Lunch Break: Guaidó Announces His Return
In Washington, our caretaker president received support from all political actors; The RSF 2019 index registers an even further worsening of freedom of speech in Venezuela; Citgo executives went back to jail.
Photo: Curadas, retrieved.
- Caretaker President Juan Guaidó’s agenda was packed in Washington. He met with Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, with Mike Pompeo, secretary of State, with Mark Green, USAid president and other officials who work in this institution and with Luis Almagro, OAS secretary general. Nancy Pelosi emphasized his “courage” in fighting Nicolás’s regime: “It’s an honor to welcome to the Capitol the man we recognize as the Venezuelan president. We were very moved to see him in the State of the Union and see the overwhelming bipartisan welcome.” Guaidó expressed his gratitude: “The unity for the cause that’s Venezuelan, Latin American and American is very important to us, against a dictatorship that shelters and encourages terrorists, drug traffickers.” To Guaidó, these meetings prove the U.S.’ interest in a common goal: for democracy to return to Venezuela. Pelosi also spoke about the need to achieve free elections, freedom for oil executives detained yesterday and the TPS as a way to help Venezuelans.
- A couple of weeks ago, Pompeo said that the U.S. will keep supporting Guaidó to achieve “freedom and democracy” in Venezuela.
- The meeting with the USAid president and executives’ goal was to analyze hostilities against Venezuelan NGOs and agree on measures to fight the regime’s disinformation campaigns. Since 2017, the U.S. has donated more than 656 million dollars in humanitarian aid and development projects to solve the crisis.
- Juan Guaidó thanked Luis Almagro for all his support for the democratic cause. Almagro said: “We still have a lot of work to do towards achieving freedom for Venezuela, but we’re sure we’ll have a favorable result.”
- Guaidó said at the OAS that he’ll be returning to Venezuela in the next few days, despite the risks. He said that freedom is worth it.
- The U.S. warned of consequences if Guaidó can’t make it back safely: “We hope the regime makes the right calculation, especially after this trip, when support for Guaidó is so strong. Any action against him would be a mistake,” said Elliot Abrams, special representative for Venezuela.
- In the 2019 Reporters Sans Frontiers index, Venezuela, Brazil and Nicaragua were the Latin American countries that reported the worst decline in freedom of press. Our country lost five spots, and is now ranked 148th out of 180 countries. The “authoritarian vein” of Nicolás’s regime is shown in five areas: repression against the press has intensified, a record number of arbitrary arrests and violent acts against journalists, members of the foreign press have suffered arrests, interrogations and deportation, many journalists have had to leave the country to escape threats and TV and stations that are critical against Nicolás have seen their licenses to broadcast cancelled.
- In Cúcuta, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, IACHR president, said that “Venezuelan children and teenagers need an immediate answer.” Arosemena said that in Venezuela “there’s a multiple situation of human right violations” and asked the countries in the region to “evaluate the needs of migrant Venezuelans with a human solidarity vision.” She asked Venezuelans to remain united and strong.
- AP revealed that Sebin agents detained six former Citgo executives again, who had been under house arrest since December 2019, after two years in the DGCIM headquarters. Elliott Abrams, special representative for Venezuela, called the detentions “cruel and indefensible” and added: “As several officers in the administration have pointed out, the Russians will soon find out that their continued support for Maduro won’t be free anymore.”
- Senator Rick Scott warned that there would be severe consequences if American citizens are harmed in Venezuela, after the reports of arrests of Citgo executives.
- Without handcuffs but with hair, makeup and heels, and no signs of torture, former Colombian congresswoman Aida Merlano talked to journalists from the Palacio de Justicia. Iván Duque’s alleged “political persecution” victim has incredible privileges when it comes to prisoners (regular or political) in Venezuela. Merlano accused Duque of wanting to murder her. Colombian prosecutor Fabio Espitia said that this accusation may be a defense strategy.
- The Venezuelan Red Cross announced that 40 tons of humanitarian aid arrived, as part of the Assistance for Venezuela Plan. It’s the seventh humanitarian aid shipment that arrives in the country, thanks to the ICRC, the first one this year.
- On Thursday, ABC said that Delcy Rodríguez talked to Spanish President Pedro Sánchez, using Minister José Luis Ábalos’s phone while she was in Barajas. Sánchez insists he didn’t talk to “the Venezuelan vice-president” and regrets they “publish a lie.” The Venezuelan government remains silent.
- The ICJ will hold hearings from March 23rd to 27th to solve the case that started on October 3rd, 1899, with the goal of hearing arguments from Guyana and Venezuela’s representatives about their claim for Esequibo and solving the conflict between both nations.
- Coronavirus update: Over 31,000 confirmed cases, 636 deaths and 1,503 people recovered in China; Over 200 cases in 28 countries; Dr. Li Wenliang died from the virus, one of the first doctors to alert about the disease, later reprimanded and accused of defamation by authorities.