Blocking the Aid

Photo: @SecPompeo

The image of the Las Tienditas International Bridge (Táchira State) blocked with empty containers is a precise summary of the country’s circumstance. A structure that should unite is used by Nicolás to confront and prevent the entry of humanitarian aid that so many Venezuelans urgently need. The blockade is set up by soldiers, the only ones who support the usurpation. They use containers, the same that have stored rotten food and even homeless families; the same that have multiplied due to the decline of the national productive apparatus; containers from the ports and from the CLAP.

Preventing the access of humanitarian aid is another demonstration of sadism, unjustifiable after knowing that 12 children have died with vomit and diarrhea in the last 72 hours in Azoátegui alone.

Dr. Julio Castro cautioned this Wednesday that in addition to the 300,000 people at the brink of death due to lack of medicines and food, there are approximately 2,000,000 Venezuelans who also require urgent assistance. The UN said that the aid shouldn’t become one more factor in the Venezuelan crisis, since “humanitarian action must be independent from politics,” said spokesman Stephane Dujarric. In any case, Puerto Rico sent a shipment of aid, Colombia keeps coordinating the collection of supplies in Cucuta and Nicolás just gave the world a painfully unforgettable image.

The Montevideo mechanism

The governments of Uruguay, Mexico and countries of the Caribbean Community proposed a mechanism of four phases to “guarantee a peaceful and democratic solution to prevent an escalation of violence.” The phases of this tremendously original mechanism are: immediate dialogue among those involved; negotiation and search for common ground; building and signing agreements and implementing the commitments. Thus, the pacifists ignore each negotiation disrespected by chavismo, each effort of the democratic cause mocked by their arrogance the chasm opened by hyperinflation and with it, hunger, which chavismo’s laughable request to guarantee the validity of human rights, as they violate them daily. The Montevideo mechanism will be presented this Thursday in the first meeting of the International Contact Group on Venezuela.

Nicolás is a disguise

“We’re in a battle to defend the honor, the dignity of an entire country that resides in the uniform you’re wearing. We’ve been threatened by the American empire,” said Nicolás, telling the Armed Forces that if Venezuela falls, “the remaining peoples of the world will fall” and that’s why they’re fighting this historic battle. Happy with the Montevideo circus, he announced his support for the four proposed phases with an epic phrase: “We’re ready to talk, but we have our rifles ready.” Dressed with a medical robe while he blocked the entry of humanitarian aid, he said that “Venezuela will produce 100% of the medicines that it needs this year” (in 2016 he even claimed that we’d export medicines) because in his imagination, he “works miracles.” He used the Barrio Adentro mission to explain the reach of his health policy (although according to the latest Encovi survey, this mission assisted less than 200,000 people). “Long live public health!” was his parting cry for a country with ruined hospitals; with people dying from lack of medicines and patients without treatment. And he added a timely: “No humanitarian aid!”

About the money

Caretaker President Juan Guaidó’s economic team works in the creation of a fund in the United States to receive the revenue of oil exports: “The state will continue receiving oil money, but Maduro won’t be able to handle it,” said lawmaker Carlos Paparoni. The bank fund seeks to collect both payments for oil sales and those made to Citgo. Yon Goicoechea told Reuters that they’re also preparing an emergency plan for domestic supply of gasoline after regime change. Paparoni also denounced yesterday that Nicolás’s government sold 73 tons of gold to the Arab Emirates and Turkey in 2018 without the National Assembly’s authorization, and said that they’ll request the cooperation of countries that have recognized Guaidó “to try and block of financial sanctions based on gold.” In a similar rank of severity, the AN’s Finance Committee denounced that embassy staffers have been withdrawing cash from the nation’s accounts. The FBI raided a bank in Puerto Rico in a money laundering investigation that may involve entities and people linked to the Maduro regime. Additionally, the AN’s Comptrollership Committee approved the opening of investigations against the company Interban Exchange, C.A. (Interbanex) for its alleged involvement with citizens related to acts of corruption.

Movements on the board

After the recognition of Ireland (and Andorra, a banking paradise for corrupt chavistas) only seven European countries haven’t recognized Juan Guaidó: Belgium, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Romania, Cyprus and Slovakia. 42 nations already support the caretaker president, who asked the authorities of the ruling coalition in Italy to meet with his representatives, in an attempt to gain their support. Later, Italian Vice-President Matteo Salvini announced that he’ll meet with the delegation sent by Guaidó on Monday, February 11th, in the headquarters of the Interior Ministry in Rome, where European Parliament Speaker Antonio Tajani joined a protest of Venezuelans, saying that the Italian government lacks courage and that they must defend democracy in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump will meet his Colombian counterpart Iván Duque in the White House on February 13th, with the goal of strengthening his commitment to the region’s security; while National Security Advisor John Bolton offered this Wednesday an exemption of sanctions for Venezuelan high-ranking military officers who desert Nicolás.

The Spanish Senate approved a motion asking the government to support Juan Guaidó, protect Venezuelan economic assets and reject “false dialogues” that oxygenate the regime. Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been sentenced to 12 years and 11 months in jail for corruption and money laundering in a second case, while he’s serving a 12-year sentence for similar charges.

Change is irreversible

Caretaker President Juan Guaidó met yesterday morning with European Union representatives to consolidate their support and the democratic transition.

Later, in an event in the Andrés Bello Catholic University (UCAB) with agricultural producers, he said that the process of political change that Venezuela’s experiencing is irreversible: “Yesterday some people were saying that this is cooling down. But we keep meeting with the sectors, we’ll keep on the streets. I understand the anxiety, I make it my own because I feel the suffering of those who don’t have food for their children right now,” he said, adding that he’s always wanted to live in democracy too. “But this process that we’ve begun is irreversible, people of Venezuela (…) and it keeps advancing,” he said after pointing out that there’s a call to protest for the end of usurpation on February 12th. He asked Venezuelans to pay no heed to audios circulating on WhatsApp and social networks because most of them contain fake news that only contribute to increase the anxiety of citizens. Meanwhile, he’s still free and the National Assembly keeps working.

Pablo Antillano (1947-2019) passed away yesterday. He was a maestro of Venezuelan journalism, a political scientist, founder of the Caracas Press Club and recipient of the National Award of Cultural Journalism 2000. He created and headed many magazines; he published the book “Fechorías y otras crónicas de bolsillo” that collects his texts published in El Nacional. The testimonials of his colleagues and friends are moving; that’s what I call a legacy. Peace to his soul and much love to those close to him.

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