Photo: Venezuelan Foreign Ministry
Provisional President Juan Guaidó was in a popular assembly held in the Alfredo Sadel square yesterday, and challenged the government to publish evidence of the alleged meeting that sparked the #GuaidoChallenge: “Show whatever you want, fabrications, with hoodie, without hoodie, audios. You confuse nobody here, the people see clearly,” he said, remarking that this action is proof that the usurpers feel “cornered.” He restated his welcome to all officers who want to participate in the restoration of democracy and he explained the promotion of the Amnesty Law. Thanking recent international supports, he said: “We want to shake hands and build the Venezuela of our dreams. However, we won’t get involved again in deaf dialogues, the goal here is to align the country with progress, with the future, with democracy and freedom.” This Sunday, he’ll offer details about the next mobilization, as well as the access of humanitarian aid.
“When cornered, the regime answers with repression and persecution. They’re doing it to the most vulnerable people, but that won’t stop us,” said Guaidó this Saturday. The regime has intensified the criminalization of protests and just like it has arrested 500 people thus far (Foro Penal data,) most of them in low-income areas, prosecutors and courts have sped up their operations and each person presented to court has been imprisoned, which includes at least twenty minors. Remember that this Friday, during a mandatory broadcast, Nicolás demanded the maximum punishment (20 years in prison) against anyone who protests. So far, the indictments include crimes such as using teenagers for crimes and emitting gases harmful to the atmosphere. FundaRedes in Táchira made serious complaints about the actions of the FAES and civilian armed groups made up by the Colombian guerrilla (ELN) that killed two young men, and Lara’s Human Rights Network also denounced the extrajudicial execution of seven young men in El Tocuyo and Carora.
The circle closes?
Yesterday morning, Spain, France, Germany and the United Kingdom separately stated that if elections aren’t called in Venezuela in eight days, they’ll recognize Juan Guaidó as President. Federica Mogherini, European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, said that the EU “strongly calls for the urgent holding of free, transparent and credible presidential elections,” restating that the elections held on May 2018 didn’t comply with these conditions and stripped Nicolás off any democratic legitimacy. The EU “reiterates its full support to the National Assembly.” The governments of Portugal and the Netherlands joined the ultimatum later. According to political scientist Michael Penfold, the EU puts the usurpers in a crucial dilemma with the proposal of competitive elections: if they accept, they’ll recognize they lack legitimacy of origin and open the way for a declaration of vacancy; if they don’t, the EU will support the AN restore constitutional order, recognizing Guaidó’s provisional Presidency, uniting the Lima Group, the U.S. and other countries. Penfold says: “The circle is closed internationally.”
The UN deputy secretary general for Political Affairs and Construction of Peace, Rosemary DiCarlo, recognized this Saturday that almost all Venezuelans are affected by hyperinflation, the collapse of salaries and shortages of food, medicines and basic supplies; the decline of health services and education and the decline of basic service infrastructures. U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo urged countries to recognize Juan Guaidó as provisional President of Venezuela and to suspend financial transactions with the regime, exhorting the member States to pick a side: “Now it’s time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem,” he said. There were valuable explanations about our circumstances, such as the ones made by France, Germany, Canada, Poland, the United Kingdom, Peru and Belgium; others were anodyne, including Indonesia and Ivory Coast; shameful ones, including South Africa, Equatorial Guinea and the Dominican Republic, and the usual ideological bulwarks from Russia, China, Nicaragua and Cuba. I didn’t find any political analysis who dared to say whether this meeting favors the democratic cause.
Welcome, Mr. Abrams!
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said in the Security Council meeting that Europe won’t offer periods to Venezuela to call for elections: “Giving us eight days for what? Giving us terms or ultimatums, how did they think of such an interventionist or childish action? Why don’t they hold elections in Spain or the United Kingdom? Go ahead (…) Don’t meddle in our affairs,” demanded Arreaza and used the participation of Henri Falcón in 2018’s elections to prove that they were democratic, underscoring that there’s no way to cheat in a digital voting system (kisses, Smartmatic.) He accused the U.S. of attempting a coup d’État and condemned that some of the countries present in the meeting accused Venezuela of being a dictatorship. Regarding the migration crisis, he claimed: “We can’t talk of refugees. There’s an economic migration caused by the economic war planned by the United States.” He should read the letter published yesterday by Dr. Eduardo Stein, special representative of UNHCR and IOM, in which he describes our diaspora as “the largest movement of population in Latin America’s recent history.” It was beautiful to see him back down about the U.S. before the press: “On the contrary, we welcome the appointment of Mr. Abrams and hopefully we’ll be able to establish a relation with him.”
Después de acusar a EEUU de estar a la cabeza de un supuesto golpe de Estado, Jorge Arreaza dice que espera poder conversar con Elliott Abram y tener relaciones de respeto. #26Ene pic.twitter.com/MlVZgGJibX
— Gabriel Bastidas (@Gbastidas) January 26, 2019
Nicolás said yesterday that he got “a great victory at the UN Security Council. Mike Pompeo left the meeting,” and said that the exit of U.S. diplomatic staff from Caracas is historic. Not even he believed his role of winner, perhaps that’s why he emphasized criticism against Pedro Sánchez’s stance and finished singing “Qué viva España.” Meanwhile, Diosdado Cabello said in Cojedes: “Now, I’m waiting for him to say that the hooded man in the video isn’t him so I can reveal the second piece of evidence (…) I wasn’t there to beg, I wasn’t there to hand over the country (…) We weren’t there to negotiate the homeland or the country (…) You choose, Guaidó. Keep talking nonsense and we’re going to reveal everything we discussed; it’s in your hands, pal.” Later, he claimed that anyone who supports of incites a military intervention in the country will be treated as an enemy.
#26Ene Diosdado Cabello a Juan Guaidó: "Ponte a creer que me engañaste. ¿Por qué hay esa evidencia dos?. Yo no fui allí a pedir cacao. Tu decides Guaidó, sigue hablando paja, y vamos ir sacando todo lo que hablamos"- @AlbertoRodNews pic.twitter.com/QrCOjgXibJ
— Reporte Ya (@ReporteYa) January 26, 2019
From 72 hours to 30 days!
“In my position as Venezuela’s defense attaché in the U.S., I don’t recognize Mr. Maduro as president of Venezuela. Enough is enough! Let us recognize the true lawful president, Juan Guaidó,” said colonel Jesús Silva, military attaché of Venezuela in Washington, in a video posted on social media.
Pronunciamiento del coronel (GNB) José Luis Silva Silva, agregado militar de la embajada en Washington quien renunció para ponerse a disposición del presidente interino @jguaido pic.twitter.com/2OOHAfloFL
— Ibéyise Pacheco (@ibepacheco) January 26, 2019
Minutes later, Jorge Arreaza issued a statement announcing that U.S. diplomats, whom Nicolás expelled from the country in a tantrum, may remain for 30 more days, scrapping the 72-hour period that ended yesterday at 4:30 p.m. “Don’t try us, we’re going to defend our people,” Mike Pompeo had cautioned, but perhaps this monumental u-turn has more to do with preventing Silva’s video going viral, than with Pompeo’s warning or with the negotiation to establish and Interests Office in each country as Arreaza’s statement claims.
Comunicado Oficial sobre el estado de las relaciones diplomáticas y políticas entre el Gobierno de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela y el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos de América. pic.twitter.com/TRMjul8NeC
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) January 26, 2019
The Central Bank of Venezuela presented this Saturday the Interbanex (Interban Exchange C.A.), “a technological platform of exchange mediation for the national private sector and exchange operators,” in other words, a new exchange system. The BCV hasn’t explained anything about this platform for the private exchange market, whether it replaces DICOM, who can participate in it, whether the BCV will be involved in the price (there was never such a thing as free convertibility) and much less why they start quotation with the “criminal” dollar. We’ll see.
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