Waiting in Cucuta

Photo: @jguaido

The first shipment of humanitarian aid for Venezuela arrived this Thursday in Cucuta under the coordination of the National Union of Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD), which issued a statement indicating that the supplies will be organized for the custody and protection process.

How the supplies will enter the country remains to be seen, because just like chavismo refuses to allow its entry, caretaker President Juan Guaidó hasn’t stopped asking the military to oppose Maduro. Understood as a political move, Nicolás will lose in both scenarios. The Chilean Red Cross launched a campaign to collect medicines for Venezuela, while Ana Rosario Contreras, head of the Association of Nurses of the Capital District, expressed the sector’s support for the National Assembly’s actions, demanding the entry of humanitarian aid and cautioning that blocking it “would be committing crimes against humanity.”

Bankrupt

Venezuelans have been in hyperinflation for 15 months and in January, according to the National Assembly’s index, the rate reached 191.6% which, compared to January 2018, means an increase of 2,688,670%, the highest in our history. Lawmaker Ángel Alvarado explained that the exchange rate’s depreciation (the bolivar depreciated by 194%) and the constant issuance of inorganic money (thanks, Central Bank) are the main reasons behind this. The simplest way to illustrate this tragedy? The minimum wage of Bs. 18,000 is barely enough to buy 3.7% of the food basket. Yesterday, it was revealed that the accounts of the Venezuelan company of the French oil group Total were frozen as a result of U.S. sanctions, while Marathon Petroleum will replace the supplies of Venezuelan oil with imports from the Middle East and other Latin American countries. Additionally, Bank of America announced that they’ll block payments with their debit and credit cards in Venezuela and the measure may soon be replicated by other American entities.

Lastly: the websites of Expedia and Orbitz stopped selling tickets to Venezuela.

Clear goals

In an interview with newspaper El País (Uruguay), Juan Guaidó explained that he won’t be a part of the “Montevideo Mechanism“ because the invariable consequence of all dialogue processes with chavismo has been more regime authoritarianism and repression. He said that the humanitarian aid is urgent to attend the population in mortal risk, so he’s even planning to mobilize citizens near collection points if necessary to secure its entry. “Maduro must go because he’s the obstacle,” said Guaidó, adding that the democratic cause is willing to give him any guarantees he requests “as long as the agreements produce his effective ouster from power.” In addition to his meeting with other European Union ambassadors and with university rectors, yesterday Guaidó made a call for all those who can help us “such as the Holy Father and all diplomacies” to cooperate with the end of the usurpation and a transition government that can hold truly free elections.

The stillborn mechanism

As she opened the first meeting of the International Contact Group on Venezuela, European Union high representative Federica Mogherini talked about the urgency of the task and the risk that our instability poses to the region.

The conclusions were read by Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa, starting with the recognition of the crisis that demands the access of humanitarian aid, as well as the support for a political resolution through free, transparent and credible presidential elections. “In order to overcome the crisis in Venezuela, it’s crucial to restore full democracy, the rule of law, branch autonomy and respect for the National Assembly,” said the document signed by the EU, the UK, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Only Mexico, Bolivia and the Caricom refused to sign. Thus, after a single day, the “Montevideo Mechanism” perished. No, please, I’m not laughing.

Other movements on the board

Elliot Abrams, U.S. special envoy for Venezuela, said yesterday that the time for dialogue is over and asked the countries to deal only with caretaker President Juan Guaidó and not with Nicolás. Abrams also announced that the visas of Constituent Assembly members have been revoked. State Secretary Mike Pompeo will meet on Saint Valentine’s Day with Federica Mogherini to discuss “the efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela and to support the caretaker President of Venezuela.” The testimony of South Command chief Craig Faller before the U.S. Senate’s Armed Services Committee was quite comprehensive: from warnings about the capacity of his Armed Forces to protect staff and diplomatic facilities, to criticism against the regime and the living conditions of Venezuelans.

Similarly, the speech of English vice-minister Sir Alan Duncan before the Chamber of Commons is an accurate testimony of what we’re going through and what the United Kingdom proposes to help us. By the way, Greece expressed its full support for the International Contact Group, a very interesting change in posture. The Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Court “is advancing in the examination” of the complaint that Argentina and other five countries filed against Nicolás, said Argentine Justice Minister Germán Garavano.

Last night, Colombian Immigration announced that they’ll nullify the Border Mobility Cards of chavista governors, mayors and lawmakers, and their families.

Chavismo’s noise

Overcoming the brief hack of some regime diplomatic pages, carried out in order to upload statements of support for caretaker President Juan Guaidó, Jorge Rodríguez came up again to present a script of the testimony of retired soldier Oswaldo García Palomo, whose confession includes mentions to Colombia, the CIA and Julio Borges; an (alternative) explanation for the failure of dialogue in the Dominican Republic and a touch of sadism: involving councilman Fernando Albán, who died under state custody, in this conspiracy. Diosdado Cabello’s yelling in Guárico included some 30 mentions of the word “war” and a memorable phrase: “We don’t care about sanctions. We’d rather have the love and recognition of the people a million times over.” Later, during a mandatory broadcast, Nicolás called for a march to “the White House, with over 10 million signatures demanding peace for Venezuela.” He also asked his followers to “do battle on social networks” and claimed that he’ll fight for Omar Enrique’s right to enter Colombia. Yeah, you read it right: there are people dying for lack of food and medicines here, with humanitarian aid blocked at the border, while Nicolás asks his people to join efforts so that an artist can perform in the Cartagena Carnival.

20-year-old Virgilio Jiménez, detained during 2017 protests, died in Uribana prison while waiting for the preliminary hearing he never had. The guards denied him the medicine that his family supplied for him when he reported he was sick. He was transferred to the hospital when his health was already severely compromised. They drove him out to die. His only crime was protesting against Nicolás, but Virgilio died indicted for terrorism.

It’s been six months since the arbitrary detention of lawmaker Juan Requesens, who hasn’t been presented before court either and remains kidnapped in El Helicoide. But also yesterday, former Chilean Army chief Juan Emilio Cheyre was arrested; he had already been sentenced for covering up murder and is now being investigated for tortures committed during Pinochet’s dictatorship. Let’s repeat it as a mantra: crimes against humanity don’t prescribe.

#WeGoOn

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