Productive Lies

Photo: Prensa Presidencial

“We’ll have to thank imperialism later on for allowing Venezuela to experience the greatest liberation a people can live: freeing ourselves from the dollar, the imperialist yoke and be a totally and absolutely independent country,” said Nicolás this Wednesday, ignoring all the complaints about the payment of gasoline in dollars, about cities paralyzed for lack of electricity and/or fuel, and the warnings of several productive organizations about the delicate situation that the nation faces with the lack of fuel, since it will increase shortages and eventually shut down all productive activity. But in yesterday’s farce, Nicolás “approved” huge figures (only in bolivars and in hyperinflation) to “continue strengthening the new national productive economic system.” Now everything smells of cocoa, for now chocolate is the product that will guarantee economic prosperity; unfortunately, PDVSA workers denounced earlier that the available volume of gasoline in the country can only supply 15% of all gas stations, cautioning that the collapse of supply is imminent.

Everyone lies

Last night, Diosdado Cabello criticized “original chavistas,” demanding them discipline, dedication, preparation and alertness, a sort of scolding for the criticism about news of Norway, saying that negotiation isn’t surrender. He laughed about lawmaker Edgar Zambrano’s missing condition, claiming that they do know where he is. “He’s in prison.” He used the topic to threaten National Assembly lawmakers with more prosecution. He also repeated the lie about the bone marrow transplants that the regime has allegedly been unable to buy due to sanctions, once again: the Health Ministry cancelled the program in June, 2017. Earlier, regime Health Minister Carlos Alvarado said that Venezuela’s health problems, from the rise in diphtheria and measles cases to the lack of medicines, are caused by the United States: “The commercial blockade imposed on us is the main health problem,” he claimed, blaming it on sanctions, the departure of pharmaceutical companies and the drop in food and medicine imports. Alvarado said that “all the country’s hospitals are operational, just not at a hundred percent of their capacity.”

Police lethality

Francisco Olivares developed a work for El Estímulo offering an insight on how Venezuelan citizens perceive state security bodies as a threat and not as protection. According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, the negative perception of security bodies is shared by 90% of citizens in low income areas and 84% in middle class areas, and that explains why so many people never denounce crimes or police violence for fear of reprisals, as well as mistrust in police bodies and the justice system. Data from the Monitor of Victims shows that in 2018, 50.4% of homicides that took place in Caracas were committed by state security forces and that extrajudicial executions were the most common reported form of homicide. The first quarter of 2019 holds the same trend. This report highlights that the Special Actions Forces (FAES) led most homicides in Caracas with 38% deaths, followed by independent homicides with 36%; criminal gangs with 17% and the rest, distributed among other bodies such as the Scientific Police (CICPC), the National Guard (GNB), the Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), the State Secret Police (SEBIN), the National Police (PNB) and state and municipal police. PROVEA thinks that FAES officers “have become the state’s executioners.”

Recovering and losing

This Wednesday, the new board of directors of Monómero, a branch company of Petroquímica de Venezuela (Pequiven) located in Barranquilla, Colombia, was inducted in an event headed by Ambassador Humberto Calderón Berti.

Monómeros is the second company, after CITGO, that’s now being managed by Juan Guaidó’s government. Marianna Párraga, a journalist specialized in oil, talked yesterday about the conflict of interests that CITGO represents in the agenda of cooperation between the Trump Administration and Juan Guaidó: “Because it wouldn’t only protect CITGO against Rosneft or mining firms with few assets in Venezuela, but also against companies such as Conoco that have been demanding major compensation for ten years. Conoco alone has two arbitral awards involving payments for over $10 billion,” says Párraga, adding that Conoco’s interests are now joined by those of Owens Illinois.

VERDAD Act

The U.S. Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bipartisan bill proposing to increase humanitarian aid to Venezuela to $400 million and offers support for rebuilding the country once democracy’s restored. The draft VERDAD Act (Venezuelan Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance and Development Act) presented by senators Bob Menéndez and Marco Rubio, will be discussed in the Senate’s plenary and must be approved by both chambers and signed by President Donald Trump before becoming a law. Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó’s representative in the U.S., thanked the initiative of American senators. Among other provisions, the bill supports caretaker President Juan Guaidó and the National Assembly with:

  • Visa revocation of the relatives of sanctioned individuals and the implementation of exceptions to lift visa restrictions.
  • Plans with international financial institutions for Venezuela’s economic reconstruction once democracy’s restored.
  • The clarification that nothing in this draft act can be considered an authorization for the use of military force against Venezuela.

Other movements

  • Trump representative Elliott Abrams confirmed this Wednesday that the U.S. is preparing a new batch of sanctions against authorities that grew illegally rich with the CLAP food assistance program: “They know that this plan is corrupt, we know it and we’re investigating the details,” he said, emphasizing that this a real crime.
  • At the Hemispheric Security Conference held in Miami, Admiral Craig Faller, chief of the U.S. Southern Command was very cautious while talking of strategies or scenarios about Venezuela, and restated that as a soldier, he’s ready to act but can’t provide information to the enemy.

  • The four people arrested in the cause against Raúl Morodo, former Spanish ambassador in Venezuela, for laundering PDVSA money in Spain, were released with charges after testifying before a judge. All of them and Morodo himself have precautionary measures to appear before court and are barred from leaving Spain.
  • Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo demanded more resources to attend the Venezuelan migration crisis, because his country has only received 21% of the funds international bodies promised, namely, $69.3 million.

  • 93 Venezuelan migrants, including 11 children, were found yesterday in a camp in Southern Trinidad and Tobago. The police believes that they arrived on boats. They were granted permits to stay in the island until July.

  • The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights expressed concern for the intensification of arrest conditions of soldiers and civilians held at General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence headquarters in Boleíta, and urged the state to comply with the protective measures the Commission has issued in favor of these people.

This Wednesday, extraordinary Venezuelan musician Raúl Delgado Estévez died in Mexico. He headed various choral groups, but he was also composer, performer, teacher and speaker, activities that awarded him many prizes and recognitions, but I’d swear none is as beautiful as his place in El Cuarteto, that magical group with which he gave us his art with the cuatro, the guitar and the tiple. May he rest in peace and thanks, so many thanks for his art.

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