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Photo: @jguaido retrieved

Caretaker President Juan Guaidó said after the end of his meeting with President Jair Bolsonaro: “In the coming days I’ll return to Caracas despite the threats,” restating that the democratic agenda is to hold free elections.

He thanked Brazil for its leadership in defending democracy and freedom, expressing the need to rescue the border from the peril of terrorist groups. He promised to keep working for the entry of humanitarian aid and freedom. President Bolsonaro said that he’ll continue supporting all of the Lima Group’s actions to achieve freedom and democracy in Venezuela; adding his willingness to cooperate with our economic recovery: “We’re interested in a free, prosperous, democratic and economic buoyant Venezuela,” he said.

Guaidó also met with Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, with Senate Speaker Davi Alcolumbre and with ambassadors of the European Union’s countries.

Guaidó’s safety

In compliance with the protective measures granted last January 25th (Resolution 1/2019), the IACHR urged Venezuelan state institutions to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Juan Guaidó and his immediate family, in view of death threats against him. For the IACHR, the caretaker President is the opposition’s most visible figure in a convoluted context, marked by citizen mobilization and political tension. By the way, according to pollster Datanalisis, if free elections were to be held now, Guaidó would win with 70% of votes. Additionally, 97% of Venezuelans recognize the terrible economic situation we’re living, and 90% of citizens can’t cover even half of their basic needs. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said that “the regime must comply with the IACHR’s protective measures.”

The regime’s barbarity

Diosdado Cabello threatened to arrest Juan Guaidó, awaiting his arrival with a “reception committee.” I wish he was that diligent to comment that Swiss authorities held a PDVSA plane under custody after it left Maiquetia Airport with a fake flight plan and landed in Zurich, perhaps because there was a possibility that it was being used to transport state assets. So far, nobody in the regime has responded to the complaints that eight tons of gold were taken from Central Bank vaults last week. With a fuel inventory for 90 days and in view of the impossibility to import from the U.S. the necessary components to produce it, PDVSA is selling oil barrels in exchange for those supplies to various traders based in Singapore. Lawmaker María Beatriz Martínez, head of the National Assembly’s Media Committee, denounced that 102 journalists were attacked, harassed and even deported in February, alerting about the threat against freedom of expression and restating that the Gag Law “is only good to intimidate, persecute and restrict.”

Our forced migration

Eduardo Stein, UN special representative to attend the Venezuelan migration crisis, held a press conference in Buenos Aires, saying that people continue leaving Venezuela either with expired documents or without them, with shortages of food and medicines as key motivators. They’ve detected that at least 16 countries have received Venezuelans by the thousands, emphasizing their solidarity, in particular Argentina’s flexibility; he also expressed his concern for the new measures of Ecuador that, in order to restrict the forced migration of Venezuelans, is demanding apostilled documents, so he urged Ecuador to guarantee Venezuelans’ right to seek and receive asylum. Stein touched a key point: stopping this migration phenomenon depends on the internal solution, although the return of those who were forced to leave won’t be immediate. The governments are evaluating the issuance of a temporary identity document valid for the entire region.

At the borders

The IACHR issued protective measures in favor of Pemon natives in Kumaracapay (Bolivar State,) ordering the state to avoid the excessive use of force and protect them from paramilitaries (colectivos).

Paramilitary intimidation goes on in San Antonio del Tachira, marking the houses of alleged dissidents. There’s a precedent in 2015, when Nicolás expelled thousands of Colombians, the police did the same and then tore down several homes.

Christian Krüger, head of Colombian Immigration, explained that they identified an alleged military officer who requested help but actually wanted intelligence information to report to the regime, so he will be expelled and barred from entering Colombia for ten years.

Krüger also expressed his concern for the structural damage the international bridges might be suffering due to Nicolás’s “blockade strategies.” Also, Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said that Nicolás’s regime will be solely responsible for any situations of violence that could arise at the border.

None of the two

As expected, Russia and China vetoed the U.S. draft resolution at the UN Security Council, which called for free, credible and fair elections in Venezuela and demanded the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid. The draft presented by the U.S. had nine votes in favor, three votes against and three abstentions. Russia’s draft (which was radically different to the U.S. version) wasn’t approved either; it got four votes in favor, seven against and four abstentions. Binding Council resolutions must obtain nine votes to be approved and no veto from any of the five permanent members (Great Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States).

Other movements on the board

Former Uruguayan President Julio María Sanguinetti told Juan Guaidó that the majority of Uruguayans support democratic institutions in Venezuela. Paraguayan President Mario Abdo announced Juan Guaidó’s visit for this Friday. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera invited Guaidó to attend in March the Prosur Summit, an organization of South American nations that will displace the failed Unasur. The presidents of Spain and Peru signed a joint statement restating their support for Juan Guaidó, as well as their commitment for the restoration of democracy through free elections. U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo said that Washington keeps working on the plans to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela. In the U.S., senators Bob Menéndez, Marco Rubio, Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy and Cory Booker introduced a Venezuela Temporary Protected Status Act for 2019, a bill to grant immediate TPS to eligible Venezuelans fleeing extreme conditions and to strengthen immigration systems in countries near Venezuela.

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