Releasing Hostages

Photo: Prensa Presidencial

The theme for this Thursday was the announcement of the start of releases of political prisoner, with all chavismo working on it; sadly, they’re really poor at publicity. Imposed Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab reported —without revealing names— that releases have progressed and will be announced after each case had been studied and recorded: “We hope that the opposition understands and interprets that elections and political debate must be above acts of violence,” said Saab before talking about the confiscation of 112 kilos of cocaine bound for Jamaica with the support of four National Guard officers. Last night, several opposition governors joined the show of Nicolás’s televised dialogues. The exercise concluded with governor Laidy Gómez’s statement explaining the re-elected president’s promise to review the cases so that releases could start today: “We vouch for the release of political prisoners (…) we propose the termination of those causes and the plan is that they will come through in the next 24 hours,” said Gómez, adding that the essential premise is “the end of political persecution in exchange for the end of certain violent actions isolated from the Constitution.” Minister Jorge Rodríguez ratified that “benefits will start” at noon today.

Defeating the shadows?

Representatives of various universities in the country and the Student Movement gathered in the Central University’s Aula Magna to express their condemnation for the May 20 process and call for unity to plan for the country’s reconstruction. UCV rectora Cecilia García Arocha said that Nicolás is facing a governability crisis, urging the opposition to learn from past mistakes and remain united in their plurality. Luis Ugalde, former rector of the Andrés Bello Catholic University, spoke of the convergence of four key factors: people’s dissatisfaction; the international community’s disregard for the government; the Armed Forces’ intervention to prevent “the fraud from perpetuating” and, the construction of a broad movement to demand Nicolás’ resignation and the restitution of democracy. Ugalde broadened the margin for the renovation, which must go beyond political parties and include citizens and democratic institutions. This was all taking place while Avanzada Progresista explained the reach of its new opposition platform and Henri Falcón announced his international tour to denounce the May 20 fraud. Therefore, the opposition now has three blocs: MUD-Broad Front; Soy Venezuela and Falcón’s nameless coalition.

Monitor de Víctimas

The National Union of Press Workers denounced that since yesterday, two newspapers will stop circulating due to the Alfredo Maneiro Editorial Complex’s newsprint chokehold: Las Noticias de Cojedes and Diario Los Andes in Trujillo, both with over 30 years of uninterrupted circulation in their regions.

During the first five months of 2018, at least eight newspapers have either shut down, reduced the number of pages or become weekly issues due to newsprint access restrictions. Monitor de Víctimas, a data journalism project that records daily homicides in Bolívar State and Caracas, with journalists from Runrun.es, El Pitazo, Crónica.Uno, Efecto Cocuyo, El Cooperante and Correo del Caroní, won “Best small data journalism team” in the Data Journalism Awards 2018 in Lisbon! “This award means that journalism in Venezuela is alive (…) and that the Venezuelan government is also failing in its attempt to silence and destroy journalists and independent media outlets,” said Monitor de Víctimas founder Ronna Rísquez, adding that journalists will always find tools and resources to “defend democracy, unearth the truth and keep telling people’s stories.”

Abroad

  • Mariano Rajoy, head of the Spanish government, has fallen. With the votes of Basque Nationalist Party, Pedro Sánchez, general secretary of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), has the chance to replace him starting next week, if the motion of no confidence continues to prosper. Rajoy could still resign his post —before he’s removed from office— deactivating the motion of no confidence and forcing king Philip VI to start consultations with political forces with parliamentary representation to form a new government or agree upon a call for early elections, as demanded by emergent party Citizens.
  • Amidst humanitarian emergency and blocking the access of international cooperation to the country, the Venezuelan government sent 12 tons of humanitarian aid supplies for Cuba. Chavismo’s sadism, that insatiable need to boast about their evil is simply bone-chilling.
  • OAS secretary general Luisa Almagro requested the International Criminal Court yesterday to open an investigation against the government for alleged crimes against humanity, submitting the report presented by the group of experts to prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

  • Venezuela’s deputy consul in Houston, Jarlet Sánchez, declared persona non grata by the U.S. in retaliation to a similar measure against Todd Robinson, refuses to return to Venezuela and has requested U.S. residency.
  • Nicaragua’s Health Minister Sonia Castro confirmed that 15 people died and 199 were injured between this Wednesday and early on Thursday’s morning during the protests. Roberto Rivas, chairman of Nicaragua’s Electoral Council, resigned yesterday. He held office since 2007 and was accused of being responsible for fraud in the latest elections. This allegedly negotiated resignation, has unleashed fierce criticism against Luis Almagro. Yesterday, the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress asked the U.S, Mexico, Spain and other countries to block Nicaragua from purchasing weapons.
  • The U.S. State Department increased Venezuela’s risk level and openly recommends citizens not to visit the country. Already back on May 15, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention had increased Venezuela’s sanitary risk, urging American citizens to “avoid non-essential trips” in view of the lack of medicines and supplies.

For a second year in a row, Ron Santa Teresa 1796 was awarded the double gold medal of the International Rum Congress in Madrid, which brought together rum industry experts and connoisseurs for a week.

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