Cut Off From The Palace

For Friday, August 17, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Tal Cual Digital

This Thursday marked the 53rd day of the nurses’s strike, and they gathered early at the JM de los Ríos Children’s Hospital, with the support of several healthcare sectors, as well as the oil and electric sectors. The march’s goal was to reach the Miraflores Palace to demand that the government improve salaries and working conditions. The march could only make two blocks, since Vollmer Av. was blocked by the National Bolivarian Police (with the same misogynistic principle: placing female officers at the frontlines so that any attack would be aggravated by gender) reinforced by National Guard officers who held the march in place.

Vice-minister Armando Marín arrived to Vollmer Av. to receive the document, but the march’s leaders didn’t hand it over with the certainty that Marín doesn’t have the authority to answer their demands. Then Miguel Carvallo, director of the Vice-President’s Office’s Social Attention Department, came and promised to take the document to the President’s Office.

“We do nothing if this doesn’t reach the president and the most important thing is for him to solve this. Enough of Venezuelans dying in hospitals for lack of supplies, enough of Venezuelans dying in their homes because they never make it to the hospitals,” said Freddy Ceballos, head of the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation. Fanny Gamarra, head of the Venezuelan Federation of Nurses, established August 21 as the deadline for Nicolás to announce new salaries for the healthcare sector. Her demand is a salary equivalent to 210 minimum wages.

All set?

Although the Venezuelan Banking Association said that online banking services will continue operating between Friday 17 and Monday 20, this Thursday Interior Minister Néstor Reverol said that those services will be suspended for 24 hours starting on Sunday 19 at 6:00 p.m. In his view, 95% of online banking services are adjusted for the reconversion, including the distribution of the new monetary cone’s banknotes across the country, claiming that the entire banking system has the bills to begin the process. For some reason, they’re going to make impromptu inspections in bank vaults to make sure that the bills are properly distributed. Given the hasty reconversion, Reverol asked citizens to take all necessary measures (?) and ratified that on August 23 through 25, retirees and pensioners will get the exorbitant pension of Bs.S 42.40. The new BCV resolution containing the regulations to remove five zeroes from the bolivar is already published in Official Gazette, repealing the regulations published on April 30.

Requesens’s case

This Wednesday, Diosdado Cabello accused lawmaker Ismael García of being involved in the drone flight and also mocked lawmaker Juan Requesens for the humiliating video shared on social media. Yesterday morning, lawmaker Juan Miguel Matheus demanded an investigation on the way the confession where Requesens admits having facilitated the passage of one of the culprits from Táchira to Colombia was extracted. “We must investigate the fraudulent way in which these statements were obtained,” said Matheus, emphasizing that the judge rejected those videos as evidence; he also demanded an examination by an independent physician, that Requesens be allowed to meet his family and pointed out that his gastric bypass surgery means Requesens is a patient who needs special food and treatment with medicines. The former Heads of State and Government participating in the Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA) demanded that an impartial and qualified international mission be allowed to determine the veracity of the incidents denounced by Nicolás, and to confirm the conditions and treatment given to lawmaker Juan Requesens. The International Union of Socialist Youth also expressed concern for the systematic human rights violations in Venezuela and demanded respect for Requesens’s human rights.

The hot potato

National Assembly Speaker Omar Barboza said that Parliament hasn’t yet decided how to proceed with the sentence issued by the exiled justices, ordering them to fill the Presidency’s vacancy, after declaring Nicolás “de facto president.” The sentence must be discussed by the various parliamentary caucuses after being reviewed by the legal department: “The problem isn’t about making decisions for their own sake but knowing whether we can execute them or not. We must be careful and responsible because the credibility of the only legitimate public branch is at stake, we can’t falter in constitutional terms,” said Barboza.

He explained that they’ll use the contents of the sentence to advance the Comptrollership Committee’s investigation on Odebrecht. “There’s no rule of law in Venezuela and these sentences are inapplicable, but this is an important sight of the will to fight corruption and we’ll delve deeper into the details,” added Barboza. Additionally, in view of the intense criticism for the National Assembly’s regular sessions period, lawmaker Delsa Solórzano explained that this doesn’t mean they’re going on vacations: “The Constitution forces us to conclude the regular period and call for the extraordinary period. In fact, we’re in the National Assembly right now,” she wrote.

Briefs and serious

  • Yesterday, central states experienced a piece of the mayhem suffered by Zulia and Táchira, with outages and blackouts. The malfunction keeping many areas of Caracas in the dark since last night, sparked a night protest of Altagracia neighbors around the Miraflores Palace, also without electricity.
  • Argentine authorities arrested Luis Abraham Bastidas Ramírez, former logistics and general services manager at PDVSA and cousin of former Minister Rafael Ramírez, accused of laundering $5 million, who had an Interpol arrest warrant on him, issued at the request of the Principality of Andorra’s judicial authorities.

  • All the blackmail applied by the government to force Venezuelans to attend the national transport census failed. According to reports by executive spokespeople, only two million units have registered, merely 35% of the automotive fleet.
  • After attacking the access to the digital outlet Armando.info, and demanding internet providers to block its IP address, yesterday the government advanced on diversifying its censorship strategy: they barred four journalist, Ewald Scharfenberg, Joseph Poliszuk, Roberto Deniz and Alfredo Meza from leaving the country; and blocked the publication of the information about Alex Saab Morán regarding the alleged case of corruption with CLAP boxes. Now denouncing corruption in food imports is a crime, because according to Saab, these investigations damage his honor and reputation. It’s a terrible precedent for press freedom and the access to information.

Ecuador’s government announced that starting Saturday, August 18, they will demand that Venezuelans show their passports as a requisite to enter their territory, said Interior Minister Mauro Toscanini. Up until now, we only needed to show our ID cards.

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