On The Red Carpet

Photo: @jguaido

“Yesterday we saw an unprecedented crime, burning humanitarian aid coming from many places in the world (…) Venezuela starts another day with a crisis that could’ve been relieved yesterday,” said caretaker President Juan Guaidó, upon arriving in Bogota this Sunday, February 24th, to attend the Lima Group’s meeting about our crisis.

According to Julio Borges, lawmaker and diplomatic representative before the group, the agenda includes the possibility of demanding an escalation in diplomatic pressure and in the use of force against the dictatorship.

This Sunday, representatives of several countries that recognize Guaidó as caretaker President condemned the blockade against the delivery of humanitarian aid, as well as the violence exercised against unarmed citizens. In the words of Portugal: “Those who help deserve respect, not hostility.” The majority demands the entry of humanitarian aid to alleviate the emergency. Only UN Secretary General António Guterres urged to avoid the violence and lethal force that the Armed Forces and chavista paramilitaries (colectivos) have already used for two days in a row.

Chavismo’s version

In addition to the suffering left by the violence they commanded, Nicolás’s loyalists recreated an absurd script to justify it, based on a common element: the delivery attempt had no volunteers but paid muscle. While Iris Varela used her phone before the burnt trucks on the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge, regime propaganda minister Jorge Rodríguez sparked the reaction of citizens and journalist who contradicted his version, which included this statement: “The GNB and the PNB carried themselves exemplarily.” For BBC correspondent Guillermo D. Olmo, the truth was different: “I was there and what I saw was armed men (guards and bikers) shooting at unarmed people.” Diosdado Cabello celebrated that humanitarian aid couldn’t enter the country and that they acted “very cleverly,” calling Colombian President Iván Duque “asshole, worm, boot-licker.”

Delcy Rodríguez said in another event paid with public funds (the International Assembly of Peoples in solidarity with Venezuela) that “yesterday, you only saw a small piece of what we’re willing to do,” and after murdering Pemon natives, she dared talk about the importance of indigenous peoples in maintaining the revolution.

A special mention to regime Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza’s performance on Twitter; if he had a teenage boy, I’d swear he stole his phone.

Sad balances

This Sunday, Colombian President Iván Duque visited two of the bridges at the border with Venezuela to assess the damage of the attempt to deliver humanitarian aid. There, he restated that he closed the border for 48 hours to “clear and review all the damage they caused.”

After Iris Varela visited the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge, a group of protesters confronted the National Guard blockade and the officers fired tear gas.

Some 150 people are camping in Bocono, Cucuta, waiting for the border to be reopened. The same happened at the Brazil-Venezuela border: stones against tear gas.

Two humanitarian aid trucks that arrived on Saturday 23rd are no longer in Pacaraima, the border remains closed and Santa Elena de Uairen experienced a curfew marked by patrols of armored vehicles and military convoys.

The local hospital is under siege by paramilitary colectivos, while NGO Foro Penal denounced that nine Pemon natives detained by SEBIN agents are missing: there’s no report as to where they’re being held. Gran Sabana mayor Emilio González fled to Brazil under threats and there were several complaints about the militarization of Pemon territory.

For human rights

While the regime’s prosecutor general Tarek William Saab answered José Vicente Rangel’s questions like a chavista militant, and later celebrated on Twitter that Gustavo Petro was “a voice in Colombia to dismantle fake news,” which explains the Prosecutor’s Office’s inaction before the human rights violations at the border, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned the incidents of violent repression reported in Venezuela, saying that the state must “respect the right to life and personal integrity” and urging the regime to avoid the use of military or paramilitary forces for repression, reminding them that “violence only intensifies human rights violations.”

I don’t know if it was because of Miguel Bosé’s demand at Cucustock (“Bachelet, move your ass at once!”) the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, condemned the excessive use of force and demanded not to use it against unarmed protesters, as well as stopping paramilitaries: “The use of proxy forces has a long and sinister history in the region, and it is very alarming to see them operating openly in this way in Venezuela,” said Bachelet.

Other movements on the board

The European Union condemned the regime’s refusal to acknowledge the humanitarian emergency which only escalates its consequences. They also repudiated “using irregular armed groups to intimidate the civilians and lawmakers who have mobilised to distribute assistance,”  detailing the data of reports about victims in the border regions and among the indigenous community.

While U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo repeated the mantra of having all options on the table and said he was confident that Nicolás’s “days are numbered,” there were at least a couple of nations that, before the Lima Group meeting, restated their support for a political and peaceful solution because their nation “isn’t willing to support non-peaceful alternatives,” and Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra cautioned that hastening Nicolás’s ouster through a military intervention would be “hastening the process (…) Maduro must be ousted by Venezuelans,” he said, establishing a very innovative idea.

Colombian Immigration reported that in the last 48 hours, 150 Venezuelan police and military officers crossed the border to uphold the Constitution: 146 through Northern Santander and 10 through Arauca, not counting Scott, the National Guard anti-drug dog. All of this happened without music, because among his multiple and disastrous failures, Nicolás now includes the (dis)concert which didn’t even last a single afternoon, the CLAP boxes he didn’t distribute and the medical services he didn’t offer to the poorest citizens of Cucuta. It’s important to record his lies, now known by a lot more people.

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