- Unrelated to the big news of the week, although quite relevant: Alejandro Andrade, former Chávez right-hand man and Venezuela’s treasurer, just received a massive 65% cut to his 10-year sentence. Andrade had pleaded guilty to taking 1 billion dollars in bribes, a money-laundering scheme, and defrauding the Venezuelan state. He’s been sitting in a U.S. prison since February 2019.
- W Radio journalist Daniel Coronell published an exercise of what could be the strategy of Baker & Hostetler, LLP the law firm engaged in Alex Saab’s original defense. He believes that Saab may get house arrest in the coming weeks. If this happens, it would be clear that he struck a deal with the prosecutor’s office. One that may have been in the works since he was in Cape Verde. However, it’s important to point out that during the first hearing Judge John J. O’Sullivan denied him bail (flight risk), and Saab was represented by a public defender.
- Saab is clearly a means to an end: finding Maduro & Co.’s assets. In consequence, Saab’s defense had a public and a private strategy, says Coronell. The public one, turning a millionaire businessman into a diplomat; and the private one, pushing for bail to continue the process under house arrest in exchange for information.
- If the court agrees, Saab will have a security detail at all times: to keep him from escaping and to protect him.
- Coronell also published a letter sent by former minister Jorge Arreaza to Saab when he was in prison, reminding him that he was “obligated to keep the highest level of secrecy, confidentiality, and loyalty regarding the classified information.” This, and having his family in Venezuela, seem like elements of pressure.
- The opposition said that the regime is seeking to delay the International Criminal Court’s investigation, by “simulating a reform of the justice system,” says the communique. It also mentions that the strategy came as a result of the ICC and Fact-Finding Mission’s reports that “highlighted there’s no independent Judicial Branch capable of investigating violations against citizens.” They assure that chavismo is simulating a reform, amending laws and pretending to hold independent investigations, charging low-ranking officers to not incriminate the chain of command. They think General Baduel’s death is an example that there’s been no real effort for change. They assured chief prosecutor Karim Khan will visit the country when he flies to Colombia next week, which hasn’t been confirmed or denied by the ICC.
- Conindustria and Consecomercio spokespeople say that the 7+7 system must be eliminated but virologist Flor Pujol assured that Venezuela is going through a sustained peak of the third wave of infection. She reiterated that over 70% of the population must be vaccinated before Venezuelans start getting the third dose.
- The regime started a yellow fever vaccination program, assured EFE, after they visited several centers where the first 40 people who show up are able to get the shot every day. People who need it for travel must bring a copy of their ticket to accelerate the process.
- On the International Day Against Breast Cancer, Luisa Rodríguez from NGO Funcamama warned that the collapsed healthcare system is even jeopardizing patients’ timely diagnosis, so more patients have developed metastasis. The breast cancer mortality rate in Venezuela has increased.
- Pensioners and retirees delivered a document demanding public policies that guarantee a dignified life. The regime paid one month of pensions and one month of a Christmas bonus, for a total of 14 bolivars or 3.5 dollars for a month. There are 5 million pensioners in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan Medical Federation reported that they issued a warning to international organizations because parallel universities have been created for incomplete careers in the healthcare sector.
- The governments of China, Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba used the pandemic to repress freedom of expression and limit access to information, said Amnesty International.
- According to the Inter-American Press Association, press freedom in the continent suffered a clear deterioration in the last year. Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are the countries with the worst conditions for journalism, but Mexico is the most dangerous in terms of physical integrity.
- The Norwegian team left Mexico already. It appears that they had planned not to make more progress in the negotiation process before the elections, in which it’s likely that chavismo will comfortably beat the opposition.
- CNE vice president Enrique Márquez said that having international observers responds to the fact that they “have nothing to hide.” He said they “want the world to see that Venezuela isn’t only what they say abroad, a disaster, a problem, those who live here want to change our country and we want to change it in peace.” He added that “from a technical standpoint, it will be a robust, transparent and secure election.”
- Cuban deputy prime minister Ricardo Cabrisas is in Caracas and is holding meetings alongside the international commerce minister, the vice president of Biocubafarma, and the president of the oil company Cupet.
- Maduro appointed Tibisay Lucena, former president of the CNE, as the new university education minister and Dheliz Álvarez as the new minister of domestic commerce.
- The Spanish Interior Ministry rejected the appeal for Hugo “El Pollo” Carvajal’s asylum petition, who is awaiting extradition to the U.S. for crimes related to drug and weapons trafficking. Carvajal has been subpoenaed to testify on October 27th before the Spanish Audiencia Nacional.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols thinks it’s useful that the EU is sending a mission to Venezuela, but warned that it should have an integral approach. He explained that “the factors that make elections free and fair are normally present long before election day.”
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