Photo: Twitter

The Mystery of Diosdado’s New Voice

A weird call on live TV left more questions than it answered about the health of regime’s number 2 man; Venezuelan doctors keep dying of COVID-19

  • Nicolás went live on VTV, the main state-owned tv station, to broadcast a PSUV meeting that would organize the elections in December. He bragged about old figures of party membership and wanted to put to rest the rumors on Diosdado Cabello’s health, by calling him on the phone, live. He warned that Diosdado couldn’t turn the camera on and then a nervous voice that sounded nothing like the voice we know, asked if we could hear him and said hi to “president Nicolás.” He read figures, which Cabello doesn’t normally do. Meanwhile, Nicolás moved his arms at the person who was behind the camera. On social media, people arrived to the collective conclusion that that wasn’t Diosdado. Nicolás said: “The escuálidos are saying that this isn’t Diosdado speaking, they’re stupid, they’re stupid (…) Then who is this? Guaidó? Leopoldo López? (…) They’re so stupid, come on, so stupid.” The pitch and quality of a voice can change after being intubated, as it happens to many patients. What doesn’t change is how patients say words, how they structure their speech or how arrogant they are. Power is also executed with words and threats that are a very peculiar form of communicating. Cabello always works with people who suck up to him, he asks questions to confirm his statements. There was none of that today. One more thing: before, every time Cabello called Nicolás “president,” he included traces of disdain, a way of saying it that communicated discipline but never respect. Social media users doubt it. 
  • Nicolás Communications minister, Jorge Rodríguez, reported on Monday 548 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 20,754 cases they’ve admitted to. He also reported six deaths, for a total of 180 deaths they’ve admitted to. 
  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its most recent report that by July 11th, 212 members of health personnel in Venezuela had tested positive for COVID-19, with the limited availability of protection gear as a potential cause of contagion. The OCHA report highlighted that by July 28th, 1,511,433 tests had been done in Venezuela, out of which only 5% to 6% were PCR tests. Venezuela has the highest death rate of health workers in the world: 22%, because 42 health workers have died, according to data collected by medical professionals, painful evidence of the government’s negligence. In fact, on Monday, Dr. Luis Felipe Salazar died. He was the director of Maracaibo’s Central Hospital and Dr. Alexander Gotera died in the afternoon, the 22nd doctor to die in Zulia. 
  • Deputy José Manuel Olivares, the AN and caretaker government’s health commissioner said they had counted 175 more deaths. Out of those, 38 are health workers. He warned that there’s an increase of cases requiring hospitalization and that 63% of ICU beds in the country are being used. Olivares said what we all (except Nicolás) know: that asymptomatic patients don’t require hospitalization. “Maduro hospitalizes them for social control and business,” he said. 
  • Juan Guaidó delivered on Monday protection gear for health workers in Caracas. In a video published on social media he said that they’ve made great efforts to support the health sector, that has been hit by the complex humanitarian emergency, the destruction of the health system and corruption and inefficiency: “For the first time in our history, we’ve managed to recover money from corruption to deliver to those who need it the most,” he said. Because of political persecution and potential retaliation against workers, they didn’t say which health center received the donation. 
  • Russian Direct Investment Fund announced on Monday that they will supply Avifavir, a medicine for patients of coronavirus, but Venezuela isn’t on the list of Latin countries that will receive it, despite the political ties. 
  • Journalist Esteninf Olivarez reported the abuses against a pediatrics resident doctor in Vargas Hospital, who presented respiratory difficulties and underwent the discrimination that all coronavirus patients go through. In fact, the colleague who admitted him for hospitalization was fined for doing so. 
  • The crew of the ferryboat Paraguaná I is in quarantine in Vargas because of COVID-19, so they suspended the La Guaira-Margarita route. 
  • Acción Democrática, Primero Justicia, Voluntad Popular, Un Nuevo Tiempo and Encuentro Ciudadano, ratified on Monday the opposition’s unanimous position to not participate in Nicolás’s parliamentary “election.” Spokespeople assured they’re working for consensus and to announce the way to work for change. They said that starting Wednesday, August 5th, there will be regional events with all sectors of civil society to build “superior unity”, a national pact. 
  • The U.S. backed the decision of 27 opposition parties of not participating in what they consider electoral fraud, called by Nicolás’s regime for December, and exhorted the population to fight for free and fair elections. 
  • Former CNE president Andrés Caleca, former CNE vice president Eduardo Roche Lander, former member of the CNE board Ildemaro Martínez, former CNE vice president Rafael Lander and former CNE lawyer Egleé González Lobato, submitted an action of protection and claim of unconstitutionality before the TSJ about the “elections” in December. They consider it to be unconstitutional because of the violations of the rules. 
  • Former national security advisor John Bolton keeps doing press for his book and in an interview with Spain’s El País said that President Donald Trump made it seem like ousting Nicolás would be easy, when it fact, it was the contrary: “He made all the decisions and leadership means being responsible for your actions. Blaming your subordinates when things go wrong is a way of evading your responsibility,” he said and added that chavismo is fragile, “if the Cubans leave tomorrow, the regime crumbles the next day.” 
  • The U.S. Supreme Court denied Samark López’s appeal, who is Tareck El Aissami’s alleged middleman, for his frozen assets ($318 million): “This allows three American defense contractors who were held captive by FARC for years to collect their compensation, $318 million of López’s frozen assets in the U.S.” 
  • Claudia Díaz, Hugo Chávez’s former nurse and later the country’s treasurer, bought gold bars in 2014 to move money with an untraceable origin. Through a fake company established in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Díaz bought 250 bars of gold valued at over 9.5 million dollars, according to Liechtenstein records, that The Associated Press got access to. In 2015, a representative of this former nurse sold almost that exact amount of bars of gold and most of the money was deposited in a Swiss bank. These movements are part of a criminal investigation about a network of questionable or fake bankers that have enabled Venezuela to become the most corrupt countries in the world. It was in 2016 when the country met Díaz, after she appeared in the Panama Papers. She lives with her husband, Adrián Velásquez, in Madrid, where they were briefly arrested at the request of extradition by Venezuela. They’re both sanctioned in the U.S. for a currency exchange scheme of over $ 2,400 million. The bars of gold are a small fraction of the amount of capital stolen from Venezuela, but they prove that they’ve come up with creative ways to move that money.

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.