- The National Electoral Council imposed by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice announced the approval of “special rules” for the elections of December 2020. Even though they kept the current 87 circuits, the number of deputies to be elected is being arbitrarily changed from 167, to 277. Because of this imposition, 130 seats and three indigenous deputies will be elected nominally, and 144 will be elected with closed lists, 96 on lists per state and 48 on national lists. Even though in the last few years five million people have left the country, the TSJ’s CNE increased the number of deputies by 66%, 110 more seats, using the argument of population representation. According to the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly, there should now be more deputies to represent citizens. What they’re really doing is guaranteeing quotas for the small parties that took part in chavismo’s dialogue roundtable. In the session on Monday morning, AN deputies reiterated they won’t participate in legislative elections called by the CNE. On the other hand, Javier Bertucci, member of Nicolás’s prêt-à-porter opposition, said that the elections could be on December 6th or 13th.
- On Tuesday, the National Assembly ratified the proposal of a political agreement calling for free, fair and transparent presidential elections. Deputies approved the agreement recognizing the need to assemble all public powers and rescuing the institutional counterweight to save democracy. The document is precise about the conditions: reestablishing voting rights for all Venezuelans, which is why the National Electoral Registry must be audited, and guaranteeing voting without coercion. They also demanded that everyone be allowed to run, the end of trials and prison for opposition politicians and the reestablishment of participation rights for them and their parties, including the use of their symbols, colors and assets. They want a new Electoral Branch appointed by the National Assembly, and a timetable for the elections, including all processes being audited, as qualified electoral observation of every part of the process. They exhorted the international community to pressure Nicolás’s regime to achieve this.
- The ICJ decided to evaluate on Monday if they have jurisdiction to recognize Guyana’s claim over Esequibo. Chavismo’s team decided to not attend the session, arguing that Venezuela doesn’t recognize the ICJ’s jurisdiction over the territorial claim. Even without a representative from Venezuela, the session took place and the ICJ president confirmed that on November, 28th, 2019, Nicolás’s regime submitted a document responding to Guyana. Dr. Thairi Moya explained that all member states of the UN are ipso facto part of the ICJ Statute: “Our country has been left unaided in this hearing even though Venezuela only presented one document, Guyana’s arguments have been convincing and aren’t exclusively pertinent to what the Geneva Agreement states,” she explained. After the hearing, not a single expert disagreed: Venezuela could “pay a high price” for not participating. The consequences of Hugo Chávez and his Foreign minister Nicolás Maduro deciding to put the brakes on the claim to win votes in the region.
- Venezuela reported 302 new cases of COVID-19, 99 of those in Zulia state. They also announced three deaths: a 77-year-old woman in Lara state, a 53-year-old man in Trujillo state and an 84-year-old man in Yaracuy state. Venezuela has had 5,832 cases and 51 deaths.
- Venezuelan oil production dropped for the sixth month in a row (32% in June), a drop of almost 200,000 daily barrels compared to the previous month, according to PDVSA and Oil Ministry documents reviewed by Bloomberg. On June 28th, production was 422,400 bpd.
- The National Assembly approved yesterday Unipetrol president and former PDVSA manager Horacio Medina’s incorporation to the PDVSA’s ad hoc board, a motion unsupported by the 16J faction. They also added Javier Linares Peña, who was part of the CVP ad hoc board since October 2019 and Luis Antonio Vilchez Gallardo.
- The ANC-imposed prosecutor general reported that the ministry opened an investigation “because of irregularities and excessive prices charged by CINEX for its drive in movie service.” How much is a movie ticket isn’t the state’s problem, even less so in a country with the problems we have, but populism and price controls can provide some visibility.
- The EU’s high representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, rejected on Tuesday Nicolás’s decision to expel ambassador Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, in retaliation for the sanctions issued against 11 officials. Borrell said that “they’ll take the necessary reciprocal measures”. Dita Charanzová, vice president of the European Parliament, rejected the decision and expressed she expects member states to take action. The UK will impose the same sanctions that the EU issued against Nicolás’s regime, said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and added: “It will show that human rights violations and spite for democracy in Venezuela won’t be tolerated.” Josep Borrell called Nicolás’s ambassador in Brussels and European media says that “it seems like Claudia Salermo will also be expelled when the pandemic allows it.”
- The Russian government presented the terms of a debt restructuring process agreed with Nicolás’s regime, showing that annual payments will increase five times starting 2023. Reuters reported that the details were included in a draft law presented in the Russian Parliament. Caracas has to pay Moscow 133 million dollars a year from 2019 to 2022. The figure later increases to 684 million between 2023 and 2026. The agreement, signed in 2018, contemplates a payment of 3,120 million dollars in capital and payment interests for 217 million. This plan hasn’t been presented to the National Assembly. Deputy Ángel Alvarado explained that “restructuring debt in the shadows” is “illegal and won’t be recognized by the Republic in the future.” The Russian government and Rosneft have given chavismo around 17,000 million dollars in loans and credit lines since 2006.
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned China’s and Russia’s intimidation of the institutional authorities in their countries, in the context of the pandemic and the fact that the U.S. is denying the reality of the sanitary crisis. Michelle Bachelet said that “COVID-19 has been used to limit the people’s right to express themselves and to participate in decisions that affect their lives.”
- Colombian Foreign minister Claudia Blum assured that Iván Duque’s government will continue working “towards ending the usurpation of power in Venezuela, the creation of a plural transition government, the call for free and fair presidential elections and the possibility of reconstruction.” She said that Colombia supports Juan Guaidó, the National Assembly and the Venezuelan people.
- By the way, the figure of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia dropped for the second month in a row, from 1,809,000 people in March to 1,788,380 people in April. Colombian Immigration called for accelerating the process of returning to Venezuela, respecting human rights. At least 81,000 Venezuelans have returned since March 14th. After the “coronaweather” is over, many, many more could be crossing back into our country.
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