An Empty Threat

Photo: Newsy Today retrieved

On Sunday, August 11th, caretaker President Juan Guaidó warned citizens about the request for “punishment” that Nicolás had made a couple of days before and could be made effective in three ways: dissolution of the National Assembly, and with that, even more persecution to AN deputies, their kidnapping, and the announcement of early legislative elections. On Monday, Diosdado Cabello dismissed the possibility: “Juan Guaidó is saying we’re killing the National Assembly, but it has annihilated itself. Nobody listens to him, it doesn’t work. They say things and don’t follow through (…) It’s been dissolved because there’s no quorum,” he said.

About early elections, he said: “When we mention an election they get scared. We’ll hold elections here soon, a lot sooner than you think,” saying that they’ll hold elections when they see fit, but even if they’re entertaining that possibility, he said that they’d evaluate the best moment to have them. “We could move the date, we can do that and so much more,” Cabello said and yet, he didn’t. Does this mean he chickened out? While he sets his message straight, he said, as a warning for deputies: “Don’t go on vacation, because we’ll make your lives miserable for the next 30 days.” 

The tribunal repeats the formula 

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice demanded, with sentences 55 and 56, a trial against deputies José Guerra and Tomás Guanipa (Primero Justicia), and Juan Pablo García (Vente), and accused them of “treason, conspiracy, inciting insurrection, rebellion, conspiracy to commit crimes, usurping functions, inciting disobedience for the law and hate.” The TSJ repeats their formula, reinforcing that there’s no point in holding fair trials, even when deputies have parliamentary immunity because the crimes were “committed in flagrancy”. They also sent a copy of the sentence to the ANC again, to continue with the process, stating that this procedure should be in the hands of common tribunals.

The response

Deputies Guanipa and Guerra rejected the decision and condemned persecution. Rafael Guzmán said that the AN is punished for being the only legitimate institution in Venezuela. Vente backed deputy Juan Pablo García. Luis Almagro, OAS Secretary General, rejected the “illegal proceedings of the usurping tribunal, a mere instrument of Venezuela’s criminal dictatorship. Deputies’ parliamentary immunity should be respected, as granted by citizens and guaranteed in the Constitution.” Caretaker President Juan Guaidó said: “The dictatorship has become predictable in using the only tool they have left: persecution (…) The dictatorship keeps fracturing and measuring the political cost. They all know which sector in the PSUV is sabotaging the transition: those with bad habits and are pure evil.” According to Guaidó, unconstitutional decisions aren’t valid and can’t be recognized, and he thinks that repression is the only tool left for chavismo. He said that they’ll take further action tomorrow.

Nicolás’s renewal

84,8% of Venezuelans want Nicolás out of the presidency this year (according to José Gil Yepes) and still, Maduro announced six new ministers today, “as a part of the process of renovation, rectification and change.” Vanesa Montero for Urban Agriculture, Admiral Gilberto Pinto Blanco for Eco-Mining Development, Asia Villegas Poljak as Minister for Women, University Education went to César Trómpiz Cecconi; Ecosocialism Minister Oswaldo Barbera; General Raúl Paredes will become the Infrastructure Minister and ANC deputy Mervin Maldonado will be the Executive Secretary for the Somos Venezuela movement and the Mission system. Nicolás also created the Tourism and International Commerce, and appointed Félix Plasencia to lead it. He also said that he sent a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, asking him to request the end of the blockade of Venezuelan assets in American soil. Is this a response to Guaidó announcing new authorities?

The non-country

According to the most recent epidemiology report by the Pan American Health Organization, the Venezuelan state has reported 5,983 cases of dengue fever (from January to July 27th). Of those cases, 3,636 happened between June 1st and July 27th, an increase of 64.5 % compared to the December 2018 – June 2019 period. 

– Workers of the Caracas University Hospital cease activities to demand better working conditions and salaries, and asked other healthcare professionals (doctors and nurses) to join the strike. They expect that health authorities will meet their demands of better salaries and improving their working conditions. 

– There was a very important piece on Tal Cual, about the business Gas Comunal Pdvsa workers have developed as a consequence of cooking gas shortages: a new cylinder can cost up to 300,000 bolivars or 20 dollars (even though, according to the government, it shouldn’t cost more than 6,000 bolivars). The company never gets this money, it ends up in the workers’ bank accounts. Only in Caracas, over 70% of the population relies on these gas canisters for cooking their food. 

– According to the BCV, the dollar in Venezuela today was 13.613,32 bolivars. However, they ran a campaign in state media thanking Nicolás for starting the Vacation Bonus through the carnet de la patria, worth 50,000 bolivars or 3,67 dollars. 

We, the migrants

Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced he’ll visit Chile and Brazil to see both countries’ humanitarian response to Venezuelan refugees. He said he’ll also find “more support from the international community for the countries and communities that harbor Venezuelans.” On Monday, Datanálisis published a survey saying that almost half of Venezuelans want to leave the country.  46.2% admits to evaluating the possibility of leaving the country. 18.4% say that they’re “very sure” about leaving and 21% say they’re “sure”. They mentioned finding a better quality of life as the main reason for leaving, followed by the possibility to have the option to work. However, when they were asked about what they’ve done to leave the country l, only 22% said that they had done any kind of paperwork, from visas (11%) to legalizing their degrees. According to this poll by Datanálisis, only 11.7% Venezuelans define themselves as chavistas, 35% as opposition and 52% say that they identify with neither. 

The replies to several posts on social media calling to stand behind the National Assembly got very disheartening. It’s unlikely that the ANC backs out answers to the political cost of dissolving the National Assembly or undermining Guaidó’s credibility. The promise to “make your lives miserable in the next 30 days” can only be carried out by someone who doesn’t deal with this version of our country, with dengue, no basic services, with hyperinflation and a complex humanitarian emergency that only gets worse. 

 

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