Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, formally requested today that the Maduro regime allow a UN mission to visit the country to assess the ongoing crisis. Al Hussein prompted Caracas to allow the mission to take place by questioning the regime’s unwillingness to cooperate with the organization in the past. Sideswiping the regime’s constant assertions that there is no crisis in Venezuela, the High Commissioner said:
We haven’t been invited, and they haven’t allowed us to enter. If things aren’t as bad as everyone says, then why won’t they let us enter?
Al Hussein also said that his office has been asking Caracas that it be allowed to visit the country to no avail since he became the UN’s top human rights official four years ago. He pressed the Maduro regime further, saying:
The main issue is, what are they hiding? What is it that they do not want us to see? And why don’t they want us to see it? These are questions that [the government] does not, but should answer.
The High Commissioners’ comments today are arguably the most pointed that he has leveled against the Maduro regime.
During a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, al Hussain said that his office is exploring “the possibility that crimes against humanity have been committed” by the Maduro regime in its brutal repression of dissent.
Maduro Calls al Hussain “Encysted Tumour”
Maduro responded to al Hussain’s comments today during a televised address in the afternoon. Maduro did not mince words, and called al Hussain an “encysted tumour” inside the United Nations and a fascist.
I think that the high commissioner is a member of the Venezuelan fascist right wing. That’s what I’m saying (…) he’s a biased person who has lost all equilibrium on Venezuela and over other world matters. He’s a pawn of the [United States] Department of State, an encysted tumour inside the human rights system.
Maduro said that the high commissioner “has no authority to talk about Venezuela”.
Maduro Invited UN Election Observer Mission
During the same event in which he insulted the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Maduro said that he welcomed an electoral observer mission from the organization for the upcoming May 20 election. Maduro said:
I want the Secretary General of the United Nations to send a powerful electoral observer commission to accompany the electoral process on May 20, and I will continue to work towards succeeding in that.
Moody’s Downgrades Venezuelan Credit Rating to Lowest Level Possible
Moody’s Investor Services issued a downgrade of Venezuelan sovereign debt rating today, knocking the country’s status down two spots to “C” from “Caa3”. The “C” rating is the lowest on Moody’s rating scale.
The downgrade is a reflection of the country’s crisis, and signals to investors that they are unlikely to recover any money that they may have invested in Venezuelan bonds.
According to Moody’s, “C” rated debt is defined in the following way:
Obligations rated C are the lowest-rated class of bonds and are typically in default, with little prospect for recovery of principal and interest.
UN’s Food Agency: Hunger Growing in Venezuela
The United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO) general director, Jose Graziano da Silva, provided a grim update on the food crisis in Venezuela during a press conference in Jamaica this morning.
According to da Silva, 13% of Venezuelans suffered from food insecurity between 2014 and 2016, which corresponds to approximately 1.3 million people. The percentage of Venezuelans growing hungry grew in 2017, da Silva said.
The general director echoed the assessment of a myriad of commentators and experts on the source of the growing food crisis in Venezuela, saying:
The country is facing hyperinflation, and when a country with a market economy faces [this situation], it loses price sensibilities. Money has no value, and people try to get rid of it by exchanging it for products (…) at the end, everything is scarce because any material product is better than money, and having money lose value.
Da Silva also clarified that the organization’s figured on Venezuela are “the best” that they could have given the circumstances, given the inherent “uncertainty” of the country’s economic system.
During the same conference event yesterday, Venezuela’s ambassador to Jamaica, Luisa Gutierrez, spoke highly of the Maduro regime’s economic model, which she called “ecosocialism”, and suggested that it was serving the country well. She also suggested that any flaws in the country’s food situation was the result of a “financial boycott”, and said:
Nutrition should not be used to apply political pressure.
Lima: 115,000+ Venezuelans Live in Peru, 31,000 on Temporary Visa
The Peruvian migration authority announced today that there are at least 115,000 Venezuelans living in the country, and that 31,000 of them have a temporary visa that lets them work in the country.
Eduardo Sevilla, the superintendent of Peru’s migration agency, suggested that some of the temporary visa holders may in fact be in transit to other countries. Sevilla explained:
They have the quality of a tourist, and can be in our country for up to 183 days. They then decide if the will stay or go, because some of enter leave since our country is in transit to Chile or Argentina.
On March 2, Reuters published an article titled “A Journey on a Caravan of Misery”, in which it documents the plight of Venezuelans who flee the country by land through Colombia, with many of them heading to Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Argentina.
Peru is currently engaged in a standoff with the Maduro regime over the Summit of the Americas, which is scheduled to take place in Lima on April 13 and 14. While Lima has expressed repeatedly that it will not welcome Maduro to the meeting, Maduro has dug in and said that he will attend anyway.
On February 8, Peruvian President Pablo Kuczynski spoke on the possibility that Maduro would crash the event, saying that he would wait to see how Venezuelans living in Peru “will receive him”.
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