2 April 2019 — Countercurrents
- Maduro reactivates power supply headquarters
- Electric coup d’état is in full swing, says Maduro
- S. sanctions impact electricity generation
Schools are reopening in Venezuela after a brief period of closure amidst repeated electricity outages by interventionists’ series of sabotages. To take effective measures against sabotage, electricity supply authority has been reactivated.
Media reports said:
Maduro sets up power supply headquarters
Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan President, has set up headquarters on electrical power supplies – the Electric General Staff. Delcy Rodriguez, the Venezuelan Vice President, heads the new structure.
Similar headquarters will be re-established in all states across the country. They will be headed by [local] governors] and will work on a daily basis, Maduro said in an address telecast by local television channels.
The president also announced the creation of an executive secretariat on security under the headquarters. Nestor Reverol, the Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister, will lead this executive secretariat.
Maduro announced that from Monday Igor Gavidia León, an electrical engineer with extensive experience, assumes the Ministry of Electric Energy and the presidency of Corpoelec.
The Electric General Staff will operate round-the-clock.
He also reported the appointment of Freddy Brito Maestre as Minister of Science and Technology. He is a “Doctor in Electricity, graduated from the Polytechnic of Toulouse in France, with 8 years of studies in electrical systems”.
Electric coup d’état is in full swing
The Venezuelan president said on Monday “an electrical power coup is in full swing.” Its purpose is to plunge the country into destabilization by taking the electricity and water services from the population.
“When we already had the country connected and we were going to proceed with a cargo management plan, there was a coup via the electromagnetic route to the transmission lines,” said Maduro.
The Venezuelan president said that the experts of the electricity company Corpoelec, the water minister and the armed forces continue to work for the progressive recovery of electricity and drinking water.
He said: “Those who are behind this plan, those who take away electricity and then call for violence, they know, they know how to fish in troubled waters and then take over political power. They will not return!”
Restart of school and university activities
Maduro informed that as of Wednesday, April 3, school and university activities would resume throughout the country. “We are going back to resistance classes, accompanying the cargo administration plan,” he said.
Aristóbulo Isturiz, the Minister of Education, also indicated the reopening of educational classes.
Initiatives for water pumps
Water pumping systems in Caracas and throughout the country are yet to be fully restored. William Contreras, the Venezuelan Commerce Minister, revealed on Sunday that an electrical generator has been installed at the Tuy pumping system, which supplies water to Caracas and nearby states.
Electricity has been restored to at least parts of most Venezuelan states, although the service remains very unstable. Locations in western states such as Tachira and Barinas reported that electricity was restored in the early morning but only for a few hours.
U.S. sanctions impact electricity generation
Experts including Torino Capital Chief Economist Francisco Rodriguez point out the role of US sanctions in exacerbating vulnerabilities in the electrical grid. The sanctions have closed down international credit lines and cut off imports of diesel for thermoelectric plants.
Protest due to electricity outage
Due to electricity and water shortages, several isolated protests broke out on Sunday in Caracas and other locations. Local authorities scrambled to send tanker trucks to communities that have not had water for long periods.
Several Caracas neighborhoods including Catia, El Valle, San Juan and Cotiza saw protests over the lack of electricity and water. In some cases, residents blocked streets with barricades or burning tires. In some cases, security forces observed the protests while in other cases, armored crowd control vehicles and tear gas were used. The arrival of water tanker-trucks also defused tensions in some cases.
There were also violent clashes at Fuerzas Armadas Avenue of Caracas on Sunday afternoon. Masked anti-government protesters barricaded the street and attacked residents collecting water from a truck. A pro-government motorbike collective dispersed the protesters. Violent disturbances also broke out on San Martin Avenue in southwest Caracas early Monday morning. Several vehicles were torched.
Protests were also held in other states including Carabobo, Lara, Anzoategui and Zulia. The protesters set up barricades on streets and highways. Authorities had to use tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Juan Guaido, the U.S.-backed self-proclaimed “interim president” called for protests against the electricity and water shortages over the weekend, one week before a scheduled “dry run” of what he termed “Operation Freedom.” While details of the action remain unknown, opposition leaders have presented it as the final push to oust the Maduro government.
Precautionary measures for Guaido
The Venezuelan Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) ratified Monday a set of precautionary measures for Guaido.
The actions include the prohibition to leave the country and to sell property goods, freezing of bank accounts or any other financial instruments in Venezuelan territory, and a fine of 200 tax units for contempt, regarding the January 29, 2019 judgment.
“The president of the National Constituent Assembly (Diosdado Cabello) will be asked to proceed with the removal of parliamentary immunity of Juan Guaido for violating the measures imposed by the court,” said the president of the TSJ, Maikel Moreno, during a session of the judicial body.
This confirmation comes as Guaido, violated the precautionary measures imposed on January 29, requested by the Venezuelan Public Ministry, in regard for the violent events that preceded his unconstitutional and unlawful self-proclamation as “interim” president.
“We urge that this sentence be respected and proceed to investigate for breaking it,” Moreno added. The TSJ ordered the Venezuelan Prosecutor’s Office to carry out a preliminary examination alleging “flagrancy.”
Venezuela authorizes expansion of Red Cross aid
Venezuela government has reached an agreement with the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) to scale up the humanitarian organization’s activities in the Caribbean country.
On Friday, IFRC President Francesco Rocca announced that in two weeks the body would start distributing vital food and medicine to 650,000 people in coordination with Venezuelan authorities.
“We estimate that in a period of approximately 15 days we will be ready to offer help. We hope to help 650,000 people at first,” Rocca said during a press conference in Caracas.
The IFRC chief also decried what he described as the politicization of aid, compromising the humanitarian commitment to “impartiality, neutrality and independence.”
In February, the Red Cross together with the United Nations voiced similar criticisms vis-a-vis the US government’s efforts to force aid across the Venezuelan-Colombian border on February 23, stating that the operation could not be labeled “humanitarian” given its political motives. In particular, the IFRC vociferously protested the use of its own insignia on the aid trucks operated by Venezuelan opposition militants.
The organization’s local affiliate currently operates eight hospitals in Venezuela and coordinates a network of 2,500 volunteers nationwide. The Red Cross had previously announced plans to bring its 2019 Venezuela budget to around US $18 million in February, before increasing the amount to around $60 million last week.
The organization can deliver medical supplies including power generators for hospitals whose services have been strained by a recent spate of electricity outages.
Diosdado Cabello, the National Constituent Assembly President, said the IFRC’s initiative came about because of an agreement with the Maduro administration.
“This has nothing to do with them [the opposition] having tried to cross [the border] with some trucks and they burnt them. This has to do with a disposition by the national government together with the Red Cross,” he asserted Saturday.
Maduro government recently signed an accord with the UN’s Central Emergency Resource Fund for US $9.2 million in funding to alleviate the nutritional and health impact of the country’s severe economic crisis.
Reasons for barring Guaido from holding public office for 15 years
Venezuela’s Comptroller General Elvis Amoroso announced Thursday that Guaido has been barred from holding public office for 15 years over irregularities in his financial activities.
This decision was taken considering that Guaido “has refused to present his sworn statement”, “has systematically violated our Constitution”, “has usurped public functions and has performed actions with foreign governments which have harmed Venezuela’s People,” the Comptroller General said explaining his agency’s decision.
The sanction against the U.S.-backed opposition politician stems from violations of the Organic Law of the Comptroller General, none of which could be dismissed because the lawmaker refused to justify his income sources. More specifically, it is the consequence of a “fiscal fraud,” that is, the legally unjustified use of more than US$100,000 to fund more than 91 trips inside and outside Venezuela.
In compliance with his public functions, the Venezuelan State Comptroller initiated an audit of Guaido’s financial activities in February. Amoroso’s authority and capabilities are defined by the Organic Law of the Comptroller General and the National System of Fiscal Control; and its Article 78 defines that the state Comptroller may request affidavits of assets from any public official.
The Office of the Comptroller General is the institution that monitors and controls the nation’s income, expenses, public goods and assets. According to the lawyer Ana Cristina Bracho, Guaido as a congressman is a public official who has specific functions, rights and prohibitions.
“Upon assuming his term, he vowed to respect the country’s laws and institutions,” Bracho said and added, “he also vowed to respect the absolute prohibition of accepting honors, charges and rewards of foreign countries.”
Article 187 of the Constitution of Venezuela states that members of Congress are obliged to perform tasks for the benefit of the Venezuelan people and cannot receive additional income, or hold positions other than their parliamentary functions.
Guaido was out of the country for a total of eight months. So far, however, he has not explained the origin of the money used to finance his international political tour.
Summing up, the U.S.-backed opposition politician has been disqualified from holding public office for the following reasons:
- Guaido hid and falsified data at his affidavit of patrimony. He received money from natural or legal persons, either national or international. These resources were not declared or justified before the Comptroller’s Office.
- Guaido did not respect legal and constitutional standards, which specify that the congressmen must comply with law-defined tasks and cannot perform other jobs or receive other income.
- Guaido usurped functions, performed actions backed by foreign governments against the Venezuelan people and accepted honors or rewards of foreign governments.
The intelligence official advising Guaido during his “regional tour”
A teleSUR report said:
Guaido’s advisor is Kimberly Breier, a U.S. intelligence professional with 20 years of experience.
Since leaving Venezuela on February 22, despite a travel-ban in place against him, Guaido continued activities against the democratically elected President Maduro in Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, and other South American countries. Right-wing leaders in these countries lent their support to the U.S.-backed Guaido.
Besides traveling with his wife Fabiana Rosales, who has accompanied him on each visit as if they were performing official trips, Guaido has been accompanied by another woman: U.S. senior official Kimberly Breier.
A brief look at her social media posts reveals Breier constantly keeps close presence and collaboration with Guaido to achieve his political objectives of ousting the legitimate government in Venezuela, in line with the interests of her superiors in Washington.
On March 5, 2018, U.S. President Trump presented Breier as a “key addition” to his staff, appointing her as Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
She earned a B.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College and a M.A. in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University, an institution some claim to be known for training future Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employees.
According to information available at the U.S. State Department, where she served as a member of the Western Hemisphere Policy Planning Staff, Breier is “an intelligence professional with more than 20 years of experience in foreign policy”, mostly focused on Latin American issues.
Previously, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), she headed the Americas Program and the U.S.-Mexico Futures Initiative, a program that deals with bilateral U.S.-Mexico issues such as trade agreement renegotiation, border security, and immigration.
Breier was also Director of the National Policy Association’s North American Committee, which is a business committee with members from the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Among other private sector and think tank experiences, she was president of a consulting firm, which provided “country risk assessment teams” for clients located in Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.
From January 2005 to June 2006, during President George W. Bush Administration, Breier served as Director for Brazil and the Southern Cone, Director for Mexico and Canada, and interim Director for the Andean region.
Needless to say, this Massachusetts-native diplomat speaks Spanish fluently and has traveled extensively through Latin America.