This Wednesday started with a video where Nicolás addressed “the American people” recorded in Spanish and with a green screen showing one of Miraflores’ yards as background, asking not to turn Venezuela into a new Vietnam. In an interview with the Russian agency RIA Novosti, Nicolás denied the possibility of holding presidential elections and offered holding legislative polls in advance. Later, they televised the high command shouting at their troops, claiming loyalty to the usurper, and then they showed him participating in a meeting of Christian movements. He asked them to pray for him.
— Mariel Lozada (@marielozadab) January 30, 2019
He also opened the Venezuela Bella mission, for which he approved 100 million euros and Bs. 60 billion, promising resources to fix churches and religious centers although there are hundreds of destroyed hospitals and schools. By the way, journalist Felipe Zuleta revealed for newscaster Blu Radio that last weekend Nicolás fainted in an armored vehicle “and they could barely pull him out due to his weight,” he said. The strategist behind Nicolás’s communicational campaign must belong to the democratic cause, it’s the only possible explanation.
Against the press
14 hours of detention (and isolation) elapsed before the regime released journalists Rodrigo Pérez and Gonzalo Barahona from Televisión Nacional de Chile (TVN). Both were deported. Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero wrote on Twitter: “It’s what dictatorships do: trampling press freedom, silencing freedom with violence.” Even though French reporters Pierre Caillet and Baptiste des Monstiers and their Venezuelan producer Rolando Rodríguez haven’t been released yet, the news agency EFE reported that SEBIN detained Spanish journalist Gonzalo Domínguez Loeda and Colombian Maurén Barriga Vargas in their office, as well as photographer Leonardo Muñoz and motorbiker José Salas. 11 press workers have been arbitrarily detained by the regime in just 24 hours. The excuse that Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted is that “some foreign journalists have entered the country irregularly without complying with the respective request of the work permit.”
1/2 Algunos periodistas extranjeros han ingresado al país de forma irregular sin cumplir previamente con la respectiva solicitud del permiso de trabajo en nuestros Consulados. Varios han tratado de acceder al Palacio Presidencial sin acreditación.
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) January 30, 2019
Caretaker President Juan Guaidó attended the protest in the Central University of Venezuela, reporting over 5,000 protest points across the country and restating his call for soldiers not to shoot: “Enough imprisonments and tortures.” Cheered by the popular response, Guaidó celebrated that the desire for change trumps fear: “We won’t leave the country. What we want is for people to return, precisely. On Friday, there will be a technical press conference with NGOs and the AN committee to talk about the entry of humanitarian aid.” His opinion on Nicolás is that he’s dissociated, “he doesn’t recognize the humanitarian emergency, that there are patients dying (…) When 90% of the country wants change, the arrogance of a dictator corners him and disconnects him from his followers.” He added that the usurper’s regime doesn’t have answers for any of the country’s problems. He concluded saying: “I have no doubt. I have absolute certainty that we’ll achieve change in Venezuela.”
Movements on the board
Donald Trump said that Nicolás is willing to negotiate with the opposition, forced by the sanctions imposed from Washington and the lack of oil revenue. He also said that caretaker President Juan Guaidó has been targeted by the TSJ and restated this Wednesday his full support for the lawmaker through a phone call.
Maduro willing to negotiate with opposition in Venezuela following U.S. sanctions and the cutting off of oil revenues. Guaido is being targeted by Venezuelan Supreme Court. Massive protest expected today. Americans should not travel to Venezuela until further notice.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2019
Agradezco la llamada del Presidente de los Estados Unidos, Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump, quien reiteró completo respaldo a nuestra labor democrática, compromiso con la ayuda humanitaria y reconocimiento de su administración a nuestra presidencia (E).
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) January 30, 2019
Meanwhile, his security advisor, John Bolton, called other nations not to trade with gold, oil or any other products “stolen by the Maduro mafia.”
My advice to bankers, brokers, traders, facilitators, and other businesses: don’t deal in gold, oil, or other Venezuelan commodities being stolen from the Venezuelan people by the Maduro mafia. We stand ready to continue to take action.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 30, 2019
Later, Bolton notified that the U.S. ordered the suspension of any dealings with Nicaraguan company Alba de Nicaragua (Albanisa) as part of the sanctions against PDVSA. Later, he’d speak about his “productive meeting with members of CITGO’s executive team.”
The United States is continuing to work to make sure that the economic benefits of Venezuela’s resources are not pilfered by Maduro and his cronies. Very productive meeting this afternoon with members of the CITGO executive team. pic.twitter.com/GBPX1s1drN
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 30, 2019
U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo denounced repression and asked the Armed Forces to protect all citizens. Additionally, Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said that his government repudiates and condemns the TSJ’s decision against caretaker President Juan Guaidó, considering the measure as “a new attack on civilian freedoms and further proof of the usurper regime’s policy of harassment.”
Repudiamos firmemente la decisión del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia de #Venezuela de prohibir la salida del país del Presidente Encargado @jguaido, así como el bloqueo e inmovilización de sus cuentas y la prohibición de disponer de sus bienes.
— Jorge Faurie (@JorgeFaurie) January 30, 2019
And in Europe
European Parliament Speaker Antonio Tajani said yesterday that the Eurochamber can’t remain silent in view of the recent events in Venezuela: “Sadly, the situation intensifies and reached a point of no return. The regime has forced three million people out of their homes. It’s the most important migration phenomenon in Latin America. If things don’t change soon in Venezuela, the crisis will worsen with disastrous consequences for the entire region,” he said.
Maduro oprime a los venezolanos. La Unión Europea debe estar al lado de la gente de Venezuela. Frente a eventos históricos donde está en peligro la democracia, es claro que tenemos que estar al lado de la libertad y los derechos humanos y no de la opresión pic.twitter.com/NAVsjDchAM
— Antonio Tajani (@EP_President) January 30, 2019
In the urgent session held in the afternoon, the European Parliament concluded with the possibility of becoming this Thursday the first institution in the bloc formally recognizing Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s sole legitimate president, without the conditions or terms established by other European instances. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian regretted that Nicolás didn’t respond to the EU’s call for elections and announced a meeting that all Foreign Ministers will hold this Thursday in Bucharest to discuss the next steps they’ll take.
[Amplía] "Nos reuniremos mañana en Bucarest, todos los ministros de Relaciones Exteriores (de la UE, ndlr.) para hablar sobre los siguientes pasos a dar ante la no respuesta de Maduro", declaró Jean-Yves Le Drian ante los diputados franceses sobre la situación en Venezuela #AFP
— Agence France-Presse (@AFPespanol) January 30, 2019
The most partial neutrals
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asked the democratic cause to abandon any previous conditions that they might have and start negotiating with Nicolás; claiming that Moscow wants to create the conditions for that negotiation, adding that any international mediation must be impartial. Later, Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, said that it’s not wise to support any of the parties clashing in Venezuela, claiming that an invasive attitude will foster division. According to Conte, this doesn’t mean that Italy supports Nicolás over Juan Guaidó, but he believes that the international community must pressure for free and democratic elections. Uruguay and Mexico called for a conference of “neutral” countries on Venezuela scheduled for February 7 in Montevideo and “takes up the call made by UN Secretary General António Guterres in favor of dialogue.” Aren’t they cute?
More noise from chavismo
The regime’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López claimed that the weapons are ready to defend the country and Nicolás, to whom he ratified his allegiance, emphasizing that the military High Command rejects golpismo and treason. Armed Forces Operational Strategic Command commander Remigio Ceballos yelled at the troops: “Don’t fall for the confusion of the media and never feel sad or concerned for our difficulties,” demanding monolithic unity. It’s curious how these spokespeople are twisting the order and asking the “people” to defend them, join them in their battles, when it should be the other way around. Diosdado Cabello had the gall to compare the governments of the European Union with Nicolás’s, claiming that they don’t respect the lives of their citizens and the fat dictator does. He restated the threat of holding early legislative elections and urged the “people” to take to the streets on February 2 “to defend them from imperialism.” The ANC hasn’t had a session in two weeks. Keep it up, nobody misses you.
Thousands of people took to the streets “wherever we were” to protest for two hours, overcoming fear for the recent repression, peacefully despite such an extreme crisis. Today at 9:00 a.m., National Assembly lawmakers will present the Plan País for Venezuela at the UCV.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.