Photo: Global Citizen

More Unequal and Way Poorer

The figures from the Living Conditions National Survey (ENCOVI) show alarming suffering in Venezuela; Switzerland sanctions 11 regime officials; Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise

  • “Venezuela’s never had this level of poverty (…) we’re beyond South American standards, more similar to African standards,” said on Tuesday morning Luis Pedro España when he presented results of the Living Conditions National Survey. Everything is alarming: 96% of the country lives in income poverty and 68% lives in consumption poverty, a consequence of having lost 70% of our GDP in the last six years. We’re a very poor country that has resisted two years of hyperinflation. ENCOVI doesn’t only measure income, it cross-checked data on the quality of housing, utilities, overcrowding, job quality and school assistance. So, multidimensional poverty grew 14% in a year, and went from 51% in 2018 to 64.8% in 2019; 44% of the population stayed in economic inactivity, the amount of workers in the public and private sector has decreased and the number of people generating income on their own has grown. In education: 1.7 million children stopped going to school, almost 4 million children are in a vulnerable situation and their right to education isn’t guaranteed. 60% of the student population manages to attend school and over half of the poorer population doesn’t finish high school. 
  • We’re the second most unequal country in Latin America, with the highest malnutrition level,  30% of children under five years old, a figure that can be compared to Nigeria’s. This is due to the fact that only 3% of Venezuelan homes are safe and don’t have any kind of food insecurity, 70% of homes have a serious or moderate food insecurity, and the average protein intake is merely 34.3% of the recommended intake, and the poorer strata have a carb-based nutrition. The difference in protein intake between the poorest stratum and the richest, is five times more. The life expectancy rate decreased 3.7 years for children born between 2015 and 2020, and the child mortality rate increased to 26 per 1,000 inhabitants. These are serious numbers, and once more, ENCOVI warned about the long term consequences. 
  • Nicolás’s Communications minister, Jorge Rodríguez, reported that there are 282 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 7,693 cases they’ve admitted to. Out of the new cases, 116 are in Cumaná, on the eastern coast of the nation. Rodríguez reported three deaths (in Antímano and El JunquitoCaracasand another at Zulia state), for a total of 71 deaths they’ve admitted to. Earlier, AN deputies confirmed the death of Hernán Alemán, Zulia deputy in exile in Colombia. Nine days ago he said he had COVID-19. Zulia governor Omar Prieto confirmed the death of his secretary of Agricultural Affairs, Vidal Atencio, also because of coronavirus. 
  • The AN approved an agreement were the exhort the Armed Forces to fulfill their duty to re-establish the Constitution and request their support for a political transition, after a statement by Nicolás’s Defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López, warning that he won’t recognize a victory of the opposition. They said his words are “a deplorable confession and a dictatorial pretension” that evidences “sovereignty has been kidnapped and that the dictator has blocked electoral solutions”. The AN approved, in a preliminary discussion, the draft Law of Protocol Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment Convention. They also approved an agreement declaring Canaima National Park as a territory in environmental emergency, due to the extraction activities carried out by the state. The National Assembly also approved a project for the Financial Services Agency Contract. A source said that this contract’s goal is to manage 80 million dollars approved for the Special Fund for the Liberating Venezuela. 
  • Nicolás’s TSJ Constitutional Chamber suspended the board of opposition party Voluntad Popular. In sentence N° 077-2020 they imposed an ad hoc board to continue with the process of restructure (despite its previous classification of “terrorist organization”). The board will be presided by deputy José Gregorio Noriega, who will be able to use the party’s symbols. Juan Guaidó rejected the imposition and assured that the regime is still stealing parties. Leopoldo López said that “the dictatorship has always wanted to steal Voluntad Popular,” a party that won’t be defined by traitors, but by the value of citizens and politicians. López reiterated that Voluntad Popular won’t recognize the legislative elections. 
  • Nicolás ratified General Vladimir Padrino López as Defense minister, and Admiral Remigio Ceballos as Strategic Operational Commander of the Armed Forces. He also informed that he appointed Major Domingo Hernández as the Army commander, replacing Alexis Rodríguez Cabello. He appointed William Serantes as the new Navy commander, replacing Giuseppe Alessandrello. Major José Rafael Silva will now command the Air Force, replacing Pedro Juliac, who was appointed the Chief of Strategic Operational Command. Nicolás ratified Fabio Zavarse Pabón as commander of the National Guard and Manuel Bernal Martínez as the commander of militias. 
  • Espacio Público denounced that Mimi Arriaga, who’s on house arrest for allegedly committing hate crimes, was taken to prison by CICPC officers because there’s still a warrant against her in the system. 
  • Platts reported that Venezuela produced 280,000 barrels per day in June 2020, “which takes us back to what we produced in 1929,” added professor Francisco Monaldi.
  • ANC-imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab denounced people entering the country through shortcuts to evade sanitary controls. He estimates that between 30 and 50 thousand migrants have returned through illegal passageways, out of which “around 3,000” are sick. They’ve detained 36 people, 13 of them are in jail for being part of people trafficking gangs and 23 have precautionary measures against them for being migrants. 
  • The Swiss government sanctioned deputy Luis Parra, who illegally declared himself speaker of the National Assembly, and other officials from Nicolás’s regime, joining the EU in its measures. For undermining democracy and the rule of law, Switzerland also sanctioned José Ornellas (Defense Council), Elvis Hibrobo (Comptroller), Gladys Requena and Tania Díaz (ANC); Juan José Mendoza (TSJ); Jorge Márquez (Conatel); Farik Mora and Dinorah Bustamante (prosecutors), and Franklyn Duarte and José Gregorio Noriega (AN).
  • Ecuadorian vice president Otto Sonnenholzner, resigned on Tuesday, after 18 months and less than a year away from Lenín Moreno’s end of term. In his statement, he announced he’s possibly running for presidential elections in 2021. 
  • Donald Trump will visit Southern Command headquarters in Florida on Friday, to evaluate the military operation against drug trafficking in the Caribbean, a trip that is expected to strengthen support from Venezuelan voters. 
  • Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, one of the most skeptical about coronavirus’ severity, reported he tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

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.