Latest News
of MAY  2018

                     SPANISH

May 31, 2018

EVEN TOUGHER SANCTIONS ARE EXPECTED AGAINST BOLIVARIAN OFFICIALS AFTER THE OAS REPORT WAS PUBLISHED


    WASHINGTON,  D.C. 
-- 
A report accusing the Venezuelan government of crimes against humanity will be sent to the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, while the head of the Organization of American States said he expects increasingly severe sanctions to attack the regime of President Nicolás Maduro soon. Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the OAS, said he expects at least one country to sponsor the report of his organization, which would trigger a formal investigation by the ICC, within a month. He declined to say which country would likely sponsor the effort, although he said four countries have expressed interest in doing so.

    An accusation by the ICC would put Maduro's government on a par with the regimes of Omar al-Bashir in Sudan and the late Moammar Al Qaddafi of Libya. "We expect justice" for the Venezuelan people, Almagro said in an interview on Wednesday on Bloomberg Television, a day after a panel of experts convened by the OAS concluded that Maduro's government was involved in multiple murders and at least 12,000 cases of imprisonment and arbitrary detention. He also accused the authorities of torture, rape, political persecution and enforced disappearances.

     Almagro said that Maduro and his allies are increasingly isolated from the difficult economic and humanitarian situation of the country, which has been affected by hyperinflation, shortages of food and other basic goods, as well as the decline of the oil industry. Venezuelan The top officials of the regime now depend more on the income derived from illicit activities, such as drug smuggling, than the legal ones, he added. "No one could do worse" when governing Venezuela, said Almagro, and asked that the country has a democratic transition. Canada, the United States and the European Union will probably continue to increase sanctions against Venezuela in the coming weeks and months, he said, adding that the goal is to "make the sanctions as stringent as possible to bring them to the negotiating table."

NICOLAS MADURO CAN BE ARRESTED: SANTIAGO CANTO AFFIRMS AFTER PRESENTING REPORT ON CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN VENEZUELA

           WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Manuel Ventura Robles and Santiago Cantón participated in the press conference of the Organization of American States (OAS) with a panel of independent international experts who presented their conclusions and recommendations on "if crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela." "Nicolás Maduro can be imprisoned for human rights violations committed by his regime," is the statement of Santiago Cantón, who heard testimony, read reports and crossed information on the crisis in Venezuela for months.

    Cantón was one of the experts to whom the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, commissioned to prepare a report to determine if there were grounds to denounce Maduro and his collaborators before the International Criminal Court. Hague. The report, presented on Tuesday, concluded that yes. The Argentine delegate lists hundreds of extrajudicial executions and cases of torture ranging from rape, enforced disappearance, and political background persecution. It estimates that there are more than 20,000 victims, the worst human rights crisis in Venezuela.

    "And the humanitarian crisis that affects the entire population, and that the government takes advantage politically because it gives food to those on one side, and not to the other," says Cantón, in an interview with LA NACION. -It is a very serious situation. One thing we also identify in the report is the absolute absence of justice in an obscene manner. Several prosecutors who left the country tell us that they received calls directly from the presidency to imprison the mayors from the opposition. Justice is a 100% tool to imprison you, torture you, for everything. It is a very important difference. In Venezuela there is nothing that allows to say, well, there is going to be justice. There is nothing. It is an important fact.

CANADA IMPOSES NEW SANCTIONS ON 14 TOP OFFICIALS OF DICTATOR MADURO REGIME

           Montreal, Canada -- The Foreign Policy Office of Canada confirmed that 14 members of the Bolivarian government have been sanctioned "in response to the illegitimate and undemocratic presidential elections held in Venezuela on May 20.The 14 individuals identified by the new Canadian sanctions are: Tania Valentina Díaz González , vice president of the Cuban constituency; Fidel Ernesto Vásquez Iriarte , secretary of the Cuban National Constituent Assembly; Carolys Helena Pérez González, undersecretary of the Cuban constituent; Cilia Adela Flores de Maduro , wife of Nicolás Maduro; Erika del Valle Farías Peña , mayor of the Libertador municipality of Caracas; Ramón Darío Vivas Velasco , deputy of the Cuban constituent; Christian Tyrone Zerpa , magistrate of the Electoral Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice.

     - Fanny Beatriz Márquez Cordero , magistrate of the Electoral Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice; Malaquías Gil Rodríguez, vice president of the Electoral Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice; Indira Maira Alfonzo Izaguirre , magistrate of the Electoral Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice; Jhannett María Madriz Sotillo , magistrate of the Electoral Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice; Carlos Enrique Quintero Cuevas , substitute rector of the National Electoral Council and member of the National Electoral Board; Xavier Antonio Moreno Reyes , general secretary of the National Electoral Council; and Carlos Alberto Rotondaro Cova , former president of the Board of Directors of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS).

    "These sanctions send a clear message that the anti-democratic behavior of the Maduro regime has consequences. Today's announcement is proof of our commitment to the defense of democracy and human rights throughout the world and our rejection of Venezuela's fraudulent presidential elections. Canada is as determined as ever to support the people of Venezuela in their search for a more peaceful, democratic and prosperous future, "said Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

May 30, 2018

PANEL OF INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS FINDS "REASONABLE GROUNDS" FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY COMMITTED IN VENEZUELA


    WASHINGTON,  D.C. 
-- 
In their report and executive summary presented today, a panel of independent international experts designated by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) found that reasonable grounds exist to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela dating back to at least February 12, 2014. The panel of experts - Santiago Cantón (Argentina), Irwin Cotler (Canada), and Manuel Ventura Robles (Costa Rica),– recommended that:

     The 400-page report, supported by 400 pages of Annexes, is divided in two parts. Part I, written by the OAS General Secretariat, includes material provided by witnesses who testified during the public hearings conducted in September, October, and November 2017, and material collected from interested parties, Venezuelan civil society and intergovernmental organizations. Part II of the report was written by the Panel of Independent International Experts, and provides a legal assessment of the information gathered, an examination of relevant international jurisprudence and precedent, as well as their conclusions and recommendations.

     Neither the Panel nor the OAS General Secretariat have had the possibility of undertaking field missions to the territory concerned in order to consult with national authorities, victims, civil society organizations, or other interested parties. The publicly available version of the report includes sections that have been redacted to protect the identity of victims and/or their family members who fear reprisal for testifying about crimes and abuses. Crimes against Humanity are defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute as “specific crimes committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack”. Venezuela is a State Party to the Rome Statute, and the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over any crimes committed in the territory of Venezuela or by Venezuelan nationals since July 1, 2002. More information on the process is available at the top of on site.

ANTONIO LEDEZMA ASKS AND INVOKES THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY A HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION

           OSLO, NORWAY -- 
The former MAYOR AND political prisoner, Antonio Ledezma, offers statements in a Forum that takes place in Oslo, Norway, on Human Rights, where he asked and invoked the International Community the principle of humanitarian intervention. "I ask and invoke the international community the principle of humanitarian intervention. I come to ask for a country that is being torn by a tyranny and a dictatorship that is killing its citizens with hunger, "said the former mayor during his speech.

     In addition, he described the crisis in the country, claiming that "we have a humanitarian crisis, a humanitarian disaster outside the law, we have no separation of powers and the constitutional powers were lost. They took control of finances, of the media, it's a narco-dictatorship." "The tragedy of not having medicines at hand, of not being prepared to be able to give birth to a new life, to offer security is a violation of Human Rights," said Ledezma regarding the "viacrusis" her daughter lived when gave birth.

     He also confessed that currently "I do not feel completely free, nor happy, because when I see my daughter breastfeeding my grandson, I think of all the children who are malnourished in my country." The crisis not only affects pregnant women. The diseases also lash Venezuelans and, apparently, without contemplation. Currently there are women who are buried daily due to breast cancer, because they do not have chemotherapy services or medicines, "he said. Ledezma, who was held in the Ramo Verde prison, highlighted the unjust detention of more than 300 political prisoners, the persecution and the disqualification of several opposition leaders.

VENEZUELA POLITICAL PRISONERS NUMBER INCREASES DESPITE DICTATOR MADURO PROMISES, ONLY A FEW HAVE BEEN RELEASED

           CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
Embattled Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro promised to release all political prisoners right after he was reelected for a second six-year term on May 20th in what the European Union termed fraudulent elections. In spite of releasing 22 prisoners and reiterating his promise on Monday, the number of total political prisoners rose to 355 May 28th from 338 on May 17th. Even after the release of high-profile US Mormon missionary Joshua Holt and his Venezuelan wife Thamy on Saturday, Maduro keeps the Cuban-style prisoner revolving door going: releasing one, arresting two.

     New arrests mean that there are now MORE political prisoners in Venezuelan than before Maduro made his promise -- not less. To make matters worse, Maduro again conditioned the release of all political prisoners, this time saying they will have to sign a written promise to abandon “the road of the arms” and take up a democratic struggle instead. And even after voters chose not to partake in the May 20th election in record numbers -- marking a new record for abstention in a Presidential vote with around 54% according to official figures, more if you ask independent analysts and the opposition -- Maduro still can’t bring himself to utter the words “presos politicos”.

     “I will soon take decision to free political actors in prison”, he said, again resorting to euphemism, “that have engaged in violence. Let that be a lesson so that they abandon the road of the arms, of the complot and conspiracy.” Seemingly channeling John Lennon (Maduro is a confessed rock music fan, although he mixes up his U.S. and British artists), the head of state said: “I will give peace a chance. Then it will be up to them, if they incur again, in the short or long term.” Maduro also promised more control of the economy, bringing municipal food markets under the control of the central government.

May 29, 2018

THE EUROPEAN UNION AGREES ON NEW SANCTIONS AGAINST VENEZUELA AND CALLS FOR NEW "FREE ELECTIONS"


    BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
-- 
The countries of the European Union (EU) reached a political agreement on Monday to adopt new sanctions against the country after the holding of presidential elections that they do not consider "credible" and called for the holding of new elections "free and transparentm." "The EU will act quickly, in accordance with the established procedures, with the aim of imposing additional directed and reversible restrictive measures, which do not harm the Venezuelan population, whose difficult situation the EU wishes to alleviate," the European Foreign Ministers said. a joint statement.

    Gathered in Brussels, the holders of the EU gave the green light to the adoption of new "restrictive measures" that will mean sanctions "to a list of people" involved in the holding of the elections, although they are not expected to make the names officially known. until his next meeting in June, reviewed Efe. The Spanish Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis, explained upon his arrival at the meeting that the objective of the meeting was "to put in place the procedures to expand the circle of people affected by the restrictive measures", after the EU already sanctioned seven senior officials of the re-elected president, Nicolás Maduro, among others.

    In Monday's statement, the ministers stressed that recent events in Venezuela "have further removed the possibility of a negotiated constitutional solution that guarantees respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights." The countries regretted that despite "numerous appeals" from national political actors and the international community "including the European Union", early presidential elections were held "without an agreement on the date or conditions, and in circumstances that did not allow the participation of all political parties on an equal footing ".

COLOMBIA DEFENDS NATO MEMBERSHIP AFTER CRITICISM OF DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO

           BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- 
Venezuela "denounced the intention of the Colombian authorities to lend themselves to introduce an external military alliance with nuclear capability in Latin America and the Caribbean, which clearly constitutes a serious threat to regional peace and stability." Colombia's entry into NATO is not for war purposes, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said Monday, following criticisms made by Venezuela before what it considers a "threat to regional peace." Prior to the first round of the presidential elections that took place on Sunday, President Juan Manuel Santos announced his adhesion to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as the first Latin American global partner, which triggered the rejection of Caracas.

     Not being in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) "is a commercial war, not being in NATO is for a war, it is simply belonging to the best instances of good practices," Villegas said in an interview with the FM station. Colombia shares with Venezuela a border of 2,200 kilometers and has practically no diplomatic relations with the government of Nicolás Maduro, which he criticizes as a dictatorship and blames the economic crisis that surrounds the country with the largest oil reserves in the world. In its reaction, Venezuela "denounced the intention of the Colombian authorities to lend themselves to introduce an external military alliance with nuclear capability in Latin America and the Caribbean, which clearly constitutes a serious threat to regional peace and stability."

     According to Minister Villegas, in NATO, Colombia will limit itself to strengthening the powers of the public force in the areas of organized crime, cybersecurity and humanitarian affairs, among others. "This type of membership does not necessarily mean that Colombia will participate in NATO military operations in the face of an international crisis, but it can benefit from missions of troop preparation or exchange of information," explained international relations analyst Rafael. Piñeros, from the Externado de Bogotá University. On Thursday, Santos will meet with NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, to sign the formal adhesion of Colombia to the agency, in Brussels, Belgium.

VENEZUELA, NICARAGUA AND CUBA FOCUS THE BEGINNING OF A FORUM ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORWAY

           OSLO, NORWAY -- 
Thor Halvorssen, during his attendance at the presentation of this event, the annual meeting that brings together in the Norwegian capital dissidents and defenders of the democratic values of the whole world. The state of human rights in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba were at the center of the presentation of the tenth edition of the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF), the annual meeting that brings together dissidents and defenders of democratic values in the Norwegian capital. all the world.

     Venezuelan exile opposition Antonio Ledezma and Nicaraguan activist Edipcia Dubón showed their vision of the crisis in their countries at a press conference today, while the founder of the OFF, Thor Halvorssen, regretted that he had not obtained permission from the Havana regime to attend the forum the coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), José Daniel Ferrer García. "Unfortunately in some countries you still have to get permission to leave, as in Castro's Cuba," denounced Halvorssen, who criticizes that "nothing has changed" despite the airs of political renewal that seemed to occur in Cuba judging by the events of the last three years.

     On Venezuela, Halvorssen said he is under a "totally authoritarian" regime and Nicaragua said it is "in the new group of partially authoritarian countries."
For his part, Ledezma explained to journalists and participants in the forum that he had to flee Venezuela last November, after more than a hundred days in prison, and be persecuted after having won the mayoralty of Caracas. "I am part of those 30 million Venezuelan citizens who suffer the ordeal, the martyrdom of the authoritarianism of a populist regime," he said. "We aspire to get rid of this narcotics with the help of the international community," added Ledezma, who highlighted the problems of nutrition and access to medicines and humanitarian aid for Venezuelans.

May 28, 2018

US ACCUSES DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO OF COMMITTING "CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY" IN VENEZUELA


    WASHINGTON, D.C. 
-- 
THE UNITED STATES Today accused the government of Venezuelan DICTATOR  Nicolás Maduro of committing "crimes against humanity" by "starving his own people" as the "Pol Pot regime" did in Cambodia in the 1970s, and warned that Washington "has no limits" in its response and plans to increase its sanctions. "I'm tempted to compare them to the Pol Pot regime, and not in the genocide aspect, let's avoid the hyperbole," said Juan Cruz, Donald Trump's chief adviser to Latin America, at an event at the Council of the Americas in Washington.

      "Let's talk better in terms of how they are starving their own people and how they use food for political manipulation, it's disgusting. If that is not crimes against humanity, I do not know what it is, and the world will hold them accountable, "he added. The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, denounced a year ago that in Venezuela crimes "against humanity" were being committed, and called a series of hearings to examine that possibility. But until now, Trump's government had not explicitly denounced the existence of such crimes, and it did so four days before the expected presentation of a report prepared by experts from the OAS with the objective of determining if there is a basis to denounce Venezuela before the tribunal of The Hague.

     "We will continue pressing to restore democracy in Venezuela. We will try ways to bring food aid to that country, despite the regime's constant resistance to accept that they need food and their rejection of all offers of humanitarian aid, "said the senior official. "We will continue to sanction those we need to punish, especially at the highest level, and those who are robbing the Venezuelan people and deciding to fill their pockets and enrich their henchmen instead of using that money to buy food," he added. Cruz also recalled that there is little time left before the 70th General Assembly of the OAS, to be held on June 4 and 5 in Washington. "This is a great opportunity to see who is on the side of democracy, humanity and decency, and which country decides to support the deceptions, the lies and those who starve the people of Venezuela themselves. We will be watching and we will take note, "he warned.

DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO ORDERS THE FANB TO SIGN AN OATH AFTER "DISCOVERING A CONSPIRACY" TO OVERTHROW HIM

           CARACAS, VENEZUELA  -- 
The DICTATOR Nicolás Maduro, ordered the military high command that the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) sign a document of “loyalty” after, he said, it was discovered that several soldiers were trying to participate in a “conspiracy” to prevent the presidential ones of last Sunday. “I have ordered (…) to take the proclamation and turn it into a document, to be signed by the entire Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), in order to carry out a process of remoralization, reactivation of moral and ideological, conceptual values, of each officer until the last command to arrive with the word of truth, “he said. Maduro affirmed this yesterday in a speech in front of several platoons of cadets of the military schools in a military parade on the subject of his re-election, to which he went accompanied by the military leaders, Efe reported.

     During the ceremony, Maduro offered more details of an alleged “conspiracy financed and directed from Colombia and encouraged and promoted by the US government to divide” the FANB, to “try at the time to suspend the elections of May 20 last “he revealed. The newly elected president said that this movement has been “dismembered” and that “all those responsible for selling and giving themselves to traitors are convicted and confessed”. He asserted that the FANB is “chavista” and “Bolivarian”, so that “no vestige of colonialism or neocolonialism is accepted here, it is an anti-imperialist Armed Force”.

     “I demand maximum loyalty to the FANB, maximum loyalty to the Constitution,” he said. Earlier, the president said before the ruling National Constituent Assembly (ANC), where he was sworn in as president, that several “conspirators” were caught, according to him, with the US embassy in the country and with the Colombian government. Maduro expelled the US Chargé d’Affaires from Venezuela on Tuesday. in Caracas, Todd Robinson, and accused him of “conspiring” against the Bolivarian revolution he leads and against the questioned votes. Neither Colombia nor the US recognize as legitimate Sunday’s elections in which the bulk of the Venezuelan opposition did not participate as fraudulent and in which, according to the National Electoral Council (CNE), they were the lowest-concurded presidential elections in the history of the country.

VENEZUELAN CRISIS AND THE REASONS WHY IT WILL GET WORSE

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --   After winning in elections contested by the opposition, the European Union, twelve Latin American countries, the United States and Canada, Nicolás Maduro is preparing to continue in the presidency of Venezuela for another six years. While he has promised that his re-election will be the beginning of a period of prosperity, everything points to the fact that at least in the short term, Venezuelans must prepare for a more acute phase of the economic crisis. This is how diariolasamericas.com reviews it.

     The Venezuelan economy has not grown since 2014 and accumulates six months in hyperinflation, but far from starting to exit the tunnel, the country is on the verge of a period of greater scarcity, rising prices and the persistence of the recession. These are the causes. In Venezuela 96 out of every 100 dollars come from oil exports and the number of barrels extracted daily falls sharply in a context of poor management and lack of investment. In April, according to the figures reported by the Venezuelan government to OPEC, production reached 1.5 million barrels per day, a figure that translates into a 4% decline compared to the previous month and 22% compared to the previous month. October 2017

     The consequence is that despite the rebound in oil prices, the country will have less foreign currency for private sector companies to import raw materials and inputs, therefore, the supply decline and the shortage of basic products will continue. in the markets. Alejandro Grisanti, director of Ecoanalítica, does not rule out that oil production will continue to decline and close this year at 1.2 million barrels per day, less than half of what the country generated in 1998 when Chavismo came to power.

May 27, 2018

THE US EXPELS TWO VENEZUELAN DIPLOMATS AND GIVES THEM 48 HOURS TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY


    WASHINGTON, D.C. 
-- 
The United States Government on Wednesday ordered the expulsion of two Venezuelan diplomats, giving them 48 hours to leave the country. He is the charge of business of Venezuela in Washington, Carlos Ron Ramírez, and the Venezuelan vice-consul in Houston (Texas). The decision responds, according to the Department of State, reciprocally to the order of this Tuesday of Venezuela to expel the charge d'affaires of the USA. in Caracas, Todd Robinson , and his second , Brian Naranjo , head of the political section of the embassy.

     Both Ron Ramírez and Robinson were the highest-ranking representatives of the two countries in their respective diplomatic missions since Washington and Caracas have not exchanged ambassadors for eight years. On Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced the expulsion of diplomats during an act in which he was proclaimed re-elected, and assured that Robinson has acted as "conspirator" in the Caribbean country. The State Department, in its statement on Wednesday, said that "the accusations behind the decision of the Maduro regime are unjustified."

    He also assured that the diplomats expelled by Caracas "have carried out their official duties in a responsible manner" and in accordance with the international standards subscribed in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. "We reject any suggestion in the opposite direction," he said. The Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, had already warned on Wednesday the Nicolás Maduro regime of a "reciprocal" response to the expulsion of the two diplomats. Therefore, ahead of the expected expulsion of Ron Ramírez, Maduro appointed him Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for North America and vacated, for now, the position of charge of business in Washington.

MEXICO INFORMED VENEZUELAN AMBASSADOR THAT IT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE NICOLAS MADURO'S TRIUMP

    MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- 
The Mexican government summoned Venezuelan ambassador María Lourdes Urbaneja to inform her that Mexico does not recognize the results of the presidential elections of May 20, in which Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro revalidated his position. During yesterday's meeting, Deputy Foreign Minister Luis Alfonso de Alba reiterated to the Venezuelan diplomatic representative that Mexico does not recognize the legitimacy of said process "for not complying with the international standards of a democratic, free, fair and transparent process."

     On Monday, the Mexican government announced that it would reduce the level of relations with Venezuela and called for consultations with the Mexican ambassador in Caracas, Eréndira Paz, reported AVN. These actions are framed in the agreement reached by the member countries of the Lima Group, which ruled out recognizing the results of the Venezuelan elections and decided to reduce the level of diplomatic relations with that country.

    According to the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, at the meeting yesterday the Venezuelan diplomat was informed of the content of the agreement signed by the Governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico. , Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia. Likewise, he was informed of the reduction in diplomatic relations with the Venezuelan Government, which will be translated into "the reduction or cancellation of cultural activities and cooperation, including military activities." The Mexican Government undertook to seek, through the diplomatic channel, "the restoration of democratic institutions, respect for human rights and full respect for the rule of law" in Venezuela.

NICARAGUA PROTESTERS DEMAND TO INDUSTRIALISTS OF NICARAGUA TO CALL FOR A NATIONAL STRIKE UNNTIL DANIEL ORTEGAS LEAVES

        MANAGUA, NICARAGUA --   A group of protesters demanded this Thursday the Higher Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep) of Nicaragua to call for a national strike until the president of the country, Daniel Ortega, resigns, who they say is responsible for the sociopolitical crisis that have left at least 77 people dead in 37 days. Approximately fifty people were planted this Thursday in front of the headquarters of Cosep, in the outskirts of Managua, to demand the businessmen to close their businesses, as a measure of pressure to achieve the resignation of the president.

     The protesters, who wore the blue and white flag of Nicaragua , expressed their demand with slogans such as "National strike!", "Only the people save the people!", "People join!" Or "Cosep, ¿at what time?". According to the participants of the protest, the national strike is the only way out for the resignation of Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, who, from their point of view, have only shown interest in resolving the economic damage of the crisis, without paying attention to human losses.

    Another argument of the demonstrators is that Nicaragua is practically already in a national strike, due to the fact that daily activities have diminished since the so-called "student massacre" began, between April 18 and 22, when dozens of students protested against Ortega throughout the country died when they received accurate shots. Those demanding the national strike also recalled that the Cosep was on the side of the Government with the so-called "public-private partnership model" until last April, so they insisted that "define your position."

May 24, 2018

THE G-7 DENOUNCED THE ELECTIONS IN VENEZUELA AND REJECTED ITS RESULTS


    BRUSSELS, BELGIUM --  The leaders of the G7 -Germany, Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom-, joined on Wednesday to the rejection of the European Union to the electoral result in Venezuela and denounced its development for "not fulfilling the international standards "nor ensure" basic guarantees ". "We denounce the Venezuelan presidential elections and their result, since it is not representative of the democratic will of the citizens of Venezuela," the leaders of this group of countries affirmed in a joint statement released by the Council of the EU.

     The G7 also called on the regime of Nicolás Maduro, re-elected as head of state in the elections on Sunday, "to restore constitutional democracy in Venezuela and organize free and fair elections that truly reflect the democratic will of the people," he said. Efe. The statement comes after the EU's High Representative for Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini, denounced irregularities in the elections on Tuesday and ensured that the Twenty-eight "will consider the adoption of appropriate measures." The G7 and the EU today were "united in rejecting the electoral process" and consider that "the Venezuelan Government has lost the opportunity for a political rectification that is urgently needed."

     "While the regime of Nicolás Maduro solidifies its authoritarian rule, the people of Venezuela continue to suffer human rights abuses and serious deprivation, which increases displacements that affect the countries of the entire region," they said. In line with the EU, the G7 leaders reiterated their "commitment to a peaceful, negotiated and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela" and their support for the Venezuelan population through humanitarian assistance. The EU and the G7 thus question these elections marked by an abstention of just 54%. The head of European diplomacy also raised the possibility of studying sanctions, something with which she had already warned Maduro's government last February if Venezuela did not give "guarantees for credible elections."

NGO: 11 VENEZUELAN OFFICERS IMPRISONED FOR ALLEGED PLANS AGAINST DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO

    CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- The military justice ordered on Tuesday the imprisonment of 11 officers of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, accused of planning destabilizing actions against the re-elected President Nicolás Maduro, reported the non-governmental human rights organization Foro Penal. "At least 11 officials from the Armed Forces, the Navy and the Aviation, were arrested (...). They were charged with the crime of mutiny, instigation of the mutiny, crimes against military decency, and betrayal of the country, "Attorney María Torres of Foro Penal told AFP.

    There are nine lieutenants of frigate and ship and two captains, who were arrested between Thursday and last Friday and this Tuesday were presented before a military court. "One group was arrested while doing a course in the BAE (Special Actions Brigade) in Caracas and the other in Turiamo (in a naval base in the state of Aragua, north)," Torres said. The uniformed, said the representative of Foro Penal, are accused of organizing destabilizing plans against the Maduro government, re-elected on Sunday in questioned ballots.

     The most serious crime for which they are accused is treason, whose sentence, according to Venezuelan laws, can reach up to 30 years in prison. The military, all members of the special action forces, were held in the military prison of Ramo Verde, on the outskirts of Caracas. "The court did not allow us to be appointed to assist them (as defenders) in the filing hearing. The hearing was held with a public defender that in the coming days we will ask to revoke, "said the lawyer. Alfredo Romero, director of Criminal Forum, said that in recent days there were 25 arrests "for political reasons." Torres said that the eleven soldiers are included in that account. Several civilians were arrested "in demonstrations, other in Caracas, Portuguesa and Lara," the lawyer affirmed.

FOREIGN MINISTERS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION WILL ADDRESS THE SITUATION IN VENEZUELA ON MONDAY

 
       BRUSSELS, BELGIUM --   The foreign ministers of the European Union will address next Monday the situation in Venezuela after the presidential elections last Sunday, which was re-elected Nicolás Maduro as head of state and in which Brussels has already denounced "irregularities." The situation in the country will be one of the issues that ministers will discuss at a meeting at which they are expected to adopt a joint declaration, the Council announced today in a statement.

    The EU, through the head of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, has already presented its rejection of these elections and has also raised the possibility of studying sanctions, something that had already alerted the Government of Maduro last February if Venezuela it did not give "guarantees for credible elections". In addition, Mogherini made a "call to the Government of Venezuela to release all political prisoners" and reiterated the need for the country to work on "a truly negotiated political solution."

     The foreign ministers decided in January sanctions against seven senior officials of the Maduro government for "repression" in the country, including its "number two", Diosdado Cabello; the president of the Supreme Court, Maikel Moreno, and the Minister of Interior and Justice, Néstor Reverol. In addition, the ministers are expected to address the Iranian nuclear pact as a result of the US decision to abandon it, as well as the future agreement between the EU and the countries of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group, since the one that governs the relations between both blocks, the Cotonou Agreement, expires in 2020, as well as the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

May 23, 2018

THE UNITED STATES CONSIDERS SUNDAY'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AN ATTACK ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER OF VENEZUELA


    WASHINGTON, D.C. 
--  
The United States condemns the fraudulent election of May 20 in Venezuela. This so-called "election" is an attack on the constitutional order and an affront to the democratic tradition of Venezuela. Until the Maduro regime re-establishes the democratic trajectory in Venezuela through free, fair and transparent elections, the government will continue to face the isolation of the international community.

    The process unfolded on Sunday was choreographed by a regime that was too unpopular and fearful of its own people to risk free elections and open competition. He filled the Venezuelan courts and the National Electoral Council with partial members aligned with the regime. Silenced the dissident voices. Prohibited the political participation of the most important parties and leaders. As of May 14, more than 338 political prisoners are still imprisoned, more than in all the other countries of the hemisphere combined.

    The regime restricted the free press. State sources dominated the coverage of the media, unfairly favoring the ruling party. The most despicable was the selective distribution of food that the regime made in order to manipulate the vote of the hungry Venezuelans. The Maduro regime does not defend the right to democracy of the Venezuelan people as reflected in the Inter-American Democratic Charter. The United States joins the democratic nations in support of the Venezuelan people and will immediately take economic and diplomatic measures in support of the restoration of its democracy.

DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO EXPELS U.S. ENVOY IN RESPONSE TO SANCTIONS. GIVES TODD ROBINSON 48 HOURS TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY

    CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- 
President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday ordered the expulsion of the top U.S. diplomat in Venezuela in retaliation for a new round of sanctions over Venezuela's widely-condemned election. The United States was among a string of countries that did not recognize Sunday's vote. The 55-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez won re-election easily, but critics said the vote was riddled with irregularities, from the barring of two popular opposition rivals to the offering of a government "prize" to voters. President Donald Trump responded with an executive order limiting Venezuela's ability to sell state assets, heightening pressure on the cash-strapped government.

    Accusing U.S. charge d'affaires Todd Robinson of being involved in "a military conspiracy," Maduro ordered him and another senior diplomat, Brian Naranjo, to leave within 48 hours. He gave no details of the accusations, but said the U.S. Embassy had been meddling in military, economic and political issues, and vowed to present evidence to the nation shortly. "Neither with conspiracies nor with sanctions will you hold Venezuela back," Maduro said, at an event in downtown Caracas at the headquarters of the election board, which is run by government loyalists. A press officer for the U.S. embassy in Caracas said she had no immediate comment in response to Maduro's statements.

    Earlier on Tuesday, Venezuela's foreign ministry called the sanctions "a crime against humanity." Maduro's socialist administration, which has long said a U.S.-led "economic war" is to blame for a deep crisis in the OPEC nation, said the new sanctions violated international law. "Venezuela once again condemns the systematic campaign of aggression and hostility by the U.S. regime to punish the Venezuelan people for exercising their right to vote," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "These arbitrary and unilateral measures constitute a crime against humanity." Venezuela's opposition has accused the Maduro government of behaving immorally and trying to hide shortcomings and corruption behind bombastic rhetoric. The mainstream opposition coalition boycotted Sunday's vote, calling it a sham aimed at legitimizing Maduro's rule despite his low popularity.

EUROPEAN UNION DENOUNCES IRREGULARITIES IN VENEZUELAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND STUDIES SANCTIONS

        BRUSSELS, BELGIUM --   The European Union (EU) advanced on Tuesday to study the adoption of new sanctions against Venezuela after the last presidential election on Sunday, which involved the re-election of President Nicolás Maduro and during which "numerous irregularities were reported," AFP reported. The presidential election was held "without complying with minimum international standards for a credible process, without respecting political pluralism, democracy, transparency and the rule of law," lamented the head of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini.

     In her statement on behalf of the EU, the former Italian foreign minister pointed to the "obstacles" to the participation of the opposition, the "unbalanced composition of the National Electoral Council (CNE)", and the "numerous irregularities reported during the election day " Maduro, 55, won Sunday 68% of the votes against 21% of exchavista Henri Falcón, who considered the process "illegitimate" and asked to repeat the vote, accusing the government of "vote buying" and "blackmail" with the social programs. The opposition Democratic Unity Table (MUD) boycotted the elections as fraudulent, an analysis shared with the Lima Group, the United States and the EU.

    In November, the 28 European countries approved their first package of sanctions against Venezuela, consisting of an arms embargo and material that could be used for "internal repression." The EU then also adopted its legal framework to take measures against persons or entities responsible for undermining democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the country. By virtue of this legislation, the bloc decided to sanction in January with the prohibition of visas and the freezing of assets to seven Venezuelan officials, due to "the constant deterioration of the situation." Among them are responsible for the Venezuelan security apparatus, such as the Minister of the Interior; the presidents of the Supreme Court of Justice and the CNE; and the number two of the ruling party, Diosdado Cabello.

May 22, 2018

PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER LIMITING VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT ABILITY TO LIQUIDATE ASSETS


    WASHINGTON, D.C. 
--  
The Trump administration on Monday dismissed Venezuela’s presidential election as a “sham” and ramped up economic and diplomatic pressure on President Nicolas Maduro’s beleaguered government. The White House announced that President Donald Trump had signed an executive order restricting the Venezuelan government’s ability to liquidate assets for pennies on the dollar at the expense of the Venezuelan people. The order, which stopped short of imposing crippling oil sanctions on the nation’s economy, was the latest effort by Trump to punish Maduro’s government.

According to the order, the administration is taking further steps “particularly in light of the recent activities of the Maduro regime, including endemic economic mismanagement and public corruption at the expense of the Venezuelan people and their prosperity, and ongoing repression of the political opposition; attempts to undermine democratic order by holding snap elections that are neither free nor fair; and the regime’s responsibility for the deepening humanitarian and public health crisis in Venezuela.”

     Senior administration officials said Trump’s executive order would close another avenue for corruption by officials in the government, who have valued and sold off public assets in return for kickbacks. The officials said the order prohibits all transactions related to the purchase of any debt owed to the Venezuelan government by any U.S. person or anyone within the U.S. The officials said it included any debt associated with Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of a formal announcement by the White House.

COUNTRIES OF THE LIMA GROUP CALL THEIR AMBASSADORS IN VENEZUELA AFTER THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

    LIMA, PERU -- 
On Monday the countries of the so-called "Lima Group" issued a joint statement in which they announced the call for consultations of their ambassadors in Caracas, Venezuela. The decision was adopted to reject the elections this Sunday in which President Nicolás Maduro was re-elected .

     The signatory countries are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia. In the first point they point out that "they do not recognize the legitimacy of the electoral process" because they consider that it does not "comply with the international standards of a democratic, free, fair and transparent process". In that sense, they seek to "reduce the level of diplomatic relations with Venezuela," which is why they have called their main diplomatic representatives to consult.

     Actions against Caracas.- In addition to this diplomatic resolution, the States that adhere to the declaration have informed that they will adopt another series of measures against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. On the one hand, they decided to present a new resolution on the situation in the country during the 48th period of sessions of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States. They will also strengthen economic sanctions. These call to inform the financial and banking sector of each country "the risk they could incur if they carry out operations with the Venezuelan government that do not have the backing of the National Assembly." They also call to "coordinate actions so that the international and regional financial organizations try not to grant loans to the Government of Venezuela, due to the unconstitutional nature of acquiring debt without the endorsement of its National Assembly".

FORMER LATIN AMERICAN PRESIDENTS ASK IDEA MEMBERS TO IGNORE THE FARCE AND SUSPEND VENEZUELA FROM THE OAS

        SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA --   In a statement sent to Efe by Asdrúbal Aguiar, general secretary of IDEA, it is pointed out that the "feigned elections" held 0n May 20 in Venezuela "under a completely corrupt and fraudulent electoral system" have only "the sole purpose of concealing the extension of Nicolás Maduro Moros and its de facto exercise of the Presidency ". They also highlight the "acts of torture and unusual violence perpetrated by the government and military authorities" that preceded the electoral "farce" and the "immoral purchase of oil abroad to subsidize the Republic of Cuba, in the midst of the total collapse of the economy and social order in Venezuela. "

     All of this adds to "the aftermath of deaths due to overflowing criminal violence, famine and lack of health care, massive migrations of the population that disintegrate families and communities." The presidents of the declaration affirm that the situation in Venezuela is the work "of waste, of the generalized corruption of the dictatorial regime, which has led the country to unlimited indebtedness, to default, to the devaluation of the currency, and a hyperinflation that have no precedents or parallels in the history of the world. " In addition of requesting to ignore the results of the voting, IDEA asks the community to withdraw its ambassadors in Caracas and undertake "a severe surveillance of the massive and systematic human rights violations that occur in Venezuela."

     It is also claimed that they increase "the sanctions and measures of seizure of monies resulting from criminal activities and government corruption" and prevent "the free transit abroad of those responsible for them, their families and those who collude with the dictatorship " The former presidents demand the suspension of Venezuela's participation in the Organization of American States (OAS) in application of Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. They also urge "one of the States parties to the Rome Statute to refer to the International Criminal Court the report on the crimes against humanity of the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro Moros that was prepared by the General Secretariat of the OAS."

May 21, 2018

U.S. WILL NOT RECOGNIZE VENEZUELA ELECTIONS RESULT  --  STATE DEPARTMENT


    WASHINGTON, D.C. 
--  
The United States will not recognize the result of Venezuela’s presidential election on Sunday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told journalists. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan listens to the media during a news conference in Riga, Latvia February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/Files The United States is actively considering oil sanctions on Venezuela and Sullivan said a response to Sunday’s vote would be discussed at a G20 meeting in Buenos Aires on Monday.

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was seeking a six-year term in a Sunday election boycotted by the opposition and condemned by foes as the “coronation” of a dictator. “We need to make sure we adhere to our goal which to target corrupt regime officials and not the people of Venezuela,” Sullivan said. “We don’t want to damage the country in a way that makes it difficult to repair after democracy is restored.” He called oil sanctions “a very significant step.” “They are under active review,” he said. Sullivan also said he knew of no plan to withdraw U.S. assistance from northwest Syria.

     CBS news reported on Friday the Trump administration had withdrawn all assistance from northwest Syria, a move it said demonstrated the administration intended to leave quickly once Islamic State is fully defeated. “I’ve not heard of any decision by this administration to withdraw assistance from northwest Syria,” he said in comments to Reuters and Bloomberg. “The U.S. government... is committed to the enduring defeat of ISIS and protecting U.S. interests in the region in Syria and Iraq.”

NICARAGUAN PROTESTERS REFUSE TO BACK DOWN, AS DANIEL ORTEGA TALKS CONTINUE

    MANAGUA, NICARAGUA -- 
Nicaraguan officials began a second day of talks with students and business leaders on Friday to try to resolve weeks of tension with increasingly unpopular President Daniel Ortega that has sparked nationwide clashes. At least 49 people have been killed, mostly students, in demonstrations that began late last month over discontent with a new law that raised worker and employer social security contributions while cutting benefits.

     The protests mark the most sustained crisis of Ortega’s 11-years in power. The former leftist guerrilla leader has delivered steady growth in the poor Central American nation, despite criticism he has turned it into a family dictatorship. Pedro Gaitan, who lost his eye in recent protests against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's government, is pictured after a meeting with Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) in Managua, Nicaragua May 18, 2018.

    The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights said on Friday it was too early to deliver conclusions from a five-day investigation into allegations of murder and disappearances. But it would continue meeting with officials and citizens, including mothers of those allegedly murdered in the protests. “We reiterate our condemnation of the dead, disappeared, aggressions and arbitrary detentions of protesters, activists and journalists,” said Antonia Urrejola, the group’s Nicaraguan delegate. Dozens of flag-waving demonstrators chanted “Murderer!” outside a Catholic seminary on Friday, the second day of an unprecedented forum for students, business leaders and others to air their grievances.

AT LEAST 20 MEMBERS OF AN EVANGELICAL CHURCH IN CUBA PLANE CRASH

 
       HAVANA, CUBA --   At least 20 members of an evangelical church were among the 108 people killed when an airliner crashed shortly after take-off from the Cuban capital’s Jose Marti International Airport, a religious official said Saturday. The regional director of the Church of the Nazarene – Mesoamerica Region, Carlos Saenz, confirmed on that religious organization’s official Web site that 10 couples were returning to eastern Cuba at midday Friday after taking part in a spiritual retreat in Havana.

     Family members and friends of the victims of the plane crash began arriving Saturday morning to help identify the bodies. Most of the victims were Cuban, although five foreign passengers also died, including an Argentine couple in their 60s who were visiting the island as tourists. A Mexican female passenger also perished in the crash, as did two men from the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, diplomatic officials from those countries told EFE. Six Mexican crew members aboard the plane – which was leased to Cubana de Aviacion by Mexico-based carrier Global Air, also known as Damojh – also were killed in Friday’s crash.

    Initial figures indicated there were 107 victims – including five children – out of 110 people on board Cuba de Aviacion Flight DMJ-972. But Cuban state-run media said Saturday morning that the passenger list did not include a two-year-old boy who also was killed. The flight was bound for the eastern Cuban city of Holguin but crashed in an area of cropland at 12:08 pm, just minutes after takeoff.The families of the victims from Holguin and other provinces of eastern Cuba arrived Saturday morning in a police-escorted caravan of buses that covered the nearly 700-kilometer (435-mile) route to Havana.

May 20, 2018

WHAT A SHAME!  DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO BUYS VOTES FROM CHAVISTAS WITH BOXES OF FOOD CLAP


    CARACAS, VENEZUELA 
--  
Nicolás Maduro is convinced that food boxes will achieve his reelection for another 6 years in the Venezuelan presidency today at the polls. The populist distribution of food to appease the hunger of Venezuelans is a powerful weapon to keep him in power, published ABC. Maduro has not cared that the majority of the international community does not recognize the results of the elections that have been described as fraudulent and rigged. 87% of Venezuelans are poor and hungry, according to university reports. To put food on the Chavistas table the president has spent a fortune with public funds in the election campaign.

     And he has not had any haste or scruples to declare publicly that he buys the votes in exchange for a box of food that is purchased from those who have the "card of the fatherland," which is about ten million registered. ABC made a tour of the main streets of the center of the Venezuelan capital. In Plaza Caracas, in front of the headquarters of the National Electoral Council (CNE), there was a long line of users with their ID card to be benefited with the Clap food box. All those consulted said they would vote for Maduro. They could not say anything else. The Clap boxes of the (Local Administration and Production Committees) have the same shape and color as the Sunday ballot boxes. And on the screen of the electronic machines they will see Maduro's face 10 times so as not to get confused, so the propaganda induction is perfect and global.

     The chavista votes with the stomach and it does not matter that the products that Maduro gives them are contaminated with "weevils" as assured by the Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, who denounced two days ago that they seized more than 400 tons of food in boxes of Clap in bad conditions and not suitable for human consumption in Cartagena. In the closing of his campaign he invited the Argentine Maradona, who danced badly on Bolívar Avenue, which earned a strong criticism from the singer José Luis Rodríguez, El Puma, who made him an accomplice in Maduro's genocide due to the famine.

CUBA CONFIRMS 110 KILLED IN COUNTRY'S DEADLIEST PLANE CRASH SINCE 1989

     LA HABANA, CUBA -- 
Cuban authorities said the fiery crash of an aging Boeing passenger jet on Friday shortly after takeoff from Havana had killed 110 people, 99 of whom were Cuban, making it the Caribbean island's deadliest air disaster in nearly 30 years. Flags flew at half-mast in Cuba on Saturday marking the start of two days of national mourning while authorities worked to identify the crash victims. Fifteen have been identified so far.

     Authorities told a news conference on Saturday at Havana airport that three of the passengers killed on the domestic flight to Holguin on Friday were foreign tourists - two Argentines and a Mexican - while another two were Sahrawi residents in Cuba. The six Mexican crew members aboard the nearly 40-year-old Boeing 737, leased by Cuban flagship carrier Cubana from a small Mexican company called Damojh, were also killed. Three Cuban women survived the crash, but are still in critical condition, said the head of the hospital where they are being attended.

     Distressed relatives cried and hugged one another outside the morgue, where they gave information on loved ones to authorities to aid in the identification process. "This is a very unexpected death, she didn't deserve it. My grandmother was a strong person," said Katherine Lucia Martinez, an 18-year-old student, bursting into tears and clinging to her father. Her 60-year-old grandmother was among the dead, and she was waiting with other relatives of the deceased at a Havana hotel for an update from authorities.

10 DEAD IN VENEZUELA PRISON RIOT, MILITARY SAYS

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --   A prison riot in the northwestern Venezuelan state of Lara left 10 dead and 25 injured, a military spokesperson told EFE on Friday. The violence, which erupted Thursday afternoon, was sparked by the inmates’ displeasure with a new prison regime inside the Fenix Community Penitentiary, the spokesperson said. Some of the prisoners “used firearms and subdued and killed two guards; they also took hostages and wounded them with sharp objects,” the source said, adding that “they later clashed with security personnel.”

     Eight other people who have not yet been identified but presumably were inmates also died in the riot, while 25 others – including the prison’s deputy director, Rigoberto Avila – were injured, the spokesperson said But the director of the NGO Una Ventana a la Libertad (A Window on Freedom), Carlos Nieto, told EFE Friday that 11 people had died and 28 were injured. He also criticized the lack of information provided by authorities.

     Relatives of one of the inmates at that prison, lawmaker Gilber Caro, expressed their concern about the riot and said they had received no information about him. “It’s been more than 72 days without knowing anything about my brother Gilber. We fear for his life. We hold (Prison Services Minister) Iris Varela responsible for whatever may happen to Gilber. We demand to see him!” reads a message on the Twitter account of Caro, a lawmaker with the opposition Popular Will party.

May 19, 2018

CUBAN AIRPLANE CRASHES SHORTLY AFTER TAKE-OFF FROM HAVANA'S JOSE MARTI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT


     HAVANA, CUBA.  --  Cuban state media reported that a Boeing 737 on a domestic flight crashed in a rural area Friday afternoon shortly after takeoff from Havana's José Martí International Airport. There were reportedly 104 passengers plus crew aboard the plane that was leased by Cubana de Aviación, the Cuban national airline, from a Mexican company. At least three survivors were transported to a nearby hospital. Granma, the Communist Party newspaper, reported the three were in critical condition.

      There were no immediate reports on casualties but The Associated Press reported that residents of the rural area where the plane crashed soon after take-off said they had seen some survivors being transported in ambulances. Aviation sources said the plane was traveling from Havana to Holguin, in eastern Cuban, when it went down about 1 1/2 miles from the Havana airport in the Rancho Boyeros suburb.Firefighters were on the scene battling the blaze as billows of black smoke shot skyward, images showed. The airport was closed shortly after the crash, leaving several flights from Havana to Miami on hold, but reopened Friday afternoon.

      The flight, DMJ 0972, took off shortly after noon before crashing at 12:08 p.m, according to 14ymedio, an independent digital outlet in Cuba. Ambulances, fire trucks, and cars from Cuba's Instituto de Medicina Legal could be seen speeding down Havana's central Avenue of Independence.‏ Just Thursday, the Cuban National Aviation Authority grounded Cubana de Aviación's Antonov AN-158 fleet due to technical issues. According to Airline Geeks, the airline operated up to six of the Ukrainian aircraft, which had repeated maintenance issues. As of April, only one of the planes was still in operation.
 

PRESIDENT OF PANAMA REITERATES THAT HE WILL NOT RECOGNIZE RESULT OF THE ELECTIONS IN VENEZUELA

     PANAMA CITY, PANAMA -- 
The president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, insisted on Friday in an interview with Efe that his country will not recognize the Venezuelan presidential elections on Sunday and affirmed that the opposition should participate "without feeling persecuted". "Panama has a public decision not to recognize the elections on May 20 and calls for a profound, intense and constructive dialogue between the period of May 20 and January 2019, when the current constitutional period of the president would expire Maduro, "said the Panamanian president.

      Varela recalled that his country recognizes the current constitutional request of Nicolás Maduro and expressed his hope that "in these eight months that are opened a space for dialogue to evaluate what happened and avoid the Venezuelan mass exodus to other countries and the economic situation so difficult that crosses the town of Venezuela ".

      The policy, he said, is to seek the well-being of the people, of the citizens, and in the case of Venezuela, it is up to them to "rethink their strategies" and decide "whether what is being done benefits their people or not." "We do not recognize May 20. We remain united with many Latin American countries because, without a doubt, in a democratic country the elections have to be with guarantees and participation of the opposition. If you want another political system, then that is another issue but, at the moment, Venezuela is a democratic country and Venezuelans want to live in democracy, that has been their tradition, "the president argued.

THIS IS HOW VENEZUELAN INCREASE OF 900% OF IMMIGRANTS IS DISTRIBUTED

 
       CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --    The exodus of Venezuelans is accelerating for fear of greater uncertainty in the country. The Venezuelan humanitarian crisis is already overflowing the great national territory. Only two days for the elections called by Nicolás Maduro, labeled as historical "fraud" by the international community, the exodus of Venezuelans is accelerating due to fear of greater political and economical problems in the country.

     Between 2015 and 2017, the number of Venezuelan immigrants rose by more than 900% to other destinations in South America and in Central America and the Caribbean, the number of Venezuelans doubled from around 50,000 in 2015 to almost 100,000, according to the Organization. International of Migrations (OIM). According to a report to which ABC has had access, in Colombia, for example, it went from registering a "stock" (it does not systematically capture the number of men, women, boys and girls in an irregular situation) of Venezuelans from 48,714 in 2015 to 600,000 in last year. Colombia is the main destination for Venezuelans in South America, although "a large percentage of Venezuelan citizens enter the coffee country as a bridge to third-party destinations.

     This dynamic has not only been maintained, but has even increased in recent months, with the main destinations being Ecuador, Peru, Chile, the United States, Panama, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica ", reported from the IOM Before the flood of new entries, Colombia approved a Special Permit of Permanence in July 2017 and in the first stage the situation of approximately 68,374 Venezuelan nationals who had entered before July 28 was regularized. "On August 18, 2017, the Ministry of Health issued Resolution 3015 that allows the affiliation of Venezuelan citizens with PEP to the Colombian health system," the report adds.

May 18, 2018

THE U.S. SENATE CONFIRMED GINA HASPEL ON THURSDAY TO BE DIRECTOR OF THE CIA


     WASHINGTON, D.C. 
--  
The U.S. Senate confirmed Gina Haspel on Thursday to be director of the CIA, ending a bruising confirmation fight centered on her ties to the spy agency’s past use of waterboarding and other brutal interrogation techniques. Haspel, who will be the first woman to lead the CIA, is a 33-year veteran at the agency currently serving as its acting director. The tally was 54-45 in favor of her nomination in the 100-member chamber, where a simple majority was required for confirmation.

     Six Democrats joined President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans in voting for Haspel, and two Republicans voted no. Haspel was approved despite stiff opposition over her links to the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, a type of simulated drowning widely considered torture, in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks. Haspel also had strong support from Trump’s administration, many current and former intelligence officials and a wide range of lawmakers, including Democrats.

     Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, which oversaw the nomination, supported Haspel. “I believe she is someone who can and will stand up to the president, who will speak truth to power if this president orders her to do something illegal or immoral, like a return to torture,” he said in a Senate speech before the vote. Trump nominated Haspel, then deputy director, in March to succeed Mike Pompeo as CIA director. Haspel became acting director after Pompeo was confirmed as secretary of state.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT - THE DUAL SILENCE OF FEDERICA MOGHERINI

     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 
The European Union (EU) has asked Havana to act as a mediator in Venezuela. "Cuba can play a positive role to prevent negative developments and to reopen the negotiation of a political solution," stated Federica Mogherini. The head of European diplomacy seems to believe that the Cuban regime is as dissociated from Nicolás Maduroas it was from the Colombian guerrillas, which allowed it to host peace talks in Havana. Unlike the EU, Washington views the island, not as a solution, but as part of the Venezuelan problem. The Trump Administration - the President himself, Vice-president Mike Pence, and Senator Marco Rubio- have all underscored Cuba's political interference in the South American country.

    There are, then, two positions in this regard: the American one, which sees the regime in Havana as an integral part of what is happening in Venezuela; and that of the EU, actually willing to ask it to intervene diplomatically in a matter in which it believes it is not entangled. As a diagnosis of the problem, the American position is, undoubtedly, more accurate. However, as a tactic, it could be argued that the EU employs diplomatic language, without scorning euphemisms or hypocrisies, in order to achieve its objectives. Seen this way, Mogherini does well to pretend to play dumb with Bruno Rodríguez as regards the true nature of the Havana-Caracas connection.

    With her reproachless stance, Mogherini grants legitimacy to a regime that can continue its repression in Cuba. And, by inviting it to serve as a mediator, she offers the regime diplomatic immunity, allowing it to meddle in the internal affairs of Venezuela. In the European Parliament the position espoused by Mogherini faces resistance from both conservative and liberal factions, which criticize her silence regarding the lack of freedoms and rights in Cuba. Henceforth these MEPs will have to fight the two-fold silence of Federica Mogherini: her silence about the violations that the Cuban regime commits in its own country, and that regarding the violations it commits in another one: Venezuela.

PALESTINIAN LEADER ARRIVES IN CUBA TO MEET WITH NEW PRESIDENT MIGUEL DIAZ-CANEL

        HAVANA. CUBA --    The president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, arrived on Thursday in Cuba, where he will meet with the country’s new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, on Friday during his two-day visit. On arriving in Havana from Chile on Thursday night, Abbas was received by Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Rogelio Sierra, during which he did not make any statements to the press.

    He will begin his official visit on Friday, which includes a ceremony honoring Cuban National Hero Jose Marti in the Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana and a meeting with Diaz-Canel in the nearby headquarters of the Cuban Council of State. During his visit, Abbas will also go to the Latin American School of Medicine, where a group of young Palestinians is studying. Cuban state news agency Prensa Latina highlighted in an article on Thursday the “unchanging” support of the country for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and an end to the occupation of their territories by Israel.

    Last April, the Cuban government issued a demand for a “just and lasting” two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which will allow the Palestinians to have an independent and sovereign State of their own, with the territories determined according to the pre-1967 borders and the capital in East Jerusalem. Abbas will conclude his Latin America tour in Cuba on Saturday after having visited Venezuela and Chile, where he met with their respective leaders, Nicolas Maduro and Sebastian Piñera.

May 17, 2018

PRESIDENT TRUMP 'WE'LL HAVE TO SEE' IF SUMMIT WITH NORTH KOREA TAKES PLACE


     WASHINGTON, D.C. 
--  
President Donald Trump says "we'll have to see" if his planned summit next month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un takes place after Pyongyang expressed sharp reservations about U.S. demands that it dismantle its nuclear weapons program. "We haven't been notified at all. We haven't seen anything. We haven't heard anything. We'll see what happens. Time will tell," Trump said Wednesday at the White House. Trump said U.S. will still insist on denuclearization by North Korea.

      Earlier, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News that Trump is prepared for "tough negotiations," but that if the June 12 summit in Singapore is called off, "we'll continue the maximum pressure campaign" of economic sanctions against North Korea. The fate of the summit was thrown into doubt after North Korea first Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said Pyongyang will have to "reconsider" whether to take part in the summit if the United States continues to demand that the regime unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons arsenal. Kim said North Korea will not be interested in the Trump-Kim summit if Washington tries "to push us unilaterally into a corner and force us to give up nukes."

     The North Korean statement was the second in 24 hours that appeared to erode a period of improved relations between North Korea, South Korea and the United States. North Korea abruptly canceled high-level talks scheduled for Wednesday with the South, citing the current joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises. The North Korean news agency KCNA said the Max Thunder exercises are a "rehearsal for invasion" of North Korea and a provocationThe Pentagon describes the Max Thunder exercises as a routine annual training to "enhance the ROK-U.S. alliance's ability to defend the ROK [South Korea] and enhance interoperability and readiness." It says this has been clear for many decades

ALL BUT ME: THE QUESTION TO DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO THAT THE CANDIDATE MADURO DODGED WITH PURE "BLABLABLA"

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA-- 
In a press conference with national and international media, the candidate-president-worker Nicolás Maduro was questioned by the colleague of the international chain Al Jazeera, Lucia Newman, about the most logical and basic You are clearly faced at this time with an unprecedented economic and migration crisis, you have said "that you are ready to lead great changes for the prosperity of Venezuela as of May 20", but you are already president so I wonder, Why Venezuelans would have to wait after May 20, you will achieve solutions that have eluded you so far.

     Since ignoring the humanitarian crisis, blaming international agencies, including Juan Manuel Santos and Mexico, swarming for the "economic war" and calling Venezuelans "submissive"; the Venezuelan president did not have the courage to respond with precision to the question that everyone is asking: How a candidate intends to solve the problems that, despite the Plenipotentiary Powers and the infinite Decrees of Economic Emergency has not been able to solve.

     "They want to stigmatize me as a dictator, but that slips me. They offend the people of Venezuela: that is, they mean they are so stupid, so submissive that a dictatorship sets in. " And as a "montage" described the serious humanitarian crisis: It has tried to mount a humanitarian crisis file to justify an intervention on Venezuela, to end the Bolivarian "revolution". "We have many things to do and to do them we need a great victory," smiled Maduro on a podium full of electoral crime: the Venezuelan flag, and the late President Hugo Chávez. In his "blablabla", Maduro smiled and said that on the street everyone is happy. Listen to it, it's not invention.

POLITICAL PRISONERS LEAD A RIOT IN HELICOIDE, ONE OF DICTATOR MADURO'S DARKEST PRISONS

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA --   The Nicolás Maduro regime ordered the National Guard to resume El Helicoide, one of the largest detention centers for political prisoners in Venezuela, after its facilities were taken by the prisoners. At the time of writing this dispatch, it was not known if the National Guard agents had managed to regain control of the center, but organizations that watch over human rights expressed concern about the use of tear gas to quell the riot due to the very poor ventilation that exists inside the facilities. Messages recorded from the detention center operated by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin) reported that the political prisoners had decided to join the common criminals to protest the infrahuman conditions to which they are subjected and the constant violations of human rights.

     The testimonies collected on Tuesday indicate that the riot began after two agents of the Sebin gave a brutal beating to one of the prisoners, disfiguring his face. "This is El Helicoide, we have this taken for the dead inside, and for the minors who are tortured here every day, because today they almost kill another comrade on the orders of one of the officials," said one of the prisoners. politicians from inside the enclosure. "They are throwing tear gas bombs and they are firing at us in here. We are asking for the presence of the attorney general to come to this place. Until then, we are not going to give way, even if they kill us, "added the voice message.

     The Helicoide hosts some of the country's most important political prisoners, including opposition mayors and US citizen Joshua Holt, 25, who was arrested in Caracas after having married a Venezuelan citizen and is accused of terrorism by the Maduro regime. . According to witnesses who were outside the center, about a hundred National Guard agents entered the site. The president of the NGO Venezuela Awareness Foundation, Patricia Andrade, who oversees the rights of political prisoners in Venezuela, expressed concern about the use of tear gas. "They are in areas where there are no windows, there is almost no ventilation. If you throw them some bombs, you drown them, "he said.
 

May 16, 2018

VENEZUELAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY REITERATES THAT DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ARE ILLEGITIMATE


     CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --   The Venezuelan Parliament, of overwhelming opposition majority, reiterated today that the presidential elections this Sunday are a "simulacrum" and urged citizens not to "validate the fraud" in which the head of state, Nicolás Maduro, will seek re-election. The deputies agreed to "ratify the electoral mock character of the fraudulently convened event (...), since it constitutes a spurious act with the sole intention of appearing legitimacy of the oppressive regime, while the people suffer the worst crisis in its history." The declaration of the National Assembly (AN, Parliament) appeals "to the Venezuelan people so that (...) it is rejected, the fraudulent process convened is not recognized and is not validated and, in that sense, the defense of democracy".

     The Legislative also urged the three men who will face Maduro at the polls to "separate themselves from said process in order to increase the pressure that weakens the regime, accompanying the feeling of the people who fervently demand from the leaders the unrestricted fulfillment of the Constitution and the defense of it. " The AN asks the National Electoral Council (CNE) to suspend the fight in response to the requests of the local opposition, the Venezuelan ecclesiastical hierarchy and the alerts of numerous governments that have already refused to recognize the results of these elections. In this regard, the Parliament urged the international community "to have their good offices practiced in the opportunity to increase pressure measures towards the Government of Venezuela, since this results in the future solution of the humanitarian crisis and in the restoration of Democracy in the country. "

      Finally, the deputies call the attention of the Armed Forces of the oil country by stating that "validating a fraud, like the one proposed for this May 20, configures the breach of the Magna Carta and therefore the violation of the Constitution" .  This position was communicated by the House after a debate attended, as usual, only legislators opposed to the Government because the ruling party does not attend the sessions due to the status of contempt that the Supreme Court imposed on Parliament, which makes their actions considered null. The Venezuelan opposition gathered in the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) did not present candidates for the upcoming contest, considering that there are no guarantees or conditions and, on the contrary, it has called for abstention.

TODD ROBINSON: THE US REITERATES THAT THE 20 MAY ELECTIONS ARE NOT TRANSPARENT

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA--  The US Charge d'Affaires in Venezuela TODD ROBINSON insists that his government pleads for "open and transparent elections for all those who want to participate." Robinson reiterated on Tuesday that both his country, the Lima Group and the European Union insist on that the Sunday elections lack the necessary conditions, and are not transparent.

     "It is a pity that they are not open because Venezuelan society deserves elections and open competition," Robinson said in an interview. The US position is in itself, is the same of the international community therefore, the diplomat said that these elections are not a "real competition." "What we have asked for is an open and transparent election for all those who want to participate" and said that without this the elections will not be fair.

     He ruled out having met with any of the presidential candidates of 20M, however he clarified that he does not believe that the current president of the Republic, will be defeated. "I know this is not going to happen," he said, referring to another candidate winning, but "what we have said and what we have to wait for is the Venezuelan decision." On the other hand, Robinson lamented the closure of the North American company, Kellogg's Venezuela, who announced that it is ceasing operations in the country indefinitely. "There are many, both Venezuelans and foreigners who want to operate in the country, but they cannot," he affirmed.

CONOCOPHILLIPS SEEKS TO CONFISCATE CARGOES OPERATED BY CITGO IN ARUBA

 
       WASHINGTON, D.C.  --   US oil company ConocoPhillips has filed lawsuits to seize at least two shipments of oil and fuel near a terminal in Aruba operated by Citgo Petroleum, a subsidiary of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, the Caribbean island government confirmed on Tuesday. Conoco is aggressively moving to enforce an arbitration ruling in its favor of the International Chamber of Commerce for 2 billion dollars, for the expropriation of two projects in Venezuela in 2007, which has generated concern in the Caribbean, where many islands depend of the fuel produced by the state PDVSA.

      "The Aruba refinery has said that an embargo was placed on two shipments of Citgo oil last night. Citgo says that the crude belongs to it and is fighting in court to show that the product is not from PDVSA, "said Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes. "Regardless of the outcome, this will not affect Aruba," he added. The confiscated shipments include 500 thousand barrels of crude oil in the Grimstad and about 300 thousand barrels of fuel for jets, gasoline and diesel in the Atlantic Lily, according to a source from the Aruba terminal and ship tracking data from Thomson Reuters.

     Citgo, PDVSA's refining unit in the United States, has leased since 2016 the Aruba refinery of 209 thousand barrels per day (bpd) and its 13 million barrel terminal to the government to store crude supplies from Venezuela and other countries for your facilities. The refinery has been idle since 2012, due to a huge modernization project, which is why Citgo frequently supplies imported fuel to the island. Wever-Croes told reporters that government officials and the administration of the refinery are organizing a contingency plan to avoid a situation similar to that of Curaçao and Bonaire, where the inventories were blocked by Conoco's legal actions. "What belongs to Citgo belongs to PDVSA, but a judge must make a decision," said Wever-Croes.

May 15, 2018

GRUPO DE LIMA MAKES A LAST CALL TO THE MADURO REGIME TO SUSPEND THE ILLEGITIMATE PROCESS OF MAY 20


     mexico city, mexico   -- 
Ministers of the countries belonging to the Lima Group met Monday in Mexico to discuss the serious crisis in Venezuela, where it was decided to make a final appeal to the Maduro regime to suspend the illegitimate process on May 20 through a communique, announced by the foreign minister of that country, Luis Videgaray.

    Videgaray offered a message to the media together with the Secretary of the Treasury and Public Credit of Mexico, José Antonio Anaya, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru, Néstor Popolizio. "Ministers and representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs and finance of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Spain, and the United States, with the participation of Spain and by videoconference the United States, met with the object and address the worsening of the crisis in Venezuela.

     The participating countries reiterated their condemnation of the authoritarian regime that prevails in Venezuela, which has violated democratic institutions, the rule of law and respect for Human Rights and has called for an illegitimate electoral process lacking in credibility. the Venezuelan government to suspend the general elections scheduled for next May 20 as they have been convened by an illegitimate authority, He also indicated that the participating countries analyzed the possible scenarios and identified a series of actions to be taken jointly or individually after May 20.

CORINA MACHADO: MAY 20 WILL END THE RECOGNITION OF NICOLAS MADURO AS PRESIDENT

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA-- 
On May 20, Nicolás Maduro will NOT be recognized as head of state according to Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado, who in an interview with Efe said that the "fraudulent" presidential elections will mark the end of the president who is seeking re-election. "As of May 21, no one inside and outside of Venezuela can tell Nicolás Maduro president and nobody in the barracks can say commander in chief," said the ex-deputy who is touring the oil country to promote the resignation of the president as "only option "to get out of the crisis.

     In her view, this Sunday's race is an "attempt by Chavez to justify his permanence by force in power", so he believes that Venezuela is facing something more than a "fraud", as denounced by the thick of the local opposition and a good part of the international community. "We are in this new stage, it is final and it is time to transmit force, strengthen the grassroots organization, and make it very clear which is the path that allows us to move forward to effectively achieve the resignation," he said.

     The leader of the political organization Vente Venezuela believes that in order to achieve this goal, internal and external forces must converge against the government to create "a breaking point in which for Maduro and his regime it is more expensive to stay than to leave", and that day , he assured, "is getting closer". "Now we need, unlike the last time, a political leadership that does not break (....) That's what we have built around Soy Venezuela", he emphasized in reference to a political platform that also leads in the country and that support the former mayor Antonio Ledezma and the diplomat Diego Arria, among others. Machado believes that May 20 will also end the "confusion" around the mood of the Bolivarian revolution led by Maduro, denounced by her as a "dictatorship" for years and increasingly by more local political parties and foreign governments as the of the United States.

MARIA CORINA MACHADO MET WITH ANDRES PASTRANA AND ALVARO URIBE AT THE COLOMBIA-VENEZUELA BORDER

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA --   Vente Venezuela party leader María Corina Machado met on the border with Colombian presidents Andrés Pastrana and Álvaro Uribe Vélez to discuss the current crisis in Venezuela.

     During the meeting, which was also present the candidate for the next presidential elections of the New Granadaan country, Marta Lucía Ramírez, a Joint Declaration was signed in which, in addition to reaffirming the historic ties that unite the Republics of Colombia and Venezuela in the efforts to establish and consolidate the validity of the liberal democratic socio-political regime, reaffirm its commitment to the values of freedom and democracy, essential conditions for a society capable of promoting economic development, based on individual initiative, social solidarity, respect to private property, and the responsible exercise of politics, as an instrument to promote understanding among citizens.

     "Today is the beginning of the end of Nicolás Maduro. Maduro believes that May 20 will be his coronation, but it will be his end, the end of the dictatorship. The Peace of Colombia goes through the peace of Venezuela, "said Pastrana.

May 14, 2018

VENEZUELAN MILITARY LEAVE THE RANKS OF THE FAN AND FLEE ACROSS THE BORDER IN SEARCH OF FOOD AND SHELTER

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --  Only in the month of March were registered at least 10,000 soldiers who requested to be released. This reality puts the logistics in trouble for next May 20, when the presidential elections will be held, the ranks of the Venezuelan National Armed Forces become smaller. The soldiers are following the example of the civilians and have chosen to escape from the barracks towards the neighboring countries in order to alleviate the hunger and the ravages of the humanitarian crisis that involve the country.

    This reality has reached levels that have forced the FAN to recruit retirees and militia to participate as security in the upcoming elections scheduled for next May 20, according to a report of the Spanish media ABC. Soldiers have chosen to flee Venezuela in the face of hyperinflation, their empty shelves and the constant threat of going to jail for requesting from their superiors that they be allowed to leave. The most expeditious solution that the uniformed have achieved is to escape, with nothing in their pockets, through the borders to Colombia or Brazil.

     The NGO Control Ciudadano accounts for at least 10,000 petitions of soldiers who have wanted to withdraw only in the month of March . "There has been an increase in military detainees accused of treason, desertion and other crimes since 2015. Our estimate is that there are 300 people in jail," says San Miguel, "most of them are troops, some are high-level officials, others are civilians linked to the Army." commented the platform's director, Rocío San Miguel. As detailed by ABC , the military of the highest rank within the Armed Forces have no contact or communication with soldiers of smaller scale. The measure seeks to prevent between the two groups planning a military coup that attempts against dictator Nicolás Maduro .

NICARAGUA'S ARMY DISTANCES ITSELF FROM DANIEL ORTEGA

     MANAGUA, NICARAGUA -- 
Nicaragua's army on Saturday distanced itself from President Daniel Ortega, saying it was not repressing anyone for taking part in anti-government protests. Ortega is facing his worst opposition in the streets in many years. Unrest against Ortega exploded in mid-April, and at least 45 mostly student demonstrators were killed. The toll is now 51.

     "We have no reason to repress anyone" for anti-government demonstrations, Army spokesman Manuel Guevara said. "We think that dialogue is the answer," he stressed. Guevara said the military rejected what he sees as effort to misconstrue military actions as repression on behalf of the Ortega government. Troops are required to protect strategic locations, national assets and national parks, for example.

     Initially triggered by reforms to cut spending on Nicaragua's deficit-laden social security system -- later abandoned by Ortega -- the protests swelled to include other grudges against the 72-year-old president, widely seen as autocratic and distant. The protests are the worst Ortega has faced in the past 11 years, since the leftist former Sandinista rebel returned to power after a lengthy stint in opposition. The demonstrations however have become more peaceful in recent days. Ortega has said he is willing to hold talks to calm the situation but made few moves to follow through.

NICARAGUA'S ARMY CALLS FOR END TO  VIOLENCE

 
       MANAGUA, NICARAGUA --  Nicaraguan demonstrator clashes with riot police on May 12, 2018 in Masaya city, where a rights group and a doctor reported dozens injuredNicaragua's army on Saturday called for an end to violence in the country and distanced itself from President Daniel Ortega, saying it was not repressing anyone for taking part in anti-government protests. Unrest against the president exploded in mid-April and has been fueled by a brutal response from police.

    "We are the same uniformed people, working for their own benefit and, as a consequence, we call for stopping the violence and actions that destabilize us," an army statement said, expressing solidarity with the families of those who have died in the protests. "We have no reason to repress anyone" for anti-government demonstrations, army spokesman Manuel Guevara said earlier. "We think that dialogue is the answer," he stressed, adding that the military rejects what he sees as an effort to misconstrue military actions as repression on behalf of the Ortega government.

    Troops are required to protect strategic locations, national assets and national parks, for example. Initially triggered by reforms to cut spending on Nicaragua's deficit-laden social security system -- later abandoned by Ortega -- the protests swelled to include other grudges against the president who is widely seen as autocratic and distant. Ortega, 73, is a former rebel leader who first ruled after his Sandinista revolutionaries chased the corrupt dynasty of dictator Anastasio Somoza from power in 1979. Now, Ortega is "equal to Somoza.

May 13, 2018

US SAYS THE #20 MAY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN VENEZUELA IS A "RED LINE" FOR THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

     WASHINGTON, D.C.  --  The United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States, OAS, Carlos Trujillo, spoke with the Voice of America about the process that will take place in Venezuela on May 20 and whose legitimacy has been questioned by at least 16 countries of the Hemisphere . The diplomat said that the Venezuelan military "have to do justice."

Trujillo explained that his call implies that the military "should not be behind a leader who is not legitimate, can not abuse the people and can not torture civilians", warning at the same time that once democracy returns to his country Those who violate Venezuela's "true Constitution" will have to respond to justice. Ambassador Trujillo said that after May 20, "the conversation will change", calling for the imposition of more drastic sanctions against the government of President Nicolás Maduro by the international community.

The elections in Venezuela are a "red line" for the international community according to Ambassador Trujillo. "How long are we going to put up with a president who abuses his people?" Asked the US ambassador. to the OAS by assuring the Voice of America that the disputed Venezuelan elections mark a "red line" for the international community. "A mafia governs Venezuela," said the US ambassador to the OAS, who explained why the administration of President Donald Trump considers the Venezuelan crisis as a threat to US national security.

DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO TELLS THE OPPOSITION DEPUTY JULIO BORGES THAT JAIL AWAITS FOR HIM IN VENEZUELA

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA --  Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro said on Thursday to former parliamentary leader and opposition deputy Julio Borges, who is on tour around the world exposing the situation of the oil nation, which in Venezuela "awaits a jail" for "traitor" "And by" vendepatria "

     "The spokesmen of imperialism are crazy" and "they went out to propose that there were no presidential elections in Venezuela (...), if the elections are suspended who is going to elect the president of the republic? (...), the garbof Julio Borges? With the pardon of the garbage, Julio Borges trades, here a prison awaits you, "he said. In an act of campaign, transmitted by the channel of the VTV, Maduro indicated that "sooner than later" Borges will go to jail for "traitor" and "vendepatria".

Maduro has repeatedly accused Borges of calling for sanctions against the governments of the world against Venezuela. Last February, Borges announced a tour before the advance of the presidential elections, which are commonly held at the end of the year. The objective of the tour, as he explained then, was to seek support for Venezuela to hold "fair" and "free" elections, as the opposition considers that the summoned for May 20 is a fraud.

IMF FORECASTS STRONG ECONOMIC CONTRACTION IN VENEZUELA AND WARNS THAT THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS ALSO WILL INTENSIFY

 
       LIMA, PERU --  The IMF foresees that the GDP of Latin America and the Caribbean will increase 2.0% in 2018 according to a report released this Friday in Lima with data previous to the volatility that depreciated currencies and left Argentina against the ropes. As it had already done in April, during the spring meetings between the IMF and the World Bank, regional attention is concentrated on the situation in Venezuela, where the Fund estimates a 15% decrease this year. This fall occurs after "an accumulated contraction of 35% between 2014 and 2017".

     "The humanitarian crisis is also intensifying given the growing scarcity of basic products (...), the collapse of the health system and high crime rates," the document said. Already during these meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, Werner had warned that the Venezuelan situation constitutes one of the greatest crises "of the modern economy". Meanwhile, the IMF gave moderate praise to Brazil, noting that the South American giant grew 1% in 2017 after a "deep recession" of two years, to close 2018 with growth of 2.3% and reach 2.5% in 2019 In the Brazilian case, however, the IMF noted that there is a "crucial risk" that the economic policy scenario will be modified by the presidential elections scheduled for October, a situation in which there could be an increase in volatility and "greater uncertainties."

     In the document released this Friday, the IMF insisted that the region faces external risks, in particular an adjustment in global financial conditions and an increase in protectionist measures in terms of trade. In this scenario, the IMF recommended maintaining efforts to maintain the debt-GDP ratio at "sustainable" levels, improve investments in infrastructure, attack corruption, open international trade and transparency in central banks. According to IMF experts, Mexico, Central America and parts of the Caribbean have benefited from an increase in growth in the United States. However, he added that the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has dragged on since August last year, generates "uncertainties" in the region.

May 11, 2018

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP TO MEET KIM JONG-UN  ON JUNE 12 IN SINGAPORE FOR NORTH KOREA SUMMIT

     WASHINGTON, D.C.  --
PRESIDENT Donald Trump's long-awaited meeting with Kim Jong-un will take place in Singapore on June 12, the President has said. Trump confirmed the first details of the summit in a tweet on Thursday. "The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!" he said. The summit represents the first between a US president and a North Korean leader. Once dubbed an "Asian Switzerland”, Singapore represents neutral ground for the two leaders.

      Singapore, almost 3,000 miles south of Pyongyang, maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea which has an embassy and ambassador in the country. It also has ties with the US, and is a regular port of call for American warships. It also avoids any embarrassment for Kim, as North Korea's ageing fleet of jets limits the distance he can travel. It is not the first time Singapore has been chosen for high-profile diplomatic talks - in 2015 China and Taiwan held their first talks in more than six decades on the island city-state. Trump had expressed an interest in holding the meeting in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the heavily fortified border separating the Koreas.

     He tweeted last week: "Numerous countries are being considered for the MEETING, but would Peace House/Freedom House, on the Border of North & South Korea, be a more Representative, Important and Lasting site than a third party country? Just asking!" However, it is thought his advisers ruled out the site for security reasons. June 12 will be the first anniversary of the announcement of the release of Otto Warmbier. Warmbier, 22, was detained in North Korea for 15 months after being arrested while on a college group tour. He was returned to the US in a coma and died a week later.

"PRESIDENT TRUMP WILL DO WHAT IS NECESSARY," SAID PENCE ON MILITARY INTERVENTION IN VENEZUELA

       WASHINGTON, D.C.   --  Pence did not rule out that the military intervention in Venezuela continues as an option to depose the Maduro regime. Senior officials from the United States continue to provide categorical statements about the situation in Venezuela. They have been one after another this week. First Vice President Mike Pence, in a historic speech before the Organization of American States, said: "Failed states have no borders." Then the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, subscribed his speech; and US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the United Nations that dictator Nicolás Maduro must resign.

     But now Pence has returned and touched on a swampy issue: the possibility of military intervention in Venezuela to depose Maduro, which was first raised by President Donald Trump in August of last year. On May 9, they asked the vice president: "Is the military option still on the table when we talk about Venezuela?" Pence was concise, but said enough: "The United States will not look to the side while Venezuela collapses under the dictatorship (...) President Trump is fully committed to doing what is necessary." In these last days the position of the republican Government before the authoritarianism of Maduro in Venezuela has become firmer.

     The hostile rhetoric has escalated and officials such as Pence, Pompeo, Haley and the ambassador to the OAS, Carlos Trujillo, agree in a much more confrontational and radical speech. As Ambassador Nikki Haley demonstrated in her last speech, in which she said that "for the security of all the people of Latin America, it is time for Maduro to resign. I'm not sure how we'll make that possible, but I do know we can not stop "; already to the United States, it would not be enough for the dictator to push for reforms. It does not suggest Maduro to restore liberties or respect dissent. Mike Pence has been strict. Before the OAS, in addition to saying that "the failed states have no borders," he also assured that "Venezuela will be free." This, together with the decision not to respond negatively to the question about military intervention, should generate nervousness in the Miraflores Palace.

ISRAEL sTRIKES 'NEARLY ALL' IRANIAN INFRASTRUCTURE IN SYRIA AFTER IRAN ROCKET ATTACK, MINISTER SAYS

        JERUSALEM, ISRAEL  --  Israel fires missiles at Iranian targets in Syria following Iran's first direct rocket attack on Israeli soldiers. The conflict comes two days following Trump's exit from nuclear deal. Israel and Iran reached the brink of full-scale war Thursday as the Islamic Republic's unprovoked rocket attack on soldiers in the Golan Heights gave way to an unprecedented Israeli counter-strike that targeted nearly all Iranian infrastructure inside Syria. The Israeli Defense Force said it deployed fighter jets and used missiles to strike a range of targets, including military compounds, intelligence operations and munitions warehouses, a statement read. The strikes were Israel's largest air operation in Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

     The IDF will not allow the Iranian threat to establish itself in Syria. The Syrian regime will be held accountable for everything happening in its territory,” the press release read. “The IDF is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios.” The missile launcher responsible for the Iranian rocket strikes was also destroyed, according to the release. The strikes came in response to Syria-based Iranian forces firing roughly 20 rockets at Israeli front-line military positions in the Golan Heights. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman, called the attack "the most severe attempt" by Iran's Al Quds force to attack the country. It was the first time Iranian forces have attacked Israel from Syria, according to Reuters.

      Conricus said four rockets were intercepted and the others fell short of their targets. No injuries or damage was reported. The White House on Thursday condemned the Iranian assault, two days after President Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the Iran nuke deal. "The United States condemns the Iranian regime's provocative rocket attack from Syria against Israeli citizens, and we strongly support Israel's right to act in self-defense," Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. "The Iranian regime's deployment into Syria of offensive rocket and missile systems aimed at Israel is an unacceptable and highly dangerous development for the entire Middle East." "Should there be another Iranian attack, we will be prepared for it," he said.

May 10, 2018

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  GINA HASPEL IS EXACTLY THE TYPE OF LEADER THE CIA NEEDS TODAY

 
    WASHINGTON, D.C.  --Gina Haspel’s nomination to become director of the CIA comes at an opportune time, given her understanding of the threat posed by Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, and her years of work to defeat Islamic terrorism, swiftly leading operations that led to the capture and imprisonment of terrorists. As the first career CIA employee nominated to lead the organization in many decades, she is an outstanding nominee with a sterling record and reputation.

     During her 33-year career, Ms. Haspel has worked in the field as an operations officer and as a chief of station in multiple countries. She speaks several languages, and has served in senior roles within the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and its National Clandestine Service, the unit responsible for covert actions around the world. As a deputy director and now acting director of the CIA, she has won awards for her distinguished service and excellence in intelligence and counterterrorism.

     Along with colleagues who sing her praises, a bipartisan group of national security luminaries supports her nomination — among them, former secretary of defense and CIA director Leon Panetta, former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden, former National Intelligence director James Clapper, and former attorney general Michael Mukasey. For 16 months as deputy director under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ms. Haspel won his trust and that of President Trump, working to keep America safe. She is exactly the type of the leader the CIA needs today.

VENEZUELA OPPOSITION CALLS FOR ABSTAINING FROM VOTING IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SCHEDULED ON MAY 20

         CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --  The Venezuelan Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition bloc has issued a statement calling on the country’s residents to refrain from participation in the forthcoming snap presidential election “Refraining from the participation in this fraudulent vote and leaving the streets empty, leaving [the supporters of the government] alone is a way to show our rejection of Nicolas Maduro’s regime and the May 20 electoral fraud,” the statement read.

     According to the opposition organization, the legal vote should take place in December, however, it was rescheduled by the National Constituent Assembly, the legislative body initiated by Maduro. The opposition also called on Falcon, who had decided to participate in the vote in spite of the joint decision of the opposition, to withdraw its candidacy.  On May 20, the Venezuelans will elect the next president of the nation. There are five candidates for the post: incumbent President Nicolas Maduro, opposition leader Henri Falcon, Reinaldo Quijada, Luis Ratti and Javier Bertucci.

      Along with the presidential vote, local elections will also take place. Venezuela, mired in a deep economic crisis, has been facing mass protests since last spring. The rallies were sparked by the country’s top court’s decision to restrict the legislative powers of the parliament as well as the election to the National Constituent Assembly initiated by Maduro with the intention of rewriting the constitution. The National Constituent Assembly has not been recognized by the country’s opposition, the European Union or the United States.

curacao prepares for potential crisis due to conflict with conocophillips

 
       willemstad, curacao --  The legal dispute between US oil company ConocoPhillips and state oil company PDVSA threatens to create a "potential crisis" in Curazao's small economy, which runs the risk of stopping processing Venezuelan crude at its local island refinery, its prime minister said on Tuesday. The US company that took control of the inventories and assets of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) in Bonaire and San Eustaquio last week, would be trying to do the same in Aruba and Curaçao to collect a recent arbitration award of 2,000 million dollars, according to nearby sources.

    Curaçao Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath said no seizures have been made so far, but he said he was concerned about the possibility that PDVSA would stop oil shipments to the Isla refinery to avoid an embargo and that unit would run out of supplies. of crude. "We are aware of the potential risks," said Rhuggenaath. "An interruption of the operation (of the Isla refinery) would have a devastating impact from the economic and social point of view," he added in a telephone interview. PDVSA has already suspended oil storage and shipments from its facilities in the Caribbean, according to a source with the Venezuelan state oil company and Reuters data. [nL1N1SF2K6]

     The Prime Minister of Curaçao said he is following the situation since Saturday and contacted the legal team of ConocoPhillips on the island to learn about their actions and explain the scope of the judicial maneuvers. The Isla refinery, which has the capacity to process some 335,000 barrels per day, contributes about 10 percent of Curacao's Gross Domestic Product and supplies fuel for the community and the boats that arrive on the island, the head of the local government added. To alleviate the situation, the island government is preparing to buy fuel in the international market as part of a plan of contingency measures, the prime minister said.

May 9, 2018

PRESIDENT TRUMP WITHDRAWS THE UNITED STATES FROM IRAN NUCLEAR  AGREEMENT, CALLS PACT 'DEFECTIVE AT ITS CORE'

WASHINGTON, D.C.  -- 
Trump says the 'horrible, one-sided' JCPOA didn't bring peace and won't prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, says the U.S. will reinstitute powerful sanctions on Iran. President Trump on Tuesday announced plans to leave the Iran nuclear deal, declaring the pact has failed to halt the country’s nuclear ambitions in perhaps the biggest foreign policy decision of his administration. Speaking at the White House, Trump said: “I am announcing today the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.” Trump for months had left open whether he would move to scrap the pact, and his apparent decision to re-impose sanctions has rattled European rattles and leaves unclear how Tehran will respond.

      But Trump scorched the deal in his Tuesday remarks, saying it put only weak limits on the regime's nuclear activity and still would allow Iran to pursue a nuclear weapon once key parts of the agreement lapse. "This was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never ever been made," he said. “... The Iran deal is defective at its core.” The Treasury Department said a restoration of some sanctions will go into effect after a 90-day countdown, with the rest kicking in after a 180-day wind-down period. Once sanctions are re-imposed, the U.S. effectively would be out of the deal.

     “At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction, that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful, nuclear energy program,” Trump said Tuesday. “Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie.”"This was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never ever been made." The Treasury Department said Trump would move to reimpose all sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 deal, not just the ones facing an immediate deadline. If he follows through on a sweeping imposition of sanctions, the move threatens to topple the Iran nuclear agreement as a whole – and with it, his predecessor’s signature foreign policy achievement.

NIKKI HALEY: LATIN AMERICA CAN NOT ALLOW "AUTHORITARIAN" GOVERNMENTS TO DRAG IT

         NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK   --  The ambassador to the UN, Nikky Haley, said that Latin America cannot allow the "last authoritarian governments" left in the hemisphere to "drag" the rest of the region, alluding to the governments of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. "We can not allow the last few (governments) authoritarian survivors to drag the hemisphere," Haley told the 48th Conference of the Americas, held at the State Department under the auspices of the Council of the Americas study center. Haley insisted that it is time for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to "leave" for the sake of "the security and stability of the continent."

      "Today the Maduro regime threatens the peace and security of the entire region. What has been described as the biggest displacement in the history of the region is now taking place in Latin America, "said the ambassador. "Desperate people are being received in their neighboring countries, but they are depleting the resources of the state and cities in Colombia, Brazil, Peru and elsewhere," said Haley. The diplomat insisted that the presidential elections convened in Venezuela for next May 20 are not legitimate elections, and insisted that the Venezuelan crisis is a matter that should concern globally.

     Venezuela's economy and civil society, she added, have seen a catastrophic decline under Chávez and Maduro. "We have all seen the tragic suffering of the Venezuelan people. "Today the Maduro regime threatens the peace and security of the entire region. What has been described as the biggest displacement in the history of the region is now taking place in Latin America, "said the ambassador. "Desperate people are being received in their neighboring countries, but they are depleting the resources of the state and cities in Colombia, Brazil, Peru and elsewhere," said Haley.

PDVSA DIVERTS CRUDE TANKER IN CURACAO IN THE FACE OF POSSIBLE CONFISCATION

        CARACAS, VENEZUELA   - Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA ordered a vessel waiting to be unloaded in Curaçao to be diverted to Venezuelan waters after US oil company ConocoPhillips filed an application with a Caribbean court to confiscate its inventories and other assets on the island, according to a freighter and Reuters data. The US oil company has moved aggressively in recent days to take PDVSA's assets in the Caribbean, one of its main export centers, and thus enforce a $ 2 billion arbitration award related to the nationalization of Conoco projects in Venezuela in 2007.

      The British Cygnet tanker loaded crude at the Russian terminal Primorsk, last month .It arrived at the Bullenbay terminal in Curacao on Sunday, two days after at least two Caribbean courts ordered the retention of inventories at PDVSA's facilities in Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba and San Eustaquio following a request from the US oil company. PDVSA has been buying US and Russian crude this year to feed its Isla refinery in Curacao, with the capacity to process 335,000 barrels per day bpd, and to mix with the extra-heavy oil from the Orinoco Oil Belt, the main producing region of Venezuela.

     Britain's Cygnet, which sailed to the western coast of Venezuela on Monday night, follows a list of at least nine ships diverted from Curaçao and Bonaire to Venezuela and Cuba to avoid seizing the tankers or their barrels, according to a source PDVSA and Reuters data. Cargoes arriving from the Caribbean have started to create bottle necks in the main ports of PDVSA, especially Jose, the largest Venezuelan export terminal for oil, and the docks that serve the state's largest refinery, the Refining Center Paraguaná, according to the data.

May 8, 2018

US VICE PRESIDENT PENCE ASKS THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES TO SUSPEND VENEZUELA

WASHINGTON, D.C.  -- 
Vice President Mike Pence on Monday asked the countries of the Western Hemisphere to suspend Venezuela from the 35-nation Organization of American States. Pence also urged member states to cut off Venezuelan leaders from their financial systems and to enact visa restrictions. "To uphold the democracy and freedom, we call the members of the OAS to suspend Venezuela from the Organization of American States," said Pence, the first U.S. vice president to address the group since Al Gore in 1994.

     Pence asked Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to suspend the May 20 presidential election, which he called "no more than fraud and sham." Pence also urged Maduro to "open Venezuela to international aid, and do it now. Venezuela has refused to allow international aid, alleging that would amount to foreign intervention. The South American nation also denies there is an ongoing humanitarian crisis, even though thousands of Venezuelans have fled to other countries in the region. Pence also said during the speech that the Trump administration had designated a former official of the Venezuelan intelligence service, two of his aides and 20 companies under their control as narcotics traffickers.

     Samuel Moncada, Venezuela's deputy foreign relations minister for North America, called Pence remarks a "farce" and a "monstrosity". Moncada said in April 2017 his country started a two-year process to withdraw from the Washington-based Organization of American States. "We want to leave. We are counting the days so we can leave, but this is the most dangerous place in the world for Venezuela and I have to show up to defend Venezuela," he said. Moncada also said there is "no possibility" that the May 20 election does not take place. "They are an expression of our sovereignty," he said.

IRAN-CONTRA FIGURE OLIVER NORTH NAMED PRESIDENT OF THE NRA

         WASHINGTON, D.C.    --  Retired LIEUTENANT Col. Oliver North, the gung-ho Marine at the center of the Iran-Contra affair three decades ago, was named president Monday of the National Rifle Association, giving it star power as it faces a powerful backlash over the massacres in Florida and Las Vegas. North, 74, will be the biggest celebrity to lead the 5-million-member gun lobby since Hollywood leading man Charlton Heston, who famously declared in 2000 that his guns would have to be taken "from my cold, dead hands."

     "Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader," NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said. Momentum for gun control has been building since the mass shooting in Las Vegas last fall that killed 58 people and the Feb. 14 rampage at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 dead. North was picked by the NRA's board of directors, which elects a president every two years, and is expected to assume office within the next several weeks. He succeeds Pete Brownell, who decided not to seek a second term. LaPierre remains as vice president and chief executive, running the powerful lobbying group's day-to-day operations.

     North will lead the board, and NRA observers say they anticipate he will take on a more public role in the style of Heston, a fiery presence who used his acting background to energize members. North was a military aide to the National Security Council during the Reagan administration in the 1980s he emerged into the spotlight for his role in arranging the secret sale of weapons to Iran and the diversion of the proceeds to the anti-communist Contra rebels in Nicaragua. He was convicted in 1989 of obstructing Congress during its investigation, destroying government documents and accepting an illegal gratuity. Those convictions were overturned in 1991.

CUBAN DOCTORS, A CONTROVERSIAL SIGNING IN KENYA AND UGANDA

 
       HAVANA, CUBA   -Hundreds of Cuban doctors are going to cross the Caribbean Sea for the African savannah and will travel to Kenya and Uganda to strengthen their public health services, but without even boarding the plane, they already encounter the rejection of unions and medical associations. Last week, Kenya and Cuba signed an agreement for one hundred Cuban doctors to come to the African country and fifty Kenyan doctors to travel to the Caribbean island to receive training, especially in the field of family medicine.

    The agreement was signed after the historic visit the president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, made to Cuba in March to boost bilateral cooperation, the first of a Kenyan head of state since both countries established diplomatic relations in 2001. The Kenyan Ministry of Health of Kenya insists that the Cuban reinforcements, scheduled for before July, will improve access in rural areas to specialized medical services in areas such as oncology, nephrology and dermatology. In neighboring Uganda, the president, Yoweri Museveni, returned this week to defend his government’s plan to hire 200 doctors from Cuba as a buffer against the persistent threats of strike by local doctors, who have called the project “treason.”

     “I want to bring Cuban doctors because our people behaved very badly and unprofessionally, they started strikes, they incited other doctors and they let our patients die, they blackmailed us,” Museveni said last Tuesday. During a celebration of Labor Day, the veteran president, who has led Uganda since 1986, referred to the three-week strike that last November paralyzed Ugandan hospitals to demand better wages, among other demands. “A doctor who goes on strike is not a doctor, he is an enemy of our people and we should treat him as such,” snapped Museveni, not known for mincing words. Despite the excellent global reputation of Cuba’s “white coats,” the unions and medical associations of the two countries reject the Cuban agreements outright, arguing that they are expensive and do not offer a permanent solution to the lack of specialists.

May 7, 2018

ROUHANI: IRAN HAS 'PLANS TO RESIST' ANY TRUMP DECISION

      TEHRAN. IRAN -- -  Iran’s president said Sunday if the U.S. withdraws from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers that Washington would regret the decision. Hassan Rouhani said in a televised address, “If the United States leaves the nuclear agreement, you will soon see that they will regret it like never before in history. “We have plans to resist any decision by Trump on the nuclear accord,” Rouhani said in a speech carried live by state television, Reuters reported. “Orders have been issued to our atomic energy organization ... and to the economic sector to confront America’s plots against our country,” Rouhani told a rally in northeast Iran.

      Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, pretends to tear a piece of paper as he speaks about the Iran nuclear agreement at the Iran Freedom Convention for Human Rights and Democracy at the Grand Hyatt, May 5, 2018, in Washington. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will decide by May 12 whether Washington will remain an adherent to the nuclear agreement. He has said he will pull out of the pact if amendments are not made, including a proposal to limit Iran’s ballistic missile program, which Iran has maintained is a defensive deterrent.

     Iran’s foreign minister said Thursday Iran will not renegotiate a 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers. “We will neither outsource our security nor will we renegotiate or add onto a deal we have already implemented in good faith,’’ Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on YouTube. Meanwhile, a foreign policy adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned last week Iran would withdraw from the deal if Trump follows through on his threat to pull out of the accord. Ali Akbar Velayati said on Iran’s state television website, “If the United States withdraws from the nuclear deal, then we will not stay in it.”

IRAN'S ROUHANI WARNS PRESIDENT TRUMP OF 'HISTORIC REGRET' OVER NUCLEAR DEAL

    TEHRAN, IRAN  --  Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned that the US will face "historic regret" if PRESIDENT Donald Trump scraps the nuclear agreement with Tehran. Rouhani's comments come as the US president decides whether to pull out of the deal by a 12 May deadline. Trump has strongly criticised the agreement, calling it "insane". The 2015 deal - between Iran, the US, China, Russia, Germany, France and the UK - lifted sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

     France, the UK and Germany have been trying persuade the US president that the current deal is the best way to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is travelling to Washington on Sunday to discuss the matter with White House officials. The UN also warned Mr Trump not to walk away from the deal. However, he has threatened that the US will "withdraw" from the deal on 12 May - the end of a 120-day review period - unless Congress and European powers fixed its "disastrous flaws".

    In remarks carried live on Iranian state television on Sunday, President Rouhani said: "If America leaves the nuclear deal, this will entail historic regret for it." He warned Iran had "a plan to counter any decision Trump may take and we will confront it". Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and says it considers the deal non-renegotiable. Last week, Israel revealed "secret nuclear files" which it said showed Iran had run a clandestine nuclear weapons programme before 2003, and had secretly retained the technological know-how, in breach of the agreement.

FORMER PRESIDENT RICARDO LAGOS: THE ELECTIONS IN VENEZUELA ARE "A FARSE"

       SANTIAGO, CHILE  -The presidential elections convened for next May 20 in Venezuela constitute "a farce," according to former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006), who supports the Venezuelan opposition’s decision to reject the process and refrain from participating. "Pretend an electoral process where the vast majority of leaders cannot participate, where they have invented that if political parties do not do this or that thing is not worth, is a farce," said the Chilean socialist politician in an interview published On Sunday the newspaper La Tercera.

     The opposition to the Venezuelan leader, Nicolás Maduro, considers these elections fraudulent and has called his followers to protest against the elections, in which the president seeks re-election for a new term. "It is so difficult to give advice," reflected Lagos, when asked about the lack of unity that is observed in the Venezuelan opposition. "I know the whole opposition leadership and I consider myself their friend. Nearly all of them have passed through here. With others I have contact with WhatsApp almost every day. When Mrs. Leopoldo López passed by here, I gave her some of my books, "he said.

    Regarding the current reality in Latin America, with the resurgence of conservative governments and a retreat of the left, Lagos considered that for the voter of the region "the present is not satisfactory". "When you have 40 percent of the poor, it is clear that your problem is poverty, right? But when you reduced the poor to 10 percent it means that now there is a 30 percent that does not want to go back, but has other demands, "he said. He argued, in any case, in reference to the resurgence of conservative governments in the region, that "cycles are normal in a democracy."

May 6, 2018

CRUDE PRICES FALL FOR INCREASE IN US PRODUCTION THAT NEUTRALIZES OPEP CUTS

      WASHINGTON, D.C.  -- Oil prices fell on Thursday as rising US inventories of crude and a record weekly output from that country neutralized OPEC-led supply cuts and possible new sanctions by Washington against Iran. Brent crude oil futures were trading at $ 72.91 per barrel at 1113 GMT, down 45 cents from their latest close, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were down 10 cents at $ 67.83 a barrel. .

     Oil prices fluctuated in the session, falling during Asian operations but then rising soon after, as the market struggled with contradictory signals. On Wednesday, a report by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed an increase of 6.2 million barrels in US crude inventories. But optimistic factors, including an increase in the official price of oil sales from Saudi Arabia to Asia, boosted prices, according to Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

     "This may indicate a stronger demand than expected in Asia," said Fritsch. "This, combined with restrictions on production (of OPEC), could boost prices," he added. The latest Reuters survey on OPEC production showed that the cartel pumped around 32 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, slightly below its target of 32.5 million bpd, due in large part to the decline in the production in Venezuela. Fritsch said the cuts, along with the growth in demand, were more than offset by the increase in US oil.

VENEZUELA MARKS IN APRIL A NEW MINIMUM OF OIL PRODUCTION IN THE 30 YEARS OF PLATTS RECORDS

    WASHINGTON, D.C.  --  Venezuela's oil production was 1.41 million barrels per day in April, down 80,000 barrels per day from the March average and 540 thousand barrels per day less than April 2018 production, according to the S & P Global survey Platts published on Friday. Venezuela's problems have been well documented, as its oil barrels production count has decreased every month, except for three, since February 2016, according to the Platts survey files. Venezuela's oil production in April is the lowest in the 30-year history of Platts' OPEC survey, moving away from a strike of 2002-03 that affected the production of state oil company PDVSA.

     The country is suffering a terrible economic crisis and a humanitarian tragedy. The socialist government prints money without support, causing hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund estimates will reach 13,000% by the end of 2018. It has rationed severely the sale of foreign currency, and on May 4, 2018, had only made a total of 12 auctions in the official exchange market Dicom, for a total of 9.31 MMUSD, equivalent to 0.1% of the country's import needs. Those displaced by the humanitarian tragedy could reach 10% of the population, according to preliminary figures from the UNHCR. A source from Venezuela's oil ministry told Platts, on condition of anonymity, that production could fall by an additional 200,000 b / d by December.

     The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, including Venezuela, Russia and several other non-cartel producers, began reducing supply in January 2017 in an effort to eliminate the global excess oil that had accumulated since 2014. That agreement has been renovated three times. The April production of 1,410 MBD represents a reduction of 562 MBD over the allocated quota of 1,972 MBD. Those 562MBD less, for the month of April, at an average price of the Venezuelan oil basket of 64 dollars per barrel, cause Venezuela to lose 36 million dollars a day, a total of 1,079 million dollars in April, due to the oil debacle that has brought socialism to the country. A true "auto-suicide"
 

SINCE OCTOBER, IMMIGRATION HAS REJECTED 3,500 CUBANS AT THE MEXICAN BORDER

       WASHINGTON, D.C. -US immigration authorities have denied entry to the Mexican border to more than 3,500 Cuban immigrants in the past seven months, the vast majority of them attempting to enter Laredo (Texas). According to data from the Customs and Border Protection Office (CBP, in English), 3,522 Cubans were not admitted to the country since October 1, when the current fiscal year began.

     The number, however, is lower if compared proportionally with the 15,410 for the entire fiscal year 2017. In addition to Laredo, immigrants go to the border posts of El Paso (Texas), Tucson (Arizona) and San Diego (California). The reduction of the flow of Cuban immigrants has been evident since in January of 2017 the former president of the United States Barack Obama (2009-2017) canceled the policy of "wet feet / dry feet," decree that has been in effect since in 1995.

     Before, Cubans who touched United States territory were favored with the Cuban Adjustment Act and its "dry feet / wet feet" policy, while the others were deported to the island. Now, that difference does not matter and all Cuban immigrants must arrive to the country with legal documents, either by sea, air or land, and if they wish they must request political asylum under an argument of "credible fear of returning to Cuba" and wait months detained in the USA without the certainty that their request will be ever approved.

May 5, 2018

LUIS ALMAGRO, OAS SECRETARY GENERAL, ENDORSED ACTIONS TAKEN BY VENEZUELAN SUPREME COURT IN EXILE THAT SUSPENDED    NICOLAS MADURO AS PRESIDENT

      WASHINGTON, D.C.  -- The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, endorsed the suspension of Nicolás Maduro as President of Venezuela announced by the alternative Supreme Court of that Caribbean country. "We recognize the disqualification and suspension of Nicolás Maduro as President of Venezuela as decided by the Supreme Court," Almagro said in a message on Twitter.

     This Venezuelan court meeting held in Miami (United States) declared the suspension of Maduro as president, as well as his disqualification from holding public office. The members of this court also agreed to demand the arrest of Maduro by the Bolivarian National Guard and asked Interpol to issue a red alert. The complaint against Maduro was originally made by ex-Venezuelan general Luisa Ortega for alleged corruption crimes related to the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, Efe reported.

     The suspension and disqualification dictated by the alternative court, more symbolic than effective , have been reached two weeks before the presidential elections scheduled on May 20 in the Caribbean country, in which Maduro opts for re-election. The Venezuelan Parliament, controlled by the opposition, appointed new magistrates for the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) last year, with the idea of replacing judges in the exercise of that authority, considering that they were at the service of the Government. Most of the new magistrates, persecuted by the Venezuelan Justice, chose to leave the country and settle as a Supreme Court calling itself "in exile".

OPPOSITION URGES VENEZUELANS TO BOYCOTT MAY 20 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA--  The coalition of Venezuelan opposition parties, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), confirmed on Thursday it will not participate in the May 20 presidential elections and urged citizens to refrain from “validating the fraud” or going to the polls. In addition to asking Venezuelans to abstain, the MUD also called for more protests against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on the day of the vote.

     On behalf of the MUD, Congresswoman Delsa Solorzano announced that suspending the May 20 elections “is what suits the national interest the most and is what the government should do to restore democratic rules.” In a letter read by the congresswoman, the opposition coalition asked the voters not to participate in “that fraud” on the elections day and to “leave the streets of the country desolate” as a way to boycott the elections, convened earlier than usual by Maduro who is standing for re-election.

     “Not participating in this May 20 elections does not mean we are not willing to participate in future elections,” the spokeswoman clarified, adding that if Maduro wins the elections as many predict, the coalition “will not recognize the regime.” The opposition also urged Henri Falcon, the only member of the MUD who disobeyed the decision of the coalition and decided to vie for presidency, to withdraw from the elections, although his campaign team said he has a good chance of winning. “Our friend Henri Falcon is not going to win. He’s only going to get whatever the government wants him to,” said the secretary general of the Democratic Action party, Henry Ramos Allup.

THE UNITED NATIONS WILL INVESTIGATE IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO  DE REPATRIATION OF 82 VENEZUELANS

       UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK -- The Government of Trinidad and Tobago announced on Wednesday that the UN will send to that country a delegation to investigate the repatriation, on April 21, of 82 Venezuelan citizens, a decision criticized by the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR). The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, Stuart Young, said today in statements to the local press that the UN Secretary General, Antônio Guterres, will send a team to Trinidad and Tobago to investigate the matter. Young noted that the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, had a "vigorous and detailed" conversation with Guterres on the issue in which the UN official reported sending the delegation.

     Guterres reported that a UNHCR team will be sent from the European city of Geneva to meet with the Government of Port of Spain in order to learn first-hand the details of how the events took place. Young clarified that there is still no date on when the UNHCR team will arrive in Trinidad and Tobago. He said that in that conversation with Guterres, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago expressed his discomfort for everything generated about the repatriation of the 82 Venezuelan citizens to their country of origin.

     Young recalled that Trinidad and Tobago remains at the forefront of efforts to combat trafficking in persons, but made it clear that the Executive of Port of Spain does not consider granting any moratorium to people who illegally enter the Caribbean country. Last week, Rowley stressed that Trinidad and Tobago followed the highest international standards in the process of deportation of Venezuelans, and regret the disinformation disclosed on the matter. He also recalled that all persons entering Trinidad and Tobago must follow a legal process in a mandatory manner.

May 4, 2018

DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO WARNS THAT HE IS GOING TO TAKE UP ARMS "IF" FALCON WINS -- HE KNOWS VERY WELL WHO IS GOING TO WIN

      CARACAS, VENEZUELA   -- 
"I do not give a fuck" what the US and the European Union sayVenezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said on Wednesday that he would rise up in arms and call his compatriots to an armed revolution to prevent a president like Henri Falcón from coming to power, to hand over the country's riches to the United States. In an euphoric speech from the state of Vargas, Maduro said he refused "a thousand times" the candidates of the opposition right as Henri Falcon give the country "to the gringos."

     "And if some day a government arrives that tries to deliver our riches, I would be the first to give a shout and take a rifle to make armed revolution with the people if necessary. He would be the first to do it and call the people to arms; I would, because there is dignity here, "he said at a campaign event. "Henri Falcón says he will win the presidency, [but] he will not give the country to the gringos (...) Could it be that in Venezuela there are no men, women or young people who defend the country?" He added.

     The president asked Venezuelans "to be alert to the only offer" of the aspirants of "the opposition right to give the country to the gringos and the European oligarchies", and called on "join forces to defend" Venezuela. " I deny myself, I deny myself a thousand times. "Maduro also said he cares" a damn "if the United States or Europe do not recognize his victory in the presidential elections on May 20." If I recognize the noble people of Venezuela, what the fuck I care what Europe says, what the fuck I care what Washington says (...) I do not fear anything or anyone, "he said.

VENEZUELA GOVERNMENT ARRESTS 11 EXECUTIVES OF BANESCO, THE LARGEST BANK IN THE COUNTRY

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA--   Arrest warrants have been released against eleven high-ranking officials with Banesco, Venezuela’s largest private bank, most of whom are already in custody, less than three months after the government suggested the owner should sell the bank to them. Thursday morning, the Attorney General designated by the Constituent Assembly, Tarek William Saab, said executive president Oscar Doval, vice presidents Jesus Irausquin, Carlos Lorenzo, Pedro Pernia and Belinda Omaña, legal counsel Marco Ortega all had “capture orders” against them.

     According to Banesco, Doval and several other executives had been under custody, initially called for “an interview” since Wednesday afternoon. “Capture orders” were also issued against director Liz Sanchez, managers David Romero and Cosme Betancourt, and compliance officers Teresa De Prisco and Carmen Lorenzo. Saab, who didn’t take questions from the dozens of journalists assembled, did not say how many of the wanted individuals were already in custody. The arrest warrants were announced after Doval and other executives, male and female, had been giving statements for more than 12 hours at the headquarters of DGCIM, an intelligence service affiliated with the military.

     They had originally been called for “an interview” but now they are in jail. Wednesday night, the bank tweeted about Doval and the others “it is not true that they are detained”, adding they were merely “giving statements.” “We are tranquil because all of our actions have always been adjusted to right and legality,” the bank also said in that tweet. Less than eight hours later, Saab would inform via a press conference that Doval and the other 10 were in DGCIM’s holding cells for the foreseeable future. According to Saab, they are accused and investigated "for breach of their duties." The attorney general reported that, in total, 134 people have been detained and another 394 have arrest warrants.

OAS WILL DISCUSS, AGAIN, VENEZUELAN CRISIS IN ITS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON JUNE 4 AND 5 IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

       WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Organization of American States approved to include "the situation of Venezuela " in the official agenda of its 70th General Assembly, which will be held on June 4 and 5 in Washington, United States. The vote took place this Wednesday in a preparatory commission of the Assembly, with 19 supports, 5 abstentions and 6 against, informed diplomatic sources. The agenda must be approved by the General Assembly itself, in its first plenary session. The application document was signed by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United States, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia.

     In it, they only ask that the matter of "the situation in Venezuela be included for consideration" in the agenda of the Assembly. The new US ambassador to the OAS, Carlos Trujillo, said that they are working on a resolution condemning the government of Nicolás Maduro for not allowing the entry of humanitarian aid. He also suggested that, before the Assembly, another text could be proposed in the OAS Permanent Council, saying that the Government that leaves the elections on May 20 is illegitimate. The crisis in Venezuela has played the last two general meetings of the OAS, in Santo Domingo and Cancun (Mexico), but it has never been officially on the official agenda of the meetings.

    Trujillo, who recently opened his post at the OAS, expressed himself today in much harder terms than his predecessors when he said that Venezuela should not be in the organization nor should it leave voluntarily because it does not respect democracy and human rights. The ambassador, of Cuban origin, spoke with a group of journalists, including Efe, at the end of his swearing-in ceremony with Vice President Mike Pence. Venezuela already requested to leave the OAS on April 28, 2017, an exit that will not be effective until two years later, on that same date of the year 2019.
 

May 3, 2018

PRESIDENT TRUMP HAILS POMPEO AS A "TRUE AMERICAN PATRIOT" AT SWEARING-IN CEREMONY

      WASHINGTON, D.C.    -- 
President Trump said he has "no doubt" Mike Pompeo will be making America "proud" as the nation's chief diplomat during a swearing-in ceremony as secretary of state on Wednesday. It was a ceremonial swearing-in, since Pompeo had already formally been sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito after a 57-42 confirmation vote Thursday afternoon. "You've earned my deepest respect and admiration and trust and you'll see why over the coming years," Mr. Trump told him before an audience of State Department employees. The president added that he has "absolute confidence he'll do an incredible job as the nation's 70th secretary of state.

      Under Pompeo's leadership, Mr. Trump said staffers will be "doing things that you don't even know about." He added, vaguely, "We have a couple going right now that a lot of people don't know about that are very, very encouraging." Mr. Trump did not elaborate. After Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office, Pompeo told the crowd of colleagues, family and friends that he was deeply humbled by the opportunity to serve the American people. "This responsibility comes more sobering than we consider the many threats to our prosperity, security and liberty. “

      Mr. President, I promise you, my team and I will be unrelenting in confronting those threats," Pompeo said. The secretary promised that under his stewardship, the State Department would "deploy tough diplomacy when necessary" and "make sure America is always a respected and principled leader on the world stage." Pompeo commented on North Korea, one area he'll be tackling in his new role. "Our eyes are wide open, and it is time to solve this once and for all. A bad deal is not an option. The American people are counting on us to get this right," Pompeo said of North Korea. In April, Pompeo secretly met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and said that he had the sense that Kim is serious about denuclearization.

US CALLS VENEZUELANS, INCLUDING MILITARY, TO REBEL AGAINST DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO

      WASHINGTON, D.C. --   For the administration of Donald Trump, regime change in Venezuela is a priority. It is part of the agenda of US foreign policy, no doubt. The recent position, actions and pronouncements prove it. There are many alternatives that exist for this definitive change of regime to take shape. From the pressure with the sanctions until the military intervention (as the same Trump raised in August last year). But another option is for Venezuelans, including the military, to encourage Maduro's departure. They would be movements and decisions protected by the United States.

     The senior director for Latin America of the White House, Juan Cruz, called on all citizens of the country ruled by Nicolas Maduro to "honor" its Constitution and to disobey the Chavista authoritarianism. "We call on all citizens to comply with their duties as described in the Constitution and we urge the military to respect the oath they took to carry out their duties. Do honor to your oath, "Cruz said in a speech on Monday, April 30. In the same argument, the senior director of the White House for Latin America called Maduro "crazy". This insane should be overthrown by his army under a "constitutional provision that justifies the rebellion against dictatorships," according to Univision.

    Regarding Cruz's speech, former US Ambassador John Feeley told Univisión that "it can be assumed that [the White House director for LatAm] was offering at least veiled support from the Trump administration to disobedience civil". It is a legitimate option, certainly. It would not necessarily be a coup d'état; but of the restitution of a rule of law - if the military is willing to cooperate. If so, as Cruz said, the United States would give its support to any temerity action.

THE GRACE PERIOD IS OVER: CHINA WOULD STOP HELPING VENEZUELA

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --  If the Asian power does not extend the grace period, the Maduro regime would be a problem to continue funding its criminal model. If China does not extend the grace period, Maduro would find it difficult to continue supporting his criminal model. The Maduro regime is supported, from all its supports, by the support of the Chinese and Russian powers. They are the ones who provide the economic protection and the international intimidation so that the poor chavista tyrant will not be whipped.

     But it is an exchange in which, to facilitate that protection, there must be a retribution. And it is increasingly less profitable to continue financing the criminal regime of Nicolás Maduro. The grace period granted by China to Venezuela for the payment of the enormous debt of more than USD $ 20 billion is over. In November of last year, the Foreign Ministry of the Asian power had made it clear that no relief would be offered. There would be no refinancing of the debt. "We believe that the Government and people of Venezuela are capable of managing the debt problem," said ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in November 2017.

     Now the Reuters agency reveals, citing two sources "knowledgeable about the matter", that no further extension would be given. China would not help more, economically, the dictatorial regime of Nicolás Maduro. "From Caracas, they are looking to renew it to prevent it from further reducing the scarce oil revenues required by the Government to alleviate the economic and social crisis," the agency reads. "The length of that grace period is not officially known, but sources told Reuters that the maximum benefit of two years has already run out. Although oil prices have recovered, the Maduro government has not managed to get the Venezuelan economy out of its fifth year of recession, so it is holding discussions for China to sustain the benefit, the sources said.

May 2, 2018

US BACKS ISRAELI CLAIMS ON 'NEW COMPELLING' EVIDENCE  AGAINST IRAN

      WASHINGTON, D.C.    --   The White House is praising new intelligence from Israel on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, calling it “new and compelling” though officials in Washington have stopped short of charging Tehran with outright violations of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. U.S. officials reviewing the cache of documents, charts, blueprints, photos and videos recovered by Israeli intelligence said late Monday that the materials they had seen were authentic and consistent with information amassed by the U.S. over many years. “This information provides new and compelling details about Iran’s efforts to develop missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

    “Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people,” she added. “The Iranian regime has shown it will use destructive weapons against its neighbors and others. Iran must never have nuclear weapons.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first leveled the new accusations Monday during a televised news conference, saying the cache of documents and other files show Iran was “brazenly lying" about its nuclear weapons program. The initial response to Netanyahu’s allegations was lukewarm. Intelligence experts and diplomats said much of the evidence the Israeli leader presented during his news conferencedated to before Iran signed the 2015 nuclear deal.

     Iran, too, downplayed the intelligence, with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif taking to Twitter to deride the Israeli claims. "The boy who can't stop crying wolf is at it again,” Zarif tweeted before Netanyahu spoke. “You can only fool some of the people so many times." France's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the information presented by Israel reinforces the need to keep the nuclear deal in place. But U.S. officials say while much of the intelligence is consistent with what has long been known, some of it sheds new light on Tehran’s activities. Specifically, officials said the Israeli intelligence provided new details on Iran’s effort to develop its Shahab-3 ballistic missile into one capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

IRAN THREATENS TO RESUME 20 PERCENT URANIUM ENRICHMENT IF THE US LEAVES THE DEAL

      TEHRAN,   IRAN--    It will be very difficult to persuade Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal despite arguments from the United States that its flaws must be addressed, said an Israeli expert on Israel-Iran relations. With the May 12 deadline approaching for the six world powers to approve recertification of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), there is concern that US President Donald Trump will follow through with his threats to tear up the agreement. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both made separate visits to Washington D.C. recently to encourage Trump to remain in the deal.

     Iran and the P5+1, which consists of Great Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, reached a comprehensive agreement in July 2015. According to the deal, Iran has agreed to halt its nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic aid and the lifting of international sanctions. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the deal.

     After the Trump administration came into power, the US continued to make threats that it would tear up the deal. Trump even went as far as to replace his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, with former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Mike Pompeo to exert more pressure on the Iranian nuclear issue. Pompeo, who was recently sworn in to his new post, then headed to Israel to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pledging to deepen the long-standing alliance and counter "Iran's aggression". The two met at the Israeli Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, as part of Pompeo's first official visit to the country.

DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO HIKES PAY 95% TO OFFSET CURRENCY PLUNGE

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --  Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on Monday a 95 percent increase in the pay and food allowance that will maintain the value of workers’ total compensation at $37. I’ve decided on ... a comprehensive increase in the income of workers of 95 percent for the first of May,” announced Maduro at a government event in Caracas, a measure that has been included on the food allowance card that Venezuelans receive in addition to wages. The leftist president said that he had approved the hike as “a shield against the criminal economic war of the neoliberal oligarchy and the International Monetary Fund” that he claims is being waged against his government.

     Maduro said that the move will increase salaries from 392,646 to 1 million bolivars and the food benefit from 915,000 to 1.55 million bolivars. At the official exchange rate of 69,000 bolivars to the dollar, that total is equivalent to $37 (but just around $4 at the black market rate), the same amount that could be purchased on March 1 when Maduro raised the salary basis to 1.3 million bolivars and the exchange rate was 35,280 bolivars per dollar. Maduro also announced that retirees will see a commensurate increase in pensions and food allowance.

     For months, Venezuela has been mired in a serious crisis that the Maduro regime attributes to an “economic war” being waged against it by the private sector with the help of foreign governments such as the US and Colombia. The business community rejects those accusations and, along with the political opposition, blames the crisis on the economic policies that have been implemented since 1999 under the administrations of the late Hugo Chavez and his successor, Maduro. The opposition-controlled congress calculated that 2018 inflation through March stands at 453.3 percent. Venezuela’s central bank stopped releasing macro-economic data in December 2015. The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean forecasts that the Venezuelan economy will shrink 8.5 percent this year.

May 1st., 2018

ISRAEL'S BENJAMIN NETANYAHU SAYS 'HALF TON' OF DOCUMENTS PROVE IRAN LIED ABOUT ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM

      TEL AVIV, ISRAEL    --   Israel's Prime Minister has unveiled what he says is a "half ton" of Iranian nuclear documents collected by Israeli intelligence, claiming the trove of information proves that Iranian leaders covered up a nuclear weapons program before signing a deal with the international community in 2015. In a speech delivered in English and relying on his trademark use of visual aids, Netanyahu claimed that the material showed that Iran could not be trusted, and encouraged US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the deal next month.

    "Iran lied big time," Mr Netanyahu declared. The Israeli leader showed pictures and videos purporting to be of historic secret Iranian nuclear facilities, as well as Iranian documents and plans to develop atomic weapons. "First, Iran lied about never having a nuclear weapons program. One-hundred-thousand secret files prove it did," Netanyahu said. "Second, even after the deal, Iran continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons knowledge for future use. "Third, Iran lied again in 2015 when it didn't come clean to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] as required by the nuclear deal."

     Netanyahu said he would share the newly uncovered information with Western allies and the international nuclear agency. "After signing the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran intensified its efforts to hide its secret files," he said. "In 2017 Iran moved its nuclear weapons files to a highly secret location in Tehran." Netanyahu referred to a secret Iranian nuclear project, codenamed "Amad", which he said had been shelved in 2003, but he said work in the field had continued. He said Israel had obtained some 55,000 pages of documents and 183 CDs of secret information about "Amad". Netanyahu said the material was gathered from a vaulted Iranian facility a few weeks ago "in a great intelligence achievement".

MICHAEL FITZPATRICK: THE UNITED STATES WILL NOT BE AN ACCOMPLICE IN THE PLUNDERING OF VENEZUELA BY ITS RULERS

      WASHINGTON, D.C.  --    The United States is willing to lift economic sanctions against Venezuela if it sees political and economic changes from its leaders in favor of the Venezuelan people, a senior Donald Trump government official said Monday. "We would gladly reverse those financial sanctions when the government or officials change their course," said Michael Fitzpatrick, deputy assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

     "When they are willing to re-establish accountability over their control of financial flows, when they can and wish to reinvest in the country, when they are willing to take simple steps to respect the Constitution and the National Assembly (legislative body), to open humanitarian channels, that kind of thing could reverse the sanctions, "he said. The message is clear, he said: The United States will not reward "bad behavior", nor will it be "an accomplice" to the "plunder" of Venezuela by its rulers. Fitzpatrick considered "false" that the worsening of the Venezuelan economic crisis is due to the sanctions imposed by Washington, as affirmed by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

    "It is a false argument because the collapse of the Venezuelan economy began long before the beginning of the United States economic measures against the regime, the sanctions began to be applied last August." According to Fitzpatrick, "things have gotten worse in Venezuela", with greater restriction of the democratic space and hyperinflation, but the humanitarian crisis and the "mass exodus" suffered by the former oil power are the result of Maduro's government. "The origins of this political and economic crisis are, in fact, political and economic decisions made by the regime. There has not been an earthquake or a tsunami, "he said. "It's very clear, people are running away, they're leaving. As Ronald Reagan said, people vote with their feet, "he affirmed.

VENEZUELANS PROTEST ON NICOLAS MADURO'S DOORSTEP

       CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --  A nationwide crisis in water and electricity services brought demonstrators to the gate of the Miraflores Presidential palace beginning Thursday night, with the crisis intensifying Friday afternoon, when a water main broke and destroyed several houses in Caracas. Regardless of the fact that he is in the first week of a polemical re-election campaign, embattled head of state Nicolas Maduro did not emerge to address the protest, even if it took place only meters away from "The People's Balcony", from which he -- as his mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chavez used to do -- regularly addresses the crowds.

    Thursday night also marked the first occasion a major anti-government demonstration reaches the Miraflores gates since 1999. The last time a protest got that close, on April 11th 2001, there were 19 demonstrators and security forces killed, while Chavez was deposed for 72 hours. So far in 2018, there have been 11 killed in 2,014 anti-Maduro demonstrations between the 1st of January and the last day of March, according to local social conflict NGO “Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social”. The “Comite de Afectados por los Apagones”, a committee of citizens affected by blackouts, reported more than 4,000 blackouts and brownouts in the same period, including one for 72 continuous hours in Merida, the capital of the state of the same name in the Venezuelan Andes.

    The 2,000-plus anti-government demonstrations so far this year are practically double the number of protests recorded in 2017, which was a year marred by political violence, as 165 demonstrators and security forces died in a cycle of intense protest from April to August. The crisis was exacerbated when a water main broke Friday afternoon in a rural section of the El Hatillo municipality near Caracas. Opposition mayor Elias Sayegh tweeted that four houses were destroyed, seven flooded and one is at risk of being obliterated by the water. Eastern Caracas, where El Hatillo is located, only gets one day of water a week as local utility Hidrocapital has been rationing water in the area for the last six years.

 

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