Tragedy in El Paraíso

Your daily briefing for Saturday, June 17, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Caraota Digital

17 people died early this Saturday in the Club El Paraíso (Caracas), also called “Los Cotorros.” It was a party for students what was being celebrated in that windowless place, someone detonated a tear gas canister causing the panic of the attendees who far surpassed the cap for which the club was made: In a place for 150 people, there were over 500. According to witnesses, in order to evacuate it, they had to climb down a staircase and many attendees were trampled by the multitude that rushed to the exit. In addition to the deaths, many people were severely injured. The Corps of Scientific and Criminal Investigations (CICPC) is handling the case. While the students, some of them underage, were giving their statements at the corps’ headquarters, not even their parents could accompany them. In testimonies presented by journalist Beatriz Adrián, two attendees claim that the person who detonated the tear gas canister was a National Guard officer. The version presented by journalist Deivis Ramírez, also supported by survivors’ accounts, denies this claim.


According to Interior Minister Néstor Reverol’s phone reports, they’ve already arrested eight people, including three minors (one of them accused of detonating the canister) and the owner of the place. The Ombudsman’s Office decided to tweet that they’d monitor the investigations and the Prosecutor’s Office hasn’t issued any statements despite the gravity of the incident. Neither Minister Reverol nor the Ombudsman’s Office mentioned the State’s institutional responsibility for a civilian having had a tear gas canister. The fact that it was a minor and that he could enter the place with it make the situation worse, but the blame is on those who control that material. The case is a sad summary of the consequences of disrespecting the rules: The club’s capacity, prohibition on civilians to carry weapons, minors drinking alcohol and a long list of issues about which the authorities remain silent. By the way, 26 people have already died with the use of “perreras” as an alternative for this severe public transport crisis. And Nicolás? Giving the brass a wage hike.

Amazing chavismo

Nicolás insisted that a plan’s being set up from Colombia to cause an armed conflict between both countries, claiming that he ordered the Strategic Operational Command to take the necessary measures to guarantee sovereignty, asking the Colombian military and police to preserve peace and avoid “playing into the traps” set by president Santos “who wants to leave a military conflict incubating in favor of American imperialism against Venezuela.” Meanwhile, journalist Sebastiana Barráez,  specialist in military matters, said that military courts will summon María Corina Machado for her alleged involvement in a conspiracy, another alleged assassination plan against Nicolás, which Machado has been financing. The answer to this was an intense campaign on social media presenting testimonies in favor of María Corina. Contradicting the Ombudsman’s sensible story, according to which the relatives of Villca Fernández demanded that he be allowed to leave the country, Villca said in an interview that he was forced to leave the country, that they made him sign some documents (which he wasn’t allowed to read) before he left El Helicoide, and then told him that he was going to Maiquetía and that he’d signed an “agreement” for his exile. Zulia governor Omar Prieto explained the fire that broke out in Corpoelec facilities like this: “The storage yard of the Caujarito Operations Center was sabotaged by terrorists who ignited dielectric oil containers for power transformers,” another level of cynicism, another justification for Zulia’s electrical collapse.

Carissa the biased

Carissa Etienne, head of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), met with civil society representatives and doctors who explained the health crisis and the situation of complex humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, also presenting documents supporting their complaints and detail their demands to start solving the crisis. Etienne, denying the Health Minister’s version, said that PAHO hasn’t signed any agreements with the government to acquire medicines, but supposedly Nicolás ordered Minister Luis López to use resources to acquire medicines and vaccines through PAHO. Etienne, who blithely followed the official script about an efficient health system, later expressed her concern for the growing outbreaks of measles and diphtheria. Lastly, the good news is that the World Health Organization (WHO) discarded that the paralysis suffered by a child in Delta Amacuro was caused by the infection with the poliomyelitis virus.


  • Yesterday, Costa Rican newspaper La Nación referenced an investigation of the U.S. Treasury Department that accuses Diosdado Cabello of allegedly using the Company Alunasa in Costa Rica for money laundering. Remember that back in 2000, the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana acquired Alunasa and it’s been a part of the National Aluminum Corporation of Venezuela since 2015.
  • Paul Crotty, the New York federal judge leading the case of presidential couple’s nephews, rejected this Saturday a request by Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas to publish documents about a drug trafficker who testified against them. Crotty believes that doing so would expose other witnesses who already agreed to appear in court to even greater risks.
  • Mathias and Daryeli were the names of the children who burned to death along with their family in a fire caused by paramilitaries and policemen against a house in the Carlos Marx neighborhood of Managua, Nicaragua. Dictator Daniel Ortega denies all responsibility about the incident, but it’s another crime to add to the massacre he’s staged in order to stay in power. The dialogue resumed with a rosary of refusals to all the options presented by mediators: the IACHR’s presence, a visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and another from the European Union, as well as the end of repression and the immediate dismantling of paramilitary groups. Ortega said no to all of this, and negotiated options are blocked once more.
  • José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is in Caracas for a brief visit that will end today. He told EFE: “I’ve met with Timoteo Zambrano, Vicente Díaz and Luis Aquiles Moreno,” as part of his role as mediator for “reconciliation”, adding that “once we commit with the task, we can’t abandon it” and claiming that he’ll keep working to ensure the release of political prisoners, although he exaggerated the total releases thus far. 142?

Colombia will elect a new president today.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.