- On Wednesday, Nicolás confirmed ten new coronavirus cases, for a total of 298 in Venezuela. Eight of them are in Nueva Esparta state, and two more cases were reported in Táchira state, although he emphasized that they weren’t “returned” cases. With several green tractors as a backdrop, Nicolás focused on what he wanted to cover: more complex days are coming but he’s not responsible for that. That’s why he talked about “adverse circumstances with catastrophic appearance.” He mentioned the “economic war” and, with it, he blamed the private sector for the hunger. He threatened it and issued an order for his team: “Catch the brutal speculators by sectors of the economy (…) I’m willing to make all the decisions that have to be made in order to protect the people, is that message clear?”
- Nicolás’s regime wants to control the prices of food produced in the country. Newspaper Tal Cual reported about a meeting held at the Finance Ministry this week, where Agriculture Minister Wilmar Castro Soteldo asked private producers of beef, chicken and cereal to install working groups in order to evaluate the cost structure and agree on prices that would be continuously revised. Armando Chacín, president of FEDENAGA (the National Federation of Cattle Workers), explained why applying this measure is unviable: “While the big picture isn’t fixed, it’s impossible to solve the details. Yesterday, we talked, and the dollar was worth one figure and today it’s a lot higher (…) Nobody can set a price here, in a country that doesn’t have gas.” The private sector said that less than 20% of producers get gas and they’re paying up to $3 a litre in the black market. As always, chavismo is more efficient at threatening and punishing than it is at understanding the tremendous weaknesses they caused with controls and corruption.
- AN Speaker Juan Guaidó published the information so healthcare personnel can register and obtain the $100 bonus. On Twitter, he explained the registry will be open for ten days. Personnel will be able to register sending a message via WhatsApp or Facebook Chat. “The caretaker government will continue to find the necessary support to benefit people working in the frontlines against coronavirus,” he wrote. This bonus for healthcare workers is a payment of 100 dollars for three months, through a digital wallet created with the OAS. The resources will come from the Venezuelan Liberation Fund, approved by the National Assembly. Chavismo responded by promoting their “Health and Life” bonus, sent by “our president.” This bonus is 350,000 bolivars, a currency that’s savagely devaluating by the minute.
- Inhabitants of Cumanacoa in Sucre (at the Venezuelan eastern coast) protested for food. CLAP boxes aren’t distributed there and most neighbors can’t afford the food available. Some people tried to loot stores and the National Guard answered with repression: at least seven people were injured, according to deputy Robert Alcalá. There were protests in Mérida, Maracay and Guanare for the gas shortage.
- Representatives of the Philadelphia Phillies in Venezuela denied Jorge Rodríguez and Nicolás’s version about the player with COVID-19 who allegedly traveled from Margarita to Caucagua on March 17th, and threw a party where more people got infected. An MLB source told El Nacional that the man “is safe, without contact with the franchise and hasn’t left Margarita” where he’s waiting for his visa process to take him to the Dominican Republic and then the U.S.; let’s hope there’s no retaliation.
- On Wednesday, April 15th, officers from the National Anti Drug Command detained in Caracas three men who are being investigated for drug trafficking in the states of Falcón and Carabobo: Raúl del Gallego Salas, Orlando Silva Moreno and Jesús Blanco Goitia. The prosecutor general imposed by the ANC hasn’t issued a statement, but officers have been fired from their jobs at PDV Marina in Punto Fijo (Falcón), because they allegedly used company boats to move drugs. Photos also have been leaked, picturing José Domínguez, the secretary of citizen security in Carabobo, alongside two of the arrested men. Interior minister Néstor Reverol confirmed Domínguez had been fired and announced that José Aldama, chief of the CICPC Carabobo, and Pedro Velasco, Carabobo police director would be fired as well. Later, more photos were leaked, showing CICPC director Douglas Rico, who later made a video confirming it was him. Adding salt to the wound, there are pictures of Falcón governor Víctor Clark with Emilio Martínez (el Chiche Smith), a person under criminal investigation and an Interpol alert, who bought bikes for the Falcón police in 2018.
- Vente Venezuela asked regional coordinator Edison Oviedo to step down until the legal situation affecting him and his son is clear. They are detained for being involved in the crimes investigated in Falcón.
- In addition to all this, a Mahan Air plane landed in Punto Fijo yesterday, an Iranian airline sanctioned since 2011, for transporting terrorists and weapon trafficking. Why did an Iranian plane land amid the prohibition because of the pandemic?
- Russia denounced the U.S.’ actions on Venezuela to the UN Security Council, they view the actions as threats: “Actions against Venezuela (…) show that they haven’t abandoned their plans to destabilize and overthrow legitimate authorities,” said the Russian ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy. U.S. ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, reacted saying that the U.S. is “the largest donor of humanitarian aid in this crisis (…) Amid this pandemic, we’re fully committed to assuring that humanitarian aid, food and medicine get to Venezuelans that are suffering from Maduro’s poor management and corruption,” she tweeted and emphasized that “Maduro’s regime is criminal, corrupt and illegitimate” and that he has created an economic and human rights crises.
- The world is far from having COVID-19 under control, warned WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The WHO said that Latin America is about to go under the worst moment in the pandemic, which is why countries should expand their capacity to detect the virus. There are over 2,626,929 cases and 183,283 deaths in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. surpassed 838,000 cases, with 46,497 deaths, the highest in the world so far. The Latin American epicenter is Brazil, with over 46,000 cases and 2,906 deaths. In Colombia, there are 4,300 cases and over 200 deaths.
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