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Venezuelan activists and opinion-makers are expressing concern about the humanitarian implications of an impending tightening of sanctions that could impede importation of diesel fuel. The latter is essential for transportation, agriculture and electricity generation.

  • In a long Twitter thread, journalist Celina Carquez described the importance of diesel to Venezuela. 70% of the population depends on public transportation, almost all of which runs on diesel. Between 30-40% of all commercial transport uses diesel. Most of the electricity generation in western Venezuela comes from diesel, as well as most of the backup generators across the country.
  • The Centro Gumilla, a Jesuit research and advocacy center said it understands political strategy, but “we do want to raise our voices about the moral implications of a decision such as this, and the devastating and inhuman effects on the population.”
  • Non-governmental organization Dale Letra tweeted that not letting diesel into Venezuela would be “a crime against Venezuelans. If there is no diesel to transport food, electricity generation of food production, it will most affect the most vulnerable.”
  • Former leader of the opposition Ramón Guillermo Aveledo suggested that the fact a petroleum producing country does not refine diesel is the fault of a corrupt and incompetent regime. However “diesel is a vital fuel for Venezuelans…importing it is necessary for everyone.”
  • Opposition economist Luis Oliveros asked “is having no diesel to transport food, generate electricity and produce food is going to generate a political change? Is that going to convince the political elite to leave power? Not a chance.”
  • Leading humanitarian activist Susana Raffalli said: “We hope they stop this. The fleet of trucks that moves humanitarian supplies in the country runs on diesel. If these sanctions are put into effect, they will do a lot of damage.”

Opposition seeks more input

After several months of seeking input from political actors and civil society, and an announcement that they would not be going to elections, the main opposition coalition led by National Assembly president Juan Guaidó announced last week that he would engage in more discussions with the most important political and social sectors of the country.

The goal is to form a new “unitary pact” against the Maduro government. Guaidó says he has already drafted a plan that includes the “denouncement, rejection and not recognition” of the upcoming “fraudulent” legislative elections. He also mentioned that he had received proposals from Maria Corina Machado and Henrique Capriles. Many opposition leaders and political parties have expressed their willingness to participate in deliberations regarding a new pact.

  • After Guaidó announcements, Capriles released a statement with his proposals. It was highly critical of the Guaidó-led opposition’s choices. He left open the possibility of participation in the December legislative election if the opposition could fight for some minimum electoral acceptable standards. However, the deadline for registering candidacies is expiring on the 26th of August. At time of publication there was no indication that he would be enrolling.
  • Capriles also clearly spoke out against the above mentioned sanctions.

Pro-government coalition

  • The Supreme Court (TSJ) appointed an ad hoc board to the pro-government political party Patria Para Todos (PPT) one week after it had done the same for the minor Chavista party Tupamaros.
  • Tupamaros members denounced that the Court did not even allow them to defend the previous party board before the TSJ.
  • The Court’s decisions come after the Chavista minor parties announced their intention to form a broad nationwide alternative coalition and present their candidates in December elections.
  • The Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), which leads the coalition, issued a statement condemning the Court’s decision and asking other Communist parties in the world to be aware of Maduro’s authoritarian tendencies.

Elections

  • The president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Indira Alfonzo, said that the organization is studying the possibility that the legislative election’s voting process could last more than a day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said they are not considering postponement of the vote.

Migration

  • A recent study by two universities and various organizations reveals the difficulties experienced by Venezuelan migrants in Colombia during the COVID pandemic, including job losses, discrimination, stigmatization, violence and exploitation.

Covid-19

  • The opposition announced that the U.S. Treasury Department had approved the release of millions of dollars of frozen Venezuelan government funds to help the opposition fight COVID-19. Part of the released funds would go to pay some 62,000 health workers $300 as part of Guaidó promises to the health sector. Maduro government is erecting hurdles to opposition plans to distribute the funds by blocking the digital payment platforms and webpages that are trying to use.
  • The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announced the use of Venezuelan funds held abroad to combat the COVID-19 pandemic under the agreement between the Ministry of Health and the opposition-controlled National Assembly of Venezuela (signed last June).
  • The EU sent 82.5 tons of aid to Caracas on two flights last week. The aid included medical equipment and other essential supplies to protect healthcare and frontline humanitarian aid workers in Venezuela.
  • The New York Times reported that Maduro’s government fights the COVID-19 pandemic by deploying repressive and coercive measures and violating patients’ basic human rights.
  • The Guardian reported on the dire situation of the country’s health system and the lack of credible information about the pandemic in the country.

Crime

  • Venezuela’s acting attorney general issued arrest warrants against nine officials of the Special Actions Forces (FAES) for the murder of two pro-government journalists in the Zulia state. Maduro’s General Attorney said that the killing could be an extrajudicial execution by rogue police officers, and he did not rule out the participation of high-level officers.

[If you read this far, you’re among the VW faithful. This will be my last VW as I turn my full attention to book writing, and Dimitris and Geoff take over. Thanks much for your readership and support over the years. I really appreciate it. -DS]