New Boards

Photo: @jguaido

In the last five years, PDVSA lost more than half of its production and it produces less every month, taking its performance to the prehistory of industry, representing the most significant drop among OPEC members. In January, PDVSA produced 1,106,000 barrels per day, American sanctions are starting to severely restrict its market and with it, the access of revenue for Venezuela. In this context, in the Wednesday session, the National Assembly unanimously appointed the new Ad-Hoc Board of Directors for CITGO, a PDVSA affiliate in the U.S., with the goal of protecting the state’s assets. They also appointed an Ad-Hoc Administrative Board for PDVSA, as well as for PDV Holding Inc.; CITGO Holding Inc. and CITGO Petroleum Corporation. These boards will be responsible for determining the current status of the patrimony in their institutions and investigate irregularities. Elías Matta, head of the Energy and Oil Committee, explained that the appointments will have an operational effect because the United States recognized Juan Guaidó as caretaker President.

On PDVSA itself

Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office announced that it froze the bank accounts of a Bulgarian lawyer who received millions of dollars in transfers from PDVSA. Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov explained: “Several transfers were made from the accounts to banks in third countries and the reasons for these transfer have nothing to do with the activity of a lawyer.” They’re investigating a possible case of money laundering. Without details of the amounts transferred or the identity of the lawyer, Tsatsarov said that the state counterespionage agency started investigations on the entire Bulgarian banking system to detect other possible transfers from Venezuela. Reuters reported about the movements of Halliburton, a company that was granted by the U.S. State Department a license to continue its operations in Venezuela until July 27th, 2019, a period they’re using to evaluate its continuity despite the limitations.

Get out of here

We now arrive to the bizarre story of how a newspaper in Milan (Italy) received a letter that Pope Francis sent to Mr. Nicolás—who isn’t President—replying to his request of mediation in the political crisis. The Pope says that the chavista administration has interrupted previous mediations, “because what had been agreed in those meetings wasn’t followed by concrete gestures to implement the agreements.”

The Vatican’s spokesman didn’t deny nor comment on the publication of a “private” letter, but cardinal Baltazar Porras said that the Catholic church isn’t surprised by the reply and believed the text was credible, as it exhibits the Vatican’s disposition to help: “We’re facing a situation of illegitimacy of origin and especially illegitimacy of exercise,” said Porras, and this second condition makes the usurpation morally unacceptable and reprehensible; urging to listen to the voice of people who, amidst hunger, demand a solution to the crisis.

Movements on the board

Donald Trump restated that he’s considering all options for Venezuela’s political crisis. In his view, Nicolás is making a terrible mistake by blocking the access of humanitarian aid. But not all options have the support of the U.S. Congress, as proven by the statements of Eliot Engel, chief of the Chamber of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, and his concern for the insinuation of a military intervention, as well as his fear because sanctions may hit citizens harder than hierarchs. Later, James Inhofe, chief of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, once again mentioned the option of military intervention and cautioned that the possible presence of Russian troops in Venezuelan territory could be an inflection point. Meanwhile, Elliott Abrams, U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela, announced the revocation of visas for justices of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, which he deemed illegitimate.

 

In his visit to the U.S., President Iván Duque insisted on the need to keep pressuring Nicolás, confirming that Colombia will keep offering his territory for the arrival of humanitarian aid and asking the international community to understand that preventing the access is a crime against humanity. Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok confirmed that Curaçao will be the third collection point of humanitarian aid for Venezuela.

Mauricio Macri met with his Uruguayan counterpart, Tabaré Vázquez and in the statement about the meeting they specify that: “Both countries call for finding a democratic solution with free, credible elections and with reliable international controls.”

Chavismo’s noise

Although Anzoátegui governor Antonio Barreto Sira announced the deployment of a special plan due to water pollution in the entity, with the provision of medicines and supplies donated by the Pan American Health Organization, last night Nicolás focused on talking about the possibility that Venezuela might export food. With figures of poverty in the U.S. and Colombia, but not in Venezuela, he repeated that the CLAPs “are the solution to attend the family” and said it was a crime to “kidnap the seeds of our country.” All of his production figures are mistaken or false, and it’s a barbarity for him to talk now about “breaking all the bonds of external dependency.” He announced the reopening of a poultry farm in Portuguesa, and of a rice processing farm in Guárico. He also lied about the impression of journalists “in love with the true Venezuela,” especially those they arbitrarily arrested and then deported.

Phishing against Voluntarios por Venezuela

Between February 12th and 13th, the web page promoted by the National Assembly to organize volunteers (www.voluntariosxvenezuela.com) was redirected to a mirror site (www.voluntariovenezuela.com). This cloning was investigated by several experts in the area, who established that CANTV and Movilnet redirected their users to the fake site. Even worse, the people behind this work used the same IP (159.65.65.194) that the state has used before to steal private information from users, with websites that pass as social networks or pages to access e-mail services. That IP connects with various domains that clone pages in Venezuela and, through phishing, collect data from users who think they’re using the real websites; an action that violates the right to privacy and which is paid for with public funds. There are reports as far back as August 2018 of phishing complaints associated with that IP address and the registries of the fake domains belong to the National Center of Information Technologies (CNTI), an institution that belongs to the University Education Ministry. @joseluisrivas (on Twitter) called the phone number associated with the registry of the fake domains (+582129090597) and the CNTI answered. Although they tried to fix the problem by erasing and changing the information about the relation of phishing sites with the CNTI, the modifications were also documented.

Humor is their call

“The Drug Enforcement Administration recently estimated that 15 to 20 tons of cocaine still move from Venezuela to the U.S. each month (…) Much of the illicit traffic is controlled by Venezuelan military officers and government officials,” says a Bloomberg article that studies how the drug trade leverages the loyalty of some military officers to Nicolás.

Hours later, the official account of the National Guard on Twitter reported the confiscation in Portuguesa of a shipment of 500 packets of marijuana that were hidden in a truck. The GN established that the drug comes from the U.S., which is undeniable given the tape used to seal each packet, exhibiting the U.S. flag as proof of the origin, rather nationalistic, but you know how Republicans are. We should find out whether the people arrested by the GN are nephews of Melania Trump.

The Special Criminal Chamber of Peru’s Supreme Court ratified the nullification of the pardon of Alberto Fujimori. The resolution can’t be appealed and the former dictator will continue serving his 25-year sentence for crimes in La Cantuta and Barrios Altos. Come on people, like a mantra: crimes against humanity don’t prescribe.

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