Gaby Arellano, a student leader from Tachira whose apartment was raided earlier this year by security forces, was interrogated by SEBIN agents for approximately two hours today for her alleged connection with a coup d’etat the government claims to have disrupted. After her interrogation, Gaby made the following comments:
They told me that this investigation will lead to several clear accusation, and that I’m in the middle of a process which was never made clear to me. They asked me 18 things, if I know Eligio Cedeno, Villca Fernandez or Ana Karina Garcia, and if I knew what Lidera was. I explained to them that Villca and Ana Karina are my brothers in this struggle, that I do not know who Mr. Cedeno is and that Lidera is a diploma program which I took.
The two pictures below show Gaby being escorted to the SEBIN HQ in Caracas, and the sizeable police presence in the vicinity during her interrogation:
Gaby was also asked if she had ever met with any members of the United States embassy. Gaby replied that she had, on April 2, to present evidence of human rights violations in Venezuela. She also spoke about meeting with representatives from Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, and Brazil, among others.
From what I can gather, “Lidera” is a type of course students can take where they learn leadership and political organization skills.
Gaby’s apartment was raided back on March 24 by security forces. Her interrogation is the latest in a series of judicial manoeuvres arising from the government’s claim that several high-profile opposition members were involved in a plot to overthrow the government and kill Maduro.
American Airlines Reduces Flights to Venezuela
Starting on July 2 of this year, American Airlines flights will make fewer trips into the country, the airline announced today. Weekly flights into the country will be cut by 80% as a response to the government’s inability to allow American Airlines access to $750 million it has tied up in Venezuela’s Kafkaesque currency exchange systems. As a result, only 10 of the normally-scheduled 48 flights into Venezuela will make their weekly voyage.
While service from Miami will continue, flights to New York, Texas and Puerto Rico will be cancelled. Part of the statement by American Airlines reads:
Since we are owed a substantial outstanding amount ($750m to March 2014) and have been unable to reach resolution on the debt, we will significantly reduce our flights to the country after 1 July.
Food Consumption Decreases Amid Shortage and Inflation Crisis
According to a survey conducted by the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica [National Institute of Statistics] (INE) that by the end of last year Venezuelans had reduced “apparent daily consumption per capita” of the following food staples:
- Corn flour (-16.5%)
- Chicken (-7.4%)
- Rice (-10.5%)
- Pasta (-7.7%)
- Beef (-7.3%)
- Potato (-2%)
Out of the 62 food products examined, the INE found that 55 were being consumed in lower quantities. Partly to blame is the fact that food prices increased 73.9% all of last year (compared to an increase in minimum wage of just 45%), as well as the scarcity crisis, which the Banco Central de Venezuela placed at around 26.9% in March of this year.
Neighbours set up a barricade on a road near Guarico:
Finally, some pictures from the Los Cardones neighbourhood of Barquisimeto, where National Guard troops have been facing off against demonstrators since at least this afternoon: