Paraguay is spearheading a drive before the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights involving a total of 30 countries, calling on the organization to take concrete steps to safeguard nutritional and health security in Venezuela, given the country’s continued economic crisis.

The call was delivered to the High Commissioner by Paraguayan Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Oscar Cabello Sarubbi, who traveled to Geneva specifically to deliver his message. Cabello also called on the organization to “conduct an analysis” of an offer by the Vatican Holy See to mediate a dialogue between the PSUV and the opposition.

Cabello also said:

We call on the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to accept the motion expressed by the Holy See. We are convinced that timely and well-meaning political dialogue will be the most efficient instrument to face the urgent necessities of the Venezuelan people, [and to] preserve peace and security.

Cabello also said that his government was concerned about the “serious nature of the allegations of human rights violations in Venezuela”. He also called on Maduro to allow international human rights observers to travel to the country.

Last week, High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein gave a speech before the UN Human Rights Council and criticized the Maduro government for refusing to allow international observers to take not of the human rights situation in the country first-hand. During the same speech, Al Hussein also leveled criticism at Syria, Israel, Turkey for the same reason.

Diphtheria Claims 17 Children in Bolivar State

National Assembly Deputy Jose Manuel Olivares warned today that diphtheria – a potentially deadly bacterial disease that had been eradicated in Venezuela twenty years ago – might be making a comeback, and has claimed the lives of 17 children in two municipalities in Bolivar state.

Olivares said that 12 of the deaths occured in the Sifontes municipality and 5 in the Caroni municipality. He also said that that the deaths were due to a lack of medicine, specifically the antibiotics penicillin and netilmicin.

Olivares also qualified the deaths as part of an epidemic, saying:

It is an epidemic. And as if that weren’t enough, the government is keeping silent. That’s why it is our responsibility to raise the alarm (…) we recognize that they [the government] have initiated some vaccination campaigns, but the first thing that has to happen in an epidemic is to inform the country and the health sector and not remain silent.

Speaking to reporters outside of the National Assembly today, Olivares said that the reported case of diphtheria in Venezuela was recorded in 1992. He also said:

We’re not looking to alarm people, but rather [advice them to] take precautions. We support the government’s vaccination campaigns, but it is also necessary that they [disseminate] information.

National Assembly Declares Malaria Epidemic, Calls for Action

The National Assembly issued a resolution today declaring a malaria epidemic in Venezuela, and called on the national government to take concrete steps to address the matter. The document estimates that by the end of the year, malaria cases could reach 350,000.

Deputy Americo de Grazia spoke on the urgency of the matter, saying that the government has not invested any money into dealing with malaria since 2013, and that today’s resolution comes as a result of repeated warnings from health workers regarding the spread of the disease in the country this year.

Minister of Basic Industry: Businesses Can’t Operate at a Loss

Minister of Basic Industry Juan Arias said today said that the country’s current economic crisis was necessary in order to put an end to the “drunken” spending of oil money that Venezuelan had grown accustomed to in previous years. Repeating what has become a popular government line in recent months on the economic crisis, Arias called for Venezuelans to see opportunity in the crisis:

We have to develop our productive strengths. That’s what’s going to allow us to have a more competitive economy.

Arias also said that the national government has committed “a couple” of errors when it comes to handling the economy, but ultimately blamed the US dollar for somehow causing the country’s economic collapse.

He also spoke on price regulations. In Venezuela, the national government sets the price of common food items and other basic necessities as a way to help keep them affordable for consumers. However, because the price regulations set a limit on how much a given item may be sold for, they often mean that producers are forced to sell their goods at steep losses. Government critics point to this fundamental flaw in economic policy as one of the main drivers of the country’s economic collapse, as unprofitable producers are eventually forced to go out of business.

On the matter, Arias said:

I’m one of the people who have argued that. no, we can’t [produce] at a loss because then businesses aren’t sustainable. We should at least cover production costs.

Gov’t Seeks to Revoke Allup’s Immunity for “Misogyny”

Minister of Women Gladys Requena announced today that she was going to file a motion before the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia [TSJ], the country’s top court, seeking to have National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup stripped of his parliamentary immunity for “misogyny”.

Earlier today, Requena told reporters from the state-owned VTV network:

We are willing to take these issues to their ultimate consequences, even having Henry Ramos Allup stripped of parliamentary immunity through a TSJ decision.

Requena argued that Allup is guilty of the crime of “misogyny”. She also said:

Misogyny is an attribute of fascism (…) the opposition is looking to disqualify women who hold high positions. They’re looking to discredit them.

While it is not immediately clear crime Requena believes Allup has committed, since “misogyny” is not a crime under Venezuelan law. However, her comments appear to stem from the frequent criticism leveled against women like Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz, Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez and Consejo Nacional (CNE) president Tibisay Lucena, whom Allup – along with other opposition leaders – have frequently accused of being complicit in human rights violations.

Cabello Calls for “Mother of All Marches” on October 12

Keeping with the tradition of organizing protests on the same day as the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), National Assembly President Diosado Cabello called for “the mother of all marches” for October 12. Three days ago, the MUD called for a nation-wide opposition protest on that same day.

Cabello said:

Let’s have the mother of all marches on October 12. A march for anti-imperialist resistance with out Indigenous people, with out people on the street.

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One thought on “09.29.16: Productive Strengths

  1. Pingback: 09.30.16: Wilmer Ruperti | In Venezuela

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