Cabin(et) at Risk

Photo: El País retrieved

Caretaker president Juan Guaidó, announced a “government center” to oversee all the representatives he has appointed and will be headed by Voluntad Popular leader Leopoldo López (who’s under the protection of the Spanish Embassy in Caracas) as a sort of General Secretariat to the Presidency or Chief of Cabinet. He also announced the appointment of presidential commissioners: Julio Borges, for foreign relations, Humberto Prado for human rights and victim care, Alejandro Plaz for economic development and Javier Troconis for asset management and recovery. These commissions are added to the one that oversees the humanitarian aid, Plan País and the one for solving the crisis, the last one headed by Sergio Vergara and J. J. Rendón. Guaidó explained that this action responds to a political need and will allow to see to the complex humanitarian emergency, in addition to exerting pressure and preparing for the transition. He emphasized that all the people he appointed now are under greater risk of prison and persecution. 

Something certain

About the negotiations sponsored by Norway, Guaidó said that they haven’t set a date to sit back down on the table. He added that he won’t go back “until we know it’s certain that it’ll help us reach a solution. If it implies just staring at each other, that doesn’t work for the Venezuelan people,”  he said. Later, Guaidó attended a Plan País event about infrastructure and public works and he said that “Venezuela is under a dictatorship, a complex humanitarian emergency that not only Venezuelans endure, but threatens the entire region.” 

Amnesty for Nicolás

The New York Times published an article quoting Elliot Abrams, White House Special Envoy for Venezuela, who warned that the conversations with high ranking officers that Trump and Nicolás talked about, have not happened. “We don’t want to prosecute or persecute you. We want you to give up power,” said Abrams like he was talking to Nicolás, even though, he says, he doesn’t think it’s worth it to talk directly to the chavista government for now. In his version, the message that Nicolás’s intermediaries have repeated, is that “he will keep resisting the international pressure campaign.” He evaluates the Norwegian dialogue mechanism as Nicolás’s best option to avoid European sanctions, but he hopes that soon, it’d be understood that it’s a “lost cause.” The paper said that Abrams thinks that the White House wouldn’t support an election if either Nicolás or Guaidó are on the ballot. A political risk analyst said that, in order for it to be successful, any amnesty offer to Nicolás has to be extended to high-ranking authorities and officers. 

Who’s the boss?

“The American empire has lost its ability to impose its politics on the world,” replied Nicolás last night and added that “today, Elliot Abrams was dictating rules for Venezuela (…) and making decisions about who would be participating in a potential presidential election that’s stuck in the American empire’s head.” Nothing relevant. Other than that, his variety show at Chávez Technology Complex (Anaco, Anzoategui State); showing how water pumps are assembles and announcing the Free People bonus, 50,000 bolivars using the carnet de la patria. Less that 2,5 dollars. His mustache went as far as calling businessmen to “heighten the development of productivity under the framework of the economic recovery plan.” 

Really?

But the truth is that Nicolás’s economic recovery plan has been going on for a year with no results, with hyperinflation, making everyone poorer and a worse recession. The FMI estimates that our GDP will drop 35 % this year and that the cumulative contraction from 2013 will reach over 60%. The oil sector deterioration has been going on for over 14 quarters: Pdvsa produces only 732 thousand barrels per day, according to his July report to the OPEC, secondary sources report a lot less than that. The industrial sector has been in recession for over five years, as have the construction sector, finance institutions and commerce. Conindustria reported earlier this year that 80% of the countries industries suffered a productivity drop during the second quarter of 2019. The root of the matter is still Nicolás’s government, which received $ 700 million (most of it in yen) for oil sales, a payment that was delayed for months while the parties involved found a way to move the money bypassing the sanctions. 

The non-country

  • Reuters reported that illegally stamped gold bars (with the logos of main refineries) are making their way to the market for laundering illegal or contraband gold. When important brands are forged, the metal that has been extracted or processed in places that wouldn’t be otherwise legal or accepted, including Venezuela and North Korea, they can be inserted into the market to deliver funds to criminals or sanctioned regimes.
  • Public university student representatives held a press conference to reject the TSJ ruling, which they called “the usurpers’ will to annihilate university autonomy and free thought.” 
  • The UCV Professor Assembly (Apucv) voted to not recognize the TSJ sentence. 
  • For the second day in a row, several public transport lines in Caracas suspended service. They disagree with the government’s demand to limit fare to 800 bolivars, they demand charging 1,500 bolivars. 

Movements on the board

The U.S. announced they’ll open a Venezuelan Affairs Unit (VAU) that will operare in their diplomatic headquarters in Bogota. The VAU will continue working with Juan Guaidó’s caretaker government and the National Assembly. 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, hosted his Chilean counterpart Sebastián Piñera and said they’re coordinating a meeting for September 6th, with the end of analyzing with the leaders of countries affected “except Venezuela” the situation of the Amazon forest fires. 

Diosdado Cabello met with the ambassadors of China, Li Baorong, and North Korea, Ri Sung Gil, to “keep strengthening bilateral relations.” 

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland traveled to Havana to meet with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodríguez, to talk about the Venezuelan crisis. Rodríguez  assured that the Washington sanctions violate international law and the dialogue process. Freeland said that they talked about the Norway process, their “different perspectives on the crisis” and that they agreed to keep talking later on. 

Backed by 21 countries, the OAS permanent council approved a resolution condemning human rights violations, demands an investigation that will bring those responsible to justice, restates the importance of implementing the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s recommendations and demands the IACHR be granted immediate access to Venezuela. 

 

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