- Chavismo raided the gold vaults of the nation’s international reserves, to hand it to Iran, said Bloomberg on Thursday. Officers sent around nine tons of gold ($500 million) to Tehran, as payment for Iranian “help” to reactivate Venezuelan gas refineries. Our international reserves were around $6,300 million in January, the lowest in three decades. For Iran, this agreement means a new source of income. For Venezuela, it’s a way of ensuring that the supply of gas doesn’t drop to absolute zero.
- Mahan Air has flown over half a dozen times to Venezuela in the last week. Most of the flights bring additives for gas, pieces and fuel to help technicians repair Amuay in Falcón state. They also load gold in Maiquetía to bring to Tehran. American senator Rick Scott backed Mike Pompeo, American Secretary of State, who requested countries to refuse Mahan Air’s requests to fly in their airspace. He reminded everyone that Iran is partly responsible for “destroying the Middle East and supports terrorism all around the world (…) We can’t allow them to operate in our hemisphere.”
- Venezuela’s Central Bank (BCV) is working on moving part of the country’s gold that’s in the Bank of England, offering to take the funds through the UN and using the COVID-19 crisis as a motive. Months ago, the Bank of England froze 31 tons of gold property of Venezuela, because the British government and other 50 nations don’t recognize Maduro. The sources that Reuters talked to, explained that chavismo’s proposal is that the Bank of England sells part of the gold and gives the funds to UNDP. Other sources confirmed that chavismo has taken gold out of BCV vaults to obtain liquidity.
- On Thursday, Maduro confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 (333 in total), both in Aragua state, one hour away from Caracas. He added that 142 patients have recovered, 42% of the total, and reiterated that this weekend the quarantine will start being lifted or flexibilized. He said that, so far, they’ve done 458,737 tests (15,291 per million inhabitants).
- Commerce minister Eneida Laya tweeted the list of prices of 27 basic products (four days after what was promised). Some kinds of beef, powdered milk, butter and eggs will be sold for a price that’s way above the minimum wage decreed this week: 400,000 bolivars. Stores must sell these products at the established prices in bolivars or their equivalent in petros. The fixed prices apply to the versions on the list, other versions of the same product aren’t subject to these controls.
- UN human rights experts expressed on Thursday their concern for the increase of threats and attacks against journalists, health professionals and other people in Venezuela, ever since the state of alarm was decreed on March 13th. “Authorities must refrain from adopting retaliation against sanitary or press workers,” says the statement, that exhorts the regime to promote spaces for dialogue, honor their official commitment with human rights and avoid legislation that would restrict freedom of association even more.
- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet criticized the lack of transparency of countries like Honduras and Venezuela when managing the coronavirus crisis, and exhorted governments to push for guidelines so they can face this serious situation in a more effective way. She reiterated that states of emergency shouldn’t be weapons to crush dissidence, controlling the population or perpetuating in power. The IACHR also expressed concern for detentions during the state of alarm in Venezuela, including the arrest of children for violating the isolation measures or for protesting. They reported at least 700 arrests in the country and exhorted the government to adopt other measures, reminding them that judicial guarantees can’t be suspended during a state of alarm or emergency.
- It’s been over a year since Brazil didn’t recognize Maduro as president, but chavismo hasn’t called their diplomatic personnel back. Yesterday, Jorge Arreaza protested because they were given 72 hours to leave the country and he said Brazil is violating international law.
- The U.S. Embassy reported that Maduro didn’t authorize humanitarian flights for the repatriation of American citizens. They advised their citizens to stay wherever they are until commercial flights are reestablished.
- Donald Trump signed an executive order that activates the Army reserves to serve in an anti drug operation in the Western hemisphere. In April, Trump’s government ordered to double the number of officers in Latin America to fight drug trafficking in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. During the announcement on Thursday, the Secretary of Defense said that Maduro’s regime is sustained by revenue coming from drug traffic.
- There’s been 3,253,181 global cases of coronavirus, over one million recoveries and 233,080 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been over 61,800 deaths in the U.S.; in Brazil, there have been 5,901 deaths and 85,380 cases, the country that has been hit the hardest in South America. Peru has had over 1,051 deaths and 37,000 cases, and the Peruvian president said that their health system is on the verge of reaching the limit of its capacity. In Mexico, 1,859 people have died and there have been 19,221 cases. Chile registered the maximum increase in cases in one day and their total is over 16,000 cases.
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