This Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Diosdado Cabello, his wife, his brother and businessman Rafael Sarría, his frontman, who manages the companies 11420 Corp, Noor Plantation Investments LLC and SAI Advisors Inc, now blocked with these sanctions. Diosdado is accused of drug trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement of state funds and other corrupt activities. His brother José David is accused of extortion. Sarría is accused of laundering drug-trafficking money and other corrupt activities as Diosdado’s frontman. “The Venezuelan people suffer under corrupt politicians who tighten their grip on power while lining their own pockets,” says the statement issued by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Diosdado answered with a couple of tweets, repeating the usual arguments: that he feels strengthened, that this only shows that he’s on the right track and that the revolution goes on. His brother said that these measures affect the people, citing the five billion dollars allegedly “blocked on Trump’s orders” and meant to acquire medicines. The sanctions are individual, there’s no way for the freezing of personal accounts and assets to affect the country and much less the purchase of medicines; just check how much they’ve paid for foreign oil for Cuba, despite the sanctions.
SEBIN officer have retaken control of El Helicoide, and neither the imposed prosecutor general nor the ombudsman visited the prison to verify the conditions of political prisoners. According to a tweet from the Ombudsman’s office, they continue interviewing inmates “to assess future measures,” however, once again the families, lawyers, diplomats, lawmakers and priests were denied access. Over 24 hours passed between the issuance of release warrants and the actual release of three out of the four detained minors; on the other hand, Dylan Canache was transferred to Coche’s detention center for minors because the court processing his cause “misplaced his documents.” His mother’s statements are heartbreaking, she hasn’t seen Dylan since January 13. Aside from this release, those responsible for imprisoning and holding minors at SEBIN HQ must be tried for serious human rights violations. Even with release warrants, seven political prisoners remain behind bars, because SEBIN has the power to ignore court orders. Patricia de Ceballos, wife of former mayor Daniel Ceballos, fears that political prisoners might be split apart and isolated in different prisons in the country and yesterday’s riot at the Fénix prison (Lara State,) with its sad balance of 11 inmates murdered, explains her fear. That’s where lawmaker and political prisoner Gilber Caro is being held.
Henri Falcón and Javier Bertucci didn’t pay any heed when President Juan Manuel Santos denounced that Colombian citizens were being issued Venezuelan IDs in order to bring them to vote for Nicolás on Sunday. If they did, they said nothing, which is worse. But Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela did ratify that he won’t recognize the result, as did the Spanish government, agreeing on the argument that these aren’t free, democratic and participative elections. Last night, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed its profound concern for the lack of the minimal necessary conditions for the holding of free, fair and credible elections and urged the government to implement the necessary measures to call for another process of genuine elections. Spokespeople for Soy Venezuela issued statements from Plaza Altamira, calling citizens to disregard the ANC’s imposition and abstain from voting on Sunday.
The guarantees of power
NIcolás showed off as much as he could, taking advantage of his role as president, smiling with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and boring his unbiased electoral accompaniment group with cheers and everything, with his unsupported claims, including: the existence of conspirators ready to carry out a coup d’état, accepting Tibisay Lucena’s suggestion to install red stations (PSUV’s coercion spaces to control voters) at 200 meters from each voting station, and the promise of acknowledging results, “whichever they might be.” Zapatero remarked his willingness to continue on as dialogue mediator and his wish for a participative, peaceful and free election. We’re grateful for his enormous blunder of saying that rector Luis Emilio Rondón represents the opposition in the CNE, which means that the four remaining authorities represent chavismo. Lawmaker Julio Borges called Zapatero an enemy of the country and Nicolás’s accomplice, citing his stance during the most recent negotiation in which he was a mediator: “Zapatero said in the Dominican Republic that an election without parties, with important leaders barred from running and without international observation would be rejected by the world.” But here he is, smiling from Miraflores.
- Todd Robinson, U.S. chargé d’affaires in Venezuela, denied claims that Joshua Holt is a spy and restated that his country and Venezuela are both signatories of the Vienna Convention, which allows diplomats to visit their citizens even under arrest. Nicolás told his impartial electoral accompaniment crew that the U.S. Embassy is “an espionage center,” accusing them of promoting the distortion of news.
- A Boeing 737 plane crashed in Cuba shortly after departing from La Havana airport, causing the death of 100 people. The cause of the crash is still unknown.
- With the argument of not affecting the supply of fuel and electricity in Curaçao and Bonaire, courts from both nations partially lifted ConocoPhillips’ confiscations on PDVSA assets, according to documents obtained by Reuters.
- The Lima Group restated their commitment to assist Venezuelans and condemned Nicolás’s statements denying our migration crisis. Their statement summarizes the decline of the economic, social and humanitarian situation in our country, citing the official figures of Venezuelan citizens in their nations. They also restate the request for access of humanitarian aid and urgently demand the exchange of epidemiological data.
- The Defense Ministry announced that Venezuelan borders would be closed between this Friday, May 18, and next Monday, May 21.
By order of governor Jorge Luis García Carneiro, a criminal trial has been opened against journalist José Ángel Prada, from Diario La Verdad, for reporting the increase in transport fares, citing a statement issued by Sergio Cárdenas, head of the United Bloc of Transport Workers of Vargas State. After Prada presented his statements at PoliVargas for the alleged crime of fraudulent dissemination of prices, established in the Law of Fair Prices, he was summoned yesterday to attend a criminal court. The National Union of Press Workers condemned this abuse that violates freedom of expression and the right of access to information. In Venezuela, prior censorship is forbidden and journalists don’t have to hush nobody’s statements and opinions.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.