A Regime Without Credibility Asks for Calm and Common Sense

The arrival of coronavirus to our country, amid the terrible crisis we’re going through, with no institutions capable of action or respected by citizens, is an unprecedented challenge for Venezuelans.

Photo: New York Post, retrieved.
  • Nicolás announced on Sunday that seven new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Venezuela. Four of them came from Europe, one from Cucuta (Colombia) and two from “other parts of the world.” There are 17 patients with COVID-19, but chavismo didn’t mention them at the epidemic bulletin. 
  • From Monday, March 16th at 5:00 a.m., Caracas, Apure, Cojedes, Miranda, Táchira, Vargas and Zulia must suspend work and school, except those activities that imply food distribution, security, sanitary services and transportation. The duration of this wasn’t specified, although they did say that in the next couple of days it will extend to other states in the country. 
  • Nicolás contradicted what Jorge Rodríguez explained on Saturday (who had said that cases in Apure and Cojedes were only “local contagiums”). As if his alternative is better, he insisted that “all cases are imported.” He said there’s a serious outbreak “north of Santander, Cucuta,” but Colombian officials deny it: Cucuta only has one case. With this lie, Nicolás insisted on requesting intervention by the WHO and PAHO to work with the Colombian government. He said that main actors in the emergency are doctors, police, the military and CLAP. Militias, which are groups of older adults, the group more vulnerable to coronavirus, will be on the streets monitoring the enforcement of the quarantine. 
  • On Sunday, state media used images of armed troops in highways, hospitals and even gas stations. Vladimir Padrino López said that the Armed Forces will exert strict control over access to quarantined territories. And as if he had any say within the health sector and an order for supplying hospitals and the proper functioning of public services, he said: “We visited 46 ‘sentinel’ hospitals, we took note of their deficiencies in order to solve them soon.” 
  • Chavismo is accepting that they stopped being a reliable voice years ago, that’s why information doesn’t flow well and most of them don’t even know the basic rules to avoid transmission. A pandemic demands credibility, not guns. The general reaction on social media can be summarized as “If they’re admitting to 17 cases, there must be many more.” We’re all taking wild guesses, because there are no certainties. 
  • During the quarantine, every police institution is under control of the Armed Forces. Delcy Rodríguez announced that she asked the WHO for mediation between Nicolás and Duque’s government. Miranda governor Héctor Rodríguez issued a decree  ordering liquor stores, gyms, museums and beaches to close for 14 days. The Catholic church announced a suspension of all acts, including mass. From now on, they’ll only perform burials and anointing of the sick.
  • Sudeban informed that offices of banks all across the country will suspend their activities on Monday. They say that their online platforms will be working and so will their ATMs. 
  • Yesterday night, supply of fuel to Tachira and Zulia, at the border with Colombia, were suspended, states that already suffer with long, random power cuts every day. 
  • There’s 168,957 confirmed new cases of Coronavirus in the world, 6,492 deaths and 76,598 patients recovered.
  • China reported 16 new cases on Sunday and 14 deaths in the last 24 hours. 
  • In Italy, Europe’s main focus, there are 20,603 cases and 1,809 deaths. The total of cases from late February is 24,747; 
  • The Spanish government authorized the hiring of foreign doctors who are in the process of legalizing their degrees in Spain. Spain has 8,000 diagnosed cases and 293 deaths.
  • The first case in Cucuta was confirmed and ten new cases were reported in Colombia  (34 in total). Duque said that from Monday, they’ll restrict the entry to foreigners and non-residents. All passengers will be under mandatory preventative quarantine for 14 days. 
  • Mercosur countries will partially close their borders, said Paraguayan President  Mario Abdo. Puerto Rico announced a state of emergency. 
  • President Sebastián Piñera confirmed that classes will be suspended for two weeks, Guatemala did the same. Copa Airlines flew 148 Venezuelans who were stranded at the airport from Panama on Sunday in a humanitarian flight. 
  • Quarantine is the correct measure to stop the transmission, but this is a country that has been in recession for seven years, in hyperinflation for two and a complex humanitarian emergency. Nine million Venezuelans don’t eat properly and most depend on their daily wages. What will they do to survive? Most people will stay home, without services like electricity, water or cooking gas. Most won’t have internet or food or medicine to get them through the quarantine with the peace of mind that Nicolás is talking about. This challenges all of us to be more solidary and keep an eye on our loved ones to keep going. I insist: the government is talking about a country that doesn’t exist, a country that we are not.

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.