Photo: Efecto Cocuyo retrieved
Nicolás continues with his variety show on VTV ignoring the complex humanitarian emergency, the collapse of public services and the economic debacle. Yesterday, he focused on the National Bolivarian Police (PNB) and used the graduation ceremony of 2,023 officers, to approve billions of bolivars artificially issued by the Central Bank for the construction of a healthcare center, the completion of an office in Anzoategui, purchasing new vehicles and uniforms for the police, including a gala uniform, an undeniable priority for the Republic. Additionally, he approved over half a million euros to install four shooting simulators in training centers, because Nicolás’s goal is to reach 100,000 police officers in the “peace quadrants,” that’s why he claimed: “We’re going to have the safest country in the world (…) The PNB must be at the vanguard.” This happens the same day that he appointed new commanders for the Strategic Regions of Integral Defense (REDI) and, coincidentally, none of them has been sanctioned by the U.S.
But that wasn’t the worst
This Wednesday will be remembered for the phrase: “My full support for the FAES in their daily work to bring security to the Venezuelan people, long live the FAES!” said Nicolás. He said it in response to the effect of the report issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in which she urged the Venezuelan state to dismantle the PNB’s Special Actions Forces due to the serious accusations of extrajudicial executions in their operations and the deliberate and excessive use of force. In the report, Michelle Bachelet calls them “death squads.” By supporting the FAES, Nicolás denies any possibility of investigating the crimes attributed to them and, of course, he ditches the idea of dismantling them. Nicolás condecorated and promoted 17,874 police officers. Interior Minister Néstor Reverol said that the homicide rate in Venezuela dropped to 24 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, and that crime and violence rates have dropped too. These figures can’t be verified.
A modern dictatorship
Laura Louza, director of the NGO Acceso a la Justicia, said: “Venezuela’s case is complex, it’s a modern dictatorship (…) we have all the elements. It’s not so obvious, but in the end it’s a dictatorship with some democratic spaces.” In her presentation, she added that Venezuela is different to other authoritarian and militaristic models, because the ruling clique reached power through democratic means at some point, mutating from an authoritarian government to possible totalitarianism if the remaining free spaces are destroyed. Chavismo didn’t dissolve the National Assembly but nullified it instead, stripping it from its rightful authority. Louza explained that in Venezuela, we have a state with de facto but not rightful powers, because they’re unconstitutional and illegitimate… except the National Assembly, which has withstood 100 Supreme Tribunal rulings against it (between 2015 and 2019) to nullify its functions. For Alí Daniels, director of Acceso a la Justicia, a political transition is only possible through elections with democratic guarantees.
A bit of economy
Venezuelan oil company Sinovensa expects to increase its production capacity from the current 105,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 165,000 bpd, with expansion work in their plant, according to PDVSA. Sinovensa is a joint venture of PDVSA and Chinese state-owned CNPC, located in the Orinoco Oil Belt, and the expansion of its operational areas (the second oil field with greatest foreign participation in the country) could decelerate our production freefall.
Meanwhile, Prof. Ricardo Hausmann, Guaidó’s representative before the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), said that the loans Venezuela’s received from the regime’s allies, Russia and China, would be renegotiated through the Paris Club, if Nicolás leaves power. This is his response to concerns about the favorable treatment for both countries. Also, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Trump Administration plans to use $40 million assigned to Central America to support the opposition in Venezuela, although the U.S. State Department and Juan Guaidó have yet to answer the request for comment on this news.
- The National Assembly’s Education Sub-Committee offered a balance for the school year that just ended with a figure of up to 70% school absenteeism, which increases to 75% in Zulia due to lack of electricity. “Children attended school only one day out of the five days of the week, due to lack of water, electricity, transport, cooking gas and food,” deputy Bolivia Suárez explained, adding that the country’s suffering an “educational catastrophe.”
- IADB chairman Luis Alberto Moreno said that Venezuela has suffered a colossal setback, so it’s urgent to revert the country’s decline, which includes a 94% income poverty rate.
- Regime Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza used his visit to New York to meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and, only after leaving his office with enough pictures and videos to spread on state media, said that he told him about his “insatisfaction in tone and content” with Michelle Bachelet’s report. In the political forum he attended, he dared to speak about Sustainable Development Goals, the ones Venezuela’s failing to fulfill.
- But since Arreaza probably gets a bonus every time he mentions the term “unilateral coercive measures,” he demanded an end to them, not just against the regime he represents, but also against their allies of Iran and Cuba. He met with the island’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca and with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu (?). But his best pictures were in a bookstore with “various representatives of American social movements.” Leftists of the world, unite!
Other movements on the board
Our crisis was the most important topic of discussion among the presidents who attended Mercosur’s half-year summit. Only the presidents of Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile didn’t mention us. Remember that Venezuela was suspended from Mercosur in August 2017, because they believed there’d been a “rupture of democratic order” in the country. Additionally, Colombian President Iván Duque said that the National Liberation Army (ELN) is recruiting minors in Venezuela with Nicolás’s blessing: “Venezuela’s dictator is protecting [the ELN]… He’s giving them money and sponsoring the recruitment of children for illegal mining,” he said in the summit. There were important participations from Paulo Abrao, executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, and OAS Cabinet Chief Gonzalo Koncke, at the OAS Permanent Council about the situation of human rights in Venezuela. In Koncke’s words: “The situation of human rights in Venezuela is as follows: there are none.”
By the way, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov didn’t include Venezuela in his Latin American tour next week.
Yesterday was a day of celebration for Venezuelan journalism: Venezuelan journalist Boris Muñoz was honored with the award given by the University of Columbia in New York. Additionally, website Armando.Info received a “special mention” of this award and, additionally, the report “OLP: The Mask of Official Terror in Venezuela” is one of the 12 finalists for the Global Shining Light Awards (which honors investigative journalism in extreme conditions) granted by GIJN. This work, published by Runrunes, was picked among 291 investigative reports, so congratulations to Ronna Rísquez, Lisseth Boon and Carmen Riera too!