Nicolás surely didn’t sleep like a baby last night. Univisión obtained the full video of the interview that journalist Jorge Ramos managed to do with him in February. Not complacent enough for his standards, Nicolás stopped the exercise and after Jorge Rodríguez pointed out that they didn’t agree with the interview, Ramos and his team lost their equipment, their phones and the recorded material; they were kept arbitrarily detained in Miraflores before being deported. Someone with access to the material leaked it and Univision showed a piece in which, after Ramos asked him about political prisoners and refuted his denial of their existed by presenting him a list with 400 names, Nicolás retorted: “You take your trash (the list,) pal. Take your trash, Jorge Ramos. Take your trash, pal. Look, are you here to provoke me? You’re going to swallow your provocation. You’re going to swallow your provocation with Coca-Cola,” and then he started his monologue as if he was in a mandatory broadcast, but he was soon interrupted and his anger rose again, accusing Ramos of having “a biased counter-revolutionary political stance.” I don’t know why Nicolás expected a comfortable interview, but I cheer the fact that his loyalties are crumbling, leaving these symbolic pieces that, actually, dismantle his notable efforts to undermine Norway’s mediation.
- CANTV employees and retirees protested to demand better wages and working conditions. They denounced that the company’s poor management has diminished their benefits, complaining about the hike in service fees, as if that truly had an influence on the management of public resources. Also yesterday, former workers of the Orinoco Oil Belt announced that they’ll start a hunger strike to demand the payment of what they’re owed, after 16 months of continuous protests without answers from the authorities.
- “We must hold on tight while this storm passes and at the end, those who are left are going to look into each other’s faces,” said Vladimir Padrino López, claiming that the tempest “is rolling over all of us,” and although he was talking about the undeniable effects of hyperinflation and the complex humanitarian emergency caused by the regime, he preferred to blame everything on sanctions. That’s why he asked his people to be creative and turn the crisis around, because they’re “destined for victory.“
- Now we know the reason why the Central Bank published its questionable figures: it was China’s suggestion, to avoid a discussion on Nicolás’ legitimacy in the International Monetary Fund. Well, yesterday the IMF said that they couldn’t evaluate the data’s quality because they can’t get in touch with any regime official.
- National constituent assembly member Andrés Eloy Méndez proposed confiscating the assets of National Assembly lawmakers who’ve requested sanctions against the regime “but in order to make a public auction and pay the surgeries of children affected by the theft of resources.” Sadly, he didn’t suggest starting with the regime’s corrupt liaisons, such as Foreign Vice-Minister Nervis Villalobos with 113 properties in Spain and a loot of over 53 million euros that he laundered with companies in the Czech Republic, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Méndez also proposed his plan to punish the AN’s Finance and Economic Development Committee by stripping its members of their immunity for approving the payment of interests of the PDVSA 2020 bonds.
Let’s talk about human rights
- The rapporteur of the Inter-American System and United Nations experts expressed their profound concern for the disappearance of Venezuelan migrants in shipwrecks in the Caribbean and urged Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela to coordinate search and rescue operations, and to carry out investigations and forensic protocols to identify and locate the dead.
- Deputy Carlos Valero denounced the existence of human trafficking mafias in Caribbean coasts, with regards to the shipwreck of boats that left Güiria for Trinidad and Tobago. Valero said that the crew members are still missing “as long as a body is found.” He also denounced that the authorities “have done nothing” to put an end to these incidents. In Güiria, people are charged $500 to be able to board an illegal boat.
- Fundaredes denounced that 15,000 Venezuelans have been recruited by the Colombian guerrilla to be incorporated to drug trafficking, extortion and terrorism. They also documented the presence of irregular groups, among them the ELN, the Fark, the People’s Liberation Army and more recently, the Border Security Squad, in at least 10 Venezuelan states.
- And yesterday, in “The State Against the National Assembly”: deputy María Beatriz Martínez denounced the presence of SEBIN agents outside her home in Portuguesa State. Also, the hearing for deputy Gilber Caro was postponed because SEBIN didn’t take him to court, according to his lawyer Ramón Carmona.
- The governments of Colombia, the U.S. and Venezuela agreed to distribute in Cucuta the humanitarian aid supplies sent by USAID for the humanitarian aid push on February 23rd.
- Members of the Democratic Union of the Education Sector, the Federation of Associations of University Teachers and the National Assembly’s Education sub-committee presented a proposal to recover Venezuelan education that will be included in the Plan País for national recovery, spearheaded by Juan Guaidó.
Movements on the board
- The democratic cause’s delegation traveled from Norway to Italy and met with Vatican State Secretary Pietro Parolin. Whether it was to tell him about the importance of speeding up humanitarian aid (as their official statement says) or to give him a diplomatic report on Oslo talks, the fact is the meeting took place.
- U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said that the U.S. and Canada must “continue working together to hold Maduro accountable for his actions, exposing Cuba’s malign influence” and support each other until democracy’s restored. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that “Cuba can potentially play a very positive role in the well-being and future stability of Venezuela.”
- Andrew Soper, U.K. ambassador in Venezuela, said that the International Contact Group is working with Norway and the Lima Group to reach a peaceful and negotiated solution to the Venezuelan crisis. He also said that the United Kingdom is studying several options alone with the National Assembly, NGOs and regime authorities to “increase the access” of humanitarian aid.
- Unless they follow the example of former SEBIN director Manuel Cristopher Figuera and take “bold and tangible measures” against Nicolás, other former Venezuelan officials will find it hard to have their names removed from the U.S. sanctions list, according to Reuters sources close to Donald Trump’s government, which demands “concrete and meaningful actions” before lifting sanctions on other former Maduro advisors. “We want to increase the credibility Guiadó’s amnesty offer,” said a White House official.
Venezuelan writer Rodrigo Blanco Calderón won the 3rd Mario Vargas Llosa Novel Biennial with his work The Night. “I dedicate this award to my country, Venezuela,” he said at the ceremony in Guadalajara. This is the year, Ró! Hurrah!