Setting a Precedent

Photo: @jguaido

ANC-imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab announced this Tuesday the indictment of Rossana Barrera and Kevin Rojas, for the crimes of money laundering, corruption and criminal association and, with the argument that the funds they managed were assigned from Venezuela, he said that this jurisdiction must be the one to investigate the source and use of the money. He emphasized that Barrera and Rojas are part of a corruption scheme (the exact words used by Jorge Rodríguez, weird, eh?), but he also denounced the unfulfilled offers to the soldiers (he only had to explain why this concerns him) and insisted on accusing Guaidó of embezzling the republic’s resources, that the funds have been managed without transparency and that he leads “this corruption mafia.” Lastly, he said that he’ll ask Colombian authorities to give him the evidence of the case, because this investigation “will set a precedent of what we’ve done in the past.” Yeah, a “no” was missing between “what” and “we’ve”.

Seriousness and transparency

Caretaker President Juan Guaidó answered Tarek William Saab: “Our focus is attending the humanitarian emergency, a prosecutor who has made no progress with the Odebrecht case isn’t a prosecutor, but an usurper (…) we know that there’s no kind of impartiality, we already started the investigation,” restating that he won’t tolerate any kind of corruption and that these accusations are part of a smear campaign; he also restated that Barrera and Rojas were removed from their posts and have been investigated after the accusations. “They won’t distract us from the goal by trying to bring us into the mess they have. This political class is different, we stand up, we’re serious about accountability and transparency, we’re going forward and we’ll rebuild Venezuela,” he said.

The National Assembly approved the creation of a special committee that will oversee international cooperation in humanitarian aid; another committee will set the procedure to appoint a Special Comptroller, and the plenary expressed their support for the mission of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, whom they asked to mediate for the release of political prisoners.

If it’s about corruption

The Wall Street Journal published a report called “How 7.4 Tons of Venezuela’s Gold Landed in Africa and Vanished,” explaining the secret deliveries to a refinery in Uganda exposing a clandestine economy led by Nicolás to evade the American financial system and thus collect the necessary funds to cling to power. The article says that in March, Nicolás sold the tons of gold coming from the country’s reserves for $300 million and that the metal travelled to Uganda on a Russian plane, where the load was identified as property of the Central Bank of Venezuela, to be refined and exported to the Middle East. This second batch of gold was seized by the Ugandan police, who identified the ingots certifying their origin. The Ugandan Prosecutor General ordered the load to be released three weeks after the confiscation and thus, the trace was lost.

The Bachelet effect

Deputy Gilber Caro joined Parliament’s plenary and confirmed that he was handcuffed for 11 days and isolated for 30, that he was in a 1x1m cell, unable to bathe: “My inner body, my spirit and my soul are renewed to travel all over Venezuela, to tell Venezuelans that we have a great country to rescue,” he said. He thanked deputy Juan Requesens and the Boston Group who made his release possible.

Yesterday, 18 Yaracuy citizens arrested on May 1st during a peaceful demonstration in San Felipe were released. The relatives of former chavista ministers Raúl Isaías Baduel and Miguel Rodríguez Torres, denounced their enforced disappearance: Baduel has been missing for the past five days, and Rodríguez Torres, since April 28th. There was a protest in Altamira yesterday demanding the release of over 700 political prisoners. A lesson of cynicism? The Ombudsman’s Office said that they’ve set up a phone number “for any complaint regarding alleged human rights violations anywhere in the country.”

Another massacre

This Tuesday, irregular armed groups operating at the border between Colombia and Venezuela clashed in Boca de Grita, Táchira. “We have a balance of 12 people murdered due to the class between irregular groups. Over 20 people have bullet wounds,” denounced deputy Franklyn Duarte, head of the border affairs sub-committee.

Meanwhile, José Palomino, commander of Cúcuta’s Metropolitan Police, explained that upon knowing of the incident, Colombian security bodies deployed along the Grita river and that after several gunfire exchanges, they saw a boat in the river and arrested the two men on board, who ended up being “Torombolo” and “Costeño”, members of the gang Los Rastrojos. At the moment of their arrest, they were wearing Colombian army uniforms and had a rifle, a gun and “abundant war material,” said Palomino. As usual, the regime has said nothing about this massacre.

We, the migrants

At least 380 Latin American migrants have died while trying to leave their countries this year, said Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organization of Migrations, who reported more than 80 Venezuelans who died or went missing in three shipwrecks in the Caribbean in the last two months. UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch asked for better search and rescue operations to save Venezuelans leaving the country by sea. David Smolansky, OAS coordinator for the crisis of Venezuelan migrants and refugees, said that the Chilean government approved the possibility of applying the democratic responsibility visa in any Chilean consulate in the world.

Colombian Vice-President Marta Lucía Ramírez said that the greatest challenge her country faces is managing the mass exodus of Venezuelans. Once again she urged the international community to offer support to assist them, through humanitarian aid funds.

Movements on the board

  • Ambassador Humberto Calderón Berti requested an investigation before the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office for the alleged administrative irregularities of the funds for soldiers who defected across the border. He said that this measure sets a precedent in the administration for this transition process.

  • Donald Trump presented his candidacy for 2020 presidential elections, and his Vice-President Mike Pence spoke in the Miami harbor as the Hospital Ship USNS Comfort sailed to help our refugees: “The Maduro regime must pay for the oppression it has caused to the people of Venezuela,” he said.

  • “What’s happening in that country could be genocide, because living conditions point to that direction,” said former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos about Venezuela. He criticized the regime for “violating constitutional rules” by creating the ANC, and asked the Army to defend the Constitution.
  • Federica Mogherini said yesterday that the European Union thinks it’s too early to sanction Nicolás again, but that they’re progressing on the technical preparations should they decide to resort to punitive measures. She emphasized the concern for the intensification of the political and humanitarian situation that encourages mass emigration, as well as for the actions against AN deputies.

Yesterday, there were protests in Anzoátegui, Monagas and Bolivar states for problems with fuel supply. Aquiles Hopkins, head of Fedeagro, cautioned that producers are still missing supplies to produce food: “The situation’s getting worse,” he said. According to my dear Luis Oliveros, by August, a year after the monetary reconversion, the bolivar will recover three of the five zeroes that were slashed last year. All fine, eh.

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