The Red Line

Photo: @jguaido

Caretaker President Juan Guaidó said to allied countries that the red line to activate international military cooperation in Venezuelan soil was crossed by Nicolás’s regime: “The only body capable of requesting international cooperation in Venezuelan soil is the National Assembly. Will it be required? I’d say we crossed the red line a long time ago, the emergency is obvious, the need is evident and despair is latent (…) The regime crossed the red line a long time ago,” he said this Thursday. Should he be detained, Guaidó says that the democratic cause has “a route to increase pressure, is that a red line for the international community or not? That will be decided by those who can offer us cooperation,” emphasizing that international help can’t replace Venezuelans protesting on the streets. Guaidó said that lawmaker Edgar Zambrano’s detention was a “kidnapping” and cautioned that Nicolás seeks to “disintegrate” the Legislative Branch, calling for a new demonstration on Saturday, May 11th.

The sea of categorical condemnations

The arbitrary detention of Edgar Zambrano, First Vice-President of the National Assembly, sparked many statements throughout the day, including the Lima Group; UN chief António Guterres; the European Union and its International Contact Group for Venezuela. Even the Mexican government expressed “concern for the situation of human rights, the right to due process and the inviolability of parliamentary immunity,” and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, demanded Zambrano’s immediate release and urged the authorities to cease the attacks against National Assembly members.

Ambassador Gustavo Tarre Briceño said that he requested the call for an extraordinary session of the OAS Permanent Council to discuss this situation, and lawmaker Williams Dávila announced that he’ll denounce the incident before Parlasur. At 11:00 p.m., the National Communication Center reported that Zambrano would be taken to court for a hearing.

Refuge and harassment

Deputy Richard Blanco, also persecuted, entered this Thursday to the residence of the Argentinian ambassador in Caracas as a guest. In the afternoon, deputy Américo De Grazia announced that he took refuge in the residence of the Italian ambassador (which already housed lawmaker Mariela Magallanes), the third legislator (out of ten who were recently accused) who seeks protection in an embassy. The National Assembly’s Twitter account denounced that during this Thursday, several lawmakers and their families have been harassed by the Bolivarian Service of National Intelligence (SEBIN), “on orders from the usurper regime.” Several of them left testimony on Twitter, such is the case of lawmakers Goyo Graterol and Luis Florido.

We have to repeat this: the National Assembly deputies were democratically elected by millions of Venezuelans, unlike the Supreme Tribunal justices who were selected illegally and late. Also, the ANC has no institutional legitimacy.

Briefs and serious

  • Early this Thursday, the regime took Miguel Rodríguez Torres, who headed SEBIN between 2002 and 2013, from the cells of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence in Boleita to another cell in the Tiuna military fort. Meanwhile, regime Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López recorded a testimonial video of how much he enjoys riding his bicycle.

  • “I sacrificed everything (…) I requested President Donald Trump to lift sanctions on our country and he said he’d do it but once there was another administration,” says former SEBIN director Manuel Cristopher Figuera, whose sanctions have been lifted, in a video, calling for rebuilding the state and quit blaming the world for the country’s woes.

  • Armando.Info investigated how PDVSA’s oil tankers turn off their telecommunications devices to avoid being detected and leave other ports to sidestep sanctions and continue shipping around 50,000 oil barrels to Cuba per day. Here’s our version of Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • “Are you penniless?” Nicolás asked the doctors who were graduating this Thursday and complained during the broadcast that they haven’t been paid. He promised to pay them this Friday and in a gesture of extreme populism he added: “And we’re going to give a special bonus through the carnet de la patria for the 2,043 graduates.”

Let’s talk about human rights

Three sessions were held yesterday about Venezuela in the 172nd Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), with discussions about the guarantees of freedom of expression; about the political crisis, the assault on the AN and the possibilities of transitional justice in Venezuela; and they also reviewed the compliance with either protective measures issued by the institution.

“1,700 attacks took place during Hugo Chávez’s government, 2,100 during Nicolás Maduro’s period,” said Carlos Correa, head of NGO Espacio Público. In the first four months of 2019, they recorded a total of 522 violations against freedom of expression, 67 of them have been arbitrary detentions of journalists and civil society members, an 198% increase compared to the same period in 2018, said lawyer Amado Vivas.

We’re still in hyperinflation

Venezuela’s international reserves lost $406 million this week (and we don’t know what that money’s being used for) dropping to $8.12 billion according to data published by the Central Bank of Venezuela. During Nicolás’s government, the reserves have lost over $21 billion, a 72.4% drop compared to 2013. Meanwhile, inflation is accelerating according to records of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee. Deputy Ángel Alvarado reported that the inflation rate for April was 44.7%, increasing the inflation accumulated in the first four months up to 665%, and the interannual rate (between April 2018 and April 2019) to 1,304,494%. Nicolás keeps financing public spending by printing inorganic money while national production plummets and thus, hyperinflation will keep destroying our purchasing power.

Movements on the board

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied that he’s going to reach a “deal” with the U.S. about Venezuela during the discussions he’ll hold with U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo. “Trump is the one who usually prepares deals,” he said yesterday.
  • Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov claimed that Russia doesn’t plan to send more soldiers to Venezuela, no more “specialists” will make the trip.
  • Admiral Craig Faller, Chief of the U.S. Southern Command, said that he’s ready to act after Guaidó said that the red line to activate international military cooperation in Venezuelan soil was crossed: “When invited by Guaidó and the legitimate government of Venezuela, I look forward to discussing how we can support the future role of the leaders of the Armed Forces,” says the Southern Command’s tweet.

Salomón Rondón was named Player of the Year in the team Newcastle United of the Premier League, but also, this Thursday the people of El Pitazo received their Ortega y Gasset award in the category of Best Journalistic Coverage for the report “La generación del hambre,” a work made by 14 journalists who traveled across the country documenting the effects of hunger on Venezuelan children, long live Venezuelan journalism!

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