Declaring the Evident

Human Rights Watch, with help from Johns Hopkins University researchers, issued a report on the Venezuelan crisis, urging UN to act. The World Bank also issued a report presenting a bleak picture of the economic crisis. Jorge Arreaza praises Al-Assad in Syria and regime officials continue to request financial help from Russia. NATO countries discuss Russian troops in Venezuela and the U.S. requests UN Security Council meeting.

Photo: Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch, together with researchers from Johns Hopkins University, made their most recent report about Venezuela, dedicated to the collapse of the health system, requesting that the United Nations offer a response to the large scale of our complex humanitarian crisis, urging Secretary General António Guterres to approach the Venezuelan crisis as a priority and to demand official statistics to create an appropriate diagnostic. The report’s 71 pages (including interviews of over 150 people) show how Nicolás’s regime has exacerbated the crisis denying the acute shortage of medicines and food, censoring any information about the problem, such as the increase in maternal and infant mortality, the outbreak of preventable diseases and the increasing transmission of infectious diseases. “We’re seeing a devastating humanitarian crisis that is unprecedented in Latin America,” said HRW lawyer Tamara Taraciuk. Continuing to ignore the gravity of the humanitarian emergency is condemning the most vulnerable to an irreversible decline.

The worst crisis in modern history

In its recent report about Latin America and the Caribbean, the World Bank explains: “The real GDP contracted by 17.7% in 2018 and it’s likely to drop 25% in 2019, which would mean an accumulated 60% drop of GDP in 2013 (…) Nothing could prepare the region for the escalation of the economic, social and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, by far the worst in the region’s modern history.” The World Bank says that highly distorting policies (ranging from price controls to direct loans,) a disorderly tax adjustment, monetization of the public sector’s debt, and a poor general economic management have caused hyperinflation, devaluation, defaults and the massive contraction of production and consumption, so they restate that inflation might reach 10,000,000% in 2019. “The bank is preparing a highly ambitious social assistance plan, that will be made available to the Venezuelan authorities when the right conditions exist,” explained Carlos Végh, economist and head for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Those who flee

Adding to the data in HRW’s report, an internal UN report (accessed by AFP) says that 7 million Venezuelans—one fourth of the population—require humanitarian aid because they don’t have access to food or medicines; some 3.7 million people suffer from malnutrition and at least 22% of children under five years old suffer from chronic malnutrition. Only chavismo denies the collapse and the forced migration, but yesterday, there was a fourth flight paid for by the Chilean government with countrymen who requested returning from Venezuela, with 156 people on board. Also yesterday, Curaçao Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath, asked Nicolás to open the borders for the delivery of the humanitarian aid stored in his country. Lastly, there’s a new balance on arbitrary detentions in the context of protests between March 29th and April 4th, reporting 117 people arrested, including 13 teenagers.

Denying reality

With the information above, it’s impossible to start how Nicolás blithely deals with an electric crisis that only worsens the humanitarian emergency, how he repeats the terrible script of “the first non-conventional war to affect public services.” The speeches of his ministers, Aristóbulo Istúriz, Evelyn Vásquez and Hipólito Abreu, also focused on fiction, the first claiming a 90% schooling rate, the second describing a special plan involving water tankers and the third evaluating energy power generation for the Metro. Nicolás promised CLAP boxes for this weekend and appliances (despite lack of electricity) only for loyal followers who have the carnet de la patria. Later, Corpoelec published a 45-page document with the power rationing plan. Caracas isn’t included in “the plan”.

Bashar’s example

In eight years of fighting and bombings, Syria has suffered the cruellest of the conflicts that broke out with the Arab Spring. Over half a million Syrians have died, over a million have been injured and 13 million were forced to flee their homes, so that President Bashar al-Assad could remain in power. Perhaps that’s why regime Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza spoke yesterday as a fan and not as an authority, praising the Syrian leader’s experience and wisdom, and claiming that both nations are victims of a U.S. conspiracy. The fan was accompanied by Walid al-Moallem, who promised to recover the entirety of the Syrian territory, including the Golan. Bashar al-Assad expressed his support for Nicolás, condemning U.S. policies and sanctions: “What’s happening in Venezuela is similar to Syria. The goal is to dominate and confiscate the independent choice of the States,” said al-Assad, in a cold show of cynicism. Feeling lucky, Arreaza said that chavismo is about to lose patience with American policies and that this could put an end to their bet on “diplomacy”.

Still in Moscow

Venezuela’s situation won’t lead to a repetition of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. According to him, the Russian troops here aren’t meant to turn Venezuela into a second Syria, repeating the story that they’re only here to offer technical assistance for the use of weapons. Joaquín Villalobos, former Salvadoran guerrilla man, recommends in an article in El País, not to confuse a propaganda action (the 99 Russians in Venezuela) with a change in the correlation of geopolitical strength. He says: “The true military presence in Venezuela comes from Cuba with thousands of agents that control the Armed Forces.” Later, Yván Gil, Venezuelan Foreign Vice-Minister for Europe, said that “new military missions will arrive in the context of signed agreements.” In any case, Nicolás’ s people remain in Moscow, asking for more resources to face the crisis they caused themselves, specifically in the supply of wheat, fishing cooperation, telecommunications and supplying medicine.

Movements of the board

The European Union said that the ANC’s actions against Guaidó “undermine a political solution to the crisis,“ so they condemn the decision and consider it a serious violation of the Venezuelan Constitution, the rule of law and the separation of powers.

U.S. Security Advisor John Bolton said that the humanitarian conditions and economic crisis in Venezuela won’t fully improve until Nicolás takes Guaidó’s amnesty offer and leaves power: “Corruption cannot lead to prosperity.”

During a visit in Israel, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that he’ll implement the necessary diplomatic movements to prevent Nicolás from illegally imprisoning Guaidó. U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo said that NATO’s 29 Foreign Affairs Ministers discussed the presence of Russian military in Venezuela as part of a broader debate about the Kremlin’s activity in a series of countries.

By the way, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell refused to discuss about us in that meeting because “NATO isn’t in Venezuela and this isn’t a ‘chat’ to talk about the world’s problems.” Elliott Abrams, U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela, thinks that it’s premature to talk about the application of article 187 of the Constitution, because there are no conditions at the moment for a military intervention in the country: “We have a range of options and things we can do against the regime that will greatly affect them. We have very strong measures prepared,” said Abrams.

Yesterday, the United States requested the UN Security Council to hold a meeting next week to discuss humanitarian assistance in Venezuela. In a note making the rounds in the Council, the U.S. mission requested this meeting so that the Council receives a report about the crisis from UN Secretary General António Guterres or his representative.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.