live, promising the delivery of CLAP boxes, more benefits paid for with State funds and revealing a plan for May 20: PSUV carnet holders must vote early so they can later take another person to vote “at noon or in the afternoon.” And while National Electoral Council authority Luis Emilio Rondón called people to vote en masse, the audience of a concert of the Venezuela Symphonic Orchestra expressed their rejection to next Sunday’s process.

The core of the opposition’s dilemma remains the same: neither abstention nor turnout will be massive.

Nicaragua

More people dead and wounded, as well as serious property damage, was the balance of clashes between protesters, the National Police and paramilitary groups (Sandinista Youth and “hordes” aligned with Ortega) in Masaya on Saturday. A doctor of the volunteer brigades working in Masaya told AFP that 25 people wounded were attended in a single medical post alone, several of them with bullet wounds. The Nicaragua Human Rights Center (CENIDH) condemned the repression and demanded that the government order the police “to stop firing against the people.”

The Chief of the Public Relations Division of the Nicaraguan Army, colonel Manuel Guevara, denied that Army forces are being used for repression and rejected the “manipulated reports that seek to show us repressing” protests, adding that the Army believes “that dialogue is the solution.” This statement was disseminated as a declaration of distance between the Army and Daniel Ortega whom, far from his usual long speeches, merely read a communiqué to claim that “peace is the path and the only door for cohabitation and the respect of calm and security for everyone,” demanding an end to bloodshed, as of he wasn’t the one responsible for it. The period that the Church gave the government to show “credible signs” to support the call for dialogue ended last night.

Abroad

  • White House national security adviser John Bolton said that the U.S. is willing to increase pressure and exposure “about what’s really happening in Venezuela”; saying that what has taken place in Venezuela under the governments of Chávez and Maduro is “a tragedy.”
  • Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero said that, after May 20, the Executive will decide whether they’ll appoint another ambassador to Venezuela, adding that it’s paramount to send clear signals to the Venezuelan government that “patience is running out in many countries (…) that neighboring countries are also suffering this situation and this migration. They cannot treat an entire country that way.”
  • A court in Curaçao authorized ConocoPhillips to seize $636 million in PDVSA assets. Reuters reported last Friday that PDVSA was preparing to shut down the Isla refinery.
  • Peru’s Immigration office announced that Venezuelans who are processing their request to receive the Temporary Stay Permit (PTP) in the country, will be issued the “Extraordinary-Provisional Work Permit Certificate” for free. The rule will come into force on May 21.
  • This Sunday, Mariano Rajoy and Juan Manuel Santos expressed their “great concern” for Venezuela and agreed on the need to find a democratic solution to the crisis.
  • Bolivian President Evo Morales denounced that the U.S. and the OAS are implementing “a plan to defeat Venezuela” before May 20, adding that they’ll “attempt to carry out a military invasion” after the elections, with the support of the Armed Forces of neighboring countries.

This Monday, May 15, the Lima Group meets in Mexico. According to Foreign Minister Ampuero, today’s “must be a statement with a new quality, a new level” and it must be accompanied with measures that have a concrete impact.

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