The Bachelet Effect

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo

In two days, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will arrive in the country. Two months after receiving the first donation, this Monday afternoon the second shipment of humanitarian aid managed by the Red Cross landed in Maiquetía, containing 24 tons of aid including power generators and medicines, but we don’t know what those are or where they’re going.

The second act of synchrony with Bachelet’s visit was the release of deputy Gilber Caro, arbitrarily detained and missing since April 26th, violating his human rights as well as his parliamentary immunity, so his release doesn’t clear ANC-imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab or ombudsman Alfredo Ruiz from the responsibility of allowing such violations. Shortly after, political prisoners Melvin Farías and Junior Rojas were released after a year and two months in the Directorate of Military Counterintelligence HQ. Ms. Bachelet, the regime has over 700 political prisoners.

About the accusation

Caretaker President Juan Guaidó said yesterday that this Tuesday they’ll file before the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office a complaint about the opaque use of $90,000 that were donated to help the soldiers who defected on February 23rd and that, according to press reports, were partially spent by opposition delegates. Guaidó said that two months ago, an investigation was opened about the use of the money to cover the expenses of the soldiers and their families that multilateral agencies couldn’t assist, and added that the information about the investigation made by ambassador Humberto Calderón Berti will be handed over to the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office today: “For us, a cent, a bolivar, a dollar is sacred,” said Guaidó, adding that his caretaker government doesn’t manage money donated by international agencies as humanitarian aid for Venezuela, and they don’t have access to the resources collected on the February concert either. Those two million dollars have been assigned in June to two social projects, said Gabriela Arenas, head of the Aid Live Foundation. The foundation’s statement confirms Guaidó’s words.

Corruption according to Jorge

Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez imposed a mandatory broadcast to talk about corruption. He didn’t mention CADIVI or PDVSA; Odebrecht, food imported for CLAP or the gold sent to Turkey, but he did accuse Juan Guaidó of stealing over one billion dollars between humanitarian aid and CITGO funds. He also claimed that Guaidó misappropriated the three million dollars collected in the concert: one million more than the Aid Live Foundation says, but you know how chavismo is. In addition to accusing Rosana Barrera and Kevin Rojas, he spoke of deputies Freddy Superlano and Gaby Arellano, and Lorent Saleh as people who spent the money.

And according to Nicolás?

“While we’re working, the Venezuelan opposition is holding a feast of corruption (…) a coup-mongering, treacherous and thieving right-wing (…) the opposition’s corruption is a barbarity,” said Nicolás, among the figures that allegedly define the food paradise where Venezuelans will swim soon. Sadly, the figures are in bolivars, and you know how much that’s worth. “Corruption isn’t new for opposition actors, what’s new is the blatant way in which they’ve stolen the country’s resources.” And no, Nicolás wasn’t talking about CADIVI, PDVAL, PDVSA or Derwick; he wasn’t talking about the Bank of Andorra or about the gold sent to Turkey, but he still denounced the ethical and moral degradation.

For some reason, Nicolás and Jorge didn’t mention two important details in their tales: that the people responsible were removed from their posts as soon as the case was known, and that they’re willing to carry out a formal investigation to determine responsibilities. Chavismo’s corruption is so profound and serious that yesterday, everyone ignored the testimony of Raquel Ramírez, a 35-year-old woman who confessed that she was graduated from high school on June 10th, although she didn’t study. Ah, corruption is a barbarity!

About PDVSA

PDVSA replaced its main commerce and supply official, National Guard general José Rojas Reyes, appointed in October 2018, according to Official Gazette dated June 12th. The post was provisionally handed to Marcos Rojas Marchena, who’s also vice-president for international affairs. The removal comes while PDVSA, suffering from corruption cases, mismanagement and lack of investment, faces new difficulties due to the sanctions that prevent American companies to import Venezuelan oil. Additionally, Jamaica’s government said yesterday that they’ve acquired 49% of the shares of the refinery Petrojam which belonged to PDVSA, and now they totally control the facility. By the way, Haiti has seen serious protests due to the acts of corruption related to PetroCaribe and the accusation against President Jovenel Moïse for embezzling $3.8 billion that were meant for social, infrastructure and education projects.

We, the migrants

Starting yesterday, Venezuelans who want to enter Trinidad and Tobago will require a visa that will be issued by that country’s embassy in Caracas. NGO Refugees International (RI) says that “the arrival of so many [Venezuelans] in a short period of time has pushed Ecuador’s institutional capacity to the limit,” and that the reception that migrants and refugees have seen is inconsistent with their own laws, so in practice some policies prevent the access to rights. One in every three asylum seekers in Spain in the first months of 2019 are Venezuelans, almost 17,000 people. The figure already surpasses 80% of all asylum requests in 2018.

Movements on the board

  • The European Union’s foreign ministers analyzed the first contacts carried out by Enrique Iglesias, their special envoy for Venezuela, and they also backed the negotiation process in Oslo to find a solution to the country’s crisis.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro requested an investigation on loans made by Brazil’s development bank to Cuba and Venezuela. Gustavo Montezano, the new chairman of BNDES, has the mission to “open the black box of the past to reveal where the resources were invested in Cuba and Venezuela,” during the leftist governments (2003-2016). If this progresses, perhaps we’ll know more about the imports that were made for Mercal and PDVAL.

  • Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, confirmed Russia’s willingness to promote a dialogue between Nicolás and Juan Guaidó “with the aim of finding a solution and overcome the political crisis in the country.”

Michelle Bachelet will be in the country between June 19th and 21st. These three days will be insufficient for human rights organizations and also, the date of the trip was adapted to regime requirements: before she presents her report in Geneva. Before Bachelet took over as High Commissioner, at least 11 rapporteurs asked to verify the human rights situation in Venezuela and were barred from visiting the country. Three days are doubtlessly insufficient for such a profound crisis as ours, but there’s prior investigation work about the serious human rights violations committed by the regime.

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