Kneeling and Chained

Photo: Nicolás Maduro

Very early this Thursday, May 2nd, and from the Military Academy’s yard, Nicolás wanted to imitate the effect of caretaker President Juan Guaidó’s broadcast on April 30th, but instead of doing it on social media, he imposed a mandatory broadcast on TV and radio, merely to show that he still holds a grip on the Armed Forces. He was accompanied by the High Command, including Vladimir Padrino López and Iván Hernández Dala, chief of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence, who negotiated his removal from power but later backtracked, according to the United States. Nicolás proposed “teaching a lesson to history,” but later rectified asking a historic lesson and announced that “the time to fight has come.” Forgetting Hugo Chávez’s failed coup attempts, he claimed that assaulting the political power with guns can’t be the way and that’s why he asked the Armed Forces to show unity, because “they’re in combat” and they need the maximum morale to disarm any traitor. Ignoring our homicide rates and the deaths for treatable diseases, he wondered how many would die should a civil war break out and concluded his message saying that he has infinite faith in the Armed Forces. Perhaps that faith enabled the rite Jesús Suárez Chourio, (general commander of the Army) offered Nicolás’s hurt ego on his knees.

An irrelevant offer

Vladimir Padrino López spoke shamelessly about the deceitful, stupid, ridiculous and empty offers that caused his indignation. Nicolás’s micro-expressions during this testimony are truly valuable. “They want to pay us as if we didn’t have dignity,” said Padrino, emphasizing that his codes are above anything the opposition can understand. He also accused the opposition of having “no offer for the country,” but confirmed that there were soldiers who faltered and let themselves be bought, cautioning that if they had been willing to use military force, “[the rebellion] wouldn’t have lasted two minutes there,” but that they couldn’t “succumb to the temptation of fighting amongst ourselves.”

Meanwhile, major general Remigio Ceballos ratified his loyalty to Nicolás and asked his subordinates to take action if they see any disloyalty.

Tareck’s shady dealings

A former high-ranking official of the Bolivarian Service of National Intelligence (SEBIN) gave The New York Times a file with testimonies of informants that accuse Tareck El Aissami and his father, Carlos Zaidan El Aissami, of recruiting Hezbollah members to expand espionage and drug-trafficking networks in the region. Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization in the United States, and American authorities believe that it’s helped launder drug trafficking money in South America. The file doesn’t say whether Hezbollah managed to establish his intelligence or narcotics network in Venezuela, but it does mention that members of this organization settled here with El Aissami’s help. His brother, Feraz, had dealings with drug trafficker Walid Makled and had nearly $45 million in Swiss accounts. Apparently, the regime’s minister also had links with the drug trafficker. Read the article when you can.

Capturing Leopoldo?

Two days after his release, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice announced an arrest warrant against Leopoldo López, who remains in the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Caracas as a guest.

Yesterday afternoon, López spoke to a considerable group of journalists, arguing that he’d received a pardon from President Juan Guaidó early on April 30th. In his view, “the breakdown has started,” and he said that the April 30th move was the first step, not a coup, because the goal isn’t a de facto government, it’s holding free elections. He also explained that he met with military and police chiefs for weeks and added that the international community won’t abandon Venezuela: “I think the end of usurpation is a matter of weeks,” he said.

Spain said in a statement that they won’t turn López in and that they “trust that bilateral relations between both countries won’t be affected by this situation.” The crown jewel of the regime’s political prisoners kept his word.

#TodosConZambrano

Also yesterday, the TSJ said that lawmaker Edgar Zambrano, vice-president of the National Assembly, is involved in crimes of treason, conspiracy, instigating insurrection, civil rebellion, aiding and abetting, usurpation of functions and instigation to disobey the law.

In view of the AN’s alleged “contempt”, the TSJ urged the super neutral National Constituent Assembly to decide on the matter, because due to the severity of the crimes, “there won’t be a preliminary hearing on merits.” His colleagues in the AN have denounced the abuse against the lawmaker using the hashtag in this section’s title.

Let’s talk about human rights

Between April 30th and May 2nd, four Venezuelan teenarges have been murdered during anti-regime protests. Yesterday, Yosner Graterol (16) died after being shot during a protest in La Victoria (Aragua) on Tuesday. Yoifre Hernández Vásquez (14) also died of a bullet wound he took in Altamira on Wednesday.

230 people wounded and 205 arrests were reported between Tuesday and Wednesday. Although journalist Jesús Medina was taken to court for his preliminary audience, the 14th Court of Control postponed it for the eighth time. Medina has been imprisoned in Ramo Verde for eight months, violating his right to due process. Rafaela Requesens denounced that the hearing for his brother, lawmaker Juan Requesens, was also postponed because SEBIN didn’t take him to court. Political prisoner Manuel Chacín, held at El Helicoide, requires urgent surgery for a festering wound in a middle finger. The consequences may be serious if the wound isn’t cared for.

Movements on the board

  • U.S. President Donald Trump said that the “brutal repression” against the Venezuelan people must end soon. The U.S. puts more pressure on Cuba restricting remittances and trips to the island, as well as the full application of the Helms-Burton Act. The EU believes that the application of that law, that would allow reparation lawsuits by Cubans exiled in the U.S., violates International Law, cautioning that they will retaliate if sanctions hit European companies with interests in the island.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo will meet next week to discuss Venezuela. Also, the foreign ministers of the International Contact Group for Venezuela will meet next Monday and Tuesday in Costa Rica.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that he’s willing to “go to the limit” of diplomacy to “restore democracy” in Venezuela. President Juan Carlos Varela urged the Venezuelan Armed Forces to look in the mirror of Panama three decades ago, when the military regime repressed civilian protests and its leader ended up expelled by a foreign intervention and in jail.
  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the European Union discusses the possibility of increasing sanctions against Nicolás’s regime in order to promote a political solution to the Venezuelan crisis.

Venezuelan scientist Jon Paul Rodríguez received in London the prestigious Whitley Award of preservation, a sort of “Oscar” for Rodríguez’s efforts, who founded Provita and is a researcher of the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research. In 2016, the biologist was elected chairman of the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Committee. 102-year-old musician and composer Juan Vicente Torrealba died yesterday, leaving us a fantastic production. Peace to his soul and love for his family and friends.

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