Waving the Flag

For Wednesday, June 6, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: AP

This Tuesday at the 48th General Assembly of the Organization of American States, a resolution disregarding the legitimacy of the May 20 elections where Nicolás ended up “re-elected” was approved after a long and bitter debate.

With 19 votes in favor (including the Dominican Republic, privileged witness of the dialogue between the government and the opposition) four votes against and 11 abstentions, including Nicaragua, Uruguay and Ecuador. There wasn’t the necessary support from 24 countries to start the process of suspending Venezuela from the OAS, but there’s condemnation for the opaque elections, the usurpation of the National Assembly’s legislative powers, the existence of hundreds of political prisoners and the obstacles for the country to get humanitarian aid for a population scourged by shortages. The suspension, more than a moral victory, is a crucial measure to enforce the complex mechanism that seeks to force chavismo to agree to a negotiated transition, to restore the Rule of Law and the democratic institutions with guarantees and mediators, and to face the huge bill of impunity that something like that could bring.

No, you’re not leaving

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza kissed Venezuela’s little flag to symbolically seal chavismo’s decision to leave the OAS. Secretary General Luis Almagro then explained to him that the procedure initiated by chavismo is null because it hasn’t been approved by the National Assembly. Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno proposed —to soften his abstention for the resolution— to hold a popular consultation in Venezuela, with guarantees of transparency and observation, so that Venezuelans can decide whether we recognize the May 20 results or want new elections. Moreno wants a consultative referendum with the power to supersede the results of a presidential election, which is impossible and he knows it. To end the meeting, Almagro said: “In the next few days, we hope that an important number of countries in the continent and the rest of the world support the request to open an investigation on Venezuela before the International Criminal Court.” Meanwhile, the chairman for the 48th General Assembly, Eladio Loizaga, said: “The resolution about #Venezuela’s situation contains commitments that member States will have to assume.”

In the National Assembly

Lawmaker Gilber Caro returned to his post after spending 507 days in prison and living 12 months in isolation, losing 10 kilos. Now he must heal the gastrointestinal issues he got from the amebiasis he contracted due to the poor conditions of the water and food he had to consume.

Caro called for unity and national reconciliation to rescue the remaining political prisoners: “We come to work for these releases with faith, hope and strength. We come to pull Venezuela forward,” he said. With the national anthem as a seal and the cheering of his remaining peers, Renzo Prieto, substitute lawmaker for Táchira state arrested on May 2014, was sworn into office.

Prieto also said he’d work for the release of political prisoners and thanked citizens, trade and labor unions, the media and the international community for the social pressure they’ve exercised against the dictatorship to secure the release of some political prisoners. Raúl Emilio Baduel, Alexander Tirado, Daniel Ceballos, Gabriel Vallés, Steicy Escalona and Yon Goicoechea were also at the Hemiciclo, among others.

Re-elected to lie

In a meeting with PDVSA employees, Nicolás told his own version of how chavismo destroyed a successful oil industry. For the fourth year in a row, he had the wisdom to repeat old proposals: restructuring PDVSA giving power to workers (exactly like he did in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017) and demanding a new ethical stance from them. “I have evidence that there was a process of infiltration carried out by the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela in key posts of the oil industry,” he impudently claimed, blaming the efficient moles for the low production, the drop in oil prices and all the chavista corruption. Not a single word about the ineptitude of loyalists without preparation. This takes place as PDVSA reveals that it can’t send oil to its customers, in addition to the financial default, we now have distribution default, crucial for the economic situation to get vertiginously worse, while the government boosts hyperinflation and devaluation. Econométrica says that the inflation for May reached a historic cap of 99.2% and by the way, the firm Torino Capital said that the financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. haven’t blocked the government’s import capacity, registering an increase in imports of over 40%, weeks before presidential elections.

Let’s talk human rights

Yesterday, there was a protest before Health Ministry headquarters to demand answers for the shortage of medicines and treatments for chronic patients. A lady uncovered her breast with cancer, a kidney patient desperately cried for the diapers he needs and won’t receive, a man explained that her wife is about to die, each case swelled chavismo’s indifference record.

Freddy Ceballos, head of the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation, said that the shortage of medicines is being paid with lives, so he restated the need to open a humanitarian channel to stop the deaths caused by medicine shortages. Pedro Patricio Jaimes (@AereoMeteo on Twitter) disappeared 24 days ago, after he was arrested for publishing the presidential plane’s route on May 10. Freddy Bernal claimed that the lawmakers who took part in the First Meeting of Latin American Congresses for Venezuela, should be tried for treason; in his view, denouncing our circumstances and gathering the support of other legislators is synonymous of conspiracy. Lastly, according to judge Gustavo Hidalgo, newspaper El Nacional incurred in “moral damage” against Diosdado Cabello for publishing the report of Spanish newspaper ABC accusing Cabello of drug-trafficking links. This establishes a terrible precedent for the exercise of journalism in Venezuela.

Abroad

  • In Guatemala, despair grows among the families of missing citizens, which amounts to 200 people so far, in addition to 75 dead. Tons of ash and scorching gases make the rescue labor harder.
  • Reading about Nicaragua is reliving the painful experience we had in Venezuela. Ortega repeats chavismo’s “successful” techniques: excessive police violence, attacks of paramilitary gangs with guaranteed impunity, chaos and terror on all citizens and now: they’re criminalizing civic protests, with accusations and reprisals.
  • Ecuador’s Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa was elected as the new chairwoman of the UN General Assembly. She’ll be the fourth woman to occupy the office and the first from Latin America.
  • Joshua Holt revealed his avatars as a political prisoner in NBC’s “Today Show,” explaining all the abuses, cruel and degrading treatments, and the torture he and his wife had to endure at SEBIN HQ.

The series “Huérfanos de la Salud,” made by the teams of the Press and Society Institute and El Pitazo was selected as finalist in the Internet category of the Roche Health Award; while the collaborative project “Investiga Lava Jato” about Odebrecht’s corruption scandal, involving Alberto Yajure (El Pitazo) and Lisseth Boon (Runrun.es) was awarded with the prize for Investigative Reporting 2018 of the TRACE foundation in the United States. Beautiful encouragement for Venezuelan journalism!

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