Photo: El Nacional retrieved

Hyperinflation keeps affecting Venezuelans’ quality of life. According to the results of Consultores 21’s most recent survey, carried out during the first quarter of 2019, six of every 10 Venezuelans find food but can’t pay for it. For 65% of the population, Nicolás’s regime is responsible for this situation, while 35% blames business owners. 71% of respondents say that they don’t earn enough to cover their needs and 86% say that what they buy to eat isn’t enough. 59% said that they eat less that three times a day and 83% has problems to find medicines. “Venezuelans think that the country’s going through the worst moment in its history,” said Saúl Cabrera, and inflation’s the main problem in the country, followed by Nicolás’s regime, while social problems claim a third place.

Waiting to assist

The chiefs of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) said that they’re ready to assist Venezuela, but they can’t do it until the members of both institutions decide what government they recognize in Caracas. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and the WB’s new chairman, David Malpass, expressed their “great concern” for Venezuela’s situation. Both the IMF and the WB are waiting for the international community, and therefore their members countries, to set a stance for a possible recognition of Guaidó, who has the support of over 50 countries. The matter of recognition “isn’t decided by the Bank but by its shareholders,” said Malpass, promising that the WB will get involved to assist the humanitarian crisis. Similarly, Lagarde said: “We are very, very concerned for the humanitarian crisis developing before our eyes in Venezuela,” adding that as soon as they recognize an authority, the IMF will act, although it hasn’t made any technical visits to Venezuela to review its accounts as established by the statutes since 2004.

Spite

Jorge Rodríguez said yesterday that another conspiracy was discovered through the phone of Juan Guaidó’s Chief of Staff Roberto Marrero. According to him, they collected technological evidence that in addition to Marrero’s statements, demonstrates he was planning operations to destabilize this country without electricity, water, cash, food or medicines. Rodríguez also denounced financial operations with which Guaidó supposedly redirected CITGO funds to NGOs, accumulating $400 million. Continuing his film sequence, he baptized Cocoon 2.0 the “criminal group” that would allegedly plan cyber-attacks to affect the use of debit and credit cards in Venezuela, those that don’t work because there’s no electricity or connection with the banks. Rodríguez’s performance is shameful and each new statement only proves the huge spite of ruling chavismo for Venezuelans.

Trump’s movements

Elliott Abrams, U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela, denounced that in Venezuela, “the only foreign military presence are Cuban troops, their intelligence agents and now Russians,” saying that there are military options to approach the Venezuelan crisis, but that the government in Washington is taking a peaceful stance that favors pressure from the political, diplomatic and financial spectrums, to propitiate Nicolás’s ouster. He celebrated that the OAS approved Gustavo Tarre, Juan Guaidó’s representative, as official spokesman for Venezuela before that instance, and mused that the European Union should consider more sanctions against individuals who are using Venezuela’s stolen money. For Abrams, “time isn’t on Maduro’s side”; he also announced that the U.S. will make a decision about the activity of Spanish company Repsol in Venezuela within the next few days. The possibility of a military intervention was mentioned by Admiral Craig Faller, chief of the U.S. Southern Command, cautioning that the Army “will be ready for any decision the President makes,” predicting similarities between our crisis and Syria’s, if Nicolás is still in power by December.

Putin’s movements

This Thursday, Russia accused the U.S. of looking for a “coup d’état” against Venezuela at the UN, for seeking the removal of credentials for regime representatives to be replaced by Juan Guaidó’s envoys. Deputy ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy attacked U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence’s statements, he argued that it’s time for the United Nations to recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate President. “It’s very hard to find in history another example of a coup d’état as brazen as the one happening now,” said Polyanskiy, who claimed that Venezuela’s situation is the consequence of the U.S. choking Venezuela with one hand and stealing its wallet with the other. The funniest part? According to this impartial agent, Washington is trying to create the impression that Venezuela’s a failed state. Meanwhile, Maria Zajarova, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, claimed that the OAS Permanent Council jeopardized the organization’s prestige by recognizing Gustavo Tarre Briceño as Venezuelan representative. In her view, the institution “followed the White House’s influence.” And she didn’t hear Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, regretful for having trusted Nicolás and concerned because the situation we’re experiencing is being used by some countries as a geopolitical victory or defeat.

Briefs and serious

  • PDVSA sent one million oil barrels in two tankers to Cuba. There’s always capacity to meet those demands.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that it had entered into an agreement with Nicolás’s regime to expand its assistance operations, supporting hospitals and healthcare centers. ICRC chief Peter Maurer said: “I am satisfied with the willingness of the authorities to work with us to address the humanitarian needs we have identified in a consensual way.”
  • Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno removed the asylum of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, after seven years, and let the British police enter the building to arrest him. Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, cautioned that by allowing his arrest, Ecuador put the Australian journalist at risk of being extradited, and of suffering severe human rights violations. For Edison Lanza, IACHR’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, the end of Assange’s asylum and his possible extradition are a challenge for press freedom: “Beyond his role and all the controversy, the bottom line is the principle that journalists shouldn’t be criminalized for publishing public interest information (even if it was confidential).”
  • After months of protests, the Army forced President Omar al-Bashir to step down in Sudan, after three decades in power. Sudan’s economic situation is still difficult, the conflict with the Darfur region isn’t resolved yet and the international community wants al-Bashir to answer for the crimes against humanity of a regime that gradually restricted political freedoms and repressed its population. The government’s intervention forces, the police and most of the Army will join in creating a transition government that will last at least two years.

El Pitazo’s “La generación del hambre,” a report on the lack of food and medical attention for children in Venezuela, won the Ortega y Gasset Journalism Award 2019 as the best multimedia coverage, a well-deserved recognition for a courageous digital outlet. Congratulations!

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