Soldier, Listen

Photo: @jguaido

This Tuesday, the National Assembly unanimously approved a special and exceptional regime of 180 days to allow the entry of humanitarian aid: medical supplies, nutritional supplements, medicine and aid kits. The agreement demands officials and authorities with competence in customs, to allow the circulation and distribution of medicines, “lend their collaboration to facilitate the access and distribution” of humanitarian aid. It orders the clearing of the Las Tienditas binational bridge and other border posts; and includes a direct order to the Armed Forces, a point in which caretaker President Juan Guaidó spoke about the letters sent to the military chiefs of the Operational Zones of Integral Defense (ZODI) all over the country to allow the access of humanitarian aid on Saturday 23rd. This action had a digital version: from Guaidó’s Twitter account, citizens were exhorted to ask several soldiers (with the hashtag #SoldadoEscucha) to “uphold the Constitution,” choose between “serving Maduro or serving the country” and allow the entry of humanitarian aid. Yesterday, the AN inducted the substitute Amazonas lawmakers Mauglimer Baloa and Auris Rosa. Juan Guaidó appointed 16 new diplomatic representatives with the AN’s approval: 15 in European countries and one in Latin America.

About humanitarian aid

The UN restated its call to depoliticize the supply of humanitarian aid in Venezuela and asked all sides to reduce tension and establish serious political negotiations: “We’re anxious and concerned by the situation on the ground,” said spokesman Stephane Dujarric, adding that depoliticizing the aid “applies to everyone.” Meanwhile, Juan Guaidó met with the ambassadors of Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom, with whom he announced that these nations will contribute with $18 million and 70 tons of humanitarian aid, so they urged chavismo to let it in. Also from the federal legislative palace, a group of union representatives from the public transport sector said that they support Guaidó and that they’ll lend their services to mobilize humanitarian aid.

Later, ZODI Falcón commander, vice-admiral Vladimir Quintero, ordered the end of sea and air communication with Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, as a strategy to prevent the entry of humanitarian aid promoted by the National Assembly. He didn’t establish a period of time for the measure.

The chief of ZODI Táchira, José Noroño Torres, issued orders to retain all trucks coming through or moving at the border. He also demanded the records of the people currently visiting the region.

Why is humanitarian aid urgent?

The World Health Organization expressed concern because the cases of diseases like malaria have tripled in Venezuela in the last three years, saying that migration is one of the factors contributing to the spread of diseases. The WHO also expressed concern for the effects caused by the complex humanitarian emergency and said that the mass exodus of Venezuelans has included health workers of all ranks, severely affecting the country’s capacity to respond to emergencies and epidemics. The Venezuelan state stopped providing epidemiological data in 2014. Aside from health, we must talk about the economy: according to the Venezuelan Teachers Federation’s Center of Documentation and Analysis, the price of the basic food basket in January was Bs. 907,289, an increase of Bs. 599,383 compared to December 2018, while between January 2018 and January 2019, it increased by 371,709.4%, the highest variation ever recorded by CENDA. The minimum wage of Bs. 18,000 has a real purchasing power of 5% of the food basket.

The usurper’s delirium

Late on Monday 18th, Nicolás announced that 300 tons of humanitarian aid would arrive from Russia soon, explaining that the batch was paid for “with dignity” and adding that he accepted the offer of aid from other countries through the UN. 13 days were enough to go from the refusal “of scraps because we’re not beggars,” to the announcement about Russian aid, showing that the denounced blockade is non-existante and that the complex humanitarian emergency has been his choice.

Following the line of regrettable statements, this Tuesday 19th, Nicolás challenged Juan Guaidó to call for elections, because if he does, he’d lose by “a landslide”. Then he delighted his audience with the explanation of Venezuela as the geopolitical epicenter of a dispute between the American “unipolar aggressive imperial vision” and the “democratic, multipolar vision of cohabitation, harmony and dialogue” of chavismo and its allies. More democratic than Cuba? More harmonious than Turkey? More multipolar than Russia? More respectful than Nicaragua? Please! So, if Venezuela were to be invaded, according to Nicolás, the Asian, Arab and Latin American peoples would rise in arms (not the armies, mind you). He had the gall of accusing the Chilean and Colombian presidents of calling for an assault on Venezuela’s borders next Saturday.

More noise from chavismo

Regime Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López once again ratified his loyalty toward Nicolás and criticized the “extreme arrogana, terrible foolishness and dangerous attitude” of President Donald Trump, but not of his own commander in chief; unlikely, since he restated ideological adjectives to define the Armed Forces, denouncing a “propagandistic psychological campaign” with the request to let the humanitarian aid in and claiming that “they’ll have to walk over their dead bodies.” Padrino López said: “If they want to sanction us, then let them sanction us.”

Later, Diosdado Cabello asked the “undecided” in the Armed Forces to choose between ultimately betraying or defending the Constitution, demanding the military to establish their political stance, suggesting that they listen to one of Chávez’s speeches to clear any doubt. Interior Minister Nestor Reverol met with the chiefs of the Armed Forces and other state security bodies to establish strategies of immediate reaction to any threat that upsets order within the national territory.

Movements on the board

Japan recognized Guaidó as caretaker President and regretted that Nicolás didn’t call for elections as requested by so many nations. The Spanish Congress also approved a resolution recognizing Guaidó as President.

Former Spanish President Felipe González insisted that there’s a dictatorship in Venezuela, led by a foolish tyrant who uses his power destructively, emphasizing that in all his political experience, he’d never seen such a rapid and profound destruction as the one Venezuela has experienced.

OAS chief Luis Almagro called for concentrating more international support for Juan Guaidó, because he brings the possibility of a peaceful solution: “The stronger we make the caretaker president, the greater the chances of restoring the rights of the Venezuelan people,” he said.

The U.S. admitted that they’ve had talks with Nicoáas’s representatives, aimed at guaranteeing the safety of the American diplomatic staff in Caracas. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera asked chavismo to allow the access of food and medicines, restating that he’ll travel to Cúcuta to “support and encourage a peaceful and constitutional solution to the serious political and economic crisis affecting Venezuela through free, democratic and transparent elections.”

Nicolás tries to justify his illegitimate power. His only allies are the military and now you see, even Diosdado accuses some of them of being undecided. Nicolás blocks any possibility of us accepting his excuses and fallacies. The level of decline can’t be concealed, but he’s also been displaced from general interest: life goes on between the anguish of trying to survive hyperinflation and the expectations for a necessary transition. I don’t know if soldiers are listening, but if they are, just a few minutes of one of Nicolás’s speeches would be enough to understand everything.

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