Photo: El luchador retrieved
In retaliation for U.S. President Donald Trump’s Executive Order from Monday, Nicolás decided on Wednesday night to not send his delegation to the next round of dialogue that would have taken place on Thursday and Sunday in Barbados. The statement shared by minister Jorge Rodríguez, claims that they’ve “noticed with profound indignation that the leader of the opposition’s delegation celebrates, promotes and approves the sanctions.” The document also warns that chavismo is getting ready to revise the mechanisms of the process with Norway, “to make sure that continuing is truly effective and in harmony with the people’s interests.” On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said that Nicolás told him that “not even a thousand Trumps, or 400 Boltons, or 300 Pompeos or 300 Guaidós will make us leave the negotiation table,” but chavismo did leave, they proved Bolton right.
On the streets, with the people?
The chavista march to condemn Trump’s Executive Order, that freezes the Venezuelan government’s assets in U.S. soil and forbids any transaction, was, as usual, a march with public employees, authorities with their bodyguards and no people. There were memorable statements, like Pedro Carreño’s: “We’d never seen plundering this big, not even in the time of pirates,” that turned out to be self-describing over accusatorial, but other than that or the coverage by state media, the act went by without much fanfare. They closed the National Mausoleum to commemorate the Bicentennial of the Boyacá Battle, with remarks by Juan Carlos Tanus, head of the Colombians in Venezuela Association, speaking ill about his country’s government, the rector of the Bolivarian Military University, Félix Osorio, with a historical revision of the years of war that were necessary to “expel the Spanish empire” and finally, words by Nicolás.
In a mandatory TV and radio broadcast, Nicolás split his time on air between the need for insulting the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, and his obligation to praise Bolívar’s feat, and comparing it to his own. He called Duque’s government “pro empire, oligarch and appeasing” and informed about these facts: according to him, there are 6 million Colombians living in Venezuela and in 2019, “over 250 thousand Colombians coming in,” amid the height of Venezuelan exodus. With this in mind, he said that the country must once again “be at the vanguard of the continent’s liberation and independence” and he asked his audience to feel proud of the “attack from an empire that pretends to colonize us under the Monroe doctrine.” He spoke about disdain, racism, hate, backyards and about bayonets and rifles, only to go back to his idea of dignity and sovereignty. Nicolás announced that they’ll hold a “world protest day” but he said nothing about his decision to leave the negotiation table, why?
An independent canal
On Wednesday, Nicolás’s vice-president Delcy Rodríguez lied when she said that a boat full of soy on its way to Venezuela was retained at the Panama Canal, “complying with Donald Trump’s criminal blockade,” she wrote on Twitter. A few moments later, the Panama Canal Authority denied this accusation: “The Panama Canal informs that all transits scheduled for today are occurring with absolute normalcy and without setbacks.” Delcy spiced up her claim saying that the owner of the ship “was informed by the insurance company” that it wouldn’t be allowed to transport the load, blaming the U.S. of “violating Venezuelans’ right to nourishment” and demanding the UN to “stop this serious aggression.” Belied by the facts,
Delcy proves the reach of an independent channel, one she can’t control. However, the request for punishment from Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López is still pending.
- This afternoon, Diosdado Cabello informed that “Venezuela won’t send another drop of oil to the United States” and that chavismo will defend itself from the new sanctions “with what we have, with whatever it takes.”
- Bloomberg said that a Chinese contractor (Wison Engineering Services Co.) agreed to repair Venezuela’s main refineries in exchange for products derived from oil, including diesel: “The Chinese company hasn’t completed a contract it earned in 2012 to check the Puerto La Cruz refinery. Wison’s income in Venezuela dropped 73% last year,” says the article.
- Nicolás’s Habitat and Housing minister, Ildemaro Villarroel, announced that they’d reached the “historical milestone of 2,738,474 houses” even though the construction sector reports a 95% contraction. He promised that construction materials would arrive to the country soon, to get to 3 million. Hopefully they won’t be coming in through the Panama Canal.
- Human rights and student organizations rejected the National University Council request to open an investigation against university rectors for recognizing Juan Guaidó’s caretaker presidency and for refusing to recognize Nicolás as a condition for releasing the universities’ funds.
Nicolás confirmed on a phone call with TV show “Con el mazo dando” that they’d be leaving the negotiation table in Barbados: “I think there’s no point for a president to dialogue with people who are setting a bomb, pointing guns at us. No point,” he said. He added that they
won’t talk under “those conditions”. “We’ll activate a counterattack with the ANC, they want to battle? Well, we’ll go to battle,” said Nicolás. He assured that Jorge Rodríguez already spoke to Norwegian authorities. Cabello said that the ANC “won’t comment on all the actions that must be executed” to respond to sanctions: “We say that if we have to fight, then we’ll fight.” Deputy Stalin González, a member of the opposition delegation, tweeted: “For days they’ve been saying that they believe in peace and in the Oslo mechanism, and in the first opportunity they fear the possibility of true political change in the country,” saying that he’d keep working to achieve the end of the crisis. “Venezuelans deserve an urgent, fast solution to the crisis. Our commitment has been proven,” said González.
Other movements on the board
– Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, reaffirmed in a statement that the Executive Order “is directed specifically to Maduro’s regime and those who support it,” underlining the exceptions regarding transactions related to humanitarian activities.
– Switzerland updated the list of Venezuelan officials sanctioned for attempting against democracy and undermining the rule of law. In addition, it ratified the prohibition of providing arms and repression instruments and surveillance equipment. They banned sanctioned officers from residing and entering the country, or making financial transactions.
– The EU ratified it’s against against applying extraterritorial restrictive measures. The spokesperson also said that the EU is willing to “broaden its selective measures” against individuals if there are no conclusive results in the Barbados negotiation.
The SIP released its annual list of winners. Our migration crisis by La Nación in Argentina “Memorias del exilio: qué se llevan de recuerdo los que huyen a pie de Venezuela“, won the Mobile News Coverage. Luisa Salomón (Prodavinci) won the Chronicles category, with her work titled “Mi secuestro“. El Pitazo, Runrunes and Tal Cual’s “Voces del Desamparo” won the Human Rights category and La Vida de Nos got an honorable mention in the University Journalism category for “Cuando los 25 del 350 fuimos uno solo“.
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