Cynical

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo

For the third week in a row, the National Guard blocked the press’ access to the National Assembly. The National Union of Press Workers denounced “the repeated violation of articles 57 and 58 of the Constitution, which guarantee the right to information.”

In his speech, caretaker President Juan Guaidó said that Nicolás’s proposal to hold early legislative elections was cynical, adding that that’s not the measure that will solve the crisis that’s ruining the country. “It’s very cynical to tell the people that they’re going to hold early parliamentary elections when we all know what’s the actual problem, when we know that we reached this crisis precisely because there are no free elections. It’s very cynical to tell Venezuela that they’re going to expand the period of a non-existent National Constituent Assembly,” Guaidó said. He also said that “it’s cynical of him to suggest that he’s willing to run in elections when he stole them in 2018.”

During Guaidó’s speech, NetBlocks confirmed that YouTube, Periscope, Google and Bing were blocked.

The National Assembly approved an agreement rejecting the electoral fraud of May 20th, 2018, “that’s keeping the Venezuelan people in the greatest crisis of their history.”

El Pollo’s request

On Tuesday, Hugo “El Pollo” Carvajal asked the National Assembly to investigate Carlos Quintero Cuevas, substitute authority of the National Electoral Council, for his influence in the presidential elections of 2018. The letter says that: “Quintero is currently a member of the National Electoral Board along Tibisay Lucena and is responsible for coordinating, supervising and controlling all electoral processes. Although Smartmatic left the country [after] 15 years of service, making this statement obvious, Quintero’s words in 2017 were clear: ‘I only need a phone call from Cilia or Diosdado to alter the results to our liking’,” the general claims Quintero said. Supposedly, that wasn’t possible until 2017. Quintero has been head of the Electoral Registry, Computer Science chief and is a substitute for CNE authority Sandra Oblitas.

Let’s talk about human rights

  • Yesterday, the UNHCR requested refugee protection for Venezuelans fleeing the complex humanitarian emergency, urging states not to deport them and offering an updating guide about how to manage our exodus. For spokeswoman Liz Throssell, it’s important to avoid deportations, expulsions or forced returns, as established in international law for refugees.
  • Deputy Juan Requesens’s relatives denounced that, in recent weeks, the Bolivarian Service of National Intelligence (SEBIN) has violated his rights, refusing to take him to the Palace of Justice several times, denying him the visit of his lawyers and family, as well as access to phone calls. The relatives and lawyers of Roberto Marrero, Juan Guaidó’s Chief of Staff, denounced the same. Marrero’s lawyer Joel García doesn’t have access to the file after three months of his arrest.

  • Venezuelan authorities should immediately free Jesús Medina, who’s been arbitrarily detained for almost nine months, according to the Journalist Protection Committee and Human Rights Watch.

  • Alexis Bustamante, activist for NGO FundaRedes and teacher, has been missing for four days. On Friday, he was spotted in Cucuta buying food and his whereabouts are unknown since then. Relatives and colleagues denounced the situation yesterday. There’s a campaign on social media: #DóndeEstáAlexis.

Chavismo’s tale

In April, a family of five needed Bs. 1,924,265 to buy the food basket, according Cendas. The minimum wage is Bs. 40,000, meaning that 48 minimum wages are required to pay for the basket, with a daily demand of Bs. 64,142 just for food. Between April 2018 and April 2019, prices have increased by 191,992%. However, for Nicolás it’s more important to hold a “March for Military Loyalty” from the Carabobo Field, where he supposedly encouraged military morale and discipline, and among other requests he asked them to: be ready 24/7 to defend the right to peace; if a traitor emerges, immediately capture him and feel the need every day for a new Carabobo. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said in Havana that Venezuela “is at peace, there’s calm,” that people are fighting against adversity and economic problems, “but nobody’s fighting anyone.” Lastly, Health Minister Carlos Alvarado denounced this Tuesday at the United Nations’ 72nd World Health Assembly, the imposition of unilateral measures against countries that are members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Briefs and serious

  • The judge confirmed Owens-Illinois’ arbitral award against Venezuela after rejecting the request made by Guaidó’s team to delay the proceedings. THe judge said that a delay wouldn’t change the case’s result.

  • The Central Bank of Venezuela denied the measure to replace the services of payment platforms Maestro, Mastercard and Visa, saying that the intention is creating an alternative payment system that will operate as a complement.
  • The National Federation of Livestock Farmers cautioned that the lack of gasoline and gasoil affects the transportation of production to consumption hubs, which will cause shortages and increase prices. They emphasize that the lack of gasoline doesn’t only affect the consumer, but also the producer due to the losses caused by the inability to transport merchandise to the market.

Movements on the board

  • The European Union urged Nicolás to avoid decisions or actions “that further undermine democracy and the Rule of Law,” after his proposal to hold early legislative elections, because that only makes it harder to reach a peaceful and political solution to the crisis. Spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic added: “We do not believe that the solution to the crisis is dissolving the National Assembly, but rather organizing fair presidential elections.”
  • Reuters says that the United States is preparing sanctions and criminal charges against Venezuelan authorities and others suspected of using the CLAP food assistance program to launder money for Nicolás’s regime. Multiple agencies are involved in this effort that includes accusations of fraud against military officers, politicians and businessmen.
  • Yesterday, former Argentine president, senator and current vice-presidential candidate Cristina Fernández faced the first hearing of the trial against her for 12 open corruption cases.
  • The agreement between the Nicaraguan government and the opposition for the release of over 230 political prisoners was signed in March. 100 of them were taken out of prison this Monday and granted house arrest. Yesterday, the government promised to release the rest before June.
  • Today, the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives will review the draft law about the Temporary Protection Status for Venezuelans. The legislation was presented by Democrat Darren Soto and Republican Mario Díaz Balart.

The Central University of Venezuela will deliver the Alma Mater Award to nutritionist and food security specialist Susana Raffalli, for her contributions to the Venezuelan people in the nutritional area. It’s the first time a woman receives this award in 14 editions. I celebrate this recognition because on top of working in such a complex sphere, Susana denounces, narrates and demands, telling the story of this version of the country mixing it with her emotions, with her sacrifices and confirmations. She’s needed now and will be key for the future country.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.