Photo: 800Noticias, retrieved.
The National Assembly approved in first discussion and with parliamentary urgency the Law Approving the Adhesion of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR). The Special Committee to Monitor Humanitarian Aid that attends the social crisis in Venezuela requested the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) an extension of the protective measures for all services of the J.M. de los Ríos Children’s Hospital, originally approved for the Nephrology service. Lawmakers say that there’s negligence in the payment of the debt with the Italian government: “The discontinuity in the transplant program is a political decision and not a consequence of sanctions.” Additionally, lawmaker Hugo Carvajal sent a letter to caretaker President Juan Guaidó, confirming that he’s split from PSUV and claiming that he’ll do all in his power to contribute elements to achieve the end of usurpation, the transition government and free elections.
Violating Human Rights
For the fourth week in a row, National Guard officers prevented Parliament employees and the press from entering the Federal Legislative Palace. The National Assembly’s Media Committee denounced the repeated violations against freedom of speech. Lawmaker María Beatriz Martínez says that Parliament seeks to create protective measures for journalists. Representatives of NGO Espacio Público, the National Association of Journalists and the National Union of Press Workers went to the Palace, demanding access so that accredited journalists can cover the events within. Carlos Correa, head of Espacio Público, said that this complaint about the violation of the right to information will be taken to international instances.
The figures we were owed
After four years, the Central Bank of Venezuela published economic indicators. It’s a lot of material to process, but here are the most relevant figures:
- The inflation for April, 2019, increased by 33.8%. The annual inflation until April 2019, according to BCV, is 282,973%, compared to the 1,304,495% estimated by the National Assembly. The gap for estimates in 2018 is much worse: BCV 130,060% vs. AN 1,700,000%
- The revenue coming from oil exports dropped by 65% between 2013-2018, down to $29.8 billion, while imports dropped by 74%, down to $14.8 billion.
- The industry experiences a 76.2% contraction.
- The oil GDP suffered a 47.4% drop between 2013 and 2018 – Non-oil GDP was 51.4%.
- The Venezuelan economy suffered a 52.3% contraction between 2013 and 2018. There’s a huge drop in the foreign debt between 2017 and 2018, 24%, or almost $37 billion.
- Denying Nicolás’ figures with the Housing Mission, the most battered sector is Construction, which dropped 90% between 2013 and 2018. BCV’s official figures confirm that we’re living an unprecedented economic depression and hyperinflation goes on without corrections. I insist, it’s a lot of material to process. By the way, yesterday the BCV announced that it will be involved in the new exchange table system.
- Regime health minister, Carlos Alvarado, didn’t mention the death of children in the J.M. de los Ríos Children’s Hospital, but he did repeat the script of U.S. sanctions to explain the shortage of medicines and supplies, admitting that the country’s not getting everything it needs. He highlighted that authorities are seeking to promote the consumption of medicinal plants.
- Nicolás announced that the militia will join the Patria system to control CLAP delivery.
- Lara governor Carmen Meléndez blamed “people’s anxiety” for long lines in gas stations, instead of fuel shortages. She asked citizens to use vehicles only when necessary and cautioned that the Armed Forces will monitor fuel rationing in each gas station: only 30 litres per vehicle.
- Lawmaker Robert Alcalá denounced that among the 30 prisoners who died in the Massacre of Acarigua, some were executions. Parliament opened an investigation.
- Elderly citizens marched to the Ombudsman’s Office to demand better pensions.
- Over 400 drugstores have shut down in the last two years due to the economic crisis, according to Freddy Ceballos, head of the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation.
- After the first heavy rain in the year, there’s a blackout in several sectors of Caracas.
“We’re not fools here,” said Guaidó this Tuesday in Parliament: “We don’t believe in the good faith of the people who brought us to this catastrophe.” According to several media outlets, the mediation efforts are headed by Norwegian diplomat Dag Nylander, a key figure in the peace agreement of 2016 between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), also facilitated by Oslo. Donald Trump’s government said that talks should focus on Nicolás’ departure: “While previous efforts to negotiate have failed because the regime has used them to divide the opposition and gain time, we hope that the talks in Oslo will focus on the departure of Maduro as a precondition for progress,” said U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus. OAS chief Luis Almagro criticized the meetings in Norway, calling them a “wrong approach,” because we’re not in a conflict but under a dictatorship.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas opened the Latin America and Caribbean Conference, expressing his conviction of how geography loses meaning in the digital age, thus highlighting the ties joining Germany and Europe with Latin America and the Caribbean. “The crisis in Venezuela demonstrates the value of close and solid relations between us,” said Maas, emphasizing the work to achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis, prioritizing what the Venezuelan people want. Although Venezuela is absent, it’s a central topic in the debate. Meanwhile, Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said: “We have to keep working much more to return Venezuela its freedom, democracy and respect, especially to life and human rights.”
Other movements on the board
- The European Union’s International Contact Group appointed Uruguayan economist and politician Enrique Iglesias as “special advisor for Venezuela.” He’ll work on measures to reach a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis through free and fair elections.
- The UN must update its criteria. The presidency of the Disarmament Committee, a forum that seeks to generate agreements for gun control, only answers to the alphabetical order of member countries. Therefore, yesterday Venezuela replaced Syria in the post. “This presidency can do as it pleases but it has no legitimacy, because its government doesn’t have it either,” said U.S. ambassador, Robert Wood. The ambassadors of various Lima Group countries didn’t attend.
- Venezuela’s oil exports to India dropped by almost 35% between April and May, due to sanctions. The Indian ambassador to the U.S. said that after the victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his government will seek to reinforce ties with Washington and that goal includes the suspension of crude purchases from Iran and Venezuela.
- The Lima Group will meet in Guatemala on June 6th, according to Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. Before that, on June 3rd, Canada, Chile and Peru will meet with the International Contact Group in New York. Additionally, Freeland said that she talked about our crisis with U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo.
The Venezuelan embassy in the U.S. activated its website www.us.embajadavenezuela.org, where Venezuelan citizens must register for consular services.