That’s what caretaker President Juan Guaidó said this Monday, assuring Nicolás and his team that they’ll decide the political cost of the transition process: “We’ll do all the necessary sacrifices to secure Venezuela’s freedom,” he said, adding that PSUV is paying the cost of usurpation, so he restated the remaining civilian officials of that party that he’s willing to talk if they contribute to the end of usurpation, the installation of a transition government and holding free elections, saying that the talks between Jorge Arreaza and U.S. special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, show Nicolás’s need to save himself: “If I were the military high command, Maduro’s close circle, I’d be very worried. Maduro doesn’t protect anyone, how many has he sold out?” asked Guaidó. He insisted that humanitarian aid will enter the country on February 23rd, not just from Cucuta, but also from Roraima and Curaçao, adding that there are 700,000 volunteers already: “We’re an organized and peaceful majority,” an information he connected with chavismo’s tides of war, restating that “the battlefield is chosen by the oppressor.” Guaidó recalled that February 18th marks the fifth year of Leopoldo López’s unjust imprisonment. Ah, the regime once again blocked interned during Guaidó’s press conference.
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) February 18, 2019
To the military high command
Even with the recent news that the U.S. Navy’s Attack Group with Aircraft Carriers had been deployed across Florida’s coast, U.S. President Donald Trump spoke for almost an hour about the situation in Venezuela, focusing on the military high command that supports Nicolás, not on Nicolás and his team. Needless to say, Jorge Arreaza wasn’t a good negotiator before Elliott Abrams. Trump said that Nicolás was “a puppet of Cuba” and cautioned the Armed Forces that they could lose everything if they keep supporting him, reminding them of the amnesty offered by Juan Guaidó and demanding that they let humanitarian aid into the country. The emotional turn took place with the participation of the mother of Óscar Pérez, the pilot who was murdered along his team for rebelling in January 2018. Trump praised his bravery and said that his death won’t be in vain, in his words: “Venezuela is turning the page on socialism and dictatorship and there will be no turning back.“ He insisted many times that he seeks a peaceful transition, “but all options are on the table.” It was important that he connected our situation with Cuba and Nicaragua.
We are here to proclaim that a new day is coming in Latin America. In Venezuela and across the Western Hemisphere, Socialism is DYING – and liberty, prosperity, and democracy are being REBORN…https://t.co/hPL5W48Pmg
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2019
While the Interior Ministry tweeted about the state’s strategies for the “Carnavales Seguros 2019” security operation, minister Jorge Rodríguez announced that on February 22nd and 23rd, they’ll set up a concert at the Simón Bolívar International bridge (at the border with Colombia) for peace and life, whose slogan is “For war, nothing.” Sadly, he offered no details about the artists that will attend, nor about how they’ll pay for the event, but he did announce free medical assistance campaigns for the people of Cucuta, with pediatricians, surgeons and odontologists; and they’ll also hand over 20,000 CLAP boxes.
#VIDEO | Cúcuta presenta altos índices de desigualdad. 40% (300 mil cucuteños) está en situación de pobreza. El 10 %, en situación de pobreza extrema, según cifras del Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística de Colombia @DANE_Colombia. denuncia VP @jorgerpsuv pic.twitter.com/ADRfThyvFG
— VTV CANAL 8 (@VTVcanal8) February 18, 2019
Meanwhile, Diosdado Cabello gave another warmongering speech in Merida, before a rather meager audience, surprised that anyone thinks that his “socialism” is a danger; fabricating threats of invasions and wars; reinterpreting the messages to the Armed Forces, denying the humanitarian emergency, claiming that on February 23rd they’ll go out to defend Nicolás and building another phrase of historical horror: “Venezuela has problems, we recognize that, but Cucuta is worse than Venezuela.”
Accounts under control
Lawmaker Carlos Paparoni, head of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee, said yesterday that all Venezuelan assets in the United States are protected, that they’ve identified the banks and tax havens used by the regime to move accounts and national assets, so they already have 72 accounts in international banks that represent 80% of the nation’s liquid assets: “These accounts are protected and Nicolás Maduro can’t use them,” he said and explained that they’re focusing on 29% of these accounts that amount to $3.2 billion. According to Paparoni, the AN “has gotten in touch with 52 international institutions to control Venezuelan accounts abroad” and took the chance to remind the government of Uruguay that any account operations without the National Assembly’s approval will be considered a crime. Another relevant detail: all the firms that handled Venezuelan accounts before January 23rd were cancelled.
About the European lawmakers
On the night of Sunday 17th, Nicolás expelled a mission of European parliamentarians. Back in Madrid, lawmaker Esteban González Pons demanded that the Foreign Ministers of the European Union gathered in Brussels withdraw from the International Contact Group (ICG); he also demanded the EU to sanction Jorge Arreaza, banning him from entering Europe and freezing all of his assets “as he must surely have many,” and explained that they’ll go to Colombia on February 23rd to join the convoy for the entry of humanitarian aid into Venezuela. Nicolás was heavily criticized for this diplomatic barbarity, but Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell thought it was disproportionate to take diplomatic measures for that, although he condemned the incident, emphasizing the difference between a mission of the European Parliament and the visit of some European legislators. Later, Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, regretted the incident but also pointed out that it doesn’t jeopardize the ICG’s work, whose objective is to achieve a transition and hold free and fair presidential elections. They couldn’t split the EU about its policy on Venezuela; they failed in sabotaging the ICG’s efforts; another defeat for Arreaza.
Other movements on the board
Mogherini also announced that this week she’ll travel to Caracas in a technical mission led by the EU and Uruguay “to work on the assessment of the support that can be given to open the way for a democratic and peaceful transition.”
#Venezuela "We're going to send a technical mission led by the EU and Uruguay as the two co-chairs of the group to Caracas to work on the assessment of the support that can be given to open the way for a democratic and peaceful transition" @FedericaMog pic.twitter.com/ZPcBdzJBka
— European External Action Service – EEAS 🇪🇺 (@eu_eeas) February 18, 2019
Additionally, there were statements from the Foreign Ministers of the Czech Republic, Iceland and Germany, expressing their support for the EU’s active role, their concern for the humanitarian aid, restating their support for Juan Guaidó and urging to keep pressure on Nicolás’s regime. Moreover, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said that he’ll be in Cucuta on Friday 22nd, and explained that after the failure of Unasur, they’ll create Prosur “for a better regional coordination, cooperation and integration, free from ideologies, open to everyone and 100% committed with democracy and human rights,” he said. Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who’s visiting New Delhi, said that he hopes that India will stop financing Nicolás. His Foreign Minister, Jorge Faurie, did the same, specifically criticizing the purchase of PDVSA oil, and explaining why it’s crucial to cut financing for chavismo.
The fact that chavismo challenged a concert to raise funds for humanitarian aid announcing their imitation but with medical services and free food boxes, is a sadistic excess. Associating the blockade to the aid with giving Cucuta services that are absent in Venezuela, only strengthens the notion of mockery against the most vulnerable. Doing it on the bridge where so many have started their forced migration redoubles the cruelty. Perhaps that’s why they aren’t even mentioned anymore, perhaps that’s why the messages are addressed to the soldiers who keep them in power with no other grip left.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.