The Darkness of Power

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Víctor Amaya

“Let me finish,” Diosdado Cabello asked several times, before explaining the few —but enthusiastic— PSUV members in the Alba Caracas hotel, his proposal to close the party’s 4th Congress: designating and ratifying Nicolás as chairman of the party: “but, grant him all the power necessary so he can take the decisions he deems convenient to appoint his National Leadership, the political teams, any organizational decision that’s necessary (…) I’d like to hold a vote for this, not a vote, I’d like to know if…,” and at that moment, everyone was on their feet, some clapping and others with their hands fists raised, there was a blackout! No emergency lights could fix the lack of electricity and although everyone shouted “Approved!”, VTV had to cut the broadcast. PSUV grassroots didn’t even mark the field of play. That’s how dark, closed and unintelligible absolute powers are.

A pointless year

A year ago, Nicolás imposed, as a requisite to resume negotiations, the sham election for the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), whose official results are still missing from the National Electoral Council’s webpage, even though according to Tibisay Lucena, eight million voters attended the polls. It was a day of empty voting stations and several protests, enough to add 16 murders to the security forces’ repressive track record. Days later, Smartmatic denounced that the election’s data was tampered with, but it didn’t inspire the Prosecutor’s Office to open an investigation; after all, imposing a new prosecutor general was one of the ANC’s first “decisions” and then, violating the Constitution, they usurped the National Assembly’s authority. So far, they’ve shown no progress in their one intended goal: writing a new Constitution, but they did approve the Hate Law, which the government’s used to humiliate and blackmail at leisure; they’ve followed the same routine with the threat of including the crime of “treason”. Nicolás promised to defeat the economic war with the ANC and here we are, amidst hyperinflation. Yesterday, Diosdado Cabello once again refused to set a term for the ANC, suggesting it could be up to four years, with the mockery of being insurgents and with absolute power as an excuse.

Complex humanitarian crisis

Yesterday morning, health sector workers, patients and civil society representatives marched from Altamira square to Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) headquarters, to deliver a document demanding the institution to hear the version patients have and healthcare staffers have of this complex humanitarian crisis, explained in at least four variables: the lack of medical supplies, terrible working conditions in hospitals, the threats against them and the need to set fair salaries. They met with José Moya, PAHO representative in Venezuela, who said that the institution “is aware of Venezuela’s situation.” Also yesterday, Linda Amaro, Health Director for Lara state, claimed that the protest of health workers doesn’t hurt the government (even though it was never its intent): “On the contrary, the less surgeries you perform, the best for me, you’re saving me lots of supplies.” Meanwhile, members of the organization Stop HIV cautioned about the increase of gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV due to the shortage of condoms and lack of sexual education.

Briefs and serious

  • Ombudsman Alfredo Ruíz claimed that the new census method for acquiring gasoline through the carnet de la patria, “will offer the possibility of having access to fuel in areas where it is more difficult to acquire it,” adding that the carnet mechanism is meant to help.
  • The re-registration process for political organizations will be open between August 13 and 15, so Acción Democrática, Nueva Visión para mi País (NUVIPA) and Un Nuevo Tiempo, among others, will be able to keep their legal status if they collect 0.5% of voter signatures in at least 12 of the country’s states.
  • PDV Insurance, the captive insurance company owned by PDVSA, is in a liquidation process in Bermuda after it didn’t comply with operational requirements (including presenting financial statements according to a legal schedule,) according to judicial documents reviewed by Redd Latam. PDV Insurance has been criticized for years. After the Amuay tragedy in 2012, the company never claimed any insurance.
  • The government ordered the Armed Forces to declare an alert and to adopt the Plan Zamora permanently, in view of intelligence reports foreseeing the increase in protests due to the notable economic crisis and the collapse of public services. In past years, 71 human rights organizations demanded the State to dismantle Plan Zamora, in force since April 2017, after 120 protests were killed in demonstrations. Retired general Enrique Prieto Silva calls it “an evil plan,” ratifying that the Armed Forces “aren’t an institution prepared to maintain public order, as established by article 332 of the Constitution.”

Press freedom in Venezuela

After more than 60 years of uninterrupted work, Diario El Tiempo of Trujillo will circulate until today due to the lack of newsprint, as confirmed by the National Union of Press Workers (SNTP) on Twitter.

Weeks ago, Diario Los Andes announced that it’ll become a weekly publication due to the same issue; Trujillo state has no newspapers left. On top of this, journalistic investigation outlet denounced that the access to their webpage is restricted due to cyberattacks. Joseph Poliszuk detailed that the attack is a “DDos, Distributed Denial of Service,” in other words, an attack on the server from many computers to oversaturate it and force it to shut down.

The Development Bank of Latin America-CAF held the fifth edition of the Urban Development and Social Inclusion Contest, which awarded proposals from Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela out of the 238 projects presented by 14 member countries. “Plataformas de gestión territorial La Silsa” won the third place (with a $3,000 prize) because according to the jury this project “exalts design joined with community creation” and “this is clear evidence that there is no opposition between architectural-urbanistic design and a participative community involvement.”

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.