Last night, the mayor of the Liberator municipality, Jorge Rodriguez, announced that five key government ministries had 48 hours to fire all senior staff who signed in favour of the recall referendum against Maduro in May.
During a press conference yesterday, Rodriguez said that the PSUV had in its possession a list of government employees who signed for the referendum. Rodriguez explained:
[We have a list of] the names of the people (…) who publicly express their ties to the Venezuelan right-wing and who participated in the authorization process of the right-wing party [by signing in favour of the referendum]
The list was sent to the following five ministries: Nutrition, Basic Industry, Finance, Labour and the President’s Office.
Rodriguez then gave an ultimatum for the removal of the names of the list from those ministries:
They have 48 hours to so that these people who are in so-called cargos de confianza [literally “positions of confidence”; senior or important roles], director positions, well, that they be given other work prospects.
Rodriguez also explained that purge was necessary to make sure that “people who are against the revolution and President Nicolas Maduro” are not allowed to manage government institutions.
The purge is expected to affect 99 managerial-level public employees at the five ministries.
Rodriguez explained that the same officials who signed in favour of the recall are also bad employees:
[These officials] are the ones who mistreat the people, the ones who slow down processes, the ones who hide papers, the ones who hide directives, the ones who don’t face the people when they need something or are facing an obstacle.
Minister of Communication: 99 Public Workers “Sabotage the Revolution”
Minister of Communication Jose Marcano spoke on Rodriguez’s announcement last night regarding the public sector workers who signed in favour of the recall and concurred that the individuals can no longer be employed by the government.
Marcano spoke on the decision to fire the workers, saying:
The PSUV has decided that they cannot be a part of the revolution because these people are the ones who sabotage the revolution.
Marcano did not provide any evidence for the kind of “sabotage” he alleges the workers take part in, and stressed that the government had the right to fire the workers.
Saab Speaks Out Against Politically-Motivated Dismissals
People’s Defender Tarek William Saab took the unusual step of speaking out earlier today against Jorge Rodriguez’s statements regarding the purging of government ministries. According to Saab, workers should not be judged for their political inclinations, but rather their work performance.
It is the opinion of the office of the People’s Defender that the right to work should always be evaluated as it relates to the efficiency of the employees de libre remocion o de no libre remocion [I think this means “appointed or otherwise”] and their compromise to the institution, the country, peace, and stability. This evaluation could fall onto someone who has or does not have a political affiliation. If the worker is not efficient and is a member of the opposition or the government, then that worker could be submitted to an evaluation. Now, that evaluation must be properly supported [by the worker’s job performance].
Saab’s statement is unusual because the PSUV tends to act as a monolithic institution: that is, dissent within the party do not often come to the public light. It is not usual for high-ranking PSUV officials to directly contradict one another.
Saab also said that his office was always open to receive complaints from citizens who believe that they have been wrongfully dismissed from their jobs.
MERCOSUR Meets Without Venezuela
MERCOSUR members met today in Montevideo, Uruguay to discuss the ongoing crisis at the regional trade bloc regarding Venezuela’s presidency of the organization. The meeting includes delegates from each member nation (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), but not Venezuela.
The meeting does not involve the country’s respective ministers of foreign affairs, which means that any agreement reached at today’s meeting must be finalized by the ministers.
Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay have expressed their unwillingness to recognize Venezuela as the next president of MERCOSUR due to the country’s poor human rights and economic record. Last week, Brazilian Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Serra said that Venezuela “lives under an authoritarian government”, and that he was “sure” that the organization would not allow the Venezuelan presidency.
MERCOSUR’s presidency is rotated among its five member states by alphabetical order every six months.
Rigoberto Gauto, the representative from Paraguay, said that the meeting ended after the members found “lots of common ground” on the issue, but he did not provide any more information on what else happened in the meeting.
Arbitrator: Venezuela Must Pay $1.2 Billion for Expropriation
An international arbitrator has ordered the Venezuelan government to pay Canadian mining company Rusoro Mining Ltd. $1.2 billion after it appropriated the company’s assets in the country in 2011. That year, Chavez ordered the take-over of all of the company’s assets in the country, including two gold mines. The payment is due immediately.
After months of unsuccessful talks with the Venezuelan government, the company decided to file a $3.03 billion suit with the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in 2012. The tribunal ruled that the expropriation was illegal.
Rusoro was the largest mining company operating in Venezuela at the time of the expropriation. The takeover appears to have seriously affected the company, as it currently has “no employees or revenue”.
It is doubtful that Venezuela will be able to comply by the tribunal’s ruling even if it wanted to. The award amounts to approximately 10% of the country’s total international reserves as of July of this year.
Almagro: “Drastic” Sanctions Unless Recall Happens This Year
The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, warned today that unless the recall referendum is allowed to take place this year, Venezuela could face “drastic sanctions” from the regional diplomatic body.
Almagro made the comment during an interview with the RCR radio station. Almagro said:
If this is something that definitely ends up taking pace [the recall not happening this year], the OAS and other regional and sub-regional organizations should make the most drastic sanctions.
Almagro stressed that he was not engaged in a “war of words” with Maduro, but that his comments were grounded on the tools available to the OAS to deal with these types of situations.
On the world’s opinion of the Venezuelan government, Almagro said that he believed that support for the Maduro administration was virtually non-existent, saying:
I don’t believe that there is anywhere – except for in very specific and isolated cases – a defense for the Bolivarian regime in Venezuela (…) no one in the world defends it.
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