Reelected and irrelevant

For Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo

Ignoring all the questions and complaints and about the process and its results, this Tuesday, the National Electoral Council (CNE) rectoras accompanied Nicolás to the room where he was proclaimed president.

Tibisay Lucena said that the process is the product of talks between chavismo and the opposition held in the Dominican Republic, an inexcusable lie among many others in her speech, including the million votes in favor of Nicolás as proof “of an electoral system loyal to the political will of Venezuelans.” He asked political parties to read the “true meaning of these elections,” but didn’t bother to read the meaning of abstention. Nicolás said that nobody handed the victory to him — why would he bother pointing that out?— adding that chavismo’s been “winning elections in Venezuela impeccably” for 19 years. He announced the start of another cycle of talks with all sectors to ask them for “concrete solutions.” Meanwhile, the National Assembly approved a motion to disregard Nicolás’s proclamation, after declaring last Sunday’s election “nonexistent.” The discussion that preceded the agreement was a ritornello of complaints for mistakes made, mea culpas and requests for unity.

More tension

The only important detail in Nicolás’s speech was his decision against U.S. chargé d’affaires Todd Robinson and political advisor Brian Naranjo, declaring them personas non gratas, ordering their expulsion and giving them 48 hours to leave the country. “They must leave, in protest and in defense of the Venezuelan people’s dignity (…) Enough of conspiracies!”, he said. Robinson categorically condemned the accusations against both, saying: “This is my first visit to Venezuela and I assure you, it won’t be the last,” without making any further comments on the decision. Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza announced that Carlos Ron Martínez, Venezuela’s chargé d’affaires in Washington, returns to the country as vice-minister of Foreign Affairs for North America; a way of getting ahead of the reciprocity measure from the U.S. that, according to news agency AP, a State Department official considered possible if the expulsion is confirmed. Venezuela and the United States haven’t exchanged ambassadors since 2010.

Let’s talk human rights

  • The National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) opened a process of sanctions against El Nacional Web, for allegedly violating article 27 of the Social Responsibility Law, although on a statement, they used the ANC’s Hate Law as an argument: “For disseminating messages that disregard legitimately constituted authorities and also inciting and promoted hate.” El Nacional Web has 10 working days to defend itself.
  • The families of political prisoners held in El Helicoide went to the Prosecutor’s Office headquarters to demand imposed prosecutor general Saab a report on the prisoners’ health conditions.

  • The relatives and lawyers of lawmaker and political prisoner Gilber Caro once again demanded the right to see him after 80 days in isolation and the cruel massacre that took place in the prison where he’s held.
  • José Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch’s executive director for the Americas, demanded the immediate release of Gregory Hinds and Geraldine Chacón, activists for NGO Community Ambassadors, “who have been issued release warrants and are held hostage by SEBIN in Venezuela. There’s no evidence against them,” said Vivanco.

New or Prêt-à-porter?

Las Monday, Enrique Ochoa Antich said on Twitter: “We who support Falcón, the new opposition, fully committed with the democratic path, are preparing for municipal and parliamentary elections and for the dialogue and negotiations where we’ll denounce the government.” Yesterday, Luis Augusto Romero, Avanzada Progresista’s national secretary, announced that they’ll challenge the results before the CNE, but that they’re still collecting the information about irregularities; claiming to have received calls from opposition leaders “recognizing Henri Falcón’s bravery and leadership” and with that, he talked about the need to reorganize and rebuild any bridges necessary. Later, Claudio Fermín regretted having lost the chance to beat Nicolás with penalty vote. Javier Bertucci called for dialogue, recognizing the efficacy of the electoral system and the process, only complaining about official opportunism; although he’s not submitted the 1,400 pieces of evidence he claims to have, but cautioning that “calling the election a fraud could promote destabilization.”

Just last Sunday he told Nicolás that the country was too much for him. It’s not a coincidence that the State’s media system broadcast almost all the statements issued by the “new” opposition. Ah! A lawmaker who’s a part of Leocenis García’s cause, Prociudadanos, announced that today they’ll launch their proposal for a great national agreement “to include everyone.”

Abroad

  • The OAS General Secretariat’s report on the May 20 process summarizes the main weaknesses of these elections without guarantees, reflected in aspects such as: uneven competition, the absence of an impartial electoral authority, the vote that was neither free, nor secret, nor universal and the violated political participation, concluding that this result doesn’t reflect the will of Venezuelan citizens.

  • The European Commission regretted that the government didn’t guarantee “free and transparent elections.” The French government expressed similar ideas, adding that “the historically low turnout confirms that a majority of Venezuelans don’t consider [the election] legitimate nor credible.”
  • Colombia’s Immigration Department reported that the closure of land and river borders along the national territory will be effective starting this Thursday, May 24 and until next Monday.
  • Venezuela condemned U.S. sanctions restating that they’re a crime against humanity, deeming them illegal and illegitimate. The regime’s statement says that “they prevent Venezuela’s right to develop and create obstacles for people’s access to essential goods,” and no, they weren’t describing themselves.
  • China rejected the U.S.’ concerns about their ties with Venezuela, after recent sanctions. Foreign Minister Lu Kang said that “other countries shouldn’t make irresponsible comments about” relations of cooperation.

After 10:00 p.m., the official Twitter account of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice reported that Nicolás submitted a request for interpretation before the Constitutional Chamber. Law professor José Ignacio Hernández told citizens to remain alert: “Probable situation: it’s about the induction ceremony, the National Assembly and the re-election,” he specified.

Venezuela exceeded the limit established by the Inter American Development Bank to make the pending interest payment for $88.3 million, so the IDB won’t be able to finance the country in any way until it’s paid off its debt.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.