Venezuela’s caretaker President Juan Guaidó said this Tuesday, February 26th, that he’ll return to Caracas this week to raise his voice against the regime. In view of chavismo’s threats, journalist Idania Chirinos asked him: What good is Juan Guaidó for Venezuelans if he’s in prison? He answered: “A prisoner is no good for anyone, nor an exiled President, we’re in uncharted territory, an uncharted territory of opportunities and freedom, and my job and my duty is to be in Caracas despite the problems and if that happens, the path is quite clear.” Guaidó emphasized that Nicolás only has guns to hold on to power and said that there’s indeed a war in Venezuela, but against the citizens. He also said that marches will continue until we have free elections.
Last night, he shared a video on Twitter where he confirms his return and announces new instructions which will be shared through audios.
No asumimos este compromiso para luchar desde afuera, por eso, pronto estaré en Venezuela para ejercer mis funciones como Presidente (E).
Haré circular un audio con las próximas instrucciones. Les pido que difundan masivamente nuestro mensaje
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 27, 2019
At the UN Security Council
U.S. Special Envoy Elliott Abrams said that “the people of Venezuela need our solidarity and our help if they’re to prevail against a vicious and violent regime,” so he called other countries to join the sanctions imposed by Washington against those regime cronies, requesting sanctions against “those who’ve been involved in the violence over the last weekend.” He also urged them to send more humanitarian aid and insisted that the UN must not provide assistance for the population through the regime because “Maduro’s kleptocracy will steal a part and embezzle the rest to reinforce his control on power.” He also rejected dialogue: “Ask Jorge Ramos of Univision about the value of dialogue with Nicolás Maduro,” said Abrams.
The European members of the council (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium and Poland) called for holding presidential elections in Venezuela to solve the political crisis. The majority rejected the dictatorship. Many speeches dedicated time to the impediment of humanitarian aid delivery and the state’s violence to achieve it. The majority rejected the possibility of a military intervention. The usual suspects spoke in favor of Nicolás (Russia, China, Cuba and Nicaragua) or “dialogue” (Suriname, Mexico and Uruguay). There’s a lot to say about this meeting and little time to tell you.
Regime Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza used the UN Security Council to condemn the U.S. government for “organizing, financing and leading” the attack allegedly experienced by “the country” last weekend; to denounce the mobilization of troops in the Caribbean and the purchase of weapons in Eastern Europe for “the opposition,” according to reports from Cuba and Russia. “Venezuela was attacked and they seek to make us look like the aggressors,” was his phrase to deny the use of lethal force by military officers and paramilitary groups and also reject accusations that the regime is involved in the murders without an investigation, a practice that chavismo has never executed. He expressed his desire for “the White House to allow Guaidó to negotiate and find a solution,” right before claiming that each soldier gets up to $20,000 to defect. His top moment? When he said that nothing’s happening here, that people are getting ready for Carnival and that we’re better supplied than last year, and the blockade? He opened the possibility for elections, for other solutions, but “let’s negotiate.” Colombia urged the Security Council to verify Arreaza’s statement. “Lie, lie, that some truth remains,” said their representative.
Chavimo’s remaining noise
Nicolás revealed last night that intelligence agencies have identified the protesters who clashed with the National Guard on February 23rd during the attempt of getting humanitarian aid into the country. Apparently, these brilliant officials managed to recognize “each and every one” of the protesters (whom he called criminals) in the videos solely through body features and, without explaining how, he already knows what state and neighborhood they came from; so he claimed that orders have already been issued to capture and execute them once they enter the country. A Crónica Uno journalist said that Nicolás lied, describing scenes that weren’t at all what actually happened. It was complex to associate his phrase “fax niuk” with the English “fake news.” Earlier, from Delta Amacuro, Diosdado Cabello restated that they won’t allow a foreign invasion, but dismissed the declaration of non-interference issued by the Lima Group, asking his meager audience to not believe that because “that shameless group received an order from a hawk, Mike Pence.” He insisted that the crisis was caused by the U.S.: ”If you’re looking for medicine and you can’t find it, it’s Donald Trump’s fault. If you’re looking for food and you can’t find it, it’s imperialism’s fault,” but he also disregarded the desertion of police and military officers; according to him, only seven have left.
At the border
“We want to study,” said Ureña children who study in Colombia, asking for the border to be reopened, just like adults from Ureña and San Antonio del Tachira who depend on crossing to Colombia to work, getting medical treatments or buying medicines and products that are scarce in Venezuela.
"Queremos estudiar", dicen los niños que viven en #Ureña y estudian en Colombia. Piden que abran la #Frontera Asimismo las personas que deben cruzar el puente para trabajar en Colmbia, temen perder sus puestos de trabajo. 26.02.2019 pic.twitter.com/Jq18J96L0T
— Luz Dary Depablos (@luzdarydepablos) February 26, 2019
It’s still unknown when Venezuela will open the border. Yesterday, once again there were protests at the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge and the Colombian police evacuated the press in view of the repression of Venezuelan security forces. The border with Brazil also remains closed and Roraima’s governor Antonio Denarium issued a decree of public calamity due to the amount of Venezuelan patients that were getting assistance in his territory, even though the hospital in Roraima received hygiene kits from the U.S. There are also dozens of Brazilian citizens stranded in Santa Elena de Uairen. Colombian Immigration reported that over 326 officers of Venezuelan security forces have crossed the border already.
Other movements on the board
Paru will cancel visas for regime diplomatic representatives in 15 days, a term that began on Friday, February 22nd, deputy Foreign Minister Hugo de Zela announced. Paraguayan Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni said that Nicolás “is deceiving” the countries of the Montevideo Mechanism and the European Union that promote a negotiated solution for the Venezuelan crisis, so he thinks it’s necessary to talk to them to tighten the fence and force Nicolás to step down. OAS chief Luis Almagro said that a permissive attitude with Venezuela (referring to Mexico) could jeopardize the entire region.
Una vez mas la dictadura usurpadora muestra su rostro criminal. Agentes de organismos de seguridad deben ponerse a las órdenes del Presidente @jguaido. Esto es evidencia relevante para la CPI. #OEAconVzla https://t.co/1mEJgD9ka1
— Luis Almagro (@Almagro_OEA2015) February 26, 2019
Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Ventura called for using the “appropriate mechanisms” to deliver humanitarian aid amidst the Venezuelan crisis, requesting the action of the Red Cross, the Red Crescent Movement or Caritas, to guarantee that it enters the country. Caricom sticks to its stance of non-interference in Venezuela’s affairs, wow, what a surprise! Ah! Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied that high-ranking Venezuelan officials had fled to Turkey.
About press freedom
Jorge Ramos and six members of the Univision team arrived in Miami after being deported by the regime; they didn’t get their equipment and personal belongings back.
"Si Maduro tiene los pantalones para dar la cara, que muestre la entrevista completa, nadie la va a editar", dice Jorge Ramos. pic.twitter.com/hLLZq7ybEd
— Univision Noticias (@UniNoticias) February 26, 2019
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tried to avoid this topic during a press conference, but finally answered: “Who are we to judge or meddle in what happens in other countries?” and various press organizations and NGOs that defend freedom of expression spoke up against Nicolás’s intimidation and censorship, denouncing this serious violation against press freedom and the right to freedom of information. The records of at least 20 journalists detained in Venezuela during 2019 confirm a pattern of restriction of press freedom that the regime itself confirmed yesterday when Telemundo reporter Daniel Garrido disappeared for several hours, while taking pictures of SEBIN presence in the hotel where the deported Univision team was staying. After being robbed and isolated for eight hours, he was released in the Cota Mil (Northern Caracas) by SEBIN agents. By the way, several Venezuelan journalists are stranded in Cucuta since they travelled there to cover the Cucustock.
Comunicado oficial de Noticias Telemundo sobre el secuestro de nuestro corresponsal Daniel Garrido hoy en Caracas mientras ejercía su labor periodística. @telemundonews https://t.co/EfgyhoPxks pic.twitter.com/wwAfGRsydm
— Noticias Telemundo (@TelemundoNews) February 26, 2019
— SNTP (@sntpvenezuela) February 26, 2019
Yesterday, the black market dollar closed at Bs. 3,600, leaving the current minimum wage at $5. Public and private banks will continue operations between February 28th and March 1st, according to banks superintendent Antonio Morales. The main reason is that Nicolás’s decree about these holidays was never published on the Official Gazette.