Firing Squad!

Photo: @jguaido

Firing Squad!

This Tuesday, April 2nd, with no authority to do so, the chavista National Constituent Assembly stripped National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaidó off his parliamentary immunity, opening the way for the rest of the power structure to prosecute or arrest him. While screaming “Justice, people’s justice!”, the ANC approved the removal of Guaidó’s immunity by request of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice. María León, former minister for women issues, gave the most serious speech, both in form and content: “For me, stripping the immunity is too little. How do we deal with traitors?”. A brief silence followed and then the audience called: “Firing squad! Firing squad! Firing squad!”. León continued: “They don’t deserve to be called Venezuelans (…) I don’t want to share my nationality with them, I don’t, they don’t deserve it, they’re unworthy of this sacred history (…) I’d ask (putting her hand on her waist and smiling) for punishment, I’d ask for popular tribunals, I’d ask that we hold popular tribunals in every state and let the people decide what to do with the traitors,” saying that Guaidó is “nothing” and claiming that she didn’t want to soil herself saying his name. The request for a firing squad is as serious as the arrogance to claim who’s worthy of our nationality. As you can see, the Hate Law is relative.

Guaidó’s answer

Juan Guaidó spoke after the ANC’s decision to authorize his trial: “They keep messing up when they ask for a firing squad, when they don’t even dare to call things by name in their decree.” For Guaidó, the hope of change in Venezuela is unstoppable, he said that the regime only has brute force while the democratic cause has audacity, intelligence, hope and trust. “I can stand before you, not just because I’m not afraid of them, but because I have a responsibility and a commitment with all of Venezuela to keep going,” and emphasized that while there’s unity and mobilization, change won’t stop.

He told the Armed Forces that they have a choice to make, and told citizens that the only thing that can’t die is the the protests, the demands and the future. “If you want to act against me, do it. But you’ll have to face the consequences. The political cost we have to generate is the strategic organized protest. On April 6th, we’ll all take the streets.” Yesterday morning, the foreign ministers of Peru, Spain and Canada expressed their condemnation for the TSJ’s request against Guaidó, and a group of retired military and police officers expressed their support for Guaidó.

In the National Assembly

This Tuesday, the lawmakers unanimously approved the Law of Guarantees for employees who engage in the defense of the Constitution and the Restoration of Democracy in its first discussion.

They also unanimously approved the agreement for the serious situation of public services, for the creation of a High-Level Committee to determine solutions for Venezuelans. Similarly, they unanimously approved their condemnation for the actions of chavista-sanctioned paramilitary groups to repress protesting citizens, declaring this practice as State terrorism. The National Assembly declared the groups called colectivos as terrorists. Additionally, the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference expressed concern for Nicolás’ call on colectivos to repress Venezuelans. In any case, the AN’s agreement will be submitted to the various international blocs such as the Organization of American States and the United Nations, requesting them to declare colectivos as terrorists, with all its implications. Likewise, it will be filed before the International Criminal Court to establish Nicolás’ responsibility in the actions of these groups.

Anxiety is also relative

The protests for electricity, water and other services haven’t stopped. 15 minutes before the time scheduled to start power rationing, Jorge Rodríguez announced that it would be applied in “some areas of the country” between 6:00 and 8:30 p.m. He wrote it on Twitter, even though a large part of the country has no electricity, phone signal or internet. Leaving to chance the areas where rationing will be applied is yet another step in this Golgota of negligence, it only sparks general alarm, because it could be us. Power was restored in some areas of Maracaibo after 96 in the dark. There were also reports of blackouts in Merida, Lara, Guarico, Cojedes, Carabobo, Bolivar, Barinas, Aragua, Apure, Anzoategui and Monagas. Aristóbulo Istúriz said that the school calendar will be adjusted to recover the time lost after activities were suspended due to blackouts: the third term will take place between April 29th and July 12th; the school year is expected to end on July 26th, and graduation ceremonies will be held between July 29th and 31st. Istúriz, in his role as regime social area vice-president, claimed that water supply will be slowly normalized nationwide. Ha!

Other movements on the board

Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo set a stance about the Russian military deployment in favor of Nicolás’ regime, calling it a threat to the region’s peace, security and stability, in answer to the letter of the Russian ambassador in Colombia, Sergei Koshkin, cautioning that a military incursion in Venezuela will be considered a threat to international peace and safety.

President Iván Duque said that Colombia “has a duty to defend the Inter American Democratic Charter and clearly and firmly denounce the dictatorship’s abuses in Venezuela.” Fanning the flames, Russia said that they plan to open a helicopter maintenance center in Venezuela this year. Meanwhile, the U.S. announced that the presence of Russian troops in Venezuela is expected to be discussed at NATO’s ministerial meeting, where one of the biggest topics in debate will be the significant challenge represented by the Kremlin’s recent attitude. U.S. vice-president Mike Pence demanded this Tuesday the “immediate release” of six former board members of PDVSA branch company CITGO, arrested in Venezuela in 2017 for several crimes of alleged corruption, after meeting their relatives in the White House. He insisted on calling Nicolás “a dictator with no legitimate mandate.”

Open the borders

This Tuesday, Venezuelans broke through the National Guard’s barricade at the Simón Bolívar International Bridge to cross over from Colombia. The flood of the Tachira river, which increases the use of irregular trails, and people crowded the bridge.

Colombian Immigration holds Nicolás responsible for anything that might happen to those who attempt to cross restricted international bridges. The restriction of border crossings decreed in February has forced Venezuelans to use side trails, facing bribes and exposing their lives to the rivers’ torrents. This is a failed and, in many areas, absent State; it’s absurd to keep the borders closed. People essentially flee from basic service failures, lack of food and medicines. A closed border only intensifies the already critical conditions of thousands of Venezuelans.

This April 2nd, the IACHR granted Luis Carlos and me protective measures, demanding that the State protect our life, integrity and safety, and also allow us to perform our journalistic work without threats, harassment or reprisals.

The State has 15 days to announce the implementation of the protective measures in our favor. NGO Espacio Público restated the demand for Luis Carlos to receive full freedom, as well as the end of harassment against him and myself.

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