An Electromagnetic Excuse

Photo: Cristian Hernández 

Another general blackout hit 22 Venezuelan states on Monday. Officially, there was another “electromagnetic attack,” without the explosion of a nuclear head or a solar supernova. Although state media spent the day “reporting” the restoration of electricity, there are still areas in states such as Zulia, Barinas, Lara, Monagas and Merida that have been without electricity for a day, proving the solidity of Corpoelec’s service and the system’s recovery capacity as claimed by the Electric Energy Ministry. Several electrical engineers explained to the media that Corpoelec allegedly violated transmission caps through the Guri dam’s lines, and that it affected the national electric system (already weakened and without investments to recover it). They forecast new blackouts, adding that the problem can’t be solved without thermoelectric generation.

Back to the TIAR

This Tuesday in a special session outdoors, the National Assembly approved Venezuela’s re-entry to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which contains the commitment of mutual defense among nations in case of armed attacks. Caretaker President Juan Guaidó requested the urgent approval of this law, which had been discussed last month. Guaidó said that “the TIAR isn’t a magical formula or a solve-everything button; on the contrary, it compels us to go out and exercise our majority in all instances.” In his balance of his six months as caretaker President, he restated the support of over 50 countries for his plan, the protection of Venezuela’s assets (CITGO) and OAS recognition. Guaidó reiterated the impact of the report issued by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and said that Nicolás was a charlatan. Lastly, he called for a new street protest on July 26th all over the country.

What’s the TIAR for?

This Treaty allows nations to “prevent and repress threats and attacks against any country in America,” and its text says that the signatory nations formally condemn war and promise to find peaceful solutions to their conflicts. It also establishes that “an armed attack by any State against an American State will be considered an attack against all American States,” so the parties promise to help each other in fending off attacks, exercising the right to legitimate defense. Its application depends on the OAS, but also on the UN Security Council, where Russia and China, Nicolás’s allies, have veto power. In order to apply it, it must be supported by two thirds of OAS member countries and the military option is the last of several actions that include breaking diplomatic ties, sanctions or the suspension of economic relations. Once more: the use of military force is the last resort.

A bit of economics

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook report cautions that, in 2019, our economy will suffer a contraction of no less than 35% (it was estimated at 25% in April), saying that “it’s imploding.” The U.S. Treasury Department sanctions on PDVSA included exemptions in favor of Chevron and other oil service providers, which expire on July 28th. That’s why Guaidó issued a Decree to guarantee Chevron’s assets in Venezuela to secure the company’s investments, after 100 years of operating in the country, although Nicolás threatened to expropriate their assets if they continue operations. Meanwhile, Curaçao said that they’d start studying the proposals of at least ten oil companies interested in becoming partners to manage the facilities that PDVSA will hold until the end of this year, which have been inactive for lack of Venezuelan oil. Regime Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo met with Curaçao’s Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath and told him that PDVSA had no intention of leaving.

Briefs and serious

  • Diosdado Cabello demanded an investigation against engineer Winston Cabas, head of the Venezuelan Association of Electric and Mechanical Engineering and Similar Professions, emphasizing the coincidence between the statements issued by Cabas about the weakness of the national electric system and the blackout on Monday.
  • Jesús “Chuo” Torrealba denounced on Twitter the arbitrary arrest of engineer Cabas’s son: “Arnaldo José Cabas Sarabia, ID 25.964.517, youngest son of engineer Cabas, has been arrested,” adding that the rest of the Cabas family was anxious.
  • The Supreme Tribunal (TSJ) issued another extension for the Economic Emergency Decree with which Nicolás has been ruling since January 2016, when the opposition majority took over the National Assembly.
  • Madrid authorities said that former PDVSA board member Juan Carlos Márquez had killed himself. Márquez was cooperating with Spanish authorities, investigating an alleged money laundering scheme carried out by former ambassador Raúl Morodo and his son, Alejo Morodo.
  • Two juries of the Audiencia Nacional and other two instruction courts in Madrid have open causes against Venezuelans tied to Hugo Chávez’s government to launder dozens of millions of euros in Spain that were allegedly plundered from public funds, mostly PDVSA.

In Buenos Aires

The 15th Lima Group meeting concluded demanding a discussion about our crisis in the UN Security Council, including Michelle Bachelet’s report. They will also submit the report to the International Criminal Court. The group will support the investigations and actions about the involvement of regime authorities and frontmen that “links them with illicit activities of corruption, drug trafficking and transnational organized crime,” as well as the protection they offer to terrorist organizations and illegal armed groups in our territory. Regarding whether the Group would support a foreign military intervention if Guaidó requested it, Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie didn’t confirm rejection for the option, but the Group’s statement mentions finding a democratic solution through peaceful and transparent elections. U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo emphasized the Lima Group’s important to help us find freedom, and U.S. Special Envoy Elliott Abrams attended the meeting and said that “free elections are impossible with Maduro in power.”

Other movements on the board

The United States said this Tuesday that they’ve told Nicolás’s inner circle that they have a “short term” to leave power if they don’t want to face international justice and new sanctions, and they trust that the Lima Group will send the same message: “It’s time for the U.S. and the Lima Group countries to offer [Nicolás] a way out in a specific time window. And if he doesn’t take it, the measures will be much, much tougher,” said Mauricio Claver-Carone, White House official in charge of Latin America. “That term is immediate,” added Trump’s advisor.

The blackout prevented chavismo from causing a ruckus about the meeting of ministers of the Non-Aligned Countries Movement (MNOAL) held in Caracas. As if that expense had been small, between July 25th and 28th, Caracas will host a new meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum where they’ll discuss “the advancement of neoliberalism and imperialism in the world,” as if that was key to solve our crisis. This meeting will gather over 800 members of political parties and social movements. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said yesterday that the Venezuelan opposition is already in contact with Moscow.

We go on.

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