Photo: Tal Cual Digital

Now They’re Stealing AD

The kidnapping of political party Acción Democrática (AD) is another absurd measure, if the goal is to create trust in upcoming legislative elections; Saab’s case will be long; the Morodo case keeps going and the country is going downhill

  • On Monday night, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) issued a measure suspending AD’s current political direction, in the hands of Henry Ramos Allup, handing it over to an ad hoc board of authorities, led by Bernabé Gutiérrez, brother of the newly appointed director of the National Electoral Council (CNE), José Luis Gutiérrez who started on the job yesterday, also imposed by the TSJ. The ruling says that this board may use “AD’s spot on the ballot,” something that AD was barred from using anyway because it had to re-enroll at the CNE. 
  • In less than a month, Nicolás’s TSJ: appointed a board of authorities for the AN, a new board for the CNE, ordered the design of a new electoral system and, on Monday, intervened in the party with the highest number of deputies in the AN, imposing a new board that could use its spot on the ballot. The TSJ is showing its interest for a ballot that suits Nicolás, using opposition parties that are kidnapped by the prêt-à-porter opposition. 
  • CNE directors imposed by the TSJ on Friday night started working on Monday. The authorities’ mission (?) will be planning for legislative elections despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the extended quarantine, the lack of public resources, and the low credibility of an already weak institution. The main opposition parties already accused Nicolás’s regime of imposing the new CNE directors and reiterated that they won’t recognize the results of an election that are held under their mandate, because it mocks “the country’s need to have an impartial and balanced electoral referee.” The opposition’s demands are fair, but there’s a missing piece: what will be their actions if chavismo insists on imposing this decision? What comes after not participating? 
  • Maduro’s Foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, was enraged by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s opinion, rejecting the TSJ’s imposition, the same position of Spanish Foreign minister Arancha González Laya, who called on the regime to reconsider and said it was a “unilateral” decision. 
  • The Public Ministry ordered the detention of José Pinto Marrero (AKA El Gato), leader of chavista party Tupamaro, for his ties to the murder of George Soto, a 16-year-old fisherman and Pinto’s employee. There are also arrest warrants against Pinto’s bodyguards: José Blanco, Jesús Sánchez and Jesús Ibarra, for their responsibility in the teenager’s death. Tarek William Saab said that Soto, a Tupamaro leader, was reported missing on June 1st, and because he refused to beat another worker, Juan Pablo Romero, was assaulted. CICPC found Soto’s body in Pinto’s farm. The ministry would be charging them with murder and kidnapping. On Monday afternoon, the CICPC raided José Pinto Marrero’s house. He resisted the arrest and shots were fired, but he was still detained. Tupamaro called Pinto’s action a “fascist action”. Pinto’s track record is dark. It’s not clear what happened in the Polo Patriótico to make allegiances change and go after him. 
  • There are 84 new cases of COVID-19 and one death. The total number of cases is 3,062 and 26 deaths. According to Delcy Rodríguez, 20 cases are local infections and 64 are because of returning migrants or contact with travelers. The patient who died was 57 years old and didn’t have any pre-existing conditions, it was tied to the outbreak in Las Pulgas market in Maracaibo. Rodríguez reported that out of 59,004 Venezuelans that have returned to the country since April 6th,  2,029 tested positive. They have allegedly done 1,081,542 tests, but haven’t made the distinction between PCR and rapid-response. 
  • PDVSA stopped operations at Petropiar and paralyzed transport in projects Petrosinovensa and Petromonagas, said Reuters on Monday. Petropiar, a joint company with Chevron Corp that refines extra heavy oil from the Orinoco Oil Belt, halted operations on Thursday because of excess inventory. Since storage tanks are reaching maximum capacity, PDVSA stopped pumping gas from Petrosinovensa and Petromonagas, two of the most productive on the belt. Oil production in the world’s largest deposit was 400,000 bpd in May and dropped to 100,000 bpd last week. The drop in exports has caused the inventory’s increase. Last Thursday, we found out that PDVSA paralyzed Petrozamora, in Zulia, for the same reason. The plan contemplates shutting down the wells of Lagunillas Tierra and Bachaquero Tierra, both near Maracaibo Lake. 
  • Raúl Morodo, Spanish ambassador during Zapatero’s government (2004-2008), made payments to Hugo Chávez’s vice president José Vicente Rangel. El Mundo reported that the Spanish Tax Revenue Agency detected several transfers from Morodo and his family’s accounts in Switzerland and the Virgin Islands made to  René Alberto Arreaza, general coordinator of the Venezuelan Vice Presidency Office in 2004. The transfers were made after the Morodo family received important sums coming from Chávez’s government from advisory services that the Spanish government considered to be fake. So there’s an ongoing case in the Audiencia Nacional, investigating members of the Morodo family. They’re accused of forging documents, corruption in international transactions, money laundering and crimes against the Spanish Hacienda. Payments were made through PDVSA and they’re for some 35 million dollars. 
  • Rodríguez Zapatero said that he didn’t know that Morodo had sent money to Hugo Chávez’s vice president, and assured that Morodo was one more ambassador, with whom he didn’t have a special relationship. About Delcy Rodríguez’s famous layover in Madrid airport last January, he said that he didn’t have any previous information and called it “unbelievable and exaggerated.” But one of the founders of newspaper El País, Juan Luis Cebrián, said that the meeting between Delcy and minister José Luis Ábalos in Barajas was “scheduled and not a coincidence” and said that Zapatero might be involved. 
  • Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he’d be willing to sell gas to Venezuela if the country requests it, only if there’s a “humanitarian need.” When asked about the sanctions the U.S. might apply, he said “no hegemony can crush a country.” 
  • OAS secretary general Luis Almagro said Iran has a center of operations in Venezuela to finance terrorist groups like Hezbollah. He said that Iran is helping Nicolás evade U.S. sanctions.
  • Iran could send two or three monthly shipments of gas to Venezuela, according to sources who discussed it with Reuters. Two sources said that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is determining the policy on Venezuela, so it’s a strategic decision. 
  • ABC reported that in 2010, when Nicolás was a Foreign minister, he authorized sending a suitcase with 3.5 million euros to the consulate in Milan for financing the 5 Star Movement. The M5S, which is ruling Italy right now, assured that the document is fake, and warned that they’re contemplating legal action. 
  • Alex Saab’s defense lawyer, José Manuel Pinto Monteiro, said that he’ll appeal his preemptive detention in Cabo Verde. “There’s been other processes of foreign citizens detained with warrants by the U.S. that courts haven’t authorized,” he said. He foresees this process will yield results in no less than five to six months.

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.