The European Union threatened to levy new sanctions against Venezuela if the negotiations taking place in Barbados don’t have favorable results: “In case there are no concrete results from the ongoing negotiations, the EU will further expand its targeted measures,” said European diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini, in a statement on behalf of the 28 countries. She also urged Nicolás’ regime to immediately cease human rights violations and adopt the recommendations formulated in the report of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. The common opinion is that the UN report “confirms in a clear and detailed manner the extent and seriousness of the human rights violations, the erosion of the rule of law and the dismantlement of democratic institutions in the country,” said Mogherini, insisting that our crisis is multidimensional and it requires an urgent political solution. Regime Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza rejected Mogherini’s statement for “issuing unacceptable threats in a moment when synderesis is crucial for dialogue,” isn’t he cute?
Release without music
ANC-imposed Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab had his monthly interview with Vladimir Villegas yesterday and lied, claiming that clarinet player Karen Palacios had been released by that time. Karen should’ve never been imprisoned just for tweeting about her experience of political discrimination in the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Also, the manner of her detention and reclusion violated due process and confirmed the pattern of abuses denounced in Bachelet’s report. However, Saab claimed that she was imprisoned in the National Institute of Female Orientation (INOF), for promoting hate: “You can’t use freedom of expression to say ‘I woke up today after dreaming that the President of the Republic had died’.” He said nothing about the release warrant decreed (and ignored) on June 18th. Six hours and a half after the statement, Karen was released, but she’s not fully free.
It still stings
Saab claimed that High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet “dumped the report” that he gave her about his administration in the Prosecutor’s Office. Strangely, he seemed proud for confirming that 60 of his office’s authorities are imprisoned for corruption and over 120 State agents have been sentenced in the last 23 months for committing cruel and degrading treatments. With that, he omits what’s important: he prefers to ignore the pattern that this represents. For him, it’s much more relevant to talk about what he calls hate crimes, inscribed in chavista propaganda. The fact that he insisted that the Venezuelan State “punishes and investigates human rights abuses,” was an unnecessary excess, especially when hematologist Carmelo Gallardo was released yesterday after 76 days in prison merely for protesting. THe 7th Control Court of Aragua issued a measure of house arrest for this doctor.
- The “Supreme Tribunal in exile” declared the unconstitutionality of collecting payment in petros for intellectual property rights, demanded by the regime to the users of the Autonomous Service of Intellectual Property (SAPI).
- Bloomberg says that the Central Bank has requested information to move to an international messaging system operated by Russia as an alternative for the SWIFT system, if sanctions prevent them from using it. The only countries with banks that have used the Russian system have been Belarus, Abjasia and South Ossetia.
- The Venezuelan economy has experienced the shutdown of 370,000 private companies in the last 20 years, 60% of the companies that existed in 1998. The figure was offered by the new Fedecámaras chairman, Ricardo Cussano, who said it was a challenge for the 250,000 remaining companies to stay open. He highlighted the dramatic productive collapse in Zulia and the disincentive for investment represented in the Patrimony Tax Law, approved by the ANC.
- Fedeagro chairman Aquiles Hopkins cautioned that protein consumption has declined by more than 70% in the last year, in tandem with the drop in production of agricultural products: “National production has been steadily declining for the past 12 years,” he said and added that it will keep declining because nothing’s being done to recover production.
- CITGO is planning on refinancing $1.9 billion in debt that will come due in 2020, while the lawsuit presented by the regime in a Delaware Court last month to regain legal control of the company remains to be defined.
In the National Assembly
The lawmakers approved this Tuesday a draft law on violence against Venezuelan women inside the country and abroad, with the speeches of lawmakers Amelia Belisario, who focused on xenophobia; Manuela Bolívar, who spoke about human trafficking; Milagros Eulate, who denounced the case of 19 young women who are sexual slaves in Trinidad and Tobago, and Tamara Adrián, who emphasized in how chavismo has silenced gender-based exclusions. Activist Luisa Kislinger spoke about gender equality as a development issue, with shocking data describing how our poverty has been feminized. All of them asked to understand gender equality as a transversal variable, to understand that women’s rights and opportunities are an important and urgent topic. Additionally, Parliament approved the appointment of five people as part of the Central Bank’s Ad Hoc Board, which has caused all kinds of back-and-forth reports, so we’ll have to wait for more information.
Other movements on the board
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that his country backs talks in Barbados and restated his willingness to ensure that the parties “reach an agreement as soon as possible.”
- U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo will start a tour by the end of the week in Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico and El Salvador to strengthen alliances and “reinforce support for the people of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela in their struggle for democracy and freedom,” says his statement.
- Yesterday, Pompeo met with Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, expressing his gratitude for Colombia’s generosity in assisting Venezuelan migrants. Holmes said that he’ll speak at the Lima Group meeting next Tuesday for the imposition of targeted sanctions against regime officials. By the way: Colombian Immigration denied access to Emanuel Andrade, son of Alejandro Andrade, for being part of the list of over 300 people linked to Nicolás who have been barred from entering their territory.
- Former German defense minister Ursula Von der Leyen became the first woman that will preside the European Commission, after a heated election where she got 383 votes in favor and 327 against. She promised for her administration a “more social, green and feminist” policy.
- This Wednesday, the OAS Permanent Council will hold a session to discuss the human rights situation in Venezuela.
Former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo was arrested in the United States for the extradition mandate related with the Odebrecht case and his corrupt activities. Toledo had his first appearance before U.S. judicial authorities, said Peru’s Prosecutor’s Office. Once more: the corrupt can fall.