Without Explanations

Nobody knows what happened on April 30th, what we do know is we saw a crack that we’d never seen before. Is it enough? Foreign currency exchange controls were not lifted. Giovanny Figuera died waiting for his bone marrow transplant. Panama elected Laurentino Cortizo on Sunday

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo retrieved

This week starts with the bitterness of many interpretations about what happened last week, but with few explanations. There’s an abundance of approaches for the three most worn arguments: Leopoldo López and Juan Guaidó acted too early and on their own; the plan agreed with military high ranks to force Nicolás’s institutional exit was prevented by the Russians, while the Cubans prevented the military from betraying chavistas. The exercise called for Saturday, citizens marching to military garrisons to deliver a statement urging soldiers to respect the Constitution, was disregarded by the men in uniform who blithely repeated in various places that they’re “chavistas and maduristas,” violating the constitutional mandate forbidding them to answer to any political partiality, prioritizing their ideology over the republic. Nicolás made another exercise to exhibit “his” Armed Forces, in which he basically made us pay more attention to any sign of treason.

Despite the failure

Besides the interview published this Sunday by the Washington Post, last night AFP published an interview with caretaker President Juan Guaidó, who insists that far from a failure, last week’s uprising revealed a fracture in the Armed Forces that’s pushing Nicolás’s regime to “the brink of collapse.” Guaidó doesn’t discard a “solution through force” with U.S. support, although he prefers to persuade soldiers of breaking ties with Nicolás in favor of an agreed transition. “Some people didn’t do their part (…). That doesn’t mean they won’t do it soon. We’re expecting that many more (…) will stand with their country,” he said, emphasizing that the majority of civilian and military officers are willing to uphold the Constitution. He restated that the goals are: creating stability and governability, attending the emergency and producing free elections, adding: “I’m very optimistic (…), we’re very close to achieving change in Venezuela.”

When there’s no offer

The Central Bank of Venezuela announced this Monday that the DICOM 2 scheme will be cast aside from the money tables, which would technically allow currency buy-sell operations through them.

They’re not lifting the exchange control (imposed 16 years ago to allegedly protect international reserves) this is just another modification. This measure is implemented when the financial system is affected by a fierce reserve policy, hyperinflation and economic contraction. Also, as a consequence of corruption and sanctions, currency buy-sell operations carried out by Venezuelans are reviewed in detail, which slows down the process for local banks and their correspondents. Although this model provides a bit more autonomy for private operations, and companies would gain legality and transparency, our crisis is so severe that the system would require more depth to reach an exchange rate to challenge the black market that will remain relevant for small amounts for now. Last night, Interbanex Exchange (created in January this year for currency exchange between individuals and companies) issued a statement announcing the end of its operations.

Let’s talk about human rights

  • NGO Prepara Familia reported the regrettable death of 6-year-old Giovanny Figuera, a patient in the hematology service of the J.M. de Los Ríos Children’s Hospital. On April 9th, the parents of the 30 children awaiting bone marrow transplants, denounced the urgency of their circumstance.
  • ANC-imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab took six days to offer a balance of last week’s uprising: five people dead and 233 arrested: “All cases are being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office and will have definitive conclusions,” he said without offering any details.
  • It’s been ten days since lawmaker Gilber Caro’s enforced disappearance and the state has yet to answer about his whereabouts.
  • The preliminary hearing of lawmaker Juan Requesens was postponed again because SEBIN refused to take him to court. That’s what the return of González López is all about. Meanwhile, in Spain, former chavista general Hugo Carvajal hired a new defense lawyer, which meant the suspension of the testimony he’d give this Monday.

The Mad Max academy

Milena Bravo, rector of Universidad de Oriente (UDO), denounced that a chavista group has taken over the Rectorate building in Cumana, Sucre State, with the excuse of “starting a new future for the country.” The group recorded a video declaring the end of rector Bravo and her University Council, claiming that the university will prosper and guarantee the rights of students and workers “so they truly have a worthy university.” The autonomous universities haven’t changed authorities in years, after the Supreme Tribunal of Justice admitted in 2011 a request that prevented the holding of internal elections. Rector bravo said that the university can solve its conflicts without violence.

Russia and the U.S.

U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Finland ratifying their differences about our political crisis, but agreeing on the impropriety of a military intervention. Lavrov restated that such an operation would be “catastrophic and unjustified,” saying that the use of force can only be authorized by the UN Security Council or used in response to an aggression against a sovereign state. He said that the meeting with Pompeo was “a step forward” after the phone call between Putin and Trump two days ago. Meanwhile, Pompeo said that Nicolás holds on to power but has no capacity to rule: “Maduro must see that this is crumbling,” defining Nicolás’s current position as weak. “Although Maduro managed to keep control of the Army in some aspects, many officers left, including high-ranking intelligence officers closely tied to him and his predecessor,” said Pompeo.

Other movements on the board

  • Colombian Vice-President Marta Lucía Ramírez said yesterday that the government of President Iván Duque wants a peaceful political transition in Venezuela, and disregarded support for a military intervention in the country.
  • Analysts agree that it’s very unlikely that the president elected (by two points) in Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, will align with Nicolás, predicting a “moderate stance, similar to that of Pedro Sánchez in Spain.”
  • This Tuesday, the National Assembly will discuss an agreement in support of Venezuela’s reincorporation to the Inter American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) for the defense of Venezuela’s sovereignty, Constitution and people.
  • Costa Rica is currently hosting the third meeting of the International Contact Group about Venezuela. The three-month period proposed by the groups ends now and that increases the pressure. For European diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini: “Venezuela’s situation is more urgent than ever.”

The country demands explanations. Far from his responsibility and the insistent message for the Armed Forces to take on their role in the transition process, Juan Guaidó saw another significant failure for the democratic cause; perhaps the April 30th attempt wasn’t as severe as the lack of statements that followed. Keeping the streets “alive” demands more than the mere hope for an urgent change. Nobody can have faith in military reasonableness, in the commitment of those who burn words and violate the Constitution. Every day that Nicolás remains in power, we pay for in lives.

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.