Guaidó Is Still Free

TSJ issues order against Juan Guaidó. Bolton retorts. AN appoints new Venezuelan representatives abroad. Regime forces jail teenagers. Guaidó gains control of key bank accounts in the U.S. PDVSA almost out of gasoline and diluents as Russia's Lukoil deserts Maduro. BCV acknowledges hyperinflation.

Photo: @jguaido

This Tuesday, ANC-imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab declared that caretaker President Juan Guaidó “has led actions that diminish the homeland.” That’s why he handed over to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice a preliminary investigation that the Prosecutor’s Office has opened against Guaidó and requested precautionary measures banning him from leaving the country and also from buying or selling properties, as well as freezing his accounts. Guaidó responded from the Federal Palace: “I don’t disregard a threat of prison, but this is nothing new. We’re here, we keep exercising our functions.”

Later, White House National Security Advisor John Bolton denounced Saab’s threats and cautioned that there will be serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm President Guaidó.

Last night, the TSJ issued (on Twitter) a request of precautionary measures against Guaidó and agreed to continue the investigation although without requesting that he be stripped off his parliamentary immunity. Two justices saved their votes. This is the first judicial decision against Guaidó and it comes six days after he assumed functions as caretaker President.

In the National Assembly

With the approval of the lawmakers, caretaker President Juan Guaidó appointed new ambassadors in the ordinary session of Parliament. Thus, Julio Borges will be the Venezuelan representative before the Lima Group; Humberto Calderón Berti in Colombia; Elisa Trotta Gamus in Argentina; Orlando Viera Blanco in Canada; Guaraquena Gutiérrez in Chile; María Faría in Costa Rica; René De Sola in Ecuador; Claudio Sandoval in Honduras; Fabiola Zavarce in Panama and Carlos Scull in Peru.

Parliament also approved in first discussion the draft bill of the “Law of the Statute for Transition” and it will be given for public consultation to collect observations and proposals from citizens. Then it will return to the chamber for its second discussion and enactment. Lawmaker Américo De Grazia announced the issuance of the Legislative Gazette “to provide a platform for the decisions we make in the plenary and support for the actions of the caretaker President.”

Lawmaker José Guerra denounced the potential extraction of at least 20 tons of gold for BCV vaults to transport them to Russia. Later, Bloomberg confirmed the extraction, but the destination remains unknown.

The mechanisms of repression

Judge Ediluh Guédez denounced in a video the alleged coercion she suffered to decree the imprisonment of 11 teenagers in Yaracuy State. Guédez admits that there were no conviction elements to imprison them, but in her version, she received death threats. Jickson Rodríguez was imprisoned on January 23rd despite his age (14) and neurological condition (epilepsy). Yesterday, after his release, he spoke about the cruel and inhuman treatment he suffered: “They hit me the most because I didn’t cry. The guards hit me, especially women (…) I told them: ‘I can’t get hit on the head because I suffer from epileptic attacks,’ and they yelled at me ‘Shut up, you’re a prisoner’.”

Jickson was released with precautionary measures, while the spokesman of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, spoke about the amount of people murdered and detained in Venezuela during protests. Last night, the same prosecutor general who in 2014 persecuted thousands of young citizens without proof and concealed evidences of torture, Luisa Ortega Díaz, promised to open an investigation and determine the criminal responsibilities derived from human rights violations during recent repression.

In Aragua, Benito Hamidian, dean of the University of Carabobo, denounced that young people were being recruited en masse on the streets, so he suspended academic activities.

Movements on the board

The U.S. State Department certified the authority of caretaker President Juan Guaidó to receive and control the properties and accounts of the Venezuelan government and the Central Bank of Venezuela held by the Federal Reserve or any U.S. bank. Additionally, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he’s considering further sanctions to pressure the regime “to make sure that the country’s assets are protected for the Venezuelan people,” he said. Meanwhile, European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini spoke on the phone with Secretary Mike Pompeo to discuss “the recent political developments in Venezuela and work towards a peaceful and democratic transition. They agreed to keep in touch in the coming weeks,“ says the statement. Regarding Nicolás, Spain’s Pedro Sánchez said to Venezuelans at the end of the Socialist International’s meeting: “He who answers with bullets and prison to people’s hopes of freedom isn’t a socialist, but a tyrant.” The SI approved a resolution in which they highlight Guaidó’s efforts to “lead a transition towards democracy.” Ouch, usurper.

No more, comrade

Russia expects Venezuela to make the next debt payment of more than $100 million scheduled for late March, the Russian Finance Ministry announced. More important still is the information that Wall Street Journal correspondent in Russia, Anatoly Kurmanaev, offered yesterday: “Lukoil is not prepared to risk ban from U.S. financial system for Maduro,” so now they’re part of the companies that either cut or froze their contracts with PDVSA.

The obvious consequence is that we’re left without gasoline or diluents. According to Kurmanaev, PDVSA only has ten days worth of gasoline supply, very little time to find alternative providers before collapsing. However, Oil Minister and regime PDVSA chairman Manuel Quevedo, didn’t announce anything  but the ratification of the demand of “pre-payment for ships loaded with Venezuelan oil,” and he’s also thinking of declaring a possible “partial state of force majeure.”

Chavismo’s noise

From San Fernando, Apure, Diosdado Cabello repeated his speech of threats and loyalties, cautioning: “I don’t know how far the escalation of violence against Venezuela will go, but I’m going to tell you: there are no bombs or bullets that will only kill chavistas.” Whoever’s behind Nicolás’ campaign strategy, surrounded by soldiers, deserves a prize: all the gravity of the moment has been replaced by laughable videos, where the usurper’s huge belly bounces around, proving only its flexibility. Yesterday, he announced the formation of “50 thousand popular units of defense in all barrios, towns, cities and villages in the country,” the same spaces that the FAES and the GN have been repressing in what he called a “phantasmagoric coup d’état.” Finally, BCV talks about hyperinflation! After 15 months since it started and they do it to justify new measures with which they seek to “stabilize the exchange market”: the modification of the legal reserve of banks so that the institutions retain more bolivars (and thus reduce credit) and the compulsory sale of euros assigned by BCV itself.

A national protest is scheduled for this Wednesday, January 30th, between noon and 2:00 p.m. Wherever you are, go out onto the street; with a whistle, a flag, a protest sign or a friend. The idea is to convince the Armed Forces that citizens are willing to do our part in this equation: massively supporting the end of usurpation, a transition government and free elections.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.