Photo: Reuters retrieved
This Tuesday, the National Assembly approved an agreement urging the world’s governments to act so that the regime can’t “continue sentencing Venezuelans to death,” requesting more speed for the distribution of humanitarian aid. Infectologist Julio Castro explained yesterday to the Deutsche Welle the speed and intensity of our decline: in infant mortality, we’re back to records similar to what we had in 1960, in maternal mortality we’re back to 1965 and in malaria, back to the figures of 1945.
In addition to the lack of medicines and supplies, and of failing basic services, Venezuela faces the fact that 25% of doctors have emigrated because their salaries (between $5 and $7) don’t allow them a decent living. On top of that, there are no medicines to treat most chronic diseases, and the gap between the amount of humanitarian aid received and the amount that’s needed is huge: the Red Cross speaks of a goal to assist 600,000 people, while the United Nations says that seven million people require humanitarian aid.
Let’s talk about freedom of expression
After four weeks without being able to access the Federal Legislative Palace, press workers were allowed in yesterday with the support of deputies who confronted the National Guard. It’s best for you to see the pictures and videos of the “event”, but the fact that the access is news is a good enough summary.
In its most recent report, the Press and Society Institute counted over 300 restrictions against freedom of expression so far in 2019; in May alone, there were 63 cases of violations through censorship, abuse of power, cyberattacks, threats and aggressions, affecting journalists, media outlets and citizens. Also yesterday, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice ordered website La Patilla to pay Bs. 30 billion for moral damages against Diosdado Cabello, a disproportionate sanction for an outlet that merely reproduced a report. La Patilla founder Alberto Federico Ravell answered on Twitter: “Diosdado, your judicial terrorism doesn’t frighten me and it won’t exonerate your crimes.”
We lost against Deutsche Bank
The nation failed to honor a gold swap contract for $750 million with Deutsche Bank, so the institution took control of the gold (20 tonnes) that was used as guarantee to receive a loan in cash in 2016. The agreement, that should’ve expired in 2021, was resolved early due to unpaid interests, sources told Bloomberg. The team of caretaker President Juan Guaidó asked the bank to deposit $120 million in an account out of Nicolás’s reach, representing the difference in price since the gold was acquired until now. It’s the second time this year that the regime has failed to fulfill financing agreements, resulting in loses right when international reserves are in a historical minimum. Gold is one of Nicolás’s last resources to keep afloat: last year, the regime depleted almost 40% of Venezuela’s gold reserves, selling it to companies in the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.
- PDVSA’s exports suffered another setback in May, after the expiration of the period set by the United States for clients to stop purchases as part of the sanctions: they dropped by 17% compared to April due to the difficulties of selling improved crude barrels, which were usually bought by U.S. refineries. Oil exports to Cuba increased from 49,000 bpd in April to 91,000 bpd in May.
- This Tuesday, Nicolás installed the permanent session of the Defense and National Security Council to defend himself (?) from the desperate moves of the U.S.: “They and their treacherous lackeys have entered a phase of madness and desperation again. I know what I’m saying, that’s why the Venezuelan state must react on time in defense of the Constitution,” he said. Half an hour after presenting the risk scenario, he appeared greeting athletes and watching dancers. The incoherence never ends.
- Humberto Figuera, head of the Association of Airlines in Venezuela, said yesterday that there are only nine international airlines left operating in the country, but explained that in compensation, there are national airlines that are covering certain destinations: “Estelar covers Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires with two weekly flights each.”
Movements on the board
- The U.S. government announced that it will restrict cultural and educational trips of American citizens to Cuba, as well as the visits of private and corporate ships and planes, which is a new blow for the island’s economy. The restrictions will come into force today.
- This Tuesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro received the diplomatic credentials of Juan Guaidó’s envoy María Teresa Belandria, formally recognizing her as ambassador of Venezuela.
- The Kremlin said yesterday that they didn’t know where Donald Trump got the idea that Moscow had removed most of their military staff from Venezuela, and clarified that Russia continues working here. “By all appearances, it’s a circumstantial reference to newspaper sources of information, because there was no official message about this from the Russian side and there couldn’t be one,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
- Today’s agenda between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping includes discussions about Venezuela’s situation, the conflict in Syria, the future of the nuclear deal with Iran, and their relations with the U.S. During Xi’s stay in Moscow, they will sign trade agreements and a joint statement about the development of bilateral relations and strategic association.
- Kelly Clements, Deputy High Commissioner for the UN Refugee Agency, is visiting Ecuador to personally see the situation of Venezuelan refugees arriving to the country in the last two years to “know first hand the risk they face during their flight in search of security, and assess the offered emergency assistance.” This is the first official visit of an authority to countries that are responding to the emergency situation in Venezuela.
- Aruba announced that the border with Venezuela will remain closed for three more months. “Given the events in Venezuela, we need to evaluate the situation and then make a new decision,” said Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes.
The Supreme Tribunal’s Criminal Cassation Chamber issued a ruling to know the case of Ángela Aguirre, the 16-year-old girl murdered on March 23rd in the island of La Terecaya in Puerto Ordaz, Bolivar State. The Chamber removed the cause from Bolivar State and assigned it to a Control Court with authority in violence against women in Caracas. The Prosecutor’s Office filed an indictment against five men and two women for their involvement in Aguirre’s femicide, so far imprisoned in the Scientific Police’s Homicide Division headquarters in Puerto Ordaz. #JusticiaParaAngelaAguirre