The riot goes on

For Friday, May 18, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: El Pitazo


This Thursday marks the second day of prisoner riots at El Helicoide, and they stand by their demands. The morning report was offered by former mayor Daniel Ceballos, who hours later would assume the role of interlocutor for William Apóstol, director of the Prisons Minister.

The families waiting outside SEBIN HQ only received information through audio and video messages sent by the rebels.

Imposed Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab denied that there were minors imprisoned there, but four of them were issued release warrants yesterday all the same; whether SEBIN will comply remains to be seen. Saab posted another couple of tweets reporting the transfer of 72 common inmates to other prisons. Various representatives from human rights NGOs stood by the families and lawyers, but each request for access was rejected with the promise that it’d be reviewed.

At nightfall, the same fate awaited the Episcopal Conference’s Justice and Peace Commission which asked for the installation of a technical roundtable. Candidate Javier Bertucci called those present to vote on Sunday, even though he was chased away with water and also denied access. At the moment, with no official information yet, there are two rumors: the offer of a dialogue roundtable to review the case of each political prisoner (which apparently they rejected) and the possibility of starting a hunger strike.

Weevil-infested

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos accused Nicolás of granting Venezuelan IDs to Colombian citizens so that they vote on May 20, saying that the plan describes “the manner, the procedures and the payments to be made to guarantee the mobilization of votes and their vote in Maduro’s favor.”

Santos gave instructions to the public force to redouble border controls and prevent the transport of “voters”, ratifying that this is one of the many reasons why he won’t recognize Sunday’s results. He also reported the confiscation of 25,200 food boxes that were making their way to Venezuela as part of the CLAP program, cautioning that he’ll present evidence to national and international authorities “because there could be an operation to launder millions in assets here.” Perishable food in the boxes was in an advanced state of decay due to a weevil infestation.

Picking Pack is the company that packed this food. Additionally, yesterday Cendas reported that the Basic Food Basket’s price for April was Bs. 138,855,712.85 (requiring 63.4 minimum wages to cover it,) which represents an 84% increase compared to March, and 11,337.7% compared to the basket for April 2017.

About May 20

The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) held Nicolás personally responsible for the physical integrity of the political prisoners held at SEBIN HQ: “Maduro’s government is responsible for everything that happens at El Helicoide, just like Óscar Pérez’ murder (…) there’s no reason for political prisoners, these people are being held for no reason at all and must be released,” said Juan Pablo Guanipa, who also announced that they’ll stage protests on Sunday in the capitals of various countries to reject the electoral process: “May 20 marks the start of a more intense national and international effort to pressure for elections this year so we can choose a new president,” calling Nicolás a coward for putting up “a farce to try to win with your own rules.” MUD restated their call for Javier Bertucci and Henri Falcón to drop out from the race. Meanwhile, CNE chairwoman Tibisay Lucena claimed that Venezuela’s been targeted by “great international violence” to prevent holding elections, right before talking about her joy for all the people that’s coming to accompany (not observe) elections and her indignation for Canada’s decision.

Sad endings

Tal Cual reviewed PSUV’s documents explaining the logistics developed by the Executive for the end of Nicolás’s campaign, characterized by embezzlement and forced attendance for public employees. We all saw the lines of buses ready to spontaneously mobilize militants who actually didn’t even fill the avenue or stayed for the speech.

I don’t blame them. After dancing with his favorite buffoon, Diego Armando Maradona, Nicolás claimed to have a strategy to boost the economy, he complained about bureaucrats (who were all around him on stage) and restated that he’ll call for another dialogue process. Assertive as usual, he said: “if you don’t turn out to vote, you’re stripping me from the power to act against the economy’s criminal mafias and to do all I want to do.” So says the man who has spent half of his government with the power of a State of Emergency. Henri Falcón’s rally in Barquisimeto wasn’t particularly impressive either, even though the repeated the show of throwing banknotes. The most relevant thing he said was that after his victory, an active general will become Defense Minister.

Abroad

  • European Parliament Speaker Antonio Tajani wrote about his concern for the circumstances of the riot at SEBIN HQ. So did the UN’s Human Rights office, condemning the beating against Gregory Sanabria; urging authorities to improve their treatment of prisoners and to investigate the use of torture and other abuses. UN demands that all political prisoners be released.
  • The IACHR announced its work visit to Nicaragua for May 17-21 to assess the situation. They’ll meet with State authorities, with the Episcopal Conference, NGOs and other relevant actors; they’ll also collect witness accounts from students, citizens and families that have suffered abuses during the protests against dictator Daniel Ortega.
  • While public employees were waiting for him at the Bolívar avenue, Nicolás spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said that starting on May 20, the country would receive 160 containers with food, medicines and automotive products, in addition to the containers that are supposed to be Panama already. Erdoğan also announced that he’ll soon visit Venezuela.
  • The Colombian Congress approved an agreement disregarding the May 20 process, deeming it illegitimate and without transparency guarantees.

….

About four billion people browse the internet, a 53% penetration index and 7% more than in 2017. About three billion of those users are active on social networks. Yesterday was the thirteenth World Internet Day with the future of its neutrality in jeopardy and the warnings for the increasing amount of data that its millions of users transfer. The Press and Society Institute released a detailed report on the status of the internet in Venezuela.

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