“Kidnapped by SEBIN”

For Friday, August 10, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

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Photo: Efecto Cocuyo

That’s what read on the paper his fellow lawmakers put on Juan Requesens’s seat. With the presence of 20 members of the diplomatic corps accredited in Venezuela, the National Assembly’s extraordinary session condemning Requesens’s kidnapping concluded by declaring that “the ANC’s illegitimate decision to strip lawmakers Juan Requesens and Julio Borges off their parliamentary immunity, in accordance to article 138 of the Constitution” was nonexistent, as well as indicating the criminal responsibility of Nicolás, the TSJ justices involved, the members of the “illegitimate and fraudulent” ANC and the rest of involved authorities according to article 200 of the National Constitution. They restated that Requesens’s arrest is illegitimate and deemed it an “enforced disappearance,” so they demanded his immediate release, calling it a political detention. They also demanded that no international body or government recognizes the Prosecutor’s Office’s measure. The 48-hour period established by Law for lawmaker Requesens to be taken before court elapsed at 9:00 p.m. this Thursday. Since his arbitrary detention, he’s been isolated, neither his family or his lawyers have been able to see him. This enforced disappearance incriminates every official and authority involved.

In favor of Juan

Rafaela Requesens denounced that his brother was kidnapped and said that “Venezuela’s fate is freedom and democracy (…) this fate of this corrupt and murderous regime is behind bars,” asking for Venezuelans to become her brother’s voice.

Alfonso Marquina explained that in a country with a working justice system, authorities don’t show evidence on mandatory TV broadcasts. Juan Andrés Mejía denounced the use of public resources to spread a discrediting campaign against Requesens, saying that they have no evidence against him. Delsa Solórzano reported that they denounced this case before the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and she also denounced all the abuses committed by chavismo in this process, telling Nicolás that they want him alive “so he answers before justice,” calling the ANC “an unconstitutional sham.” The Venezuelan Episcopal Conference issued a statement urging the government to end repression and reminding the Republic Moral Council of their obligation to protect citizens’ human rights and investigate the liabilities of officials who violate these rights.

Losing Citgo

Through a legal action filed by Canadian company Crystallex, an U.S. federal judge authorized the seizure of Citgo Petroleum Corp. to satisfy the Venezuelan government’s debt with this company. Crystallex seeks to collect a compensation of $1,4 billion for the expropriation made by Hugo Chávez in 2008, shutting down their gold extraction operations. This ruling could unleash a dispute among Venezuela’s many unpaid creditors ($150 billion owed to creditors!) to take control of the country’s only seizable asset. The U.S. Judge Leonard P. Stark’s full decision is expected to be revealed in the next few days; meanwhile, the likelihood of PDVSA losing control of a valuable asset increases, although the decision can be appealed before a higher federal court. The saddest part? Crystallex is a pioneer of the environmental destruction in Bolívar state, in that aberration called Orinoco Mining Arc.

Other voices

Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela said Nicolás’s accusations against former president Juan Manuel Santos are irresponsible: “On the one hand, we condemn violence, but on the other we also condemn the use of these baseless accusations,” said Varela, who expects an investigation to see if there was indeed an assassination attempt. Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo pledged “all the support and solidarity” for Julio Borges in view of the threats and accusations he’s received from the government; in addition to condemning the abuses against Borges and Requesens; which must’ve somewhat bothered Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, after his statement on VTV about “the interest of cooperating with investigations” allegedly shown by Colombia’s representative with whom he met to request Borges’s extradition. However, Borges said to AFP: “I feel safe in Colombia, I feel grateful. [The government’s] actions are politically and legally nonexistent,” calling the drone flight a “smoke bomb created to threaten and repress.” Lastly, Chilean lawmaker Jaime Bellolio said that Saturday’s incident “has served as an excuse to increase cruelty, inhuman treatments and human rights abuses against people who dissent from the dictatorial regime.”

Amazing chavismo

Minister Néstor Reverol announced that there are new people involved and also new arrests for the drone flight: “most of them are part of Vente Venezuela’s resistance group,” he said and with the same solvency, he clarified that lawmakers Requesens and Borges were stripped off their parliamentary immunity because they were linked by the statements of some detainees and alleged evidence, placing them as “financiers”. 25 people are now being investigated, but so far only three have been taken before court and yet, they claim they’ve respected due process. Reverol showed how the drones were flown and asserted where the people involved had been arrested thus far: in Barinas, Portuguesa and Caracas, in addition to saying that there are raids in Lara, so there might be further arrests. Meanwhile, Minister Jorge Rodríguez said that the government activated all diplomatic and judicial mechanisms to extradite the people allegedly involved in the drone flight, but he wasted no time to promote the transport census, which will continue this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Let’s talk Human Rights

  • Amazonas and Bolívar are the two states most affected by the Orinoco river’s historic flood, which has left over ten thousand people affected, damaged houses and lost belongings. Civil Defense in Bolívar reported that the Orinoco river’s level in Ciudad Bolívar is very close to red alert, while in Amazonas, the risk of land and communicational isolation is much higher.
  • After getting threats, officials of the Housing and Habitat Ministry evicted Limbania Ramírez from her home at Ciudad Tiuna (Caracas), because her husband joked about Saturday’s incident on a neighbor WhatsApp group. She was accused of badmouthing Nicolás and selling cash.

  • Inhabitants of the Sorocaima slum (Km 0, Pan American freeway,) protested for the murder of two minors during a raid of the Operation for People’s Liberation (OLP). To dissolve the protest, the National Guard used tear gas and pepper spray.

  • SUDEBAN reported that from Friday, August 17 until Monday, August 20, banks won’t be operational to facilitate the monetary reconversion process, which kicks off that very Monday.

Many of us are wondering: Where is Juan Requesens? Even though we don’t know that, last night (11:00 p.m.) SEBIN officers carried out four raids: in Caracas, in the homes of Julio Borges and Juan Requesens; in Táchira, in the homes of Julio Mora and Jorge Mora, both councilmen for Cárdenas municipality.

 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Well, it must be apparent to even the most ardent of Chavistas that you are living in a dictatorship where the Constitution is just a memory, and Maduro and the Cuban Assembly is using food and favors to control them.

    What’s next for El Pueblo? Is this the “new normal”?

    • I received a foto today from a friend/colleague from plc.. a beautiful morning sunrise as always.. a day in paradise as long as you maintain your gaze above the horizon, do not down to the reality of the street… so Naky and all our friends keep on, but it’s tough. Buen suerte y cuidese Mrubio.

    • By Andrew Scurria and Julie Wernau
      Updated Aug. 9, 2018 7:03 p.m. ET

      A U.S. federal judge authorized the seizure of Citgo Petroleum Corp. to satisfy a Venezuelan government debt, a ruling that could set off a scramble among Venezuela’s many unpaid creditors to wrest control of its only obviously seizable U.S. asset.

      Judge Leonard P. Stark of the U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., issued the ruling Thursday. However, his full opinion, which could include conditions or impose further legal hurdles, was sealed. A redacted version is expected to be available at a later date.

      The court order raises the likelihood that Venezuela’s state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela SA, will lose control of a valuable external asset amid the country’s deepening economic and political crisis. The decision could still be appealed to a higher, federal court.

      Attorneys for PdVSA weren’t available for comment. Citgo declined to comment.

      Crystallex International Corp., a defunct Canadian gold miner that filed the legal action, is trying to collect on a judgment over lost mining rights involving Venezuela’s government. It has targeted Citgo, an oil refiner, because this is the largest U.S. asset of the cash-strapped and crisis-riven country.

      Many other creditors of Venezuela are also circling Citgo, but Crystallex is the first to win a judgment authorizing its seizure. Crystallex had argued that Citgo was ultimately owned by PdVSA, which is an “alter ego” of Venezuela that is liable for the South American country’s debts. The judge’s decision in favor of Crystallex allows it to take control of shares of Citgo’s U.S.-based parent company, the first step toward a sale of the company.

      Venezuela and its various state-controlled entities together have $62 billion of unsecured bonds outstanding, with approximately $5 billion so far in unpaid interest and principal. Analysts estimate that the government has approximately $150 billion total in debt outstanding to creditors around the world.

      Venezuela and its state-controlled entities including PdVSA began missing bond payments last year and have since spiraled into a widespread default. U.S. sanctions bar creditors from engaging the Venezuelan government in any kind of restructuring or buying new debt.

      Maria Planchart once lived comfortably in Caracas and had aspirations of being a lawyer. In this WSJ Films documentary, we follow her struggle to feed her family.

      For Venezuela, losing control of Citgo could jeopardize one of its only remaining sources of oil revenue, the U.S. At the same time, investors in Venezuela’s defaulted debt—as well at least 43 companies pursuing legal claims against the government—risk losing one of the few obvious assets in the U.S. that can be seized for repayment.

      The only payment made this year by Venezuela was $107 million on its PdVSA bonds, due 2020, for which Citgo is pledged as collateral. That was a clear move by Caracas to protect that asset, analysts have said.

      Without ownership of Citgo, investors worry PdVSA would have little incentive to continue to pay on the debt

      Any sale of Citgo stock would require U.S. Treasury Department approval, and Crystallex needs to clear other legal hurdles before the shares could be sold.

      In trying to lay claim to Citgo, creditors are following a familiar playbook. Hedge funds led by Elliott Management Corp. did something similar when they went after Argentine assets following that country’s 2001 default, the largest sovereign default at the time, on more than $80 billion in sovereign debt.

      When Argentina refused to pay settlements arising from the default, the hedge funds sought out Argentine assets to seize and argued that everything from the assets of its central bank to its state-controlled oil company were an “alter ego” of the state.

      Elliott in 2012 persuaded a Ghanaian court to impound a training vessel of the Argentine Navy, and in 2014 asked a California court to block Argentina from launching satellites into space. Argentina settled with the hedge funds in 2016, delivering gains of as much as 900% on some of their original principal investments.

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