Lunch Break: A Frenzied Shootout in Caracas

Violent special operations by CICPC and FAES put many lives at risk; A new step towards a new CNE to achieve fair elections was taken; Worse episodes of Pdvsa corruption schemes are revealed.

Photo: Noticias Al Día y a la Hora, retrieved.
  • On February 19th, a detective CICPC commission clashed against FAES agents in the Prados del Este highway. Eight days later, in the Francisco Fajardo highway, dozens of citizens were caught in a shootout, allegedly between FAES and a criminal gang of kidnappers from the Cota 905, in Caracas. There’s footage all over social media of a first gunfight by the CCCT mall and reports later came about a second by the Valle-Coche highway tunnels. 
  • So far, the press says the outcome has been four dead criminals. One grenade exploded and one didn’t; assault rifles, guns and clips were confiscated. Three citizens were injured, along with three FAES officers when their vehicle flipped over. The performance by FAES is irresponsible, risky and brutal. We need to keep gathering information and condemning this reality. 
  • Switzerland delivered bank documents that reveal a corruption scheme involving former chavista officials, bankers and businessmen for 4,500 million dollars. The U.S. justice system is investigating them for money laundering: Rafael Ramírez, former PDVSA president, bankers Luis Oberto and Ignacio Oberto, businessman Alejandro Betancourt, his cousin Francisco Convit and former minister Nervis Villalobos. All of them allegedly created a bribe scheme so companies under their control would grant loans in bolivars to PDVSA that could then be paid in dollars at the official rate imposed by chavismo. Most of the dirty money was transferred to accounts controlled by the Oberto siblings at the Swiss bank Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique, the rest was transferred to other Swiss banks. These documents would allow American prosecutors to file charges in the largest Venezuelan corruption scandal documented so far. 
  • Deputy Stalin González announced the names of ten representatives from the civil society that would join 11 deputies in the Electoral Nomination Committee, for a new National Electoral Council: six from the opposition and five chavistas. 73 people were nominated by more than 60 civil organizations, with these being selected: Cruz Eduardo Castañeda, Alexis Corredor, Bussy Galeano, Mercedes Gutiérrez, Guillermo Miguelena, Orlando Pérez, Luis Rodríguez, Diana Rodríguez, Luis Serrano and Petra Tovar. González said that the committee’s meetings will be public and the press will have access. Nicolás said he was satisfied with the appointment of these ten representatives: “We want to appoint a new National Electoral Council and I agree with this committee being appointed by this National Assembly.” He added that this progress is a good sign for political dialogue. 
  • Nicolás said that the VAT and import tax will be exonerated for the agricultural sector. He also said he’d ask the ANC to modify the Cattle Activity Law to “adapt the qualifications and sentences to the new circumstances of crimes in the field.” He ordered exporting 30% of the products relevant to the cattle industry to “start the process of self-regulation of the country’s productive apparatus.” 
  • According to Econoanalítica’s “Dollarization Study”, 64.3% of all transactions in Venezuela are paid in foreign currency. The firm’s estimates point to 2,500 to 3,000 million dollars in cash circulating in the country. 
  • Citgo launched a website to post information and statistics about its activities, so Venezuelans know the measures that the board of directors appointed by caretaker President Juan Guaidó “have taken to protect the company.” 
  • On Wednesday, Guaidó talked about the critical situation of most of the Venezuelan population: “2,3 million Venezuelans are in severe food insecurity and 7 million are at risk, according to the UN’s World Food Programme.” In addition, four out of ten homes in Venezuela suffer from regular power outages and water rationing every day and seven out of ten homes suffer irregular cooking gas supply. 
  • In 2019, the number of asylum requests by Venezuelan citizens in the EU doubled, said the European Asylum Support Office (EASO): around 45,000 Venezuelans asked for protection. Venezuelan citizens are number one on the list of countries requesting asylum, followed by Colombia.  
  • There was a protest in Peru, demanding President Martín Vizcarra to stop allowing Venezuelans into the country, who are perceived as the reason for crime going up. Peru is the second country with more Venezuelan migrants (almost 900,000), it already denies entry for Venezuelans with criminal records and expelled 890 Venezuelans in 2019 (and 131 this year) for entering the country with forged documents, reported AFP. 
  • After accusing the U.S. before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), for “committing economic terrorism” against Venezuela, Jorge Arreaza met with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, to ratify the regime’s will to cooperate with every UN mechanism. On February 27th, Bachelet will present a new report about the human rights situation in Venezuela. 
  • Colombian President Iván Duque said that the solution to our crisis is holding free elections as soon as possible and executing an economic recovery plan. Duque said that “the crisis in Venezuela will get worse if the dictatorship remains in power” and said that “we need international support to end the dictatorship”.
  • Andean Community’s (CAN) secretary general, Jorge Pedraza, met with the Venezuelan ambassador to Peru, Carlos Scull, who said that the CAN will be “a fundamental pillar for Venezuela’s economic recovery”. 
  • On Wednesday, it was revealed that for the first time since the epidemic started, there are more new cases of coronavirus abroad (459), than in China (412). The Brazilian government confirmed the first one in Latin America: a 61-year-old patient who was in Lombardy, northern Italy. Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta made the announcement. A 60-year-old patient was the first victim of the virus in France. So far, there are eight confirmed cases in Spain, all of them were people who had traveled to Italy. Coronavirus is in 40 countries, causing 2,700 deaths in China and 50 deaths abroad.

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.