Waving the Flag

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

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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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45 COMMENTS

  1. “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…”

    Blah blah blah… more talk and talk and talk. Chavismo isn’t the least bit interested in actual free, open and transparent elections. Oh sure, they would GLADLY embrace such a thing (on paper) and go through the preliminary motions, but once the ball started rolling, out would come the provisos, caveats and conditions. In the end, another farce. How many times does the Venezuelan get kicked in the balls before he figures out another kick is coming? No thanks, Lenin.

    Enough with this nonsense. Let Chavismo come crashing down on its own. Maduro and the rest of his monkeys own it in its entirety.

  2. “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.”

    The good news is, Nicaraguans are fighting back and fighting back just as dirty as the dirty Cubans are dishing it out. Most of the police force refuses to engage the protesters in the same manner that the Honduran military and police won’t engage their fellow countrymen. But the Cubans have no such qualms. Ortega has brought in thousands to lead the Socialist vanguard into battle.

    • Cuban police involvement is old hat for the Sandinistas. Robert Czarkowski, a Polish national, wrote De Polonia a Nicaragua (1984) about his experience in Nicaraguan jails. In 1982, Czarkowski entered Nicaragua on a valid tourist visa. Nicaraguan authorities immediately detained him, on suspicion of belonging to Solidarity, that nefarious organization. After 5 months, he was released.

      Czarkowski wrote of Cuban officials operating in Nicaraguan jails. The Cuban accent wasn’t difficult to detect. Much easier to detect in Nicaragua than in Venezuela, at least for my untutored ear.

      • I have friends in both Honduras and Nicaragua. My buddy in Honduras told me that following the Ortega meltdown, STRANGELY, all of the anti-government protests fizzled in Honduras. He said it was because all of the foreign agitators (cough… CUBA… cough) were given new, more important marching orders and ordered to report post haste to Nicaragua to save Ortegas bacon.

        My buddy said that its so quiet in Honduras now, you can hear a cat fart. About the biggest protest group these days will be 5 dredlocked, hairy-legged college co-eds from Oberlin college waving around a Che poster and bitching about imperalism.

        • About the biggest protest group these days will be 5 dredlocked, hairy-legged college co-eds from Oberlin college waving around a Che poster and bitching about imperialism. 🙂

          Who are unable to see that their involvement in internal Honduran politics is also a form of imperialism. I hope they don’t end up like Lori Berenson – who got what she deserved. (Not to mention that most Bolivians viewed Che as an arrogant Argentine imposing his dreams on Bolivia, and thus an imperialist of sorts.)

  3. OAS: 19 votes (1 more than min.) to censure 5/20 elections/etc., 4 against, 11 abstentions; needed for Ven. suspension–24 votes.–a tough row to hoe (especially with a bunch of abstentionist “Ho’s” on the OAS).

    • Yesterday’s vote clear signal to China and Russia. This is America’s back yard and old frienships still matter. China and Russia where told to butt out or better yet, to fuck off.

      Militarization of the Caribbean will begin with Netherlands, UK, France and US deploying resources to region. Forsee naval presence and challenges maybe even high seas chicken. The Reds will begin to get taste of reality and who’s really boss. Nobody will die for the fake revolution.

  4. Venezuela’s PDVSA Fails To Meet Oil Supply Obligations.
    Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA has told eight foreign clients it will be unable to supply the contracted volumes of crude oil, a company employee told S&P Platts.

    “Among the affected clients due to the low availability of crude to export are Nynas, Tipco, Chevron, CNPC, Reliance, Conoco, Valero, and Lukoil, which will partially receive the volumes established by the contracts,” the person said.

    The amount the company will not be able to supply is close to half of the total committed volumes of this grade, Merey 16, for June. It only has 578,000 bpd of the grade available, while the total contracted volume is 1.271 million barrels daily. PDVSA’s total crude commitments for the month stand at 1.495 million bpd, but it only has 694,000 bpd available.

    Plagued by mismanagement, corruption, and most recently a lack of investment money under the double weight of U.S. sanctions and lower oil prices, PDVSA has seen its production plummet over the last couple of years. S&P Platts estimates this plunge has wiped out as much as 900,000 bpd from the company’s daily production, with the latest daily average standing at 1.41 million bpd in April.

    Here is a golden oldie, from 2004:Statement of the Embassy of Venezuela Before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

    Having made such a successful and complete turnaround in 2003, we are now ready to
    look to the future. PDVSA?s 2004-2009 business plan is both ambitious and realistic. The plan
    calls for an increase in crude oil production capacity from the current 3.8 million barrels per day
    to more than 5 million barrels per day by 2009.
    While this increase will be achieved principally
    from substantial investments by PDVSA, there will also be sizable investments by foreign oil
    companies, including U.S. companies in Venezuela. Under the business plan, a total of $37
    billion will be invested in the Venezuelan energy industry over the next five years. Foreign
    companies will account for 26 percent of this total. PDVSA’s plans provide tremendous
    business opportunities for U.S. companies. In addition, Venezuela has a legal framework in
    place that allows for foreign participation up to 49 percent in upstream activities, 100 percent in
    downstream activities, and 100 percent in natural gas projects.

    Bullshit meets reality, or is it reality meets bullshit?

    • Jose Toro Hardy estimates $300 bill. necessary to recuperate Ven. oil industry and bring production up to 5mm bbls/da.; also necessitating some privatization, which, after Saudi Arabia’s, may be possible, if Venezuela is managed competently/rationally.

    • Meanwhile, they’re asking buyers to accept tanker-to-tanker transfer offshore, because their two ports are in shitshape and can’t handle the volume…and they can’t use their ABC facilities for fear of seizure by ConocoPhillips.

      It’s fucking hysterical. It just gets worse and worse.

      The buyers are saying no to tanker-to-tanker (especially India because they’re owed a shitload of money anyway), because of, I believe, the added expense of doing so. There might be safety issues involved as well. Don’t really understand it.

    • “Merey 16”

      Wonder if that 16 represents 16 API. If so, that’s some very heavy, nasty shit.

      I once worked with a sample from the Strategic Petroleum reserve that was in the mid 20’s API. What a mess to try to clean up afterwards.

  5. And still “el cobarde pendejo pueblo” isn’t in the streets by the millions all day every day. It’s beyond words. VIVA CUBAZUELA NO JODAAAAAAAS

  6. Of course, no one can predict the rate of inflation, but at 100% per month (Mays’ Rate)
    then by years end the rate will be 240,600,000 to the dollar
    By March 1 2019 – 1 Billion (1,000,000,000)
    By December 2019 – 1 Trillion (1,000,000,000)

      • Do not fret neither can the regime. Is this only the second time they are “postponing”, probably canceling, the introduction of the new currency? In only six months or is it eighteen? I can not keep these things straight anymore.

        Must be 18 months because this Christmas it was the lack of pernils delivered.

          • With the decline of PDVSA, not even Maburro would be insane enough to make that promise. There is always the Russian wheat or barley. I feel bad even making these jokes but one can not cry every hour of the day (metaphorically).

          • Hey now… Spam is awesome. I happen to live not 40 miles away from where that wholesome goodness in made… and since the Mrs. and I came back from Hawaii a few years back, I have become THE MAN at creating Spam musubi.

            Venezuela’s young men could do with some proper grilled Spam and Velveeta sandwiches. Puts hair on yer balls. Much better for the testosterone levels than “pernil”… which is why they would never allow it in. Venezuelans would suddenly get get more manly than Chuck Norris.

          • Guapo, knowing what they put in potted meat, I always wondered what went into imitation potted meat. Lips, eyelids, and foreskins I’d imagine.

    • @ waltz…you know sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. This regime would be good for a laugh a minute it it were not so damn sad…….

    • Awesome letter. Rich in sarcasm.

      And the Golden Knights? Ovechkin and the boys ain’t going to have to travel far to celebrate tomorrow in Vegas.

      • I liked the part where the government higher ups involved in sending the 12 M tons of stuff to Cuba would get rich off all the mark ups.

  7. Today the opinion writer Andres Oppenheimer wrote in the Miami Herald that U.S. does not have 24 votes (per anonymous official). This is bullshit from Oppenheimer whose hate for Trump in clear view.

    It’s moving along quite well and some people cannot accept it’s happening under Trump.

  8. Push is coming to shove. Those who think or believe America and allies are standing still are wrong. The clock is ticking.

  9. MRubio, if your comment refers to the US Strategic Petroleum Reseve in Louisiana one of my first assignments as a young lawyer was working on the sale of the salt mines to the US on behalf of their owners, the Morton Salt Co.Your comment brought back a flood of memories.

  10. The Russians (Putin) incredibly irresponsible in providing Chavez with 10,000+ surface to air missiles (many variants). This is the hot button that guarantees military action. Anything can happen at any given moment. All options are on the table.

    It’s going to be over under Trump. Cuba is going on notice and will face the wrath too.

    • What’s hysterical is how some closet wanna-be communists (including some posters here) continue to boast about Russian and Chinese influence in North and South America. Or if not boast, warn about the impending dangers.

      It’s ridiculous, because they don’t have either the military reach, nor the financial resources to buy the influence. China dabbles with it cautiously every now and then…always loses money…and Russia can’t HELP dabbling with it, again, also losing money and gaining no influence.

      But militarily? It’s a joke.

      The U.S. owns this hemisphere lock, stock and barrel.

      • Ira is correct. Militarily, the U.S. owns this hemisphere. Russia and China can annoy the U.S., but they cannot challenge them.

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