Here Comes 23J

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo retrieved

The neighbors of Western Caracas were the protagonists of this convoluted Monday night. Bello Monte, Santa Mónica, Las Acacias, El Valle, La Pastora, San Bernardino, Pinto Salinas, Pérez Bonalde, Catia, Mecedores, San José del Ávila, El Paraíso, Carapita, Propatria, Caricuao, La Candelaria, San Juan and even El Junquito report pot-banging and protest slogans against the usurper and the humanitarian crisis. There has also been repression from security bodies in the Fuerzas Armadas Avenue, San José, Pinto Salinas, Mecedores and there were hooded bikers shooting along the Andrés Bello Avenue.

People are protesting for a hyperinflation that overwhelms them, for the absence of basic services and for freedom. “I don’t want bonuses, I don’t want CLAP,” was the day’s motto.

The TSJ against the National Assembly

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice issued the rumored ruling against the National Assembly, disregarding the boards of 2017, 2018 and 2019; declaring all of their actions as absolutely null and void and saying that Nicolás’s usurpation is a “judicial fiction”. Express justice Juan José Mendoza (former PSUV lawmaker) responsible for reading the ruling, didn’t mention for how long they’ve kept Parliament “in contempt,” without proving the alleged electoral fraud for which they left it without Amazonas legislators. The ruling nullifies all the decisions of the new board and orders the Prosecutor’s Office to open an investigation to determine the criminal, administrative and civil responsibilities of the lawmakers involved in what they consider an “usurpation of the state’s competences.” They threw the ball to Tarek William Saab even though they have an all-mighty ANC with more powers than all Avengers assembled.

The National Assembly’s response

“This Parliament remains very strong,” said National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaidó, adding that the TJS ruling is a political aberration and a political absurdity. He exhorted the justices to uphold the Constitution he protects, regretting that they declared the nullification of forgiveness (the Amnesty Law) and help (the access to humanitarian aid) but ratifying that Parliament will remain strong until the transition has been achieved. That’s why this Tuesday, January 22, lawmakers will hold the first discussion for the statute of transition and the AN will continue its ordinary sessions. Guaidó called Venezuelans to be alert to the announcements they’ll make in the next few hours and in open assemblies about the January 23 protest. “What we saw today is that the message of respect for constitutional order has an effect. The call is to comply with the Constitution,” said the lawmaker.

Nine out of ten

National Assembly vice-president Stalin González explained that there are ten rallying points for the protest on January 23, although he only mentioned nine: Nueva Granada Bridge, Victoria Avenue, Cotiza and Madariaga Square (Libertador municipality); Unicentro El Marqués and Millennium Mall (Sucre municipality); Plaza Las Américas and Santa Fe (Baruta municipality) and Torre Exxa in Chacao municipality. González said that there would be open cabildos all over the country on January 23 and added that the march’s destination will be revealed this Tuesday.

About xenophobia in Ecuador

On top of all the tear gas and pellets with which they repressed citizens yesterday, and as a testament of their profound cynicism and lack of coordination, Nicolás’s officials accused the Ecuadorian government of inciting persecution against Venezuelans: “They have incited a fascist persecution against Venezuelans in Ecuador. We hold them responsible for the safety and integrity of our compatriots,” wrote Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on Twitter. However, Prisons Minister Iris Varela wrote: “A group of Venezuelans who heard the siren song are suffering in Ecuador, some of them get a taste of their own medicine,” adding that the opposition will be left without a place to live. In any case, Ecuador’s vice-president announced that starting next Monday, they will demand that Venezuelans show criminal records with apostilles in order to enter their territory, saying that Caracas refuses to hand over a database of their citizens to verify the information. In truth, the entry is barred to Venezuelans, because nobody who was already on the way there will have the possibility to fulfill this requirement.

Playing with the economy

The Central Bank of Venezuela announced the repeal of the special exchange measures on the surplus of bank reserves starting this January 22, “after evaluating the performance of the monetary market,” says the statement, adding that the decision comes in the context of the macroeconomic goals contained in the Program of Economic Recovery, Growth and Prosperity. Yesterday, Reuters revealed that Venezuela’s gold reserves had doubled in recent weeks after the country closed out a gold swap deal with German investment bank Deutsche Bank, recovering ingots that were held as collateral. Nicolás’s priority is to recover the monetary gold amidst the default of most international bonds. “The Venezuelan government’s strategy behind the shipment of gold to countries such as Turkey is to find the way to import food, after several rounds of United States sanctions that have made international banks reluctant to handle Venezuelan transactions.”

The day came to an end and there’s still tension. It’s curious that Nicolás hasn’t come up even in a picture, just as we didn’t see any member of the military high command that’s “willing to die for him.“ There’s been repression but also pot-banging: each tear gas canister multiplies the reasons for this political and social protest. In words of a Cotiza neighbor, who said she’ll protest “today, tomorrow, the next day (…) to kick that bastard out of where he’s holed up, entrenched, fat as a pig and we’re here starving, no way!”.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.