Lunch Break: Troubles for Duque & Gifts for Maduro

Two Colombian officials get recorded during a quite undiplomatic talk, and it's pennies from heaven for Maduro; the workers and pensioners demonstrating in Venezuela today are asking for dollarized benefits; Maduro still tries to make the Petro happen.

Photo: LaFM, retrieved.
  • Colombian newspaper Publimetro published on Wednesday the recording of a private conversation (not very diplomatic) between U.S. Ambassador Francisco Santos Calderón, and new Foreign Relations Minister Claudia Blum, in a Washington restaurant. During this sort of induction that Santos Calderón gave to the new minister about foreign relations, he strongly criticized Donald Trump’s government (he said the State Department was an NGO,) current Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo (who didn’t do anything because he didn’t have a strategy,) and even some of President Iván Duque’s decisions. Santos Calderón said Trump will strengthen his stance against drugs, immigration and Venezuela. The recording provides endless talking points for chavismo: the ambassador told the new Foreign Minister that international interest for pressuring for Maduro’s ouster has decreased and it’s up to them to put it back on the agenda. He thinks that the TIAR option was the State Department’s, not the White House, the CIA isn’t involved and there’d be undercover operations to “make some noise and support the opposition, which is very much alone in there.” The ambassador and minister don’t agree on firmer actions by Trump in Venezuela. Blum highlights the lack of motivation of Venezuelan citizens and calls the humanitarian aid a “total fiasco.” The minister also said that the military won’t remove Maduro. Hang on tight. Nicolás and friends will squeeze this story until the very last drop. 
  • On Wednesday, protests continued all across the country, with teachers, pensioners and Transport Ministry workers. This last group says they’re owed pensioners’ vacation bonuses, increases in health insurance policies, working uniforms and school supplies. On the other hand, retirees and pensioners walked (without shirts to show how malnourished they are) to the Ombudsman’s Office, demanding dollarized benefits. Representatives from eight teachers federations protested in front of the Escuela Experimental Venezuela to demand better wages and their dollarization. Several teachers asked parents to join the protest because their children have a right to quality education. The deadline that teachers give to chavismo expires on Thursday, November 21st. If they don’t get an answer, they’ll call for a general strike. 
  • Meanwhile, on his TV show, Maduro insisted on the petro, tying it to mining and doubling the efforts to use it as a physical currency. He said he’d grant half a petro to public workers and pensioners starting December.
  • ANC deputy Francisco Torrealba said that if the National Assembly doesn’t stop its contempt (imposed by the TSJ,) they can’t finalize the appointments for new National Electoral Council authorities… and the TSJ would have to appoint them. The question is: what will it take for the TSJ and ANC to consider the AN no longer in contempt?
  • Carlos Correa, director of NGO Espacio Público, decried how press workers detentions have increased this year. A total of 173 journalists have been attacked between January and February 2019, according to the latest report by the Press and Society Institute.
  • The decision of the UN Arbitrary Detentions Working Group was published, demanding the release from jail of deputy Juan Requesens.
  • Raúl Gorrín, Globovisión president, is on the U.S. most wanted list, for corruption and money laundering.
  • In the report “The State of Democracies in the World 2019,” the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) said that Venezuela represents the “worst case of democratic regression in the last four decades.”

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.