- 97 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed yesterday, bringing the new total to 3,484. Nicolás highlighted 46 cases of local infection, only to explain that 14 of those are tied to the outbreak in Las Pulgas market in Maracaibo and 13 are in Caracas. Delcy Rodríguez mentioned five cases in the state of Miranda, four in Bolívar, four in Falcón, three in Carabobo, two in Mérida and one in Lara. Nobody said anything about the responsibilities in the protocols of Integral Attention Posts (PASI) on the borders that keep multitudes for a long time, and they only asked for “drastic measures to reactivate a functioning sanitary barrier.”
- Nicolás admitted the “virus is on the streets.” He assumed that in Bolívar state, “unscrupulous trocheros are charging between 100 and 150 dollars to take infected people from Boa Vista (Brasil), which have infected, into eastern Venezuela, mainly in Bolívar.” He didn’t explain whose responsibility it is to guard the borders and why they aren’t doing it. He asked citizens to denounce anyone who has used this method to come back to the country. Rodríguez said that the “vector of imported cases caused this situation” and that the outbreak in Las Pulgas is responsible for 373 cases and it’s the largest one. Nicolás said that he’ll strengthen quarantine measures in Distrito Capital, Aragua, Bolívar, Miranda, Vargas and Zulia and said that one of the suggestions is closing the Caracas’ subway and stopping public transport, something he didn’t confirm later.
- The National Assembly expressed concern for the increase of COVID-19 cases in Venezuela in the last couple of weeks. Deputies warned that it’s fake that Nicolás’s regime has the pandemic under control and that it’s too soon to soften measures. Deputies called on the population to protect itself with minimum protocols: constantly washing hands, using facemasks and social distancing. Deputy Manuela Bolívar called infections in health workers a serious issue, as are active outbreaks in vulnerable populations, like Pemon and Wayuu peoples. She also warned about the impact of more flexible measures, saying that we’ll see the results in two or three weeks, which could multiply contagion and reiterated the call for decentralizing PCR tests to increase diagnostic capabilities, a measure that was approved but hasn’t been executed. María Teresa Pérez said that in Venezuela, only 2% of tests are PCR, because of the low capacity of labs and because we don’t have enough test kits.
- The AN approved a rejection of the scheme to “steal gas bought from Iran” to deliver it to Cuba. They also rejected Guyana’s intention to take the Esequibo case to the ICJ (that court has no jurisdiction and Venezuela didn’t authorize it) and appointed a commission to investigate vandalism in the Universidad de Oriente.
- By late 2019, 4.5 million Venezuelans had left the country. They moved to Latin America and the Caribbean. UNHCR’s most recent report says that this is the largest exodus in the region’s recent history, and it turns Venezuela into the second country with the most refugees in the world, after Syria. UNHCR estimates that countries in Latin America issued 2.4 million documents for residence and legal permanence to Venezuelans last year. “In the last few years, Venezuela has become the country with the largest asylum requests, over 341,000 in 2018 and 430,000 in 2019. They’re abandoning their country because of several factors, including violence, persecution, political and economic crises,” says the report. The agency estimates that 79.5 million people have had to flee their homes because of violence and persecution, which represents 1% of the global population. It’s a record-breaking number for the UN.
- OFAC sanctioned three people and eight Mexican companies with ties to Colombian businessman Alex Saab: Joaquín Leal Jiménez, Olga María Zepeda Esparza and Verónica Esparza García, and the companies are Libre Abordo SA, Schlager Business Group SRL and four of their subsidiaries. “Maduro’s illegitimate regime created a secret network to evade sanctions, that the Treasury Department has exposed,” said under-secretary Justin Muzinich. He added that Donald Trump’s government “will keep prosecuting sanction evaders, those who steal Venezuelan resources for personal gain, at the expense of the Venezuelan people.” According to the OFAC, Nicolás’s regime and PDVSA have cooperated with Saab to evade sanctions and sell Venezuelan oil since 2019. The sanctions imply that all assets under U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and forbidden from making any transaction involving American citizens or companies.
- The U.S. government announced on Thursday, June 18th, a 10 million dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of former FARC leaders Seuxis Hernández Solarte (AKA Jesús Santrich) and Luciano Marín Arango (AKA como Iván Márquez), for drug trafficking. The U.S. is accusing them of cooperating with the Los Soles cartel to send large shipments of cocaine to the U.S. Remember Márquez and Santrich abandoned the peace agreement in mid-2019, and in August, they posted a video announcing they’d be taking back their weapons because the government violated the agreement. Colombian authorities say that the dissident group is hiding in Venezuelan territory and being protected by Nicolás’s regime.
- Former Colombian senator Piedad Córdoba denied any ties to Alex Saab, who’d been called Nicolás’s middleman, and was captured in Cabo Verde. She said she met him in a luncheon during Horacio Serpa’s campaign and that they had the Palestinian topic in common. She also denied any ties with Álvaro Pulido, Saab’s business partner.
- If you want to know more about special attorney general José Ignacio Hernández’s resignation and the events that led to the announcement, I have posted a piece on zaperoqueando.blogspot.com, out of respect for the relevance of the case (in Spanish).
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