Unlawful Oath

For Friday, May 25, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Prensa Presidencial

Something failed in the conclusion of the controversy raised by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice about the interpretation measure requested by Nicolás. Without that link, this Thursday chavismo made up a step that’s not established in any law: Nicolás presented the credential issued by the National Electoral Council declaring him “re-elected” before the ANC, which earned Tibisay Lucena an ovation.

And so, Delcy Rodríguez read a constituent decree summing up the achievement of an early election called by the ANC, violating the Law, a decree that specifies that the he must be sworn into office as president on January 10, 2019, as established in article 231 of the current Constitution. Despite the resounding applause as each point of the decree was read, ANC members approved it without much fanfare. Then Delcy inducted Nicolás: “Do you swear to enforce the laws of the Republic (…) do you swear to be loyal to the mandate (…) promote national unity (…) strengthen the anti-imperialist and anti-oligarchic nature of this bolivarian revolution and enforce the legacy of Bolívar and Chávez.” And Nicolás did swear. The second point in the ANC’s agenda was his monologue from the speaker’s rostrum.

Angry and guiltless

Nicolás repeated the magic word to appear fresh: do everything anew, the new history, a new phase, discovering ourselves anew. While narrating his version on how we reached the May 20 process, he made notable mistakes and the blame distribution helped him make one that was indeleble: “Just like that, dagger in hand, no dagger in hand, Venezuela held constitutional, legitimate elections.” All of that to say that the country isn’t his problem, but everyone’s and to fiercely demand chavismo’s leadership (the bureaucrats he also criticized yesterday) to “quit the lies,” the deceit: “We’re not doing things right!”, he yelled, “There are no excuses, we have this country’s political power, all of it!”, as if it was the first time. That’s why he demanded a profound rectification, a demand that has already surpassed the amount of wage hikes during his government. He ratified Manuel Quevedo as PDVSA chairman and ordered him to increase oil production by negotiating with the OPEC and Russia, not before scolding the working class for their loyalty, once again scrapping researchers, engineers, technicians and managers, because he wants a socialist PDVSA. He mentioned the release of political prisoners who hadn’t committed any murders, calling businessmen to a dialogue, explaining that CLAP is here to stay and putting up a show for the anger he feels against those who resell CLAP box products, without mentioning how he destroyed the economy to make so many citizens dependant on them. He claimed that he’s not intimidated by sanctions but he used them explain how they’re going to affect them, like that, in future tense. He spread the blame without taking responsibility, but closed his speech asking people to trust him.

At will

Later, Nicolás explained the brass what they must’ve seen because his swear-in ceremony was broadcast live in cadena. “The Armed Forces are the greatest moral reserve our country has to confront all dangers. We need steadfast, loyal Armed Forces that turn a united face against abusive imperialism,” he said, adding that the Armed Forces have been loyal to “one of their best soldiers” (el finado), and that’s why it’s defined as chavista, which is the same as being Christian and socialist.

He explained that they’ve dismantled a conspiracy financed by Colombia and led by the U.S. to destroy the Armed Forces, but thanks “to the moral antibodies,” conspirators “are in prison and confessing,” even though they were paid in dollars. He asked that nobody lowers their guard anyway, because it’s time to fight (although he spent the rest of the day swearing that we’re at peace) repeating that Colombia leads a conspiracy to hurt the Armed Forces. In any case, they’re looking for the main local financier “for betraying the country and serving the Colombian oligarchy,” and with the rhetorical question “will you do the American imperialism’s work for them?”, he decided to congratulate them because they faithfully said no.

An irresponsible father

Rodrigo Cabezas, Chávez’s former Finance minister and co-responsible for the economic disaster we’re living, granted an interview to BBC in which, among other details, he revealed that he still pays a Bs. 1,100 rent for his house, although he says that it’s a tragedy that the government doesn’t acknowledge hyperinflation, as if this state wasn’t a consequence of his own decisions. In clear coherence with his moral solvency, he said that he doesn’t have hopes about any economic change; he criticized his comrades’ “sterile dogmatism” and reduced all of chavismo’s responsibility for the country’s collapse (recession, hyperinflation, default, crumbling oil production) to the gradual decline of the last few years. He recognizes that the monetary mass is disproportionate, but talks about economic blockade all the same; he recognizes the disaster of punitive economic decisions, but without mentioning the controls he himself supported; he doesn’t put corruption on the first line of his explanation, but he does talk about how “interventionist” sanctions affect the most vulnerable. Meanwhile, PDVSA is trying to pay providers and joint venture partners with petros to evade financial fence: “They don’t have money, but they do have this totally inorganic currency that’s backed by oil barrels, which makes it more attractive,” said a source from agency Redd Latam.

Abroad

  • “I denounce to the world that Juan Manuel Santos is preparing gruesome plans to leave a compromised situation, a war conflict between Venezuela and Colombia at the border,” said Nicolás against Colombia’s president. “We know more than we let on and we know more than they think we do,” he added as a warning.
  • A panel of independent international experts will present next Tuesday before the OAS, their final report about possible crimes against humanity that could’ve been committed in Venezuela.
  • U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo said yesterday: “we’re deeply concerned about what’s taking place as a result of a sham election on Sunday,” adding that they’re disappointed because Nicolás expelled their diplomats “but, frankly, we’re not surprised.”
  • Donald Trump send a letter to dictator Kim Jong Un informing him of the cancellation of the summit between them, set for June 12 in Singapore: “based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement,” the text says.
  • Human Rights Watch’s director José Miguel VIvanco said that the Venezuelan regime must be isolated: “It must be isolated because it’s a pariah regime,” proposing more sanctions.
  • Enrique Peñalosa, mayor of Bogota, Colombia, proposed giving automatic nationality to Venezuelans arriving to the country, calling the initiative a humanitarian decision for a population whose human rights are being abused.

20 political prisoners in Zulia State were issued release warrants. At 10:00 p.m. yesterday, they hadn’t been released.

Joseph Poliszuk, co-founder and editor of Armando.info, is one of the winners of the Knight International Journalism Awards 2018, as announced by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). The other winner was Filipino journalist María Ressa. This is the first time that an award is granted to the founders of a digital news site. Congratulations, Joseph, despite your exile!

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