Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez appeared on a BBC Mundo interview today in which he spoke on the current situation in Venezuela, painting a picture of an embattled government facing off against global forces bent on its destruction.

During the interview, Rodriguez said that there is currently a “media war” being waged against Venezuela, which involves the reporting of fictitious information regarding the situation in the country. He explained:

Yesterday I mentioned during some interviews that I was doing that, for example, Spain in 2017 published 3,880 negative [news articles] about Venezuela. There’s a newspaper in Spain that publishes an article about Venezuela every 36 hours, almost one every day. I ask myself, “Is it that other countries don’t have problems? Is it that Spain considers it more important to worry about Venezuelan matters than Spanish matters?”

I think that there is a distortion, a real media, psychological warfare operation [against Venezuela], almost like a lynching of Venezuela.

Rodriguez said that despite what is reported in the media, Venezuela under Maduro is actually the freest country in the continent. He said:

Venezuela is a democracy that counts on the freedom of expression, I would say, the most in the entire American continent. Everyone can say whatever they want, whenever they want, under the conditions that they want in situations that other countries would not tolerate.

The interviewer did not immediately ask Rodriguez to explain why, if his comments were accurate, there are currently 235 political prisoners in regime jails, or why opposition political figures have been systematically banned from running office, arrested, and/or forced into exile.

Later in the discussion, the interviewer interrupted Rodriguez to point out that “it is a reality” that opposition political figures are imprisoned, which is why Venezuelans are not truly able to choose their political representatives. To that, Rodriguez responded:

No, no. There are two opposition leaders… in Venezuela there are 18 political parties, [and] 15 are participating in the [May 20 election]. Mr. Leopoldo Lopez called for violence in 2014, and a tribunal of justice at the request of attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz [ordered his imprisonment].

The Leopoldo Lopez trial was replete with irregularities. The prosecution’s star witness released an open letter at the conclusion of the trial stating unequivocally that the trial judge had deliberately misinterpreted her testimony on Lopez’s speeches to justify her conviction. Luisa Ortega Diaz, the attorney general whom Rodriguez cited in his answer as the one responsible for securing Lopez’s arrest, said in February of this year that she came under direct pressure from the Maduro regime to convict Lopez at all costs, a fact which “forced her” to falsify the case against him.

Rodriguez is currently on a European tour in which he seeks to bolster the Maduro regime’s tattered reputation.

The full interview, which is in Spanish, can be found here.

NGO: CNE Not Breaking Its Own Rules

The Centro de Justicia y Paz [Justice and Peace Centre] (CEPAZ), a Venezuelan human rights NGO, issued a statement today in which it pointed out that the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), the regime’s electoral body, is not complying with its own regulations in its rush to hold presidential and regional elections on May 20.

CEPAZ director Beatriz Borges gave a press conference today in which it highlighted some of the ways in which the CNE is failing to adhere to its standards in preparing for the vote.

One piece of evidence that CEPAZ provided for its claim was the fact that the CNE only opened 170 electoral registration centres where Venezuelans who are not registered to vote can do so in order to participate in the election. The CNE said that it would open up 531, meaning that an untold number of Venezuelans were likely unable to register.

Borges said that CEPAZ is keeping track of the multitude of “irregular actions” that the CNE is undertaking in the weeks leading up to the May 20 vote, and that it will forward that list to the organization.

Cryptocurrency Exchange Offers Bleak View of Petro

More than a month into its life, Bitfinex–a cryptocurrency trading website–released a statement on the Petro, saying that it had “limited utility” and suggesting that it may be little more than a ploy for the Maduro regime to circumvent sanctions placed on its finances by the United States government effective March 19 of this year.

In a statement on its website, Bitfinex said that it would not trade Petros on its platforms, and banned all of its employees and contractors from transacting in the cryptocurrency. The statement partially reads:

In light of the U.S. sanctions and the other clear sanctions risks of dealing in these products, Bitfinex will not list or transact the [Petro] or other similar digital tokens. This restriction extends to all customers of the platform, including U.S. persons, and to all activities on Bitfinex, including deposits, financing, trading, and withdrawals.

Furthermore, all contractors and employees of Bitfinex, wherever situated, are prohibited from transacting in the [Petro] or other digital tokens as specified above, effective immediately.

Bitfinex’s stance towards the Petro is in line with that other cryptocurrency trading and ratings websites have taken.

The Petro is listed as a “scam” cryptocurrency on Icoindex.com, a website that tracks new cryptocurrency launches, citing a lack and transparency in the “mechanisms and technology” behind the Petro. On February 22, an opinion piece posted on Investopedia, said that the Petro was “not a cryptocurrency”, and that the fact that it had to be exchanged for Bolivares made it worthless.

Launched on February 20, the Petro is pegged to the price of the Venezuelan barrel of oil, and was touted by Maduro as evidence that Venezuela was “at the technological vanguard of the world”.

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

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