Latest News
of FEBRUARY  2018

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February  28, 2018

COLOMBIA'S ELN REBELS KILL FIVE SOLDIERS IN BOMB ATTACK

     
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA  --  At least five Colombian soldiers were killed and more than 10 wounded early on Tuesday in a bomb attack by the Marxist ELN rebels near the border with Venezuela, the army said. The attack came one day after the National Liberation Army (ELN) said it would hold a unilateral ceasefire during legislative elections next month. The government had said the gesture was the kind of action needed to restart stalled peace talks between the two sides.

     During the attack, the guerrillas bombed military vehicles on the road between the towns of Tibu and Salazar de las Palmas in Norte de Santander province. “There was a terrorist action with the detonation of an explosive device installed by members of the Juan Fernando Porras Martinez unit of the ELN,” the army said in a statement. The government suspended peace talks with the ELN in January, after the end of the two sides’ first-ever bilateral ceasefire, when the rebels resumed attacks on security forces and oil pipelines. Eight police officers were killed and more than 40 people wounded in a single weekend last month.

     President Juan Manuel Santos said on Twitter the armed forces would pursue those responsible. “I reject absolutely the cowardly attack against our heroes in Norte de Santander. All of my solidarity with the families and a quick recovery to the wounded. We are going after those responsible,” he said. The 2,000-strong group was founded by radical Roman Catholic priests in 1964. More than 220,000 people have been killed during Colombia’s conflict. The United States and European Union consider the ELN a terrorist group. The ELN has participated in peace talks in the past but each time, the discussions have failed.

PRESIDENTS KUCZYNSKI AND SANTOS REITERATE CALL TO VENEZUELA FOR THE ENTRY OF HUMANITARIAN AID

 
       BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- 
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, along with Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, said on Tuesday at the opening of the IV Cabinet Binacioal Colombia-Peru that the American countries should think of ways to help improve the harsh situation presented by Venezuela in the social and political aspects. Venezuela is going through a terrible time, and we have to see how the countries of America, which share democratic values, can help in that situation. "There is a country, which has the largest oil reserves in the world, which is next door, and which is having a terrible time," said the president at the Training Center of Spanish Cooperation, along with his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos.
 

     Regarding the Venezuelan case, Kuczynski added, "we have to see how the countries of America that share values can help in that situation, that is something we have been talking about," Peru withdrew two weeks ago the invitation to the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, for the Summit of the Americas to be held in Lima on April 13 and 14 next. In response, Maduro said he will arrive in Lima "rain, shine or lightning", which motivated the Peruvian prime minister, Mercedes Aráoz, to tell him that he "cannot enter the Peruvian soil or sky ... because he is not being welcome. "
 

    On the other hand, the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, reiterated the call to the Government of Venezuela to allow the entry of humanitarian aid in order to alleviate the problems of that nation, where there is a "destruction of democracy" and a "disrespect to citizenship". "We are calling on the Venezuelan Government to allow at least one humanitarian channel, and it is unacceptable that if one sees the critical situation that the people are living, they will not allow a humanitarian measure, something that the whole world does not understand," Santos said. According to the Colombian head of state, in the neighboring country there is a "destruction of democracy, the disrespect of citizens and the breakdown of institutions."

CRISIS IN THE CENTRAL BANK OF VENEZUELA

 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
Active workers and retirees of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), from all its headquarters in the national territory, we turn to the public to explain the following: 1. The BCV suffers a very important crisis arising from the flight of personnel qualified as a result of low salaries and a hostile environment to the technical work of the professionals who work in the institution. The average salary of an area manager with more than twenty years of service is US $ 250 per month calculated at the official exchange rate and US $ 40 if estimated at the parallel exchange rate. The situation for retirees is even worse.
 

    2. There is manipulation and lack of publication of the fundamental statistics of the economy, by express order of the government. The director of the BCV Sohail Hernández works as a police station against the technicians. 3. The BCV is being directed by an absolutely ignorant and inept board in economic and financial matters. None of its current authorities meet the minimum requirements to be the authority of a central bank anywhere in the world. They do not have the basic knowledge in central banking issues. Some of them are embarrassed when they talk about economics.
 

    4. The benefits enjoyed by BCV workers are being dismantled. Remuneration is significantly lagging behind inflation, the health insurance scale is not related to the prices of services and several medical-dental procedures are currently suspended due to lack of updating, due to the inflation that the BCV itself generated. 5. The authorities have turned the BCV into a subsidiary of the PSUV, bringing partisan politics to the institution.

February  27, 2018

THE EUROPEAN UNION CALLS ON VENEZUELA TO GUARANTEE CREDIBLE ELECTIONS

     
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM  -- The head of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, urged on Monday to guarantee "credible elections" in Venezuela, reiterating that the European Union (EU) is "ready to react" otherwise. The EU expects "free and fair elections," the "participation of all Venezuelan political parties" and "a revised and balanced composition of the National Electoral Council," Mogherini said at a press conference at the end of a meeting of foreign ministers of the bloc. Brussels.

     For the European High Representative, for whom Venezuela lives "critical hours", "there is still time to make formal decisions" so that "things can go in the direction of guaranteeing credible elections". The EU is concerned about the deterioration of the situation in Venezuela, whose dictator Nicolás Maduro advanced the presidential election to April 22. The opposition Democratic Unity Table (MUD) announced its marginalization because it considers that there are no guarantees of transparency, although it left the door to participate if conditions improve.

    Sources of the MUD confirmed on Saturday to the AFP that meetings with representatives of the government are maintained to try to improve the electoral conditions, which would include postponing the voting. In this sense, the EU, which adopted sanctions against high Venezuelan officials and imposed an arms embargo, "is ready to take decisions and react depending on the developments in the field," Mogherini said. Europeans have been expressing concern about the situation in the country since the wave of protests between April and July, which left 125 dead, although the election of a National Constituent Assembly was the turning point. "The Venezuelan situation is a terrible situation at a humanitarian, political and diplomatic level," summed up British Secretary of State Mark Field, upon his arrival at the meeting in Brussels.

THOMAS SHANNON: THE WORLD IS READY TO HELP VENEZUELANS

 
       WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 
Thomas Shannon has a message for Venezuelans: the world is ready to help them overcome the current crisis, but the government of President Nicolás Maduro has to open the door. "There is a desire of the region to help Venezuela find a way out of the crisis," said the third in the line of command of the State Department in an interview with The Associated Press in which he also shared his impressions on the relationship between United States and Latin America.

     Maduro has refused to receive aid offered by countries and organizations of the continent claiming that in his country there is no humanitarian crisis, although he says he is the victim of an economic blockade of Washington. However, unbridled four-digit inflation and a severe shortage of food and medicines have generated a massive exodus of Venezuelans to Colombia and other neighboring nations in recent months. The US diplomat hopes that the hemispheric community will contribute to a peaceful and electoral solution in the South American nation despite the fact that the last edition of the dialogue between the government and the Venezuelan opposition - accompanied by five chancelleries - was wrecked this month in the Dominican Republic. .

    Shannon announced his resignation a few weeks ago, although he said he will not leave the position until his successor is elected. The diplomat has traveled to Caracas several times to serve as direct spokesman for Washington with Maduro, whose government is directly responsible for the crisis by not being "willing to take the necessary steps to build an electoral scenario where the opposition can participate with confidence." There are approx 40 Chavistas that are being targeted for individual sanctions by the EU, the US and various other countries. Also, US entities are forbidden to renegotiate Chavista debt. THAT IS THE EXTENT OF SANCTIONS AGAINST VENEZUELA.

VENEZUELAN FOREIGN MINISTER JORGE ARREAZA COVERS HIS EYES AND DENIES IN THE UN THAT IN VENEZUELA THERE IS A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

 
      GENEVA, SWITZERLAND -- 
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza condemned the interventionist actions of the United States and its European allies in his country's internal affairs Monday during his speech at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. “For nearly two decades we've been harassed by interventionist foreign powers, eager to regain control of our oil, gas, gold, diamond, coltan, water and fertile lands,” said Arreaza before quoting 19th Century revolutionary Simon Bolivar, who famously said the United States wanted to “spread misery in Americas in the name of freedom.”

     Arreaza said U.S. President Donald Trump has been threatening Venezuela all this time and imposed sanctions against the country in an attempt to topple President Nicolas Maduro and his government. “We can't allow this Human Rights Council to be hijacked by those who only want to make war,” the Venezuelan top diplomat told high-level officials during the meeting in Switzerland. Arreaza pointed to U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson's recent comments in which he openly suggested an overthrow of Venezuela's democratic government and said he wouldn't recognize the outcome of the next elections. Those are only some of the 105 international verbal attacks Venezuela has endured this year, the foreign minister claimed.

    Maduro has called more than 400 times for the opposition to take part in a dialogue to bring peace to the country, but they have been unwilling to do so, Arreaza stressed. The opposition also didn't agree to participate in the elections on April 22, a date they themselves proposed during internationally-mediated talks. He further condemned the U.S. Government for making the world believe there's a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela with the intention of carrying out an intervention in the South American country, while highlighting recent comments by U.N. independent expert Alfred de Zayas. De Zayas said last week there was no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

February  26, 2018

VENEZUELA AFFIRMS THAT THE US IS ATTACKING THE PEACE OF THE COUNTRY "BY TRYING TO JUDGE" THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF APRIL 22

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- The Venezuelan Government accused the United States on Saturday of "attacking the peace and stability" of the country "by trying to judge" the presidential elections process of April 22, in which dictator Nicolás Maduro aspires to re-election, while the opposition has said that it will not participate.

    "As usual, the US regime, in turn, intends to arrogate an extraterritorial authority to define the future of the people without it having been granted by anyone, with the sole purpose of justifying their interventionist policies that have caused so much damage to humanity," the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The US government said Saturday that it "respects the decision of the Venezuelan opposition parties" to "reject the terms and conditions" of the April 22 presidential elections and not participate in the vote.

    The Government of Venezuela considers that the US, "in its eagerness to achieve what its internal subordinates have not obtained with popular support through elections," intends to "question the right of citizens of a free, democratic and sovereign country to decide their future without interference of any kind and in a peaceful manner ". Likewise, the Foreign Ministry said in the statement that Venezuela "will not let peace be snatched" nor will it yield to "external pressures" from the United States and its "regional subordinates", whom it accused of "political violence and attacks" on its institutions in recent years.

JORGE RODRIGUEZ MEETS WITH OPPONENTS AND OFFERS ELECTORAL CYANIDE CANDIES

 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
The withdrawal in block of the MUD from the "electoral simulacrum," or the "show", as they call the election scheduled for the 22 of April, added to the retirement of candidates like Claudius Fermín, the complains of Henri Falcón and the positions adopted by organized civil society unions, the Episcopal Conference, universities and the international community have Nicolás Maduro and his court really concerned. So much so, that Jorge Rodriguez is on a desperate mission: looking for opponents to the boss. It's imperative.

     For this scenario, together with his sister Delcy, Jorge held a meeting this Friday to offer cyanide candies to Henri Falcón, the Adeco Luis Aquiles Moreno, Enrique Márquez representing UNT and even Henrique Capriles, whose propensity to participate - seeking conditions but within the fight - are far from the official position of the Primero Justicia party. During the meeting, the Rodriguez's proposal was to postpone the election until May, just one more month, and to convene a UN mission that could serve as “chimba” observers, without access to all the phases of the election process. And more nothing.

     None of the legal conditions to conduct a competitive electoral process, even with the habitual abuses of those who mock from power. Nothing of balance in means, nothing of not using resources of the State, nothing to stop imprisoning and disabling people, nothing of elements that prevent a fraud. However, some attendees at that meeting seem persuaded by the “caramelitos” of cyanide that the minister and former mayor put on that table. Not all are firm in the refusal to submit themselves to a mere theater. Although the meeting ended without decisions, the government knows and will continue talking with those who were willing to sign in the Dominican Republic a role that left open the door to the ruses of Chavez, under the false premise of "mass vote kill trap." But the example given by Simon Bolívar provided another way.

THE BLACKOUTS AND DISCOMFORT CONTINUE IN CAMAGÜEY, CUBA

 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
Darkness and silence envelop the nights in the city of Camagüey after the fire that occurred at the Thermoelectric Company 10 de Octubre, in Nuevitas, on January 25. Almost a month later, the blackouts, the discomfort of the affected population continue. Brigades from various parts of the country are working under the direction of the Electric Union to repair the three generation blocks that the plant has and supply 360 megawatts in total, but none of them has yet been recovered and the municipality of Nuevitas is mainly supplied with generators located in the locality.
 

    According to sources of the sector consulted by “14ymedio,” the complexity of the work is great, since together with the replacement of those damaged by the fire, a security review of the equipment is being made and "some unforeseen events" have arisen in the process, which must conclude before the summer, according to the forecasts. In the city of Camagüey, the blackouts, which at first were sporadic and of short duration, have become almost daily and last several hours. "The worst thing is that they almost always happen at the time of cooking," laments Hermida Suárez from the La Guernica neighborhood. "At that time of the day I have my grandchildren watching the television while we cook the food".
 

    Many Camagüey families cook with electricity after the Energy Revolution promoted by Fidel Castro at the beginning of this century and that included the sale of electric cooking modules at subsidized prices, to replace the kerosene consumption. Throughout 2016, thousands of induction cookers were also commercialized in the province. The thermoelectric towers are projected against the blue sky without their usual trail of smoke and the absence of the purr of their generators makes fears every day a new round of blackouts in peak hours. "The cuts in the electric service are not programmed, they occur when the demand exceeds the delivery capacity of the national network", explains to “14ymedio” an employee of the Electric Company of Camagüey who preferred anonymity. "The stop of the Nuevitas thermoelectric plant has come to complicate everything," he concludes.

February  25, 2018

THE US "RESPECTS" THAT VENEZUELA'S OPPOSITION DOES NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS OF APRIL 22

     
WASHINGTON, D.C. -    The United States Government said Saturday that it "respects the decision of the Venezuelan opposition parties" to "reject the terms and conditions" of the presidential elections called for April 22 and not participate in the elections. "The United States respects the decision of the Venezuelan opposition parties, to reject the terms and conditions of President Nicolás Maduro, for the April presidential elections," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement, Efe reported. "We reject the appeals of the ruling party to replace the democratically elected National Assembly simultaneously, instead of in 2021, as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution," the spokeswoman added.

     In her opinion, this would "deepen the breakdown of constitutional order and democratic Venezuela "and" will not solve the nation's crises. However, just as the Venezuelan presidential elections have been called for April 22, the National Electoral Council of Venezuela of Venezuela (CNE) ruled out this week to hold the presidential and legislative elections jointly, as initially requested by Diosdado Cabello, arguing that more time is required to organize them. " Even so, for the US Government, the National Electoral Council (CNE) does not have guarantees of independence. "We reiterate our call for the establishment of a legitimate and independent National Electoral Council, selected by the National Assembly as required by the Constitution," Nauert continued.

    The US government insisted on establishing an electoral calendar that follows "the constitutional rules" and in consultation with the "legitimate" National Assembly (NA). "We note that the lack of agreed terms for an election seriously compromises the integrity of the process, a free and fair election must include the full participation of all political parties and political leaders, the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, a calendar appropriate electoral, credible international observation and an independent electoral authority, " she said. Finally, the spokeswoman for US diplomacy indicated that the United States supports "the democratic nations of the entire world in support of the Venezuelan people and their sovereign right to elect their representatives through free and fair elections.

ANTONIO LEDEZMA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH LE FIGARO: THE SOLUTION LIES IN THE OVERTHROW OF NICOLAS MADURO


 
       PARIS, FRANCE -
The ex-mayor of Caracas Metropolitan Antonio Ledezma calls for a "humanitarian intervention" of the international community to overthrow the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. "The international community must come to the rescue of this country that has been taken hostage by a narco-dictatorship. Sanctions have opened the eyes of the world to the reality of Venezuela.

    I think you have to harden them, "he said in an interview broadcast today by the French newspaper Le Figaro. Ledezma, who was interviewed on the sidelines of his participation on Tuesday at an annual meeting on human rights in Geneva, stressed that "when a regime applies a policy of repression, systematic and large-scale, the principle of self-determination must give place to a humanitarian intervention. " The former mayor, who fled his country last November, stressed that it is up to the UN to decide how it should be done.

     "The solution lies in the overthrow of Maduro and the implementation of a legitimate and democratic government," added Ledezma, for whom "the country is in a situation of bankruptcy" and the Executive can not ask the population "more sacrifices" . In his opinion, the presidential elections called for April 22 are a trap and a fraud, and will not count on a candidate of the "legitimate" opposition. Ledezma stressed that his only wish is to return to his country, "when the dictatorship is over," and noted that until that does not happen he believes that his ability to mobilize is more effective from abroad.

CONTRABAND ON THE BORDER WITH COLOMBIA LEAVES TACHIRA WITHOUT PRODUCTS

 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
Cigarettes, meat, coffee, rice, vegetables, fruits, water and domestic gas cylinders from Venezuela are some of the products that are smuggled into the Venezuelan border. Gabriel Herrera, Genaro Méndez Passenger Terminal worker from San Cristóbal (Táchira), denounced that the "bachaqueros" sell a liter and a half of mineral water in 1,000 Colombian pesos (1,000 Colombian pesos = $ 0.35). In several sectors of Táchira, criminals have also been stealing electricity cables and then selling them in Colombia. This has caused blackouts in localities of that state.

    Many of the citizens who cross the border daily do so to smuggle. "Neither officials do anything: 'give me mine and goodbye to the friend'. Everything happens square, by the trails, "added the terminal worker for El Nacional Web. This situation has caused that the items in Táchira increase more and more. Every morning, from 2:00 in the morning, Venezuelans crowd the passenger terminal to try to board the trucks that go to the border. The drivers charge 30,000 bolivars (10,000 bolivares = $ 0.30) per person, however, there are "pirate" units that take advantage of the influx of citizens to collect up to 60,000 bolivars.

      The border situation incites other transporters on the routes they work in San Cristóbal to smuggle: they use the units to transport goods to Colombia and to sell Venezuelan gasoil. With this modality, they earn up to 8,000,000 bolívares in a day, another source said who did not want to reveal his identity. Bolivars (Bs 100,000) are sold in large quantities across the border for twice their cost, that is, for each Bs 100,000 bill they offer double by electronic transfer. Venezuelan paper money is used in Colombia for other purposes.

February  24, 2018

OAS URGES DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO TO CANCEL PRESIDENTIAL CALL IN APRIL 22 VENEZUELA

     
WASHINGTON, D.C. -   The OAS won its first victory over the Venezuelan case, after this Friday was decided with 19 votes in favor of the hemispheric body exhorting Nicolás Maduro to cancel the elections on April 22. They needed a minimum of 18 nations to support the initiative of Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Panama and Saint Lucia. The resolution calls on Venezuela to cancel the presidential elections on April 22 and proposes it could conduct other elections "fair, free and with international observation." The text went ahead, despite the resounding refusal of Venezuela and Bolivia to hold the meeting, by 19 votes in favor, 5 against, 8 abstentions and two absences.

     In the approved resolution, the countries "consider" that the convocation of presidential elections for April 22 "makes it impossible to hold democratic, transparent and credible elections in accordance with international standards." They resolve, thus, "to urge the Government of Venezuela to reconsider the premature convocation of presidential elections and present a new electoral calendar that makes it possible to hold elections with all the guarantees necessary for a free, fair, transparent, legitimate and credible process."

    In addition, the OAS asks that the elections "include the participation of all Venezuelan political parties and actors without outlaws of any kind," "international observers," and "a National Electoral Council (CNE) whose composition guarantees their independence and autonomy." This is the first session in the OAS on Venezuela since the assembly that the organism held in Cancun (Mexico) in June of last year, where the Caribbean block saved Caracas from a resolution of regional condemnation. This time they voted in favor: Bahamas, Saint Lucia, Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United States, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru. Venezuela, Bolivia, Suriname, Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines voted against it. Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Belize, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago abstained.

VENEZUELA REAFFIRMED ITS DECISION TO HOLD PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS SCHEDULED ON  APRIL 22


 
       WASHINGTON, D.C.  -
The Venezuelan government reaffirmed its decision to hold presidential elections on April 22, after the Organization of American States (OAS) today approved a resolution urging Nicolás Maduro to cancel the elections and present "a new electoral calendar with all the democratic guarantees. "" The elections have been ratified and we will have presidential elections in Venezuela on April 22, "said the Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS, Samuel Moncada during a press conference after the extraordinary permanent council in which it was approved.

     "We think it is a result of the pressure exerted by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his tour, extorted money from several countries and now shows up in the results," he added. The resolution was approved with 19 votes in favor, five against, eight abstentions and two absences. Among the countries that abstained, there are traditional allies such as Ecuador and Nicaragua. Moncada attacked the OAS and assured that the organization, led by the United States, plays "to hang Venezuelan democracy, there is an obsession against Venezuel," he affirmed; The resolution calls Maduro for a "free, fair, transparent, legitimate and credible "presidential election in which all Venezuelan political parties and actors participate" without outlaws of any kind. "

     It also requires independent international observers, free and equal access to the media and an electoral authority "whose composition guarantees independence and autonomy." The text was presented by the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Panama and Saint Lucia, countries to which Chile later joined. They were the ones who asked for the convocation of the extraordinary permanent council. The call for early presidential elections for April 22 in Venezuela has provoked widespread rejection in the American region and beyond for the vetoes to the opposition that have been made and the lack of transparency in the process.

JULIO BORGES SATISFIED BY THE REFUSAL OF THE CNE TO CALL MEGA-ELECTIONS

 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
The national coordinator of Primero Justicia (PJ), Julio Borges, said that it was obvious that the National Electoral Council (CNE) rejected, as it did this Friday, to hold meetings in April next presidential and parliamentary elections.  The so-called mega-elections were technically impossible and the proposal to hold them obeys more to internal conflicts within the ruling party, between Nicolás Maduro and Diosdado Cabello, than to anything else, said the leader.

     On the other hand, the deputy celebrated that the Organization of the American States (OAS) would place this Friday to Venezuela in a resolution to cancel the elections and to celebrate others just, free and with international observation. "I hope that the Government (of Venezuela) will assume and listen to the call of the OAS countries to reconsider the April 22 elections. It would be sensible at this time, "he told Efe. On Friday, February 23, the OAS adopted a resolution to urge the Maduro government to cancel the current date of the elections and work to hold a new "fair, free, and international observation" election.

     The deputy said earlier in a press conference that if the presidential elections are carried out they will deepen the illegitimacy of Nicolás Maduro, because they have neither guarantees nor international observers. "We are convinced that once these fraudulent elections take place, the response of the democracies of the world will be to put more democratic pressure on Venezuela," he said. Borges, who met Thursday with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, began a tour that will take him in the coming weeks to Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, the United States, Canada, Spain and Belgium, among other destinations. "We are creating inside and outside of Venezuela a great broad front for democracy. We are sure that the Government of Nicolás Maduro has the days numbered, "he said.

February  23, 2018

DELCY RODRIGUEZ: STATEMENTS BY THE US CHARGE D'AFFAIRES PROMOTE A COUP IN VENEZUELA

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA -  The president of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) Delcy Rodríguez, rejected the statements of the charge d'Affaires of the United States, Todd Robinson, and assured that it promotes a coup in Venezuela.

     Inside the Constituent Assembly, we have taken a careful and careful note of the unprecedented interview of the US Charge d'Affaires, which shows not only his lack of intellect but serious violations of International Law as well as his profound ignorance about Venezuela!", Highlighted Rodriguez from his account in the social network Twitter. She also added that the ANC will evaluate the declarations to "adopt" the appropiate diplomatic measures.

    "I announce that these very serious statements that promote a coup d'etat in Venezuela and boast of the criminal and illegal financial blockade will be evaluated by the ANC to adopt the diplomatic measures that correspond in defense of the sovereignty and dignity of the Venezuelan people," she added. The interview mentioned by Rodriguez was conducted by Runrunes. The US diplomat said that the measures taken by the White House against the government of Nicolás Maduro are not the cause of the economic crisis, and attributed the blame to the Chavez regime and its "inability to manage and handle the economy and the policy" of the country.

TOP US DIPLOMAT IN VENEZUELA UNDER FIRE AFTER COMMENTS ON NICOLAS MADURO'S REGIME


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA -
The PRESIDENT of Venezuela’s government-controlled assembly on Thursday accused the top U.S. diplomat in Caracas of promoting a coup and threatened to take diplomatic measures against him. National Constituent Assembly president Delcy Rodriguez’s issued a series of tweets targeting U.S. charge d’affaires Todd Robinson. They follow the release of an interview Robinson gave a local online publication critical of the Venezuelan government. Robinson told the publication RunRunes that it is possible Washington could ratchet up sanctions against Venezuela’s critical oil sector, on top of sanctioning dozens of key government officials, such as President Nicolas Maduro.

    “Everything is on the table,” Robinson said. “Undoubtedly, the sanctions have been effective so far at identifying members of the regime who are corrupt or those who have played a role against Venezuela’s institutions and Constitution.” The National Constituent Assembly will evaluate Robinson’s comments before adopting “corresponding diplomatic measures in defence of the sovereignty and dignity Venezuelan’s people.” Rodriguez accused Robinson of violating international law, and she said he’s guilty of being ignorant of Venezuela. She stopped short of announcing that Robinson’s diplomatic credentials will be stripped — action taken in recent dust-ups with key diplomats from Canada, Brazil and Spain.

    In his long diplomatic career has worked in Colombia, Bolivia, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. As ambassador to Guatemala for three years until September he earned a reputation for speaking out and several times had to face calls for his expulsion. Since landing at his new post two months ago, Robinson has been tough on Venezuelan authorities, accusing them of straying from democratic practices and unjustly holding a Utah man in jail. He said that Joshua Holt must be set free before a deeper dialogue between the two countries can begin on other important topics.

THE PETRO DOES NOT HAVE OIL BACKING, ONLY BOLIVARES

 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
What is Petro? Is it a cryptocurrency? No, a cryptocurrency is an electronic payment system, of speculation, that operates a money that is also an asset, that is, a cryptoactive. A cryptocurrency operates in a decentralized manner, similar to how monetary transactions are expressed in an economy, essentially private, and its support is given by the people themselves, their owners, very different from the support, as, for example, the Venezuelan government offers through the Sovereign state, something like an oxymoron.

     The Government, in spite of the institutional rejection throughout the world, continued with its project forward, -note and so we discussed in several articles- that every time that President Maduro referred to the Petro presented different supports, the first was "oil in production ", but this is not possible because oil production has been falling without stopping. Later, Nicolás Maduro said that oil reserves, Venezuela being the largest container of oil in the world, would be the backing of Petro. We discuss that proposal because it is a global rule that oil in the subsoil, whether it is a proven reserve, has zero value, that support per se is not liquid, something impossible in a capital market.

     In short, the Petro has changed and mutated to the rhythm of the President's speech, a technological improvisation clad in "magical socialism" with which supposedly the great Venezuelan economic tragedy, caused by socialism itself, and which expresses itself in two monumental crises, ended. unsustainable and insurmountable, and that the economic literature is cited as the twin crises, both of which are paid, one in national currency and the other in foreign currency. So the government opened the patronal feast of the Petro, last night with the private sale and in one month the ICO. In addition, Petro is a centralized electronic currency owned by the State, something different from the cryptocurrency design, characteristic of private entrepreneurship.

February  22, 2018

VENEZUELA OPPOSITION TO BOYCOTT 'FRAUDULENT' PRESIDENTIAL VOTE

     
CARACAS, VENEZUELA -  Venezuela’s opposition coalition said on Wednesday it could not participate in a “fraudulent, illegitimate” presidential election on April 22 due to unfair conditions created by President Nicolas Maduro’s government. Angel Oropeza, member of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD), talks to the media during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela February 21, 2018. The widely expected announcement by the Democratic Unity movement leaves Maduro, 55, on track for re-election but is likely to fuel widespread international condemnation of democratic shortcomings in the socialist-ruled OPEC nation.

     Maduro’s two strongest opposition rivals are both barred from running against him: Leopoldo Lopez is under house arrest, while Henrique Capriles is prohibited from holding office due to accusations of misconduct when he was a state governor Furthermore, the pro-government national election board already banned the Democratic Unity coalition, plus some of its main parties, from running under their party names. “The premature event announced for next April 22 lacking proper conditions is a show by the government to give an impression of legitimacy that it does not have in the midst of Venezuelans’ agony and suffering,” the coalition said in a statement, referring to the country’s economic crisis.

     Angel Oropeza, member of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD), talks to the media during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Adriana Loureiro “In the name of the immense majority of Venezuelans, we challenge the Maduro government to measure itself against the people in real elections” later in 2018, it added. The Democratic Unity’s decision leaves Maduro facing just one confirmed candidate so far: a little-known evangelical pastor named Javier Bertucci. Maduro has faced calls in Latin America and internationally to improve conditions for the vote, with the United States pondering oil sanctions to pressure him. Venezuela’s government says it is the victim of a U.S.-led, right-wing plot to topple socialism and take control of the nation’s oil riches.

VENEZUELA'S RULING PARTY SEEKS NEW LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS SAME DAY AS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA -
The Venezuelan ruling party proposed on Tuesday the election of a new National Assembly legislature next April 22, on the same day as the presidential election already announced for that date. “I announce this as a proposal that I will take to the relevant authorities, that the day of the presidential election should also be the day for electing the new National Assembly to fill the current vacancy,” said Chavismo leader Diosdado Cabello on state channel VTV. The National Assembly is the only power in Venezuela in the hands of the opposition, which took two-thirds of the seats in 2015.

     However, the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) has declared the legislature in contempt of legally constituted authority, for which reason its acts are considered null and void. “Calling these elections is a call to exercise the right to vote, to participate, to reunite... to fill a vacancy, because today there is no National Assembly, no deliberative body here that is so needed,” the first vice president of the ruling PSUV party said. Cabello believes that two months are sufficient to organize these elections “without any kind of inconvenience,” and will therefore present his proposal this week to the plenipotentiary National Constituent Assembly (ANC), made up solely of Chavistas and of which he is a member.

     The Chavista leader said that bringing the legislative elections forward, normally scheduled for late 2020, “would also be a revitalizing element in Venezuelan politics,” which should not “seem strange” to any country. “Let the new period begin with a brand new National Assembly and a president just starting his term in office... to work together for this country, look after the people and pass the necessary laws,” Cabello said. The MUD opposition coalition has not yet announced its decision to take part or not in the presidential election, but is leaning toward not participating in this contest, which it considers an “electoral farce,” and in which the current head of state, Nicolas Maduro, will seek reelection.

VENEZUELA'S DEFENSE MINISTER VLADIMIR PADRINO LOPEZ DENIED HIS SOLDIERS WORK WITH COLOMBIAN REBEL GROUP ELN

 
      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez denied on Tuesday that soldiers from his nation are involved with the Colombian rebel group ELN after the neighboring country’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, said that a Venezuelan citizen was apparently a member of the insurgency. “We have examined our files ... there is absolutely no record that either of those two citizens, whose names we now have, has ever worked for or offered their services to the National Guard. It’s completely false, I reject it,” Padrino Lopez said in Caracas.

     He demanded a “serious and transparent investigation regarding the alleged involvement of those two Venezuelans.” Padrino Lopez denounced what he called an attempt to give the National Liberation Army (ELN) a “Venezuelan overtone” and repeating his request for a meeting with Colombian counterpart Luis Carlos Villegas to discuss this issue as well as bolstering of security along the long, porous border the two countries share. Santos said last Sunday that an ELN rebel who died last week while placing an explosive device on a highway “belongs or belonged” to Venezuela’s National Guard.

     In a telephone conversation last week, Villegas told Padrino Lopez that during a so-called “armed strike” that the ELN declared in Colombia the previous week authorities were able to determine that “Colombian and Venezuelan (guerrillas) were carrying out terrorist and armed actions against the population.” Villegas also said the number of Venezuelans participating in such actions was growing. The ELN declared the “armed strike” – aimed at shutting down travel and transport – to protest the Colombian government’s decision to suspend peace talks. Santos’ administration late last month suspended those negotiations, which began in early 2017, after a surge in attacks by the rebel group.

February  21, 2018

OAS SECRETARY GENERAL, LUIS ALMAGRO: HARSHER SANCTIONS NEEDED AGAINST VENEZUELA, TARGETING OIL

     
WASHINGTON, D.C.--  Organization of American States (OAS) said on Tuesday. Under President Nicolas Maduro, "dictatorship has become more tyrannical" and the suffering of its 30 million people has increased amid dire shortages of food and medicine, said Luis Almagro. "Sanctions have to become harsher, this is the way to move forward. Those against dictatorship should unite," the secretary general of the 34-member OAS told a Geneva human rights forum organized by UN Watch, a non-governmental organization. "We must apply sanctions, harsher ones. We must starve the regime financially."

     Sanctions have so far focused on individual members of Maduro's government and a ban on buying new Venezuelan debt. Restrictions on Venezuela's all-important oil industry would represent an escalation of financial pressure on the OPEC member state. Almagro, asked by Reuters to elaborate on his remarks on sanctions, later told reporters: "The sanctions should be not only personal sanctions, but sanctions also against the regime itself. And that is to affect the conditions with which the regime operates. "That makes it necessary of course to target oil production, it makes it necessary to target the family of the dictators, it makes it necessary to target money-laundering."

    Maduro will stand for re-election in April in a ballot opposition leaders plan to boycott. Critics say it is a farce, with Maduro's main rivals barred from standing and a compliant election body bound to favor the ruling socialists. Maduro denies the system is undemocratic. Maduro's government calls the OAS a pawn of U.S. policy and dismisses Almagro, a former Uruguayan foreign minister once friendly with Venezuela's socialists, as a turncoat working for Washington. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said two weeks ago at the end of a five-nation tour of Latin America that the United States was closer to deciding whether to impose sanctions on Venezuelan oil.

DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO REACHES OUT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP ON TWITTER


 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA -
Venezuela's dictator Nicolas Maduro took to the US president's favorite medium, Twitter, on Monday to ask him to start a dialogue between the two countries. "@RealDonaldTrump campaigned pledging to promote non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries. It's time to keep your pledge," Maduro wrote, encouraging Trump to hold a meeting in Washington or Caracas.

     Maduro and senior government officials, including Attorney General Tarek William Saab, have alleged that the US is orchestrating an alleged plan for a "military invasion" of Venezuela from neighboring Colombia. "The military bombing, the military invasion, the blood and fire occupation of a peaceful country like Venezuela are being planned," Saab charged last week, an allegation Colombia has flatly denied. On a recent tour of Latin America, top US diplomat Rex Tillerson floated the idea of slapping sanctions on Venezuela's oil exports, the source of 96 percent of the country's revenues.

    Tillerson met in Bogota with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. The United States has already imposed financial sanctions on Venezuela, forbidding its citizens and companies to negotiate debt issued by the Maduro government and the state oil company PDVSA. Maduro has assured that he will travel to Lima in April for the Summit of the Americas, which Trump will attend. But the Peruvian government announced that it will not allow Maduro to attend, on the grounds that he has broken with his country's democratic institutional order.

WHITE HOUSE REJECTS DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO'S OFFER TO START DIALOGUE WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP

 
      WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 
The White House on Tuesday rejected the offer of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to start a dialogue in Caracas or Washington with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, and reiterated that he will only meet with the Venezuelan leader when "democracy is restored. "in the Caribbean country.

    Speaking to Efe, a spokesman for the National Security Council of the White House reacted to the tweet that Maduro addressed Monday to Trump, in which he called on him to open a "dialogue in Caracas or Washington DC." "As we said last August, President Trump will speak with pleasure to the leader of Venezuela as soon as certain steps are taken" and "restore democracy to that great country," said the spokesman, who asked not to be named.

     The steps that the United States considers key before any dialogue with Venezuela are "respect for the Constitution of Venezuela, the holding of free, fair and credible elections, the release of political prisoners" and the end of "all human rights violations ", according to the source. The response of the White House is similar to the one he gave last August, when Maduro proposed to him to speak by telephone and Trump responded, in a statement, that he would come into contact "with the Venezuelan leader as soon as democracy in the country is restored. country".

February  20, 2018

MEXICO FOREIGN MINISTER LUIS VIDEGARAY HEADS TO CARIBBEAN ISLANDS TO WIN OVER VENEZUELAN ALLIES  - OFFICIALS

      MEXICO CITY, MEXICO  -Mexico’s foreign minister will travel to Jamaica, Grenada and Saint Lucia in March, a Mexican official said on Thursday, as part of efforts to erode Venezuela’s oil-based influence in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, Cuban diplomats will visit Mexico in March to discuss the regional impact of the crisis in Venezuela, the official said. The Cuban embassy in Mexico City said the trip was not yet confirmed but that the two countries have regular bilateral meetings. Still, there are no signs that Cuba, a steadfast ally of Caracas, is ready to turn its back on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

     Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray’s planned trip follows a visit to Latin America and the Caribbean earlier this month by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who announced plans to study how possible oil sanctions against Venezuela could be mitigated in the Caribbean. The Mexican foreign minister’s trip represents the latest development in U.S.-led pressure on Maduro, who retains loyalty from some Caribbean nations that have long benefited from Caracas’ oil largess and have been unwilling to shun the country in regional diplomatic efforts.

     “The message is: Venezuela is not the only country that can help (Caribbean nations), that if there’s a crisis in Venezuela, they have more friends,” said the Mexican official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the as-yet undisclosed trip. In a statement, Mexico’s foreign ministry said Videgaray was planning trips to the Caribbean. “The foreign ministry is eager for those trips to be arranged, and so possible dates are being sought,” it said, adding that several Caribbean countries had invited the minister for work visits since last year.

SPAIN HAS PIVOTAL ROLE IN PRESSURING VENEZUELA'S DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO

      MADRID, SPAIN  -- Spain has assumed a pivotal role in pressuring Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to change his regime’s “barbaric” course, according to Spanish diplomats who spoke to VOA on condition of anonymity. Venezuela’s crisis reached major dimensions last week as hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans made an exodus to neighboring countries, escaping the hyperinflation, food shortages and rampant violence prevailing over what used to be South America’s wealthiest oil producer. Spain has openly pushed for sanctions by the European Union that target Maduro and his top officials in a move that led to the expulsion of the Spanish ambassador and insults against Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Maduro called him a U.S. lackey.

     Venezuelan state media reported that the measures restricting travel and business in Europe by seven top Venezuelan officials were hatched in discussions Rajoy held with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington last September. The U.S. has placed sanctions on more than 20 individuals in Venezuela, including politicians and government contractors, since repression of opponents to the Maduro government intensified last July. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson brought up the possibility of placing an embargo on Venezuelan oil sales during a recent swing through Latin America. He even hinted the U.S. might welcome a military coup.

     Rajoy’s predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar, backed a coup against Maduro’s mentor, Hugo Chavez, when he was in power. But Spanish officials deny that anything similar is taking place now. “Spain’s support for sanctions did not result from any consultation with Washington,” a Spanish foreign ministry official told VOA. “It’s strictly between Spain and the EU. Our main concern is the Venezuelan people and standing up for democratic principles.” Spain will lobby for expanding the sanctions at an EU foreign ministers meeting Monday in Brussels where Venezuela is on the agenda, according to a Spanish diplomatic expert on Venezuela. The source also said Spain has worked to isolate Venezuela among some Latin American governments, which excluded Maduro from a regional summit last week in Lima, Peru.

COLOMBIA SAYS INCREASING NUMBER OF VENEZUELANS INVOLVED IN ELN ATTACKS

       BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Colombia on Thursday said an increasing number of Venezuelans were taking part in attacks by Marxist ELN rebels and in criminal activity, as hundreds of thousands of migrants flee over the border to escape a humanitarian crisis at home. Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said he had expressed concern to his Venezuelan counterpart General Vladimir Padrino in a telephone conversation, and that they had agreed to meet to coordinate security plans at the border.

     Villegas said Venezuelans had collaborated with the National Liberation Army (ELN) in attacks in Colombia and been involved in killings and robberies. “The number of Venezuelans who have participated in these ELN actions is growing,” Villegas told reporters in the western city of Pereira, in broadcast comments. “I also told General Padrino about our concern over the growing participation of Venezuelan citizens in common and organized crime.” Colombia, Brazil and other Latin American nations are grappling with a growing migrant crisis, as thousands of Venezuelans seek to escape economic hardship, hyperinflation and food shortages in the oil-rich nation.

     Last week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said he would institute stricter migration controls, temporarily suspend new daily entry cards, and deploy new security personnel, including more soldiers, along the 2,219 km (1,379-mile) shared frontier. Villegas said intelligence agents in Colombia had found that an attack by the ELN in late January, which killed six police officers and injured 40, was planned in Venezuela. He also said that two Venezuelan members of the ELN died over the weekend, when a device intended to destroy a section of highway exploded. Santos on Wednesday said Colombia needs international aid to cope with the situation. The number of Venezuelans living in Colombia increased 62 percent to more than 550,000 in the second half of 2017, according to the migration authority.

February  19, 2018

DICTATOR MADURO CALLS FOR MILITARY MANEUVERS AMID PREPARATIONS FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

      CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -DICTATOR NICOLAS Maduro instructed this Saturday the entire Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) to conduct exercises that will take place on February 24 and 25 throughout the entire territory of the Caribbean country, including areas bordering Colombia and Brazil, as well as in the Caribbean Sea. "I have ordered the FANB, together with our people in a civic military union, to carry out the integral multidimensional defense operations of the territory of our country, the operations and military exercises “Independencia 2018," the president said during an official ceremony outside Caracas.

     Although the Chavista leader defined himself as a "pacifist" he said that Venezuela must "prepare to win that peace," a task that, he assured, is the responsibility of the FANB, the citizens, the military reserve and the Militia; composed of those who, without exercising the military profession, voluntarily express the desire to enlist in the Bolivarian military forces. "We are going to fine tune the readiness of all our forces, we are going to fine tune the movement of all the troops, we are going to fine-tune the movement of all the tanks, of all the missiles, planes, helicopters and above all we are going to fine-tune the aim of the national soul "He said.

     The so-called Bolivarian revolution has ordered massive military exercises in recent years, usually after diplomatic tensions with the United States, a country to which Caracas accuses of interference and conspiracy against Maduro. In this regard, the Venezuelan leader reiterated today after announcing the exercises: "Venezuela is a sacred land. We do not get involved with anyone but we will never accept that the foreign imperial military boot touches the sacred soil of the Venezuelan homeland. Never". The National Electoral Council (CNE) established that from February 24 to 26 the online application of the candidates for the Presidency of the Republic will take place and until now the opposition coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) has not decided whether will participate in the April elections.

BRAZIL TO DEFEND GUYANA AGAINST ANY VENEZUELA INVASION

      GEORGETOWN, GUYANA  -- As events take shape beneath the surface of the border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana, on February 7, Brazilian President Michel Temer sent a high level delegation to Guyana and Suriname to pledge military support to defend Guyana in case Venezuela attempted to invade the disputed Essequibo area. The situation was very “tense in Georgetown” last week, said one diplomat, as Guyana was briefed on a planned Venezuela invasion by Brazil’s defence minister Raul Jungmann, justice minister Torquato Jardim and institutional security cabinet chief Sergio Etchegoyen.

     According to the Brazilian news agency, “The visit’s purpose was to discuss border security with the Guyanese and Surinamese governments.” However, an unconfirmed report in Brazilian newspaper O Antagonista claimed the real reason behind the visit was to share information that Brazil’s intelligence services had learned about Venezuela considering a military incursion into Guyana. This was confirmed by Stratfor and United News of Suriname and diplomats in Georgetown, New York, and Paramaribo.

     In Georgetown, the Brazilian defence minister said, “As in anywhere else in the world, there is no place for force or opposition… but we have to enforce international rights of sovereignty… (and) we will need to make an effort to get it done.” And making a point to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Jungmann added, “Brazil believes in the establishment of borders within all ways; the principle of diplomacy; respect for sovereignty; independence; and our endurance between us and our neighbours.” The United News of Suriname on Monday reported that the Brazilian mission to Guyana “pledged military support to defend Guyana in case Venezuela undertook an attempt to invade the disputed Essequibo area.”

PERUVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ALJOVIN: MY COUNTRY HAS THE MECHANISMS TO PREVENT THE ENTRY OF NICOLAS MADURO

       LIMA, PERU  -- Peru has the administrative mechanisms to prevent the entry of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro into its territory to participate in the Summit of the Americas, Peruvian Foreign Minister Cayetana Aljovín said Sunday. "Every State has administrative powers and procedures to establish measures of different types when a person is not welcome," Aljovín said in an interview with the newspaper La República.

     "When someone is told he is not welcome, he must assume that he is not welcome, I am sure, this is going to happen," She added. On Tuesday, at the end of a meeting of the 14 countries of the Lima Group, Aljovín asked Maduro to desist from attending the Summit, since his presence was no longer "welcome" because of his insistence on holding presidential elections in Venezuela. April 22 without guarantees for the opposition.

     After this decision, Maduro said in Caracas: "Rain, thunder or lightning, by air, land or sea I will reach the Summit of the Americas with the truth (...) of Venezuela." In reference to these statements, Aljovín commented that "Maduro has said in the past many things that he has not fulfilled". The Venezuelan leader is seeking reelection in the April presidential elections, convened after the failure of a negotiation between his government and the opposition to agree on the conditions of the process, which has been criticized by a large part of the international community.

February  18, 2018

VENEZUELAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WILL SEND REPORTS ON HUMNA RIGHTS VIOLATIONS TO THE INTERNATIONAL COURT (ICC)

      CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -The National Assembly (AN) will send next week to the International Criminal Court (ICC) reports and evidence about the violation of human rights in Venezuela during the protests of 2017, informed Friday the president of the Commission of the Interior and Justice of the Legislative, Delsa Solórzano. The commission has records of torture, cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees in the protests that took place in 2017, she said and affirms there was brutal repression, in addition to attacks on the press.

    Quoted in a press release, the deputy noted that they accounted for more than 3 thousand arbitrary arrests during the protests in which more than a hundred citizens were killed by the Venezuelan State. Ex-prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz, who has denounced President Nicolás Maduro and several of her ministers before the ICC for crimes against humanity between 2015 and 2017, was asked to send the documentation she handles about the protests, under the complaint she already had submitted and for the preliminary examination that the court has opened, she explained.

    "We are going to enrich the complaint of the prosecutor Ortega Díaz by attaching the documentation and evidence of the events that occurred in 2014 and those that have been happening in the country since 2000," Solórzano added. On the other hand, she said that they will also take to the ICC the case of the Venezuelan ex-policeman who revolted against the government, Óscar Pérez, who was killed with six comrades after they had surrendered by a security operation last January, because they believe that in this case there was a flagrant violation of their human rights.

VENEZUELA SEEN AS THE WORLD'S UNHAPPIEST ECONOMY IN THE WHOLE WORLD

      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- Rising prices are more of a threat to the global economy this year than joblessness, according to Bloomberg’s Misery Index, which sums inflation and unemployment outlooks for 66 economies. Venezuela marks its fourth year as the world’s most miserable economy, with a score that’s more than three times what it was in 2017. Thailand again claimed “least miserable” status, though the nation’s unique way of calculating unemployment makes No. 2 Singapore worth noting. Elsewhere, Mexico looks to make big strides this year as inflation becomes more manageable, while Romania absorbs more misery for the opposite reason.

    The Bloomberg Misery Index relies on the age-old concept that low inflation and unemployment generally illustrate how good an economy’s residents should feel. Sometimes, of course, a low tally can be misleading in either category: Persistently low prices can be a sign of poor demand, and too-low joblessness shackles workers who want to switch to better jobs, for instance. The results largely signal a global economic outlook that remains bright overall: Economists are penciling in 3.7 percent year-on-year growth for the world in 2018, matching last year’s pace that was the best since 2011, according to the Bloomberg survey median.

    Some have not been so fortunate. In Venezuela, hyperinflation has left many economists throwing up their hands at the actual rate of price growth. Black-market currency rates have provided an angle on the numbers, while alternative measures have chased daily cost swings. A recent government slashing of grocery prices gave a brief reprieve to inflation, while the surveyed economists see it rising 1,864 percent this year. It’s anyone’s guess: The International Monetary Fund’s latest estimate has that figure at 13,000 percent for this year after about 2,400 percent in 2017.

MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BACK PERU'S DECISION TO BAR  MADURO FROM THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS

       LIMA, PERU  -- A delegation from the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) expressed support for a decision to bar leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from the eighth Summit of the Americas, which will be held from April 13-14 in the Peruvian capital. Bernd Lange, a German member of the European Parliament (MEP) and head of the INTA delegation visiting Lima, said at a press conference on Thursday after meeting with Peruvian Foreign Minister Cayetana Aljovin that the EP fully supports the Lima Group’s decision concerning Maduro.

    The Lima Group, a multilateral body of Latin American nations that was established last year to find a peaceful solution to the severe political and economic crisis in Venezuela, rejected on Tuesday Maduro’s presence in the Summit of the Americas at the host nation’s request. Following that decision, Maduro said on Thursday he would arrive in Lima “come hell or high water,” a remark that prompted Peruvian Prime Minister Mercedes Araoz to say Maduro was unwelcome and would not be allowed to set foot on Peruvian soil or enter Peruvian airspace.

    Lange added that the EU has called for further sanctions against the Venezuelan president, while also stressing the importance of financial sanctions imposed on members of Maduro’s administration, which received international condemnation when it moved last year to establish a Constituent Assembly that sidelined the opposition-controlled legislature. He said the European Parliament adopted a resolution on Feb. 8 that clearly states that Venezuela is not operating within the framework of a democratic process and that the presidential balloting scheduled for April 22 will not be considered a democratic election. Lange also referred to the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have fled their homeland amid food shortages and hyperinflation and crossed into Colombia, Peru and other countries, saying these refugees also must receive more support from the EU.

February  17, 2018

US MILITARY CHIEF KURT W. TIDD: VENEZUELA IS A TRANSIT COUNTRY FOR THE SMUGGLING OF ILLICIT DRUGS

      WASHINGTON, D.C.  -The head of the US Southern Command Kurt W. Tidd set a stance on Venezuela before the 115th Congress of Armed Services of the Senate through a report that refers to the insecurity and difficulties affecting the region, highlighting Venezuela as a transit country for the smuggling of illicit drugs.

     The head of the US Southern Command points out that Venezuela has long provided a permissive environment for narco-terrorist groups and Lebanese Hezbollah supporters, and is a transit country for the smuggling of illicit drugs and SIAs. The continued assault on democratic institutions provides increased space for illicit actors to operate with impunity, and for Russia, China, and Cuba to expand their influence over the corrupt Maduro regime.

     "The next few months will probably be critical, with a presidential election campaign, continued economic deterioration and widespread shortages of medicines, food, electricity and consumer goods," the letter concludes. On the other hand, the position details that Venezuela is part of the challenges to the interests of the United States, like Cuba, a nation to which it is responsible for exerting a negative influence in Venezuela, through its intelligence service and the Forces Armed, "who play the role of key adviser roles that shape Venezuelan internal politics."

DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO WARNS PRESIDENT TRUMP NOT TO BAN VENEZUELAN OIL; CALLS IT ILLEGAL

      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela, warned President Trump against a ban on imports of oil from the crisis-stricken nation. Maduro tweeted Thursday that an oil embargo would not only be illegal, it would also be one of the biggest mistakes that the U.S. could commit in terms of international politics. "The oil embargo is an illegal measure in the light of international law, an inconvenient measure in the light of America's interests, and is one of the biggest mistakes in international politics that it would commit," Maduro tweeted.

     The tweet came after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement last week that the U.S. was considering a ban on Venezuelan oil imports to pressure Maduro to implement democratic reforms. “One of the aspects of considering sanctioning oil is what effect would it have on the Venezuelan people? Is it a step that might bring this to an end more rapidly?” Tillerson said at a press conference. Venezuela’s economy is in a tailspin.

     After years of socialist rule during which the government overspent to win the favor of the nation’s poor, oil entered a bear market and the country’s revenue collapsed. Things have become so dire that its people lack such basic necessities as food and medicine. But not only are citizens impacted, the government has been hit. One of the business casualties of Maduro’s policies has been oil production. In an ironic twist, oil prices have recovered, but the plunge in oil production has left the country missing out on billions of potential revenue each month. Oil is Venezuela’s primary export. In 2016, according to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. obtained 8% of its oil imports from Venezuela.

FORMER VENEZUELAN PROSECUTOR LUISA ORTEGA DIAZ ADMITS PRESSURE FROM DIOSDADO CABELLO IN THE CASE OF LEOPOLDO LOPEZ

       BOGOTA, COLOMBIA   -- Former Venezuelan prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz admitted on Thursday that she was pressured by Diosdado Cabello to say that Leopoldo López was the author of the murders of the young Basil Da Costa and Juan Carlos Montoya, a member of a Chavista organization, in an anti-government demonstration in 2014. "They put pressure on me to say that Basil Da Costa and Montoya were killed, that the author was Leopoldo," Ortega said in an interview with Colombian radio station Blu Radio, adding that she opposed that and that the government official who pressed it was Cabello.

     Lopez was sentenced in September 2015 to nearly 14 years in prison for the crimes of public incitement, association to commit a crime, property damage and fire, actions that he had committed for having delivered speeches that promoted violence during an anti-government march on October 12. February 2014. In that sense, Ortega said that "there was pressure" to act "in a certain way" because they told her they wanted her to charge Lopez with terrorism and homicide charges. Cabello himself has dubbed the political prisoner as the "El monster of Ramo Verde", in reference to the prison where he was held until last year.

     "We conducted an investigation so objective and transparent that we determined that the killing of Basil Da Costa was a consequence of the performance of the Sebin (Bolivarian Intelligence Service) and the death of Juan Montoya was as a consequence of other groups," she said. She added that "the prosecutor initially requested an arrest warrant against Leopoldo López for homicide and terrorism," which she said she objected and forced to be "changed." López remains deprived of his liberty under house arrest. However, seven months ago, Ortega deserted her position, escaped to Colombia and is currently under the protection of the Government of Colombia, where she arrived on August 18.

February  16, 2018

VENEZUELAN DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO SAID HE WILL ATTEND THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS IN PERU DESPITE THE HOST NATION PRESIDENT'S DECISION

      CARACAS, VENEZUELA   -Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Thursday he will attend a summit of Western Hemisphere nations in April despite the host Peru saying he is unwelcome. "Are they are afraid of me? They don't want to see me in Lima? They're going to see me, come rain, thunder or lightning!" a defiant Maduro told a press conference in Caracas. The leftist Venezuelan president vowed to get to the summit venue in Lima "by air, land or sea!" Peru said on Tuesday that Maduro's "presence will no longer be welcome" after a decision to hold early presidential elections in his crisis-torn country without reaching an agreement with the opposition.

     Peru's statement followed a meeting of the 14-nation Lima Group, also Tuesday, urging Venezuela to reconsider holding elections on April 22 on the grounds that conditions for a free and fair vote, as demanded by the opposition, did not currently exist. Maduro told reporters that despite Lima's rejection he had received a letter from Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski the day after inviting him to the summit, scheduled for 13-14 April. He also insisted the presidential vote -- which analysts say he is certain to win -- would go ahead as planned. "In Venezuela, Venezuelans are in charge, not the Lima Group, not Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, not (Colombian president) Juan Manuel Santos," Maduro said.

     He said some of the governments in the Lima Group were "the most unpopular governments on the planet," referring in particular to those of Colombia and Peru. "For me it is an honor that the oligarchy of the region does what it does against us," he said. Venezuela won support earlier Thursday from key ally Cuba, which lashed out at Peru for disinviting Maduro, and strongly condemned the Lima Group for "unacceptable meddling in the internal affairs of Venezuela." Presidential elections were not due until December, but the Constituent Assembly, which is stacked with Maduro loyalists, moved the date forward. The Inter-American Human Rights Commission said Venezuela's democratic institutions and human rights situation have undergone "marked deterioration" over the past two years.

U.S. STRONGLY BACKS REVOKING VENEZUELAN DICTATOR MADURO'S INVITATION TO THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS IN PERU

      WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Peruvian government announced its decision to disinvite Maduro Tuesday night at the end of a meeting of the Lima Group, a coalition of mostly Latin American nations plus Canada that seek to stabilize Venezuela. At the meeting, Latin American foreign ministers and government representatives discussed Venezuela’s worsening political and economic crisis, and Peru said it would revoke Venezuela’s summit invitation due to the country’s unconstitutional plans to hold an early presidential election.

     “We support the decision of Peru, as the host of the upcoming Summit of the Americas, to withdraw its invitation to President Maduro of Venezuela. Peru’s decision was made with the support of the Lima Group, which upheld the high democratic standard for Summit participation,” the State Department said in a press release issued late on Wednesday. "The United States welcomes the firm statement from the Lima Group rejecting the unilateral decision by the Venezuelan regime to hold elections April 22,” the department said, urging Venezuela to set a new election calendar that complies with the constitution.

    The U.S. government and some of the most influential countries in Latin America have already announced they will not recognize the result of the April 22 election, which was moved ahead of its regular schedule by the National Constituent Assembly, an all-powerful entity rejected by most members of the international community. In its declaration on Tuesday, the Lima Group said there aren’t guarantees that the planned elections will be free and fair, especially since there are political prisoners in the country, key opposition members have been arbitrarily kept from being able to participate and the government maintains a firm control over electorate officials.

venezuelaNS RESIDING IN THE US URGE THAT A PEACE FORCE BE ORGANIZED TO REMOVE 'MADURISMO' FROM POWER

       MIAMI, FLORIDA   -- The group of Venezuelan-American Independent Citizens (IVAC) will recommend to the US Congress the creation of a peace force that could remove the "madurista" government and establish greater sanctions against its leadership, including Diosdado Cabello. "In Venezuela there is no longer a government, they are criminals who can no longer be removed by the Venezuelans alone," Ernesto Ackerman, president of IVAC, told Efe. Ackerman indicated that the situation in Venezuela represents a crisis for the Americans, for the United States and for the region, not only because of the massive migration of its citizens but also because of the risks of harboring guerrilla groups in Colombia and terrorists from countries such as Iran.

    "On the four presidential ramp (of Venezuela) planes land every day and nobody knows where they come from," he said. The president of IVAC explained that Venezuelan-American citizens from 14 states will travel to Washington DC to deliver these requests in letters to the 535 representatives and senators of the United States "because the problem is for the Americans". "It's not about getting Marines to Venezuela, but about forming a peace force from friendly countries that surgically take out those people who are in the government," Ackerman said.

     He pointed out that this is the appropriate time since the government does not have any international support, including that of the Organization of American States (OAS). Also, the group will ask in Congress to extend sanctions to members of the Government of Nicolás Maduro, especially to Diosdado Cabello, who is considered the number 2 of Chavez and who, between 2012 and 2016 presided over the National Assembly of Venezuela. As an American, Ackerman seeks to draw the attention of Congress to "turn ther attention to what is happening now in Venezuela", from where "millions" of people are leaving and also due to violence and lack of food and medicines.

February  15, 2018

PERU RETRACTS DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO INVITATION AS VENEZUELA'S CRISIS DEEPENS

      LIMA, PERU   -Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski says his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, is “not welcome” at this year’s Summit of the Americas in Lima, amid growing international outcry over the decision to hold snap presidential elections amid a deepening economic and social crisis. Kuczynski cited a rupture in the democratic order in Venezuela late Tuesday evening in his decision to rescind Maduro’s invitation, adding that he counted on the support of a dozen regional leaders. Hours before, the Lima group, which is comprised of nations such as Argentina, Peru, Brazil and Canada, issued a rebuke of the upcoming April 22 vote, saying it “will lack all legitimacy and credibility" and demanded the date be changed.

     Venezuela abruptly set elections last week following a breakdown in official talks with opposition leaders to diffuse the country’s bitter political fight, which led to bloody street protests last year. While Maduro’s opponents had been petitioning for a date that would provide ample time to elect new electoral authorities and invite international observers, the ruling socialists did exactly the opposite and accelerated elections under current conditions. The opposition now accuses Maduro of trying to rig a vote he cannot win as the country suffers the worst economic crisis in living memory, marked my quadruple-digit inflation and chronic food shortages.

    Last week, Maduro confirmed his attendance at the Summit of the Americas slated for April 13 and 14 last week after receiving the official invite from the Peruvian government The Venezuelan government has faced growing international condemnation in recent months for alleged rights abuses and allegations of electoral fraud. The U.S. has sanctioned dozens of top government officials -- including Maduro himself -- accusing the ruling socialists of pushing the South American towards one-man rule. A number of countries including the U.S. and Colombia have already stated they will not recognize the results of April’s presidential election.

COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS ASKS DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO TO OPEN A HUMANITARIAN CHANNEL AMID MIGRATION CRISIS

      BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Colombian PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS urged Venezuela on Tuesday to open a humanitarian channel to tackle the migration crisis and to help its citizens receive medicines and food. “We should once again call on the government of Venezuela to open a humanitarian channel, to allow its citizens the possibility of receiving medicines and food,” Holguin said during a meeting held on Tuesday by the Lima Group in the Peruvian capital.

    At the same time, Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said that on the border between Venezuela and her country there is “a terrible situation” as “Venezuelans increasingly arrive in Colombia in worse conditions, with greater needs for medicines, medical treatments, hospitals, and, above everything, food.” “We ask Venezuela to think about its people. It has to think about Venezuelans. Whether it is humanitarian or not is really less important than allowing the international community, which we are ready to support and collaborate, to have a humanitarian channel,” she added.

    The foreign minister described the situation in Colombia as “really impressive,” as well as in Brazil and several other countries in the region regarding the amount of Venezuelans they receive. “The number of Venezuelans leaving their country has more than quadrupled due to this economic and social situation,” she said. Holguin added that for Colombia this “is a primordial issue” as her country wants to “lend all the support and collaboration to these Venezuelans,” although she insisted that the migration proceed with “order and legality.” “Colombia has 2,200 kilometers of border with Venezuela, along which there are only three bridges where they can cross legally, but the territory where they can pass illegally is immensely large,” she explained.

venezuela OPPOSITION LEADER MARIA CORINA MACHADO HAS BEST CHANCE TO BEAT DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO, POLL SAYS

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA   -- María Corina Machado, one of Venezuela’s opposition leaders most averse to DICTATOR Nicolás Maduro’s plans to hold presidential elections in April, would probably have the greatest chance of beating him, according to a recent poll showing a significant surge in her popularity. The poll, conducted in November, also confirms that the popularity of the main opposition parties took a hard hit after their controversial decision to participate in failed government talks held in the Dominican Republic which sought, among other things, to establish acceptable conditions for the election.

     According to the Pronósticos Marketing Consultants poll, Machado would easily win a primary vote against other opposition candidates, with 26 percent of the vote, beating jailed Voluntad Popular leader Leopoldo López and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, each of whom would obtain 18 percent. Former Congress President Henry Ramos Allup would receive 9 percent, followed by exiled former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma at 5 percent, former Lara Governor Henry Falcón with 4 percent and former presidential candidate Manuel Rosales, 2 percent.

     Pronósticos Marketing Consultants is a boutique polling firm geared towards private companies and its client lists includes some of the country’s largest businesses. The poll is based on the opinions of 1,300 respondents gathered in the capital and all 23 states and has a 3 percent margin of error. Machado has been strongly against the elections, claiming that the opposition would be making a fatal mistake if it decided to participate in a process that has been specifically tailored to give the ruler legitimacy through a fraudulent victory. It’s uncertain whether the opposition will participate in the April 22 election, which has already been rejected by a growing list of countries that have said it is illegal and lacks sufficient controls and international supervision to prevent fraud.

February  14, 2018

JULIO BORGES DENOUNCES THAT DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO WANTS TO IMPOSE A FRAUDULENT RESULT OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

      CARACAS, VENEZUELA   -Deputy Julio Borges said that the negotiating delegates of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) at the dialogue table did not sign an agreement with the government's representatives because President Nicolás Maduro wants to hold a hasty election on April 22, without electoral guarantees and without international observation to impose a fraudulent result. That's why we did not sign. " He explained that the electoral guarantees demanded by the opposition are established in the current Constitution and in the Organic Law on Electoral Processes. "Since they are not met so that the Venezuelan voice cannot be heard with total balance."

    The national political coordinator of Primero Justicia, whose organization with the Democratic Action, Popular Will and Puente parties were disqualified by the National Electoral Council, reiterated his call to the Venezuelan people to create a broad front with all social sectors, to force the Government to comply with the electoral guarantees provided for in Venezuelan legislations. He said that for six decades, elections in Venezuela were held at the end of the presidential term, which would be held next December, because a president should not remain in office with another president-elect until the date of the new presidency inauguration.

    The current Constitution establishes that the presidential term is six years and in its article 231 it indicates that the elected candidate will take office on January 10 of the first year of his constitutional term. "Maduro wants to advance the elections on April 22 to remain in power at all cost," said Borges. Asked about the statements made by Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who suggested a military rebellion against Maduro, Borges responded that he interpreted the remarks as a desperate call from the international community, which in his opinion, feels the suffering of the "drama" that exists in Venezuela. He commented that millions of Venezuelan citizens flee to Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Spain, the United States, the Caribbean and other nations in the face of "so much corruption, economic crisis, lack of food and medicines. The most important thing is to fight for a democratic way and we want that to be the solution for the country. "

FIVE FORMER VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS CHARGED IN MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME INVOLVING FOREIGN BRIBERY

      HOUSTON, TEXAS  -- Charges were unsealed today against five former Venezuelan government officials for their alleged participation in an international money laundering scheme involving bribes made to corruptly secure energy contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA). Two of the five defendants are also charged with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick made the announcement.

    Four of the defendants, Luis Carlos De Leon Perez (De Leon), 41; Nervis Gerardo Villalobos Cardenas (Villalobos), 50; Cesar David Rincon Godoy (Cesar Rincon), 50; and Rafael Ernesto Reiter Munoz (Reiter), 39, were arrested in Spain in October 2017 by Spanish authorities on arrest warrants based on a 20-count indictment returned in the Southern District of Texas on Aug. 23, 2017. Cesar Rincon was extradited from Spain on Feb. 9, and made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge MJ Stephen Smith of the Southern District of Texas. De Leon, Villalobos and Reiter remain in Spanish custody pending extradition. A fifth defendant, Alejandro Isturiz Chiesa (Isturiz), 33, remains at large. All five defendants are citizens of Venezuela; De Leon is also a U.S. citizen.

    De Leon, Villalobos, Reiter and Isturiz are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Cesar Rincon is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each of the defendants is charged with one or more counts of money laundering, as follows: De Leon, Cesar Rincon and Reiter, four counts each; Villalobos, one count; and Isturiz, five counts. De Leon and Villalobos are also each charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. “Corruption threatens economic and political stability, and victimizes ordinary law-abiding people by diverting public funds into the pockets of corrupt officials and bribe payers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.

RELATIVES OF VENEZUELANS KILLED IN THE CICAPRA MINE:  IT WAS A MASSACRE, THEY KILLED INNOCENT PEOPLE

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA   -- Relatives buried in southern Venezuela on Monday the bodies of some of their loved ones, killed in a clash between illegal miners and soldiers in an area hit by violence. The relatives asked the Government to investigate the events that occurred on Saturday in the town of Guasipati, in the southern state of Bolívar and 825 kilometers from Caracas, where, according to local media, 18 civilians including one woman were killed.

     The authorities, although they confirmed the collision, have not offered a number of victims. The governor of the Bolívar state, Justo Noguera, limited himself to say that a commission of the Army ‘repelled” an attack and declined to give a number of Venezuelans killed arguing that the case is being investigated now. "We asked President (Nicolás) Maduro to please coordinate, talk with the generals (...), to investigate well" what really happened, says Mixae Vera, sister of Geovanny Vera, 34, one of the victims. "It was practically a massacre because they killed innocent people there," Vera added. The victims were in the area "looking for daily bread," the woman said.

     "Doing this, what they got was to be killed, the first time they entered that sector looking for their children's bread and what they got was death in that massacre," she added. Américo De Grazia, an opposition deputy for the state of Bolivar, told Reuters that at least 11 of the bodies had already been buried and that according to the versions of the relatives with whom he spoke on Monday, the victims had broken legs and arms, burns with gasoline and shots in the face. He said that the death certificates do not show these signs and that the only female victim, 34 years old, "had a shot in each breast, one in the head and another in the face (...) that is what the relatives told us, however, the death certificates do not show it. "

February  13, 2018

USNS COMFORT OFFERS MEDICAL SERVICES IN TUMACO, COLOMBIA

      TUMACO. COLOMBIA   --TUMACO, Colombia (NNS) -- U.S. military and interagency personnel, nongovernmental agency volunteers and partner nation teams embarked on Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) are offering free medical, dental, veterinary, engineering and educational services here during Continuing Promise 2009. Most medical services are being performed at the temporary medical site at the Max Seidel school.

     However, the ship is equipped with five operating rooms, 250 patient beds, x-ray machines, a CAT scan unit and pharmacy among other services for those patients being treated on board. "I work in the intensive care on the ship performing post-surgical care for patients," said Leading Seaman Robert Morgan, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces currently assigned aboard Comfort. "When I'm not working on the ship, I'm at the medical sites working with the public." CP09 is a four-month humanitarian and civic assistance mission through Latin America and the Caribbean.

     Comfort is scheduled to be in Tumaco until June 17 when it will travel to El Salvador and then Nicaragua. Comfort's crew offers community members services such as teeth cleanings and extractions, eye exams and glasses and adult and pediatric medical exams. Surgical screenings have also been performed and more than 200 surgical procedures have been scheduled. Surgeries began today. Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Leslye Ruiz, a preventive medicine technician aboard Comfort, has been conducting health assessment questionnaires. "We're trying to assess the needs of the people here in Tumaco so that we know exactly what they need on the next Continuing Promise mission," she said.

BRAZIL DEPLOYS MORE TROOPS ON VENEZUELA BORDER

      BRASILIA,  BRAZIL -- Amid a refugee crisis that is heating up on the Brazilian border with Venezuela - the local government has decided to deal with the situation by deploying more troops. The Brazilian government said late on Thursday that it was sending more troops on its border with Venezuela. Simultaneously, Brazil’s Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said in a statement that government would start relocating tens of thousands of Venezuelan refugees who have fled into northern Brazil. Jungmann told reporters that a census will be conducted to establish how many Venezuelans have crossed the open border to seek food, work and shelter in Boa Vista.

     The announcement by the government comes in light of estimates drawn out by the Boa Vista mayor, who said that 40,000 refugees have strained the city’s health and other public services. Speaking to local reporters after concluding a meeting with local officials, Jungmann said, “This is a humanitarian drama. The Venezuelan are being expelled from their country by hunger and the lack of jobs and medicine. We are here to bring federal government help and strengthen the border.” He added in the official government statement that the Brazilian army will double its contingent of soldiers at the border to 200 soldiers.

     Meanwhile, reports pointed out that Brazil’s action comes after Colombia tightened border controls with Venezuela and said it will give aid to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing economic crisis. However, the Brazilian government has announced that it would not close the border. It added that it would relocate refugees to other cities in the interior of Brazil where they can find work and settle down. According to local officials, in Boa Vista some 300 Venezuelans have been sleeping in the open and with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees three shelters have been operational and were quickly filled up last year. However, Venezuelans continue to arrive into the country and have nowhere to sleep or find work in a saturated labor market.

BOLIVIAN  PRESIDENT CONDEMNS US MILITARY MEETING IN COLOMBIA

       LA PAZ, BOLIVIA    -- Last August, Tidd participated in the 7th South American Defense Conference in Lima, Peru for a closed-door conference to discuss Venezuela, terrorism, drug trafficking, and climate change. Bolivian President Evo Morales rejects the “suspicious presence” of Kurt W. Tidd, head of the U.S. Southern Command, in the Colombian town of Tumaco on Sunday, officially in order to “counter security threats.”

     “Any imperialist military threat against peace in Venezuela and our region shall be defeated by dignity, sovereignty and unity of our democratic peoples,” said Morales on Twitter. In the past, Tidd warned about a possible regional response against Venezuela, considered by the Pentagon as a “factor of regional destabilization.” Tidd's visit in Colombia followed the Latin American tour of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with the situation in Venezuela as the main agenda item in his visits to Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and finally, Jamaica.

    Tillerson also warned of possible measures towards neighboring countries as part of the pressure on the Maduro government. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he was prepared to defend freedom and sovereignty, after learning that Argentina and the United States of America were looking into imposing oil sanctions against Venezuela. With Venezuela on the agenda, the meeting comes on the tails of President Donald Trump saying that the United States is evaluating a “military option” to be used against Venezuela. The threats were widely condemned throughout Latin America as an unacceptable aggression against a nation's sovereignty.

February  12, 2018

U.S. CLOSER TO DECISION ON SANCTIONING VENEZUELA OIL:  REX TILLERSON

      WASHINGTON, D.C.    --The United States is closer to deciding whether to impose sanctions on Venezuelan oil, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday, at the end of a five-nation tour of Latin America where he discussed the move with regional leaders. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) and Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness address the media in a joint news conference in Kingston, Jamaica February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy Tillerson said Canada, Mexico and the United States had agreed at a trilateral meeting last week to study what could be done to mitigate the impact of such a move. Tillerson said he had briefed President Donald Trump about the development.

     “He said ‘I know you haven’t been in favor of that in the past,’ and I said ‘well, I think things have changed.’ So we’re going to take it to him and let him make the decision,” Tillerson said during a flight to Jamaica, his final stop on the tour.“We are going to put together a very small, very focused working group to see what we can do to mitigate a decision like that if we do take it. Obviously it will be the president who decides,” said Tillerson, who was chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp before joining the government. In Buenos Aires last week, Tillerson said the United States was considering restricting imports of Venezuelan crude oil and exports of U.S. refined products to Venezuela to put pressure on socialist Maduro over his restrictions on political opposition.

     Restrictions on Venezuela’s all-important oil industry would represent an escalation of financial pressure on the OPEC member, which is gripped by severe shortages of food and medicine. Sanctions have so far focused on individual members of Maduro’s government and a ban on buying new Venezuelan debt. Venezuela’s crude oil sales to the United States in 2017 were the lowest since 1991, according to Thomson Reuters trade flows data. Tillerson said any action taken against Venezuelan oil would affect Caribbean countries, many of which have long enjoyed subsidized fuel from the South American nation. Tillerson said the United States intended to take all actions possible to persuade Maduro to return the country to full constitutional order.

FIFTEEN INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES  HAVE STOPPED FLYING TO VENEZUELA SINCE 2013

      CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- The national companies are affected by the lack of foreign currency and the regulation of tickets. Out of 115 aircraft, only 13 are active. The difficulty of repatriating foreign currencies, the political instability, the fall in the demand for tickets and the deterioration in the conditions of the main airports in the country have meant that more and more international airlines are deciding to withdraw Venezuela from their routes. Saturday, February 3, was the last time that the Ecuadorian airline Tame covered the Caracas-Bogotá-Quito route. Before leaving the country, the airline had opted to reduce the flights.

      The executives of the company told the international media that they had decided to stop flying to Venezuela due to lack of passengers and significant economic debts. They assured that in the next few days a commission of the company will arrive in Caracas only to settle outstanding payments for operational services and close the station. In the last five years, 14 other international airlines stopped appearing on the screens of Venezuelan airports. Last year they suspended operations Avianca, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Dynamic Airways and Aerolineas Argentinas; Air Canada, Alitalia, GOL, Tiara Air, Lufthansa, Aeromexico and Insel Air, as well as LAN and TAM (merged into Latam Airlines).

     Julio Arnaldes, director of the Venezuelan Association of Wholesalers and Tourism Representation Companies, and former president of Conseturismo, regretted the departure of companies from the country and insisted that the Venezuelan air transport sector is experiencing the worst crisis in its history. "In Venezuela there are only around eight international airlines; It is a fact that we are becoming more isolated, "he said. Among the companies still flying to and from Venezuela are the American American Airlines, the Panamanian Copa Airlines and the European Air Europa, Iberia and Air France. However, these companies have also had to reduce their routes and frequencies, leaving fewer options for the Venezuelans.

PERFORMANCE OF DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO IS REJECTED BY 75%  OF VENEZUELANS (POLLSTER)

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA    -- The performance of president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, who will seek re-election on April 22, is considered "bad" or "terrible" by 75% of Venezuelans, according to a survey by the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis (IVAD) ). According to the study, which the AFP had access to, 58.4% of those consulted believe that the president's performance is "terrible", 16.6% think it is "bad", and 4.3% think it is "bad". "Regular towards bad". Among those who value Maduro's performance as positive, 8.4% believe it is "good", 0.9% consider it "excellent" and 10.2% that it ranges from fair to good.

     Of the 1,200 people polled, 77% consider that the country needs a change of government, while 16% do not believe it necessary and 7% do not know it. The popularity of Maduro has been affected by the serious economic crisis affecting the oil country, with a hyperinflation that could climb to 13,000% this year, according to the IMF, and with serious shortages of food and medicines. Precisely the lack of food and medicines is the main problem in the country for most of the interviewed (56.4%), in a multiple-choice question. They are followed by insecurity (44.9%) and the high cost of living (43.8%).

      Asked about their willingness to participate in the presidential elections, 31.5% say they are very willing to vote and 31.7% willing. On the other hand, 16.1% say they are very unwilling to participate and 10.2% are not willing at all. 10.6% do not know. By measuring the preferences of those who have announced their desire to contest the presidency, the survey indicates that Maduro has a support of 17.6%, while the favorite is the opposition Henri Falcón - a dissident chavista who was governor of Lara (west) - with 23.6%. The ex-parliamentary opposition leader, Henry Ramos Allup, has 8.5% support, and also opponents Claudio Fermín 4% and Andrés Velásquez 1%. The IVAD survey was conducted between January 25 and February 5, with a margin of error between 1.03 and 2.37 points.

February  11, 2018

TODD ROBINSON, CHARGE D'AFFAIRES OF THE USA EMBASSY IN CARACAS: DURING  MY STATE HERE I WILL WORK TO GIVE VOICE TO THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE IT

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA   -- Among more than 200 guests, with civil society, political and other diplomatic representatives, a reception was performed to welcome the Charge d'Affaires of the US Embassy in Venezuela, Todd Robinson, a position that has not been filled during the last 8 years. The dignitary selected to give a few words of introduction was the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Aldo Giordano, who assured that as diplomats, they are there to serve all citizens and proposed that the generalized problems be solved in brotherhood.

      He invited him to begin a new process of peace and hope for Venezuela and their respective countries. He recounted his experience as part of the diplomatic corps in the country and asserted that "the serious problems that we are called to face, you'll be amazed at the kindness, affection, joy, strength, tears and the hope of the Venezuelan people. " Todd Robinson outlined his objectives and points to work in his new position and indicated that "My job is to ensure the safety and protection of American citizens.

     “This priority is closely linked to the second objective: strengthening our relations, security, protection, and prosperity in Venezuela "..." I plan to work with all of you on three main issues: human rights, the return to democracy and the recovery of a strong economy "..." I will work to give voice to those who do not have it; and I will continue to speak with all sectors of society in such a way that they become agents of change that we all desire. He concluded by saying that "a democratic, safe and economically dynamic Venezuela is positive for Venezuela, for the United States and for the region."

COLOMBIAN TIGHTENS BORDER CONTROL AS VENEZUELAN MIGRANTS SURGE

       BOGOTA, COLOMBIA  -- Colombia will tighten control of over its porous border with Venezuela as thousands of migrants fleeing a rapidly deteriorating political and economic crisis escape into the neighboring Andean nation. In a visit to a border city at the epicenter of Colombia’s mounting migration crisis, President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday announced new measures that could make it more difficult for Venezuelan migrants to cross into the country illegally or remain there without any official status. “Colombia has never lived a situation like the one we are encountering today,” Santos said.

     Migration into Colombia has surged as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has moved to consolidate his rule and the nation’s economy plummets. Colombia migration authorities say there are an estimated 600,000 Venezuelans currently in Colombia — double the number six months ago. Venezuela exile associations and some border city officials have said they believe that number is higher. The unprecedented migration wave is putting strains on Colombia at a delicate time in its history. The nation is crawling out of a five-decade-long armed conflict following the signing of a peace deal with leftist rebels in 2016.

     Many of the Venezuelans are arriving illegally and in need of medical attention. “This is a tragedy,” Santos said. “And I want to reiterate to President Maduro: This is the result of your policies.” More than 2,000 additional military officers will be deployed to control the hundreds of dirt-road crossings known as “trochas” that dot Colombia’s 1,370-mile (2,200-kilometer) border with Venezuela. A new migration patrol unit will also police public spaces where Venezuelan arrivals congregate, provide them orientation and to control issues like prostitution that have surfaced in the migration wave’s wake.

COLOMBIA REINFORCES SECURITY IN THE COLOMBIAN-VENEZUELAN BORDER TO COUNTER THE PRESENCE OF ELN GUERRILLAS

       BOGOTA, COLOMBIA    -- Colombia will strengthen with 2,200 police and military the convulsed region of Catatumbo, border with Venezuela, to counteract the presence of the ELN, the last active guerrilla of the country, and criminal gangs, reported on Monday the government. "In the last 72 hours very clear instructions have been given to reinforce our military and police presence in Catatumbo (Norte de Santander), where we will increase the number from 6,300 uniformed to 8,500, that is, there will be 2,200 additional soldiers and police in this region" Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas told reporters.

      The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that he seeks to "guarantee" the safety of the inhabitants of the region and fight "any threat" of drug gangs or the National Liberation Army (ELN), with a historic presence in the area. Last week, the ELN began peace talks with the government of Juan Manuel Santos. Villegas also emphasized that the new troops will seek to provide security to the site in the department where the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's main and oldest guerrilla group, were concentrating to lay down their arms and initiate the passage to civilian life under UN supervision.

     The FARC and the Santos government signed a peace agreement in November after four years of negotiations in Cuba, to overcome more than half a century of internal conflagration. In the pact it is established that the guerrilla must be grouped in 26 zones, where in a maximum period of six months it must be disarmed. One of these sites is in the municipality of Tibú, located within the Catatumbo region. The minister explained that the military will integrate units of the Colombian special forces, in a region with problems of public order for the existence of illicit crops and drug trafficking routes.

February  10, 2018

US SENATOR MARCO RUBIO SAYS WORLD WOULD SUPPORT VENEZUELA MILITARY IF THEY DECIDE TO 'REMOVE A DICTATOR'

       WASHINGTON, D.C.   -- U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio stepped up his typically strong rhetoric against the Venezuelan government Friday by suggesting its army should rise up in rebellion. The Florida senator, who has been an outspoken critic of the government of President Nicolas Maduro, said on Twitter that the world would support the country's armed forces "if they decide to protect the people and restore democracy by removing a dictator."

    That tweet did not mention the Venezuelan president by name. But it came just before another one that said that soldiers eat out of garbage cans and their families go hungry while Maduro and his friends "live like kings" amid the economic collapse in the South American country. Later, he quoted the revered 18th century Venezuelan leader Simon Bolivar and the American Declaration of Independence in a flurry of tweets advocating the right to rise up against oppressive government. As Rubio was tweeting, Venezuela’s foreign minister Jorge Arreaza published a statement on his account that condemned what he said was U.S. interference in its internal affairs in a “clear violation of international law.”

     Rubio, a Florida Republican, represents thousands of people who moved to his state to escape crime, economic deprivation and unrest under Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez. The senator was the main driver of sanctions against top level officials for human rights abuses and ties to drug trafficking. He was also behind an Oval Office visit for the wife of detained opposition activist Leopoldo Lopez at the start of the Trump presidency. Venezuela's government had no immediate reaction to the tweets, which came days after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson finished a tour of Latin America and the Caribbean and said the U.S. is considering restricting oil sales from Venezuela because the political situation there has steadily worsened.

PERU CONVENES LIMA GROUP MEETING TO ADDRESS VENEZUELAN SITUATION

       WASHINGTON, D.C.  --  The Government of Peru has called a meeting of the "Lima Group" for February 13 to assess the possible measures to be adopted in the face of the current political situation in Venezuela. The announcement came through a statement from its Foreign Affairs Ministry, which invited members of the group to attend the gathering in the Peruvian capital.

     The statement emphasized that the decision of Venezuelan electoral authorities to call early elections for April 22 would not allow a fair, free, transparent and democratic process. The call was made Thursday after Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) President Tibisay Lucena disclosed that the country's presidential elections will be held on April 22. Lucena's announcement fulfilled the decree of the ruling National Constituent Assembly (ANC) that ordered to make these elections before May. On January 23, the Lima Group rejected ANC's unilateral decision to hold presidential elections in Venezuela before April 30, considering they are usually held by the end of the year.

    The Group considered that this call "makes impossible the execution of democratic elections transparent and credible (...) and contradicts democratic principles and in good faith for dialogue between the Government and the opposition." The following day, the United States supported that pronouncement and considered that those elections "will not reflect the will of the people of Venezuela and will be seen as undemocratic and illegitimate in the eyes of the international community," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. The Lima Group is made up of Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Brazil and Costa Rica.

PRESIDENT TRUMP, GUATEMALA'S MORALES PUSH FOR RESTORING DEMOCRACY IN VENEZUELA

       WASHINGTON, D.C.      --US President Donald Trump met briefly with his Guatemalan counterpart, Jimmy Morales, in Washington on Thursday and the pair agreed to work together to “restore democracy” in Venezuela. The two leaders – who met for about 15 minutes at the Washington Hilton, where they were both attending the National Prayer Breakfast – also spoke about immigration and the similarity in their respective policies vis-a-vis Israel.

     Trump also emphasized the importance of halting illegal immigration to the US from Guatemala and dealing with the security and prosperity challenges underlying it in the Central American country, according to the White House statement on the meeting. The main objective of the brief get-together, White House officials told EFE, was to give Trump the chance to thank Morales for the support the latter gave to the controversial US decision to recognize Jerusalem at Israel’s capital. “President Trump thanked President Morales for supporting the United States and Israel, and for his announced decision to move the Guatemalan embassy to Jerusalem,” the White House said in its statement.

     In early December, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the US Embassy transferred there from Tel Aviv, a decision that sparked tremendous controversy since the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Two weeks later, Morales also announced that he would transfer the Guatemalan Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a move that was heavily criticized by Bolivia and Jordan but which received praise from the US administration, which called Guatemala’s move “historic.” And Guatemala was one of the nine countries who in December joined the US in voting against a non-binding United Nations General Assembly resolution denouncing Trump’s decision. Morales is scheduled to visit New York this week, but for the moment his government has not said whether or not he will visit the UN.

February  9, 2018

THE INTERNACIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC) PROSECUTOR TO REVIEW ALLEGED CRIMES COMMITTED BY THE VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT

       THE HAGUE,  NETHERLANDS   -- The announcement by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor that her office will open a preliminary examination of the situation in Venezuela escalates pressure on Venezuelan authorities to stop human rights violations and hold those responsible to account, Human Rights Watch said today. In two crackdowns, in 2014 and 2017, Venezuelan security forces have committed systematic abuses against critics, including torture.

     On February 8, 2018, the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced that her office is opening a preliminary examination to analyze alleged crimes committed in Venezuela going back to April 2017. The prosecutor will evaluate allegations of excessive force against demonstrators and the detention of thousands of actual or perceived opponents, including cases in which they have said they experienced serious abuse or ill-treatment in detention. The prosecutor’s office said it had also received reports that some protesters resorted to violence, resulting in death or injury for some members of the security forces.

     “By opening a preliminary examination, the ICC prosecutor is sending a powerful message that her office is closely tracking the Maduro government’s egregious abuses,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “The Venezuelan judiciary has allowed impunity to flourish, but depending on the ICC’s decisions there may be another path for Venezuelan victims of abuse to have their day in court.” Human Rights Watch research supports the conclusion that the abuses IN Venezuela were part of a systematic practice by Venezuelan security forces. Venezuelan officials do not appear to have taken any steps to prevent abuses and have done nothing to hold those responsible for serious violations to account.

U.S. CLOSER TO DECISION ON SANCTIONING VENEZUELA OIL: REX TILLERSON

       WASHINGTON, D.C.  --     The United States is closer to deciding whether to impose sanctions on Venezuelan oil, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday, at the end of a five-nation tour of Latin America where he discussed the move with regional leaders. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) and Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness address the media in a joint news conference in Kingston, Jamaica February 7, 2018. Bellamy Tillerson said Canada, Mexico and the United States had agreed at a trilateral meeting last week to study what could be done to mitigate the impact of such a move.

     Tillerson said he had briefed President Donald Trump about the development. “He said ‘I know you haven’t been in favor of that in the past,’ and I said ‘well, I think things have changed.’ So we’re going to take it to him and let him make the decision,” Tillerson said during a flight to Jamaica, his final stop on the tour. “We are going to put together a very small, very focused working group to see what we can do to mitigate a decision like that if we do take it. Obviously it will be the president who decides,” said Tillerson, who was chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp before joining the government.

    In Buenos Aires last week, Tillerson said the United States was considering restricting imports of Venezuelan crude oil and exports of U.S. refined products to Venezuela to put pressure on socialist Maduro over his restrictions on political opposition Restrictions on Venezuela’s all-important oil industry would represent an escalation of financial pressure on the OPEC member, which is gripped by severe shortages of food and medicine. Sanctions have so far focused on individual members of Maduro’s government and a ban on buying new Venezuelan debt. Venezuela’s crude oil sales to the United States in 2017 were the lowest since 1991, according to Thomson Reuters trade flows data.

VENEZUELAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS SET BY THE CNE FOR APRIL 22

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA     --Venezuela’s questioned electoral council (CNE) has set April 22 as the date for a controversial presidential election, which was supposed to occur late 2018. The opposition accuses President Nicolas Maduro of using to plan a second term for himself. The head of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, made the announcement Wednesday after talks broke down between the government and opposition on setting a date for the polls. With the opposition coalition barred from fielding a candidate and several top Maduro critics banned, the deeply unpopular president’s opponents accuse him of rigging the snap vote before it is even held.

     Venezuela was not due to hold a presidential election until December. But the Constituent Assembly -an all-powerful legislature stacked with Maduro loyalists- announced last month the date would be brought forward. It comes at a time when the opposition is reeling from Maduro’s attacks and its own internal divisions. Its umbrella coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), tried to negotiate a later date in talks with government officials in the Dominican Republic. But the dialogue broke down Wednesday, with Maduro refusing to budge from a draft deal on early elections that the opposition called unacceptable.

     “We implore the government not to commit the absurd mistake of calling elections unilaterally,” tweeted lawmaker and opposition delegate Julio Borges. The Supreme Court, which critics say systematically bows to Maduro, has barred the MUD from fielding a candidate under its banner, and blocked several prominent opposition figures from participating. The reason of the government to advance elections would be a race against the time and inflation. The election will be held against a backdrop of economic and political crisis. Venezuela’s inflation rate ended in 2600% last year and the projections for this one are over 36000

February  8, 2018

PRESIDENT OF DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, DANILO MEDINA: DIALOGUE WENT INTO INDEFINITE RECESS

       SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC   --The parties failed to reach a definitive agreement, mainly due to the impossibility of reaching a date for presidential elections that would be satisfactory both to the government and to the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), according to the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina. . After sentencing that "the dialogue entered into an indefinite recess," he said that on Tuesday in February "the decision had been reached that the elections would be April 22."

    But there are conflicting views about it. "The opposition, said Medina, did not understand that they were obliged to sign and instead asked for (more) time." He also insisted that he kept in his possession a document with "the advances of the parties" of which he was "empowered when they left on the 31st." The opposition asked for time to review the document and the government "understood that this was the final document". The leader of the opposition delegation explained that "they could not stay because they had to attend an event." Today, the opposition has delivered a new document but President Nicolás Maduro says he will only sign the document "of February 6.

    "We will deliver it anyway (the new proposal of the MUD) but without the hope that the government will sign it," Medina lamented. The representative of the opposition delegation, Julio Borges, reported that it is the Government that has to give the greatest example of removing the fear of losing power. "It's not about making a suit to the extent that it does is aggravate the crisis in Venezuela." Borges made a call to the government not to commit error or any unilateral step, in breach of the Constitution, "we hope that good sense reigns in the country."

JULIO BORGES: THE GOVERNMENT DID NOT SIGN THE DOCUMENT BECAUSE IT IS AFRAID OF FREE ELECTIONS

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --     The head of the opposition delegation of the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), Julio Borges thanked the President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina "for all his support, strength, patience and dedication to try to solve the chaos, not the crisis that there is in Venezuela. " "I would also like to thank the Chancellor of the Dominican Republic, Miguel Vargas, for his constant and permanent commitment to also achieve a solution to Venezuela that we have to achieve and that we are going to achieve," Borges said, extending his thanks to the foreign ministers who served as mediators in the Dialogue process.

     Borges indicated that this Wednesday they brought to the negotiation table a very detailed document that indicates how to achieve "the most important issues in the short term in Venezuela, that is the possibility of having free and fair elections, where all Venezuelans have the capacity to decide their future. " "We call on the Venezuelan people to create a broad front among all and for all within and outside of Venezuela to materialize this struggle and put and achieve that the solution is in the name of all the Venezuelan people," he said.

    Meanwhile, he explained that the document presented by the opposition delegation and that presented by the ruling party has a "huge difference." "It is not the same to say 'we are going to try to have international observation,’ to what we say 'international observation has to be in such a way, at such time, with such countries, with such regulations, with such competences because if not at the end nothing is going to be done, "he argued. Finally, he said "If the government were not afraid of free elections,it would have signed that document because it does not have anything that is not included in the Venezuelan law."

COSTA RICA WILL PREVENT EVENTUAL ENTRY IN THE COUNTRY OF VENEZUELAN DEFENSE MINISTER, VLADIMIR PADRINO,  AND HIS FAMILY

       SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA     --The Minister of Public Security of Costa Rica, Gustavo Mata, reported that he has issued an order to ports and airports to avoid the eventual entry into the country of the Venezuelan Minister of Defense, Vladimir Padrino, and his family. "Intelligence information we received told us that possibly the minister's family was about to enter Costa Rica. He is being linked to several crimes and we saw his family's income not prudent, "Mata said. The Costa Rican minister explained that he issued a resolution based on the immigration regulations of his country that gives the power to "prevent subjects investigated or wanted for different crimes" from entering the national territory.

    Mata said that neither the Venezuelan minister nor his family have entered Costa Rica. According to Venezuelan media, Padrino would take his family out of Spain, anticipating possible sanctions against him. Last January, the European Union imposed sanctions against seven high officials of Venezuela, among whom Padrino was not, for the repression implied by the freezing of assets and the prohibition of entering community territory.

    In that same month, the Venezuelan Parliament, with an opposition majority, summoned Minister Padrino to explain an operation in which nine people were killed, seven of them "terrorists" according to the government and among which was former policeman Óscar Pérez. The official did not appear. The police operation in which Pérez died, six members of his group and two policemen have been criticized by human rights NGOs that defend that the State "did not exhaust the path of peaceful resolution." Pérez and his group made themselves known last June when they flew over Caracas in a helicopter belonging to the scientific police - to which he belonged - and fired at two public buildings without causing injuries.

February  7, 2018

VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION WILL MAINTAIN ELECTORAL DEMANDS IN DIALOGUE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --The Venezuelan opposition meeting at the Democratic Unity Table (MUD) reported today that it will go to the Dominican Republic to resume talks with the Government of Nicolás Maduro and reiterate the demands made at the beginning of this process that began in December. "The leaders of the MUD informed the country that today they will attend the meeting at the Dominican Republic to reiterate the 4 demands that they have made since the beginning of the dialogue: free elections, a humanitarian channel, rescue of the powers of the AN (Parliament) and the release of all political prisoners, "said the MUD on Twitter.

     A source from the Dominican Foreign Ministry told Efe earlier that the chavistas and the opposition would meet today in Santo Domingo to carry out the meeting that was scheduled for yesterday. "Nobody will take us out of our objectives and we will never turn our backs on the Venezuelans," the coalition of opposition parties said on the social network today. Meanwhile, the Partido Voluntad Popular (VP) of the opposition under house arrest Leopoldo López reiterated that it has decided not participate in this meeting, as it did in the previous one when it left the dialogue process. "Voluntad Popular reaffirms that it will not attend the Dominican meeting, nor will it will sign a bad agreement that will lead Venezuela in a fraudulent presidential election," said the opposition party on Twitter.

     The talks have been affected the last two weeks by the decree of the plenipotentiary National Constituent Assembly (ANC) by which the presidential election will be held in the first quarter and not at the end of the year as it usually happens. The opposition hopes to achieve "improvements" in the electoral process although it has not yet decided if it will participate in these elections whose date has not been announced by the National Electoral Council (CNE). For its part, the ruling party in the dialogues calls for recognition by the opposition of the ANC, a body composed only of chavistas and described as fraudulent, and the lifting of sanctions imposed on several top government officials and the state Petróleos de Venezuela.

PERU CONGRESS REJECTS DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO VISIT TO ATTEND THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS

       LIMA, PERU  --     On Monday the Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, indicated in his Twitter that President Maduro would attend the Summit of the Americas in April and showed the copy of an invitation signed by the Peruvian President. However, the flaw was that the invitation was signed in November 2017 and things have changed a dramatically since then. Today the president of the Peruvian Congress, Luis Galarreta Velarde, sent an official letter to the foreign minister of that country, Cayetana Aljovín, and to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, to reject the assistance of President Nicolás Maduro. To the VIII Summit of the Americas, to be held in Lima on April 13 and 14.

    Galarreta Velarde, indicated that on repeated occasions, the different political forces of Parliament have expressed, by a large majority, their total rejection of "the systematic violation of human rights in that sister country and its concern for the deep political crisis and instability generated bythe current Venezuelan government. " Galarreta Velarde pointed out that although the Peruvian Constitution attributes to the Executive governmentr the power to direct policy and foreign relations, they cannot leave aside the positions that the parliamentary body has dictated in favor of the Venezuelan people.

     The Secretary of State of the United States, Rex Tillerson, said during his visit to Peru that Venezuela's attendance at the event was the resposibility of the South American country. "As a result, I ask you to consider the adoption of the relevant mechanisms in order to make it possible for the president not to be present in our country on the occasion of the aforementioned Summit, taking into consideration that the international community has been proposing sanctions against the regime. President Nicolás Maduro ", adds the letter. Message to the OAS. Therefore, "it is urgent that the instruments and mechanisms that the legal framework of the OAS has foreseen be applied immediately, in order to contribute to the success of the Summut.

PERUVIAN CONGRESS ASKS THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMININAL COURT TO INVESTIGATE DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO

       LIMA, PERU     --The president of the Congress of Peru, Luis Galarreta Velarde, asked the Foreign Ministry of his country to consider the relevance of invoking the Rome Statute to investigate the government of Nicolás Maduro in the International Criminal Court. The request of the Peruvian parliamentarian is "to investigate, prosecute and punish the assassination of Captain Óscar Pérez, as well as other Venezuelan citizens at the end of January in the outskirts of the city of Caracas, of which the international community has witnessed, live and in live videos."

     In a letter addressed to Foreign Minister Cayetana Aljovín, the president of the Congress also asked to assess the pertinence of the "Peruvian State invoking the application of Article 14 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court." Any State member may refer to the Prosecutor a situation in which one or more crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court appear to have been committed and request the Prosecutor to investigate the situation for the purpose of determining whether a crime should be charged to a Prosecutor or several selected people. As far as possible, the relevant circumstances shall be specified in the referral and the supporting documentation available to the denouncing State shall be attached.

    Also, the President of the Peruvian Congress urges the Minister of Foreign Affairs to evaluate the adoption of concrete actions by the Peruvian State to support the incidents that the International Criminal Court deals with "with regard to the flagrant case of systematic violation of human rights " In Venezuela. The same request was made to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, for that international body to adopt concrete actions and support the incidents that the International Criminal Court deals with regarding the systematic violation of human rights in the country to attainthe full restoration of the democratic order" in Venezuela. 

February  6, 2018

THE GROUP OF LIMA CAREFULLY EVALUATES WHETHER DICTATOR MADURO IS INVITED TO ATTEND THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS

       LIMA, PERU --The Group of Lima will evaluate whether the dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, will be invited to the summit of the Americas in Lima on April 13 and 14, to which the president of the United States, Donald Trump, would attend, said the Peruvian foreign minister. Cayetana Aljovín. The presence of Maduro at the summit of the Americas, "is an issue that we have to evaluate carefully," said Minister Aljovín, on behalf of the Lima group, speaking during a television program on Sunday night. The Group of Lima examined in Santiago, two weeks ago, the situation of Venezuela in the context of the summit, where topic had been left in the hands of Peru, as the host for the final decision, according to press reports, not denied by Lima.

      The Peruvian Foreign Minister's remarks coincide with the visit to Peru of the Secretary of State of the United States, Rex Tillerson, on Monday and Tuesday. Aljovín and Tillerson will hold a working meeting in which "they will discuss issues of bilateral relations and, especially, the visit to Peru of President Donald Trump on the occasion of the Summit of the Americas," the Foreign Ministry said. The eighth summit of the Americas has as its central theme “democratic governance against corruption.”

The Group of Lima is made up of 12 American countries, which analyze the economic and social crisis in Venezuela, whose regime is criticized for its autocratic drifts. Aljovín said that "we have all been clear that the Venezuelan situation is not only for Venezuelans, it has generated a crisis in the region." "This is what we see in the Group of Lima . In Colombia we already have 500 thousand Venezuelans; in Peru, 100 thousand. Venezuela does not recognize the crisis, not only does not allow countries (intervene), but also non-governmental organizations to support, "said the head of Peruvian diplomacy. The Lima group is made up of the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

VENEZUELAN PARLIAMENT ASKS JUAN MANUEL SANTOS TO MEET AT THE BORDER NEXT THURSDAY WITH A DELEGATION

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --     The Venezuelan Parliament, of overwhelming opposition majority, on Monday asked the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, to receive a delegation from the Legislature next Thursday when he travels to the border city of Cúcuta to discuss the issue of mass emigration of Venezuelans. "We requested in writing and formally to the Colombian government (...) that on this visit to Cúcuta, on Thursday, February 8, President Santos will receive a commission from the National Assembly (AN, Parliament) in person," the deputy informed. Oppositionist Gaby Arellano at the Colombian Embassy.

on Thursday the head of the Colombian Executive will travel to Cúcuta, a city bordering Venezuela, to report on the measures to be applied to Venezuelans present and arriving in the country, a situation that qualified of "complex". Some measures, said Holguín, will focus on areas such as health, security and migration, to deal with -according to a recent report by Migration Colombia- the approximately 550,000 Venezuelans in the country and the increase in the migratory flow from this country that increased last year 110%.

     Arellano said today that the representatives of the AN, the only power in the hands of the opposition, are willing to meet with Santos on Thursday even on "the Simón Bolívar international bridge," the main border between the two countries. The representative for Voluntad Popular indicated that this request was made accompanied by the delivery of the parliamentary agreement approved last week, which will request the application of humanitarian corridors in the border areas of the country, an "immediate solution" to the complicated Venezuela's economic crisis.

RAMOS ALLUP: WE WILL NOT ACCEPT IN VENEZUELA A "NICARAGUAN" ELECTION STYLE

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA    --The secretary general of Acción Democrática, Henry Ramos Allup, said on Monday that if the government insists on calling the presidential elections without guarantees, it will remain competing alone. He also ratified his preference for the primary election method to choose the standard bearer of the opposition, and made complaints about the situation regarding medicines in the country.

     He estimated that it would have been inappropriate to choose a candidate last year when there was no certainty of the date of the elections: "Now that there is certainty that there will be elections, we must wait for the results of the talks in the Dominican Republic." "If the Government, he says for example that the elections are March 8, it will compete alone. If the dialogue meeting is planned, it is, among other things, to determine the date of the elections. If the government, on its own, sets the date of the elections so that it be discussed later during the dialogue, that would have no reason to be, "he said.

     "For the dialogue to progress, it is necessary for the Government to understand that there cannot be an electoral process similar to the one carried out by the Nicaraguanz, because we are not going to accept it." Regarding the way to choose the opposition flag bearer, he said: "Now some people who had previously asked for primaries, from the mouth to the outside, they are now proposing some different alternatives. In my specific case and that of my party, I subscribe to what we said AD, UNT, VP and PJ: We want primary elections".

February  5, 2018

THE UNITED STATES AND ARGENTINA STUDY TO IMPLEMENT OIL SANCTIONS TO VENEZUELA

       BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA  --The Secretary of State of the United States, Rex Tillerson (i), and the Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Faurie offer a press conference today, Sunday, February 4, 2018, in Buenos Aires (Argentina). Tillerson and Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie announced that they are studying the implementation of oil sanctions against Venezuela to pressure President Nicolás Maduro and return to a "constitutional regime." US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie announced today that they are studying the implementation of oil sanctions against Venezuela to pressure President Nicolás Maduro and return to a "constitutional regime."

    "One of the aspects considered when sanctioning oil is what the consequences would be on the Venezuelan people. By doing nothing, it is also asking that the Venezuelan people continue to suffer, "Tillerson said at a press conference with Faurie at the headquarters of the Argentine Foreign Ministry. After holding a private meeting, both agreed on the need to put in place measures to curb the "authoritarian drift" that the Venezuelan Government has taken. Specifically, the head of US diplomacy revealed that they are studying "sanctioning oil", prohibiting its sale in the United States or "refining products that come from Venezuela."

    "We can not allow the destruction of Venezuela," he said before insisting that the "disagreement" between Argentina and the United States is "with the regime" of Maduro and not with the citizens, who are "suffering enormously." For this reason, he insisted that, before implementing measures of this kind, it is essential to analyze what their effects would be on the people and other countries of the region in order to be "careful not to affect them negatively". With him coincided Faurie, who noted that "control financing" of the Caribbean country is an "absolutely important" tool that both have considered during their meeting. In that sense, he also insisted that before taking measures around the sales and trading of oil it is essential to carry out "precise monitoring" of its impact, so that there is a "fair balance of what the Venezuelan nation needs and what is being used by the Venezuelan leaders. "
 

VENEZUELAN DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO ASSURES TO BE PREPARED FOR "THREAT" OF OIL EMBARGO

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --      Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said on Sunday that his country is prepared for the "threat" of an "oil embargo," after the United States and Argentina indicated that they are studying oil sanctions in the Caribbean country. "Over there Rex Tillerson visiting Argentina has just threatened us with an oil embargo. We are ready Venezuela, workers of the oil industry are threatening us imperialism, we are prepared to be free and nothing and nobody is going to stop us, "he said in a transmission through Facebook. The Venezuelan head of state only made this comment and did not offer more details.

     The Secretary of State of the United States, Rex Tillerson, said at a press conference in Argentina, along with the foreign minister of that country, Jorge Faurie, that they are "considering" sanctioning "oil or prohibiting the sale in the United States of products that come from Venezuela". After holding a private meeting, both agreed on the need to put in place measures to curb the "authoritarian drift" that has taken the Government of the Caribbean country. "We can not allow the destruction of Venezuela," he said before insisting that the "disagreement" between Argentina and the United States is "with the regime" of Maduro and not with the citizens, who are "suffering enormously."

For this reason, he insisted that, before implementing measures of this kind, it is essential to analyze what their effects would be on the people and other countries of the region in order to be "careful not to affect them negatively". With him coincided Faurie, who pointed out that "controlling" the financing of the Caribbean country is an "absolutely important" tool that both have considered during their meeting. The United States imposed sanctions last August on Venezuela and its state oil company PDVSA. In those sanctions, the White House prohibited "negotiations on new debt and capital issued by the Government of Venezuela and its state oil company."

VENEZUELAN PROSECUTOR REFUSED TO CHARGE ENRIQUE ARISTEGUIETA GRAMCKO WITH ANY CRIME

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA    --Enrique Aristeguieta Gramcko stated that he was able to go free because the Prosecutor of the Public Prosecutor's Office who visited him in the Sebin refused to charge him with the charges of "incitement to hatred". "At the end of the afternoon I was taken to the courts and they made a brief interrogation. The Prosecutor of the Public Prosecutor's Office read me a document stating that this file did not prove anything and that she refrained from blaming me for something, "Gramcko revealed. The octogenarian said that according to the highest ranking official of the Sebin, he told him that he would be tried for hatred instigation, through the hate law approved by the Cuban constituent.

     "I did not know what quality was being processed. I did not know if he was acting as an accused or as a witness. The highest ranking commissar told me that he was being prosecuted for incitement to hatred, "he revealed. He also clarified that according to his criterion "that law is nonsense" and that it was carried out "because a few of the government intend to change the Constitution to remain in power." "The law against hate is nonsense. First, because it was issued by a Constituent that is not such, and then because it leaves to the discretion of whoever wants to interpret it if the crime was committed. What they seek is to spread fear, "said Gramcko.

    On the other hand, he assured that the liberation of Venezuela is close and that many of the officials who detained him want to live in a better country "liberated from this yoke". "I want to reveal to you that while I was in El Helicoide I felt what some police and judicial officials feel in their hearts, who reject these totalitarian practices. They also want a change, they want to be freed from this yoke with their relatives, who suffer the same hardships as all of us. I dare say that even many high officials of the regime would prefer another kind of life, "he said. The activist of Soy Venezuela also assured that he will always be together with Venezuela to continue fighting for the "extinct" democracy in the country.

February  4, 2018

SECRETARY REX TILLERSON PRAISES THE MONROE DOCTRINE, WARNS LATIN AMERICA OF "IMPERIAL" CHINESE AMBITIONS

       AUSTIN, TEXas -- During a question-and-answer session after a speech in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, Tillerson praised the 1823 Monroe Doctrine as “clearly … a success.” The doctrine, and subsequent corollary to the doctrine issued in 1904 by President Theodore Roosevelt, asserted U.S. authority in the Western Hemisphere over meddling European powers, and is still seen by many in the region as a form of U.S. imperialism. “I think it’s as relevant today as it was the day it was written,” Tillerson said of the doctrine.

     The secretary’s remarks were a direct repudiation of the Barack Obama administration’s new-style approach to the region. In 2013, Tillerson’s predecessor John Kerry declared “the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.” Since President Donald Trump has taken office, U.S. standing in Latin America has plummeted, and Tillerson’s trip, which will cover cooperation on migration, trade, and energy, may have been meant to smooth things over.  Tillerson took particular aim at China’s economic approach to Latin America, which focused on gaining access to commodities from countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, and Peru, but which has left little lasting benefit for those countries. “Latin America does not need new imperial powers that seek only to benefit their own people,” said the top diplomat charged with implementing the Trump administration’s “America first” approach to the world.

      “China’s state-led model of development is reminiscent of the past,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be this hemisphere’s future.” Villalobos, ex viceministro de Energía y Petróleo de Venezuela del primer gobierno de Hugo Chávez, cobró $5,5 millones en diciembre de 2008, de acuerdo con la Policía de Andorra. El ex funcionario también está siendo investigado en España y es reclamado por EEUU. De León y Villalobos fueron arrestados en octubre en Madrid por petición de un juez de Texas (EEUU) que investiga el lavado de dinero y corrupción en la delegación de compras americana de PDVSA, desde donde se habrían inflado facturas. Mientras tanto, Francisco Jiménez movió más de $9 millones entre 2010 y 2012 en tres cuentas bancarias, en donde también recibió 8,2 millones de Diego Salazar, en prisión desde diciembre y primo Rafael Ramírez, ex ministro de Energía y Petróleo y ex presidente de PDVSA. La millonaria suma que Jiménez guardó en sus cuentas la transfirió a Suiza, San Vicente y las Granadinas, EEUU y Curazao.

VENEZUELAN MILITARY SLAMS US SECRETARY OF STATE FOR REMARKS ABOUT DEMOCRACY

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -- Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said on Friday that the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) entirely rejects the deplorable remarks that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made on Thursday in demanding open, democratic elections in the Caribbean nation. “The FANB entirely rejects such deplorable remarks, which also amount to an odious act of interference,” Padrino said in reading a Defense Ministry statement against what Tillerson said this Thursday at the University of Texas at Austin, before leaving on a tour of Latin America.

       The minister said the armed forces “ratify their absolute adherence to the Constitution and to the laws of the country, as well as its loyalty to citizen Nicolas Maduro Moros, our constitutional president. Moving on from the statement, Padrino said that Tillerson is “a gentleman who has his days numbered” as he travels around Latin America on “a tour that looks like a mediocre bullfighter on an unlucky afternoon trying to convince Latin American governments to intervene in Venezuela.” He also criticized the US official for “inviting the armed forces to bring down a government” and said that with this supposed invitation, Tillerson “shows his lack of respect for an institution that stands by its principles, its republican morals and its historic traditions.”

      “You have no idea, Mr. Tillerson, what you are doing, and I invited you to get things straight,” he said. “The United States is up to evident interference and financial persecution, precisely to create chaos, anarchy and destabilization in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” He also said that Tillerson shows “an absolute ignorance of the truth” about Venezuela when he tells the oil-producing nation to get back on the road of the Constitution “with free elections.” Such remarks, he said, are “absurd” – elections were held last year to choose the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), state and municipal officials, while this year the presidential election is being held.

THE CORRUPTION SCANDAL IN PDVSA DOES NOT STOP: THREE FORMER DIRECTORS HID $60 MILLION IN ANDORRA

       WASHINGTON, D.C.      --Three new names are now added to the list of former managers who camouflaged juicy sums of money in Andorra, European tax haven until October last year. The last ones to be named are Luis Carlos León Pérez, former director of Finance of Electricidad de Caracas - a subsidiary of PDVSA - arrested in Spain and claimed by EUUU; Eudomario Carruyo, manager of the oil company during the past decade; and Francisco Antonio Jiménez, arrested in November in Venezuela for corruption and president of Bariven, a subsidiary of PDVSA.

     A new report from the newspaper El País revealed that the three moved 60 million dollars between 2008 and 2014, through the Private Banking of Andorra (BPA). De León moved $ 22 million in its accounts, from which it bought a property in Venezuela for $ 3.1 million, according to a report from the Andorran Police to which the Spanish newspaper had access. The police report adds that the former director admitted to the BPA that his deposits were "linked to instrumental companies", that is, without real activity. But his ”business” did not stop there. De León used his accounts in Andorra to receive juicy sums from Chavez leaders, such as Nervis Villalobos.

     Villalobos, Venezuela's former Vice Minister of Energy and Petroleum of the first government of Hugo Chávez, collected $ 5.5 million in December 2008, according to the Andorran Police. The former official is also being investigated in Spain and is claimed by the US. De León and Villalobos were arrested in October in Madrid at the request of a judge in Texas (USA) who is investigating money laundering and corruption in PDVSA's American purchasing office, from where invoices would have been inflated. Meanwhile, Francisco Jiménez moved more than $ 9 million between 2010 and 2012 in three bank accounts, where he also received 8.2 million from Diego Salazar, in prison since December, and cousin Rafael Ramírez, former energy and oil minister and former president of PDVSA. The millionaire sum that Jiménez kept in his accounts transferred it to Switzerland, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the USA and Curaçao.

February  3, 2018

SECRETARY REX TILLERSON REAFFIRMED HIS COMMENTS YESTERDAY CONCERNING A POSSIBLE MILITARY COUP AGAINST DICTATOR  NICOLAS MADURO

       MEXICO CITY, MEXICO  --  U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised AGAIN the POSSIBILITY OF A  Venezuelan military REVOLT to oust DICTATOR Nicolas Maduro, but said he did not know whether that would happen. In a speech at the University of Texas ahead of a five-nation Latin American tour, Tillerson insisted the Trump administration was not advocating “regime change” in Venezuela, but said it would be “easiest” if Maduro chose to leave power on his own. Tillerson predicted there would be change of some kind in Venezuela and said the United States, which has had steadily worsening relations with the country’s Socialist government, wanted it to be a peaceful one.

     “In the history of Venezuela and in fact the history in other Latin American and South American countries, often times, it is the military that handles that,” Tillerson said. “When things are so bad that the military leadership realizes that it just can’t serve the citizens anymore, they will manage a peaceful transition,” he said. But he added: “Whether that will be the case here or not, I do not know. The United States and other Western governments accuse Maduro’s government of violating political and human rights in Venezuela and have imposed economic sanctions.

     Critics at home say Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chavez in 2013, has wrecked the economy and skewed the election system to perpetuate power for his Socialist Party. Maduro’s government, which is allied with Cuba’s Communist leadership, says it is fighting a U.S.-led right-wing conspiracy determined to end socialism in Latin America, hobble Venezuela’s economy and steal its oil wealth. “Maduro should get back to his constitution and follow it,” Tillerson said. “And then, if he is not re-elected by the people, so be it.” “Then, if the kitchen gets a little too hot for him, I am sure that he’s got some friends over in Cuba that could give him a nice hacienda on the beach and he could have a nice life over there.”

FIDEL "FIDELITO" CASTRO DIAZ-BALART THE OLDEST SON OF FIDEL CASTRO COMMITTED SUICIDE AT THE AGE OF 68

        HAVANA, CUBA  -- Fidel “Fidelito” Castro Diaz-Balart is the oldest son of Castro and his first wife, Mirta Diaz Balart. Diaz-Balart was said to have killed himself Thursday morning after receiving months of treatment for a "deeply depressed state," according to official website Cubadebate. He reportedly "required a hospitalization regime then outpatient follow-up" as part of his treatment. Fidel Castro died in November 2016 at age 90. His brother, Raul, took over as Cuba's leader in 2008. Before his death, Diaz-Balart was a scientific adviser to the Council of State and was the vice president of the Cuban Academy of Sciences.

    Of all Castro's offspring, only Diaz-Balart, the angel-faced, blond boy from revolution-era photographs, was publically recognized. He bore a striking resemblance to his father, which earned him the nickname Fidelito, or Little Fidel. Diaz-Balart was born in 1949 and brought to the United States in the 1950s after his parents divorced. His mother's family had ties to the Batista government, which Castro would eventually overthrow. As a result, the former Cuban leader wanted his son kept from his ex-wife's family, leading to an ongoing custody battle over the boy.

     "I refuse even to think that my son may sleep a single night under the same roof sheltering my most repulsive enemies and receive on his innocent cheeks the kisses of those miserable Judases," Castro wrote to his half-sister Lidia in 1956. While Castro was in Mexico preparing for the guerrilla war, he convinced his ex-wife to send Fidelito to visit him for two weeks. Once the boy was there however, Castro refused to send him back. Later, while the boy was out for a walk with Castro's sisters, three armed men in a car grabbed Diaz-Balart so he could be reunited with his mother. As an adult Diaz-Balart rose to the top post at Cuba's Atomic Energy Commission before his father removed him for unpublicized reasons in the early 1990s.

US TREASURY DEPARTMENT ACCUSES CHINA OF SHADY LOANS TO VENEZUELA

       WASHINGTON, D.C.      -- The top diplomat of the US Treasury Department, David Malpass, accused China Friday of allowing poor management in Venezuela by backing the government of President Nicolás Maduro through shady loans in exchange for oil. In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he said that China's focus on raw materials and its financing agreements had "harmed, and not helped, the countries of the region."

   His attack on China's role for his help to the Venezuelan government comes after the comments of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who on Thursday left open the possibility of a military transition in Venezuela. The government of President Donald Trump has imposed economic sanctions on the government and Venezuelan officials,

     While Maduro accuses Washington of wanting to overthrow him. "China has been by far Venezuela's largest lender, backing a bad government," Malpass said. Most of the blame for the economic collapse and the humanitarian disaster in Venezuela falls squarely on Venezuela's rulers, but China has been by far Venezuela's largest lender, backing a bad government," Malpass said. The government of President Donald Trump has imposed economic sanctions on the government and Venezuelan officials for human rights violations and corruption.
 

February  2, 2018

SECRETARY REX TILLERSON RAISES PROSPECT OF VENEZUELA MILITARY OUSTER OF DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO

       AUSTIN, TEXAS --  U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday raised the prospect that the Venezuelan military could decide to oust President Nicolas Maduro but said he did not know whether that would happen. In a speech at the University of Texas ahead of five-nation Latin America tour, Tillerson insisted the Trump administration was not advocating “regime change” in Venezuela but said it would be “easiest” if Maduro chose to leave power on his own. Tillerson predicted there would be change of some kind in Venezuela and said the United States, which has had steadily worsening relations with the

     country’s Socialist government, wanted it to be a peaceful one.
However, he then suggested the possibility that internal forces might take action, though he offered no evidence the United States had intelligence backing the notion that the military might turn against Maduro. “In the history of Venezuela and in fact the history in other Latin America and South American countries, often times, it is the military that handles that,” Tillerson said. “When things are so bad that the military leadership realizes that it just can’t serve the citizens anymore, they will manage a peaceful transition,” he said. But he added that, “Whether that will be the case here or not, I do not know.”

    The United States and other Western governments accuse as Maduro’s government of violating political and human rights in Venezuela and have imposed economic sanctions. Critics at home say Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chavez in 2013, has wrecked the economy and skewed the election system to perpetuate power for his Socialist Party. “Maduro should get back to his constitution and follow it,” Tillerson said. “And then, if he is not re-elected by the people, so be it.” “Then, if the kitchen gets a little too hot for him, I am sure that he got some friends over in Cuba that could give him a nice hacienda on the beach and he could have a nice life over there.”

CHILE ABANDONS ITS POSITION AS ONE OF THE ACCOMPANYING MEDIATORS  OF THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION

        SANTIAGO, CHILE  -- The Chilean Foreign Ministry announced - through a communiqué - that, as a result of the uncertainty in the dialogue, the Government of Chile will suspend indefinitely its participation as a companion if the conditions between the parties for the realization of democratic presidential elections do not materialize as soon as possible. transparent and in accordance with international standards. The foregoing, while the Venezuelan government and opposition continue in Caracas in the search for an agreement to resolve the political crisis, after the unsuccessful agreements during a round of dialogue held between Monday and Wednesday in the Dominican Republic.

    In fact, due to this context, the delegation of Chile was not chaired by the Chancellor on January 29, "due to the obstacles that have arisen for the realization of a serious and credible agreement between the parties, which makes it impossible to hold elections free and democratic presidential elections. The last round has been extended for several days with the result of a record of agreements that does not include the date of the elections and other important aspects, a decision that depends exclusively on the Venezuelans themselves, "the Chilean Foreign Ministry stressed.

     "There are pending issues that have to be discussed in Caracas and the parties will move to Caracas to begin consultations and be able to meet there," said the president of that country after the end of the dialogue on Dominican soil. Jorge Rodríguez, the main delegate of the government of Nicolás Maduro, assured that a "pre-agreement" with "elements of understanding" was signed, although without giving details. However, the main negotiator of the opposition Democratic Unity Table (MUD), Julio Borges, said that no document had been signed by the opposition.

UNITED NATIONS: GUYANA-VENEZUELA DISPUTE TO BE SETTLED AT INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE

       UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK      --  Venezuela has claimed the disputed border area between Guyana and Venezuela, as well as oil-rich territories in the Caribbean, since its year of independence, 1821.UN Secretary General António Guterres will refer the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for settlement, a senior Foreign Ministry official confirmed Tuesday. Guterres “has carefully analyzed developments in 2017 in the good office's process and has concluded that significant progress has not been made toward arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the Secretary-General, said.

     “Accordingly, the Secretary-General has fulfilled the responsibility that has fallen to him within the framework set by his predecessor in December 2016, and has chosen the International Court of Justice as the means to be used for the solution of the controversy,” he added. “The Secretary-General, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations, remains committed to accompanying both States as they seek to overcome their differences regarding this border controversy,” the spokeswoman stated. Guyana's Foreign Minister Audrey Waddell welcomed the UN Chief’s decision in a communique.

     “Guyana will not allow factors extraneous to the controversy to influence its referral to the Court, but it will continue the advancement of peaceful relations with Venezuela whose people are the brothers and sisters of Guyanese. In this context, Guyana acknowledges the Secretary General’s suggestions for the immediate future,” the statement said. But Caracas expressed concern over the decision in an official foreign ministry statement, and insisted on the recognition of the Geneva Accords to resolve the dispute. "It is fitting to wonder the reasons why they recommended the International Court of Justice to two states that do not recognize its jurisdictions, and given that the Geneva Agreement contemplates the political mechanisms for the solution to this territorial controversy," read the communique.

February 1st, 2018

JORGE RODRIGUEZ: WE SIGNED  PRE-AGREEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING WITH THE OPPOSITION

       SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC     --  The Minister of Communication and Information, Jorge Rodríguez at the Dominican Republic Foreign Ministry's headquarters in the last six months for the peace dialogue between the Government and the Venezuelan Opposition, assures that they signed an agreement on the advance of the pre-agreement between the two parties. "The negotiation has been long to attain some concessions for an agreement with the Venezuelan opposition," he said.

    Rodríguez explained about the dialogue discussions that "allowed us to sign a document that includes the elements of understanding between the Venezuelan right and the Bolivarian Republic are already contained in the document." "We welcome the effort that the Venezuelan opposition has made despite pressures, calls and threats from external agents." In fact, indicating that the minimum details that are pending will be clarified in the next 72 hours in the city of Caracas. The minister thanked Dominican chancellors for their hospitality, "we are happy, willing to continue in this ceaseless search for peace."

    "The interference, coarse, of the administration of Donald Trump have been defeated today by the glorious people of Venezuela," said Rodriguez At the same time, the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, also reported that the Government and the opposition signed " an act which includes the progress of the dialogue agenda "but there are pending issues that should be discussed in Caracas, so the parties will be given several days to return to the dialogue table in Santo Domingo."Until everything is discussed, there is nothing approved. We cannot provide details of the progress and there are still pending issues that have to be discussed further in Caracas,the Dominican president said in statements to the media.

JULIO BORGES: THERE IS NO PRE-AGREEMENT AND MUCH LESS A FORMAL AGREEMENT WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF VENEZUELA

        SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC --Deputy Julio Borges clarified that there is no pre-agreement with the Government at the dialogue table held in the Dominican Republic. "There is progress on some issues, but there is still no pre-agreement, much less a formal agreement." "I must be very clear and say that no pre-agreement is signed here, the only thing we agreed upon is a black and white document of those aspects in which there is progress. We do not have any agreement in our hands, there is the possibility of advancing in those aspects in which we had not been able to do it, "he clarified, showing his" strong disagreement "with the statements that Jorge Rodríguez gave minutes earlier.

     He explained that what the opposition needs is to find a solution to the terrible crisis for all of Venezuela and give Venezuelans more rights, and "give them progress and dignity." He also said that "we are going to take the next days to move forward and look for a solution for Venezuela. As President Medina said, he has in his hands a record in which are reflected the issues in which there have been small advances and that both parties recognize. " In his turn, Deputy Luis Florido noted that "There are two fundamental issues. First: There is no provision on the part of the country, nor of the political factors to resolve the factors of the constituent assembly because we do not have to recognize the constituent, it is only the people that can do it and the people did not recognize it because they did not vote for it ", affirmed Florido.

    "Second: Electoral agreements and respect for what was agreed. An election can not be called until six months before the elections according to the law. And in any case, if the elections should be advanced, it must be agreed by the parties involved , "explained the president of the Foreign Policy Committee of the National Assembly. In addition, Florido emphasized that there must be sufficient electoral guarantees that: disqualified politicians can participate, supervision of international organizations, the balance of forces and the non-participation of the Republic Plan in the electoral process, but rather protection.

MARIA CORINA MACHADO: THERE ARE NOT ELECTIONS, NOR THERE IS DIALOGUE AND THOSE PRESENT IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ARE NOT THE REAL OPPOSITION OF VENEZUELA

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA      --  "They are not elections, there is not is dialogue and there is not opposition." With that phrase, María Corina Machado referred Wednesday to the alleged dialogue that is taking place in the Dominican Republic. For the national coordinator of Vente Venezuela, what happens in the Dominican Republic is irrelevant because this country's problems are not debated there. The leader referred to the warning of Cardinal Pietro Parolín, in 2016, and recalled that in his letter, the ecclesiastical representative clarified what should be the conditions for a true dialogue. In his opinion, none has been fulfilled.

     "There were four conditions: release of political prisoners and today there is more, recognition of the National Assembly and they imposed the constituent assembly, opening of the humanitarian channel and see how many people have died of hunger or lack of medicines or have fled across the border? and the cessation of the persecution, which has clearly worsened, "she said. Machado assured that the result announced today was the only possible thing, "because this is not an ordinary authoritarian regime anymore, nor an ordinary dictatorship any more". She added: "You asked me yesterday what I thought could happen in the Dominican Republic and I said that it is absolutely irrelevant.

   The Venezuelans do not care about anything that happens there because that  is not the place where a real solution to our problem is being discussed. We know that this regime is not going to deliver by the good and that therefore it is time for the construction of a huge citizen force, which goes forward with a route ". She also indicated that these are very dangerous days and probably the darkest ones for the Venezuelans, but she affirmed that this is how history is made and transformed. She added that although the regime looks strong, it is collapsing and has confronting factions. "And we as citizens will regroup all our force with a political leadership that is not going to deviate from that goal," she assured, while saying that hunger is not only on the streets, but in the military barracks.


 

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