A Useless State

For Thursday, August 16, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Globovisión

The Venezuelan State isn’t only failed and absent in many critical areas, it has no problem showing how useless it is just five days before the hasty monetary reconversion. Throughout this Wednesday, several state institutions have announced that they won’t work for four days, applicable to taxes just as well as the collapsed electric system.

In the street, people don’t even know the new banknotes and it’s obvious that removing five zeroes off the currency will only make common calculations harder. With so much information missing, the lawmakers of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee once again requested the Executive to postpone the monetary reconversion as it lacks other adjustments that would allow them to fully tackle hyperinflation. Lawmaker Rafael Guzmán criticized the lack of information about the reconversion, about the new monetary cone that will enter circulation next Monday and disregarded the success promised by Nicolás, not just due to the lack of trust in the government as an economic actor, but also the lack of policies to hold hyperinflation in check. By the way: while the government keeps regulating prices and creating more monetary mass to cover the fiscal deficit, whether tethered to the petro or to Nicolás’s mustache (they have the same value) the sovereign bolivar will fail.

Nicolás’s sentence

The trial against Nicolás for his alleged involvement in the Odebrecht case which started on August 2 after the evidence submitted by removed Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz, concluded yesterday. Venezuelan justices in exile determined Nicolás’s culpability and sentenced him to 18 years and three months in prison in Ramo Verde, as well as setting a $25 million fine for his own corruption, while he’ll have to pay the State $35 billion for the crime of money laundering. The justices barred him from running for office and announced an arrest warrant to Interpol.

Earlier, lawmakers of the 16 de julio caucus ratified their support for this action and stated that they expect international justice to act against Nicolás, demanding that the National Assembly immediately appoint a new president. After the decision, Luisa Ortega Díaz claimed that the importance of this sentence “is that once the tyranny breaks, we already have a clear path to make justice,” a sensible conclusion about the exercise of some justices who have no jurisdiction for their decisions to be effective, as explained by NGO Acceso a la Justicia.

Requesens’s case

Lawmaker Juan Requesens’s lawyer explained that during the hearing, he was questioned about the videos circulated through social media and he denied having made them: “Requesens doesn’t remember having made that video when the defense asked him (…) Requesens says that he was never examined by a doctor and that a SEBIN officer forced him to wear that clothing for the video,” said Joel García. Lawmaker Delsa Solórzano ratified this information.

In any case, Requesens’s lawyer said that the judge said nothing about the videos and added: “The videos aren’t part of the investigation, it’s a media show that the Executive puts up with Venezuelans, because otherwise, those videos should be included in the process.” García thinks that this material won’t be considered part of the evidence because they’re a flagrant violation against the right to freedom and defense and announce that they will appeal Requesens’s arbitrary arrest, because there was no flagrancy as claimed by imposed Prosecutor General Saab. “What we’re seeing is an alternative law or justice that isn’t established in our regulations or our Constitution.”

Briefs and serious

  • Pediatrician Huníades Urbina cautioned that 15% of Venezuelan children suffer from malnutrition, which severely compromises their cognitive capacities. Epidemiologist Alejandro Rísquez restated that the government must urgently declare a humanitarian crisis to allow access to food and medicines through humanitarian aid. In Venezuela, there are no vaccines because the companies certified to bring them shut down due to debts the government never paid.
  • After more than 120 hours of electrical malfunctions, Maracaibo citizens protested again, descending on Prosecutor’s Office headquarters where they demanded a better service. The images of the thousands of kilos of perishable food rotten for lack of refrigeration are nightmarish. State media says nothing about this issue: Zulia doesn’t exist in the official script.
  • Journalist Pableysa Ostos reported the Orinoco river’s flooding levels: in Caicara del Orinoco, it already surpassed the historic level of 1976 and in Ciudad Bolívar, it’s just one centimeter away from reaching it. So far, 11,768 people are affected by the flooding rivers in Bolívar State alone. National Assembly speaker Omar Barboza asked the Interior Policy Committee to request aid from the Red Cross to assist all the people affected.

  • Yesterday, the amazing chavismo came up with the “Operación Caín,” detected by military intelligence bodies, which had the goal of selectively assassinating chavista leaders: in the first phase, Freddy Bernal, Iris Varela and two military officers; and in the second phase, Diosdado Cabello, Jorge Rodríguez and Héctor Rodríguez. The relevant part is that they already implicated Táchira Legislative Council lawmaker John Luna, after detainee José Luis Daza Cepeda testified.

Abroad

  • Mario Abdo Benítez took office as President of Paraguay. During his first speech—in the ceremony where Nicolás wasn’t invited—he said: “We express our solidarity with the people of Venezuela and Nicaragua in view of the abuses of power. Our libertarian voices won’t be silenced. Paraguay won’t remain indifferent to the suffering of sisterly nations.”
  • The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry gave Peruvian authorities the names of two people involved in the drone flight, so that they’re extradited: Gregorio José Yaguas and Yilber Alberto Escalona, allegedly linked to the assault on Fuerte Paramacay in 2017.

  • The Foreign Ministry also delivered a note of protest to Japanese ambassador Kenji Okada, after the statements issued by that nation’s Foreign Minister Taro Kano, advocating for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.

We, migrants

Ecuador has skillfully managed the impact of Venezuelan diaspora. After the Ecuadorian government declared the state of migration emergency and proposed the humanitarian corridor to ease up the movement of Venezuelans in their territory to reach other borders, Peru announced a new historic record after receiving 5,100 Venezuelans in one day, according to information published by the Binational Border Attention Center (Cebaf).

Peru’s National Superintendency of Migrations estimated last week that some 385,000 Venezuelans have been established in a year, making it the second country after Colombia with more Venezuelans in its territory. For a second day in a row, the UN spokesman talked about Venezuela’s migration crisis, saying that secretary general Antonio Guterres is concerned and emphasizing that “the lack of a political agreement is taking an immediate humanitarian toll on Venezuelans.”

The march of nurses that will take place today to the Miraflores Palace will have the support of various union organizations from the electric and oil sectors, as well as the Venezuelan Medical Federation. All the sectors that support this cause have emphasized the healthcare system’s collapse and the government’s inexcusable indifference to demands for better working conditions and better salaries.

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