Against Information

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo

This Wednesday, National Guard major Malaguera Hernández threatened the press outside the Federal Legislative Palace with detention if they didn’t leave the area: “We’re in a confrontation. I’m the unit’s commander (…) Leave this security area or I’ll arrest you,” he told a journalist. This is the third time in recent days that the National Guard prevents the press from doing their job, violating freedom of expression, the right to information and journalists’ labor rights. lawmaker María Beatriz Fernández requested special protective measures for the press: “They’re violating the Assembly’s internal regulations, the Constitution and the rights of Venezuelan citizens,” she said. There’s no institution in Venezuela to denounce these abuses, feeding the authorities’ repressive pattern.

Returning to the IACHR

Despite problems with the press, the lawmakers were able to access the Legislative Palace. Caretaker President Juan Guaidó said that the regime has no intention of solving the country’s crisis and that they don’t inspire trust, “they are done”.

Aside from the discussion about the collapse of purchasing power and salaries, the National Assembly approved an agreement to restore the validity of the American Convention on Human Rights, known as the Pact of San José, which Venezuela officially left in September, 2013; nullifying the complaint filed in 2012 that removed the country from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ jurisdiction. They ratified the statement that recognizes the regional court’s authority retroactively since 2013. Yesterday, lawmaker Fernando Orozco, elected for PSUV in the 2015 elections, was sworn into office; while lawmaker Winston Flores announced that he’s in Chile after chavismo’s decision to strip him of his parliamentary immunity. lawmakers Edgar Zambrano and Gilber Caro are still missing.

Talks with Norway?

Reuters says that regime and opposition representatives traveled to Norway to explore possible negotiations to overcome the political crisis. The information comes from four anonymous opposition sources. Jorge Rodríguez and Héctor Rodríguez represent the regime in the Norwegian government’s offer to act as a mediator for eventual talks. Advisors Gerardo Blyde and Fernando Martínez represent the opposition, along with lawmaker Stalin González. The parties haven’t met yet, there have been separate meetings with Norwegian representatives. Nicolás confirmed last night that Jorge Rodríguez is “fulfilling a very important mission abroad.” “The effort must be protected, it’s serious and it has support,” said one of the sources who thinks that the goal is finding an electoral solution to the political crisis. Primero Justicia said that none of their members “is in Norway with any responsibility.” Julio Borges added that they learned about this initiative “once it was made public.”

Persecution, but not extermination

Regime UN representative Samuel Moncada disregarded the talks between the United States and Russia about the possibility of finding a democratic solution to our crisis: “For Mr. Pompeo we’re a Russian colony that he’ll liberate with his neoliberal strategies. Venezuela’s problems will be solved in Venezuela,” he said, emphasizing that “Pompeo is totally untrustworthy.” Moncada rejected the potential meeting between Carlos Vecchio and admiral Craig Faller, chief of the U.S. Southern Command, as well as Operation Freedom, and demanded that the U.S. respect international treaties and refrain from entering the Venezuelan embassy in Washington where, according to him, “there’s a coup d’état in action.” Code Pink activist Tighe Barry’s speech was worthy of Moncada. Moncada said: “Dialogue and negotiations are the only way to solve this in peace, we don’t want to exterminate the Venezuelan opposition.” Keep those words in mind.

Unbreachable and untouchable

Perhaps Nicolás saw another version of Moncada’s statement, because he said: “Our ambassador in the UN gave a great lecture on international public law, justice, truth,” adding that the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington is unbreachable and untouchable, only to denounce the barbarity of depriving Code Pink activists of all the comfort they deserve and he thanked reverend Jesse Jackson for his support.

“Our country won’t back down or give up. I’ll never surrender to imperialism,” he said in an epic tone. Back to his script, “I’m still the president” and (seven months before Christmas) he announced a plan to distribute pork leg in 2019; he celebrated the “reactivation” of the Guanare corn plant, the Agua Blanca rice processing plant and the Refamina gold extraction plant; he also announced the Rotatory Mining Fund. He called this debacle an excellent productive day and then claimed that economic independence draws near. Propaganda is the only thing Nicolás cares about.

Lying, the routine

This Wednesday, the chavista regime used the forum “The economic blockade and the right to health of Venezuela” to underscore the theory parroted by Nicolás and Jorge Arreaza about how economic sanctions “affect all the people.” Henry Ventura, executive secretary of the Pharmaceutical Engine, adhered to this key message, just like comptroller Elvis Amoroso. All spokespeople want to blame sanctions for the impossibility to import medicines and supplies, but in 2012, with the oil barrel at $100 and without sanctions, chavismo cut currency allocations for the health sector by 16%, according to their own figures; and in 2013 (with the oil barrel at $90) the cut was 22%, and increased in the following years. I was going to brief you on the shameful statements of representatives of Zulia’s Electric Bureau, but there’s no better summary than all the outages in Maracaibo during their visit.

Movements on the board

  • The U.S. Transportation Department ordered the suspension of all passenger and cargo flights from Venezuela to their territory, citing reports of unrest and violence around our country’s airports.

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talked with caretaker President Juan Guaidó about our crisis’ recent events. Trudeau reiterated that Canada condemns that lawmakers have been stripped of their parliamentary immunity; and both agreed on the “need for the international community to align itself in order to bring a peaceful transition to Venezuela.”
  • Hugo Shorter, Director for the Americas at the UK Foreign Affairs Office, met with Guaidó to talk “about the efforts of the International Contact Group to achieve a peaceful solution in Venezuela through free and fair elections.”

  • Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will visit Cuba this Thursday to discuss Venezuela’s economic, political and humanitarian crisis and the United States’ decision to allow filing lawsuits for assets confiscated after the 1959 revolution.
  • The European Union denounced that the Supreme Tribunal’s request to remove the parliamentary immunity of opposition lawmakers “constitutes a clear measure to intimidate” that “only contributes to polarization,” adding that they’re “part of a pattern of flagrant violations against due process and unfair legal procedures.” The European Union underscores the need to respect the country’s Constitution, as well as the rights of legislators and their immunity.

Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of El Chigüire Bipolar, a website that has showed us the power of satire to narrate this version of the country. Thanks to their creators Juan Andrés Ravell, Osvaldo Graziani and Elio Casale, for letting us process this absurdity with laughter, and my respects to their Underpaid Intern.

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