The Colombian government has asked Venezuela for help investigate claims of an armed incursion into the country, after reports that National Guard soldiers crossed the border into Colombia on Thursday.

Villagers in the Colombian region of Norte de Santander reported to authorities that on Thursday, an armed group of Venezuelan National Guard soldiers broke into a woman’s home and stole money. The Colombian People’s Defender described the attackers as “dressed in green camouflage, some of them with their faces covered”.

The villagers also reported that the National Guard soldiers detained an 18 year old man and shot him in the head, and appear to have done the same to a 28 year old. The villagers say that the soldiers believed the men to be Colombian guerillas, and had interrogated them about links to criminal groups.

Elderly Woman Breaks Down in Supermarket Line

A video uploaded to YouTube last night shows an elderly woman in a supermarket line talking to a reporter from Correo del Caroni. As the woman answers the reporter’s questions, she begins to cry in desperation over the situation. The video appears to have been taken on July 24 in Alta Vista, Caracas.

Below, the video along with my translation:

Reporter: What do you hope to buy today?
Elderly Woman: Whatever I can find. I’m hungry.
Reporter: What’s hardest to find?
Elderly Woman: Food. It’s sad, isn’t it? [Begins to cry] It’s sad to have to do these lines at my age. I’m 84 — 82 year old. [Unintelligible] you could get killed here. You could die
Woman Off Screen: There was a huge scuffle here, and I had to get out. I almost had a miscarriage.
Elderly Woman: I’ve almost… this is the second time I’ve come here with her. And… with the people who have died in these lines, and the fights… no one can stand this.

Violence sometimes breaks out in lines as extremely scarce goods often reach the hands of those who can fight for them. Just this past Wednesday, a police officer opened fire on a large crowd of desperate shoppers at a supermarket in Bolivar state, killing two people.

NGO Publishes Enchufado List

Transparencia Venezuela [Transparency Venezuela], a local chapter of Transparency International, is an NGO that works towards promoting transparency in government.

Today, it made available a list of the country’s top enchufados. The term literally means “plugged-in”, and is used to describe a person who is plugged-in to the government, usually through a cushy job,  the necessity and exact nature of which is questionable.

The organization named Simon Zerpa has the PSUV’s top enchufado. Zerpa currently holds at least seven posts, including:

  • Presidential Commissioner for the Sino-Venezuelan Financing Mechanisms
  • Vice-Minister for Development Investment
  • President of the Bank of Economic and Social Development of Venezuela
  • Principal Governor before the Committee of Governors at the Caribbean Development Bank
  • Governor of Venezuela before the International Agricultural Development Fund.
  • President of the National Development Fund

The list also includes Ricardo Peñaloza (holds 5 posts), and Diosdado Cabello’s wife, Marleny Contreras (holds 3 posts) and his brother, Jose David Cabello (holds 3 posts).

The NGO points out that the Constitution of Venezuela makes it unequivocally clear that no one is allowed to hold more than one public office simultaneously. Article 148 of the Constitution reads:

No one can hold more than one public office simultaneously for which they are paid, unless they be academic, accidental, assistant or teaching-related. The acceptance of a second office, if it is not included in the exceptions in this article, means the resignation from the first, unless they are temporary positions in which they do not definitively replace the original holder of the office.

Capriles Asks for International Observers

Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles announced today that he will formally request tomorrow that the Organization of American States provide observers for the December 6 parliamentary elections. Capriles will personally lead a delegation which will meet with OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro in Washington, D.C.

Capriles also said that part of his mission would be to inform the organization about some of the events that are taking place in the country so that they can have access to information other than that which comes from the government. Capriles explained:

It’s necessary that people outside the country are aware of the reality in the country, and that they’re not swayed by government lies (…) the country is like a bomb, and we don’t want it to explode.
We have to de-activate this bomb, and to do so we need international observers during the December 6 elections.

Caracas Has Seen At Least 363 Murders in July

At least 363 murder victims have arrived at the Bello Monte morgue in Caracas, the only such facility in the city, since the start of the month. There have been 28 murders in Caracas since Friday.

In the Catia neighbourhood of the city, three people were murdered within 36 hours starting on Thursday night.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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