Journalist Snatched by National Guard While Covering Gas Shortages

FM Center producer and journalist Carol Romero was covering a protest when she was kidnapped by the GNB and has been in El Junquito since yesterday. There have been 2,087 cases of COVID-19

Photo: Jesús Medina Ezaine / Sofía Jaimes Barreto

  • FM Center network journalist and producer, Carol Romero, was detained on Thursday by National Guard officers (GNB), at Km 7 of El Junquito freeway, for recording a protest near a gas station. The neighbors had been protesting since the early morning because the local gas station wasn’t selling fuel to them, just to public transport units. The GNB threatened protesting neighbors, including Carol, who was recording everything. Carol’s aunt said that “one of the guards hit her, took her phone and there was a back-and-forth struggle. I jumped in so he’d let her go and he called a female officer (…) who grabbed my back and slammed me against the ground.” They forced Carol into a jeep and took her to a GNB office at Km 12, but then they drove her away in a different car to Caracas. She was missing for over 24 hours after her detention and the SNTP (National Press Workers Union) didn’t know her precise whereabouts.
  • Today, the SNTP announced, at 1:10 in the afternoon, that Carol Romero was presented in court, specifically at the Second Tribunal of Municipal Control, and she was represented by her own defense attorney. She was released about an hour later and, at the time of writing, the charges for her arrest aren’t yet confirmed.
  • On Thursday, the SNTP also reported that Mágica 93.3 FM host and former PSUV councilman in Zulia Jorge Cortez was released from jail for taping testimonies of people in line at a gas station. Also, El Pitazo reported that National Police officers detained a couple for spreading videos about complaints in a gas station in Guatire, an hour away from Caracas, and accused them of instigating hate, terrorism, mocking police institutions and destructive criticism of the gas supply system, an opinion crime that laws hadn’t ever mentioned so far. In early May, the CNP denounced the attacks against the press by the Maduro regime, with at least 79 events against journalists and media outlets since the lockdown started. 
  • In the last 24 hours, Venezuela registered 135 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 2,087, and 20 deaths. Nicolás said that 31 are local cases and 104 cases in returning migrants. He said there’s an outbreak with dozens of cases in a Pemon community in Santa Elena de Uairén, Bolívar, who allegedly crossed illegally. He also talked about a hotel in Caracas hosting people in quarantine who were allowed visitors, resulting in the infection of family members and friends who could have caused outbreaks in  Petare, La Vega and El Valle.
  • In Zulia state, there’s still an outbreak which originated in the Las Pulgas market. On Twitter, journalist Maryorin Méndez said that the Maracaibo University Hospital is run by an integral community doctor, who only trained for basic care and prevention. Méndez includes other important facts: the results of PCR tests take nine days to get from Caracas to Maracaibo, there isn’t a distinction between positive or potential cases, doctors think the contact is massive because of the few protection measures in place, the lack of tests and number of cases admitted to the hospital, and that patients aren’t given medical care, they’re just locked down: they don’t have water, food or medicine. Efecto Cocuyo published an extensive piece about how and why this hospital has already collapsed from COVID-19 patients, since early June.
  • The first vice president of the National Assembly, Juan Pablo Guanipa, said that the caretaker government assigned 10 million dollars to the PAHO to tackle COVID-19 in Venezuela. The PAHO conditioned the management of funds to approval by Maduro’s regime. Later, the Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González, said that the funds blocked in Spain had been transferred to the PAHO. 
  • Maduro’s tailor-made opposition requested a declaration of legislative omission and the appointment of a new board of authorities for the CNE to the Constitutional Chamber of the TSJ, a task that belongs to the National Assembly by law. According to political party MAS secretary, Felipe Mujica (the same person who dialogued with chavismo and then decried how chavismo didn’t abide by any agreement), the “appointment” of the new CNE is a guarantee for holding elections in the legal period. Yes, amid a pandemic, in a country with a collapsed health system. Hopefully, they’ll see data coming from Surinam. The signatories were: Javier Bertucci, Claudio Fermín, Timoteo Zambrano, Segundo Meléndez, Luis Augusto Romero, Rafael Marín and Juan Carlos Alvarado.
  • Luisa Ortega Díaz accused Prisons minister María Iris Varela of pocketing resources destined to build a prison in Zulia. Later, Ortega Díaz said that she has received instructions from the National Assembly to start an investigation for “a judicial conspiracy against Parliament” by the TSJ when they approved Parra’s board of authorities. 
  • On the fourth day of gas sales, lines got longer. None of the measures Tareck El Aissami announced have been enforced: working hours, price in bolivars or availability. In at least nine states, there were protests because of the failures of the supply system of gas we aren’t producing. Lines for gas stations aren’t the only lines Venezuelas are making, there are also long lines at banks, where they don’t practice social distancing at all. 
  • The Venezuelan Chamber for the Food Industry, CAVIDEA, denounced that some stores are required to sell 27 products of the basic food basket at prices that the regime imposed, even with products that weren’t part of the agreement, as those of Alimentos Polar. These prices nobody agreed on could represent losses for the production and distribution system. 
  • EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said that the “voting session that resulted in Parra’s ‘election’ isn’t legitimate (…) The EU still backs Guaidó as Speaker of the National Assembly,” ignoring Nicolás’s TSJ and Nicolás himself. Twenty seven EU governments demand an authentic political process that results in free and fair elections. Jorge Arreaza said that the EU was incoherent because of this.
  • Arreaza also said that he hasn’t received any formal messages for flights for repatriation of American citizens. Ah, he also said that Guaidó is in the French embassy.
  • James Story, charge d’affaires of the US Embassy for Venezuela, said that his country is investigating Luis Parra and the deputies backing him, in order to issue sanctions for damaging Venezuelan democracy. 
  • José Luis López “Chispeao” died in Bogotá. He was a student leader, social activist, an excellent professor and public manager. Terrible news. Tons of love for his family and friends.

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.