21 May 2020 06:38

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AT&T quits Venezuela as US sanctions force it to defy Maduro - World News

In this version of a country, which has been halted, confined, with severe food insecurity, without electricity, water, cooking gas, fuel or internet connection, DirecTV shut down its operations, a private company with 26 years of history and 45% of the pay-TV market in Venezuela. This explains the general commotion and the enormous amount of people feeling sad about AT&T's decision, owner of DirecTV, when they explained on Tuesday that it's impossible to abide by American and Venezuelan legal requirements. The company left 600 people without a job and turned off the light on information and entertainment amid the quarantine. On January 31st, 2019, the Department of Treasury issued a new executive order to broaden PDVSA's operational restrictions and with that, increasing the pressure on the regime. American laws prohibit companies from working with sanctioned individuals.


At the same time, Venezuela was forcing DirecTV to broadcast channels like Globovisión and PDVSA TV. That's why AT&T decided to cease operations in Venezuela, and what matters here are the sanctions against Raúl Gorrín and PDVSA, while society pays the price of what chavismo decided: to turn this into a collective sanction. In the last 24 hours, 131 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Venezuela, a record number for the third day in a row, bringing the total to 749: in merely four days, we have detected 63% of the total of cases registered since March 13th. Jorge Rodríguez said that 110 cases were confirmed on the borders, 16 local cases and five cases from contact with travelers. On Tuesday, Jorge Rodríguez said that 43,089 Venezuelans had returned to the country and according to him, they've done 616,562 tests, which represents 20,552 tests per million inhabitants.


Rodríguez said that the Colombian authorities weren't being careful enough when guarding illegal pathways on the border, but other than the curfew, the quarantine and the use of facemasks, he didn't announce any public policy despite the exponential growth of cases. Venezuelan displaced indigenous communities in Brazil and Colombia are "dangerously exposed" to COVID-19, warned UNHCR on Tuesday, which estimates that almost 5,000 people from the Warao, Eñepá, Kari'ña, Pemón and Ye'kwana communities are out of their territories, without papers and in vulnerable conditions. The U.S. Department of State sanctioned the Chinese company Shanghai Saint Logistics Limited, for providing services to Iranian company Mahan Air, accused of transporting gold from Venezuela. The statement warns that other companies still providing services for Mahan Air could be sanctioned as well. Ecuador, undergoing an economic crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic, will shut down embassies in Venezuela, Mexico and Iran and will get rid of state companies, announced President Lenín Moreno when he presented his plans for reducing public expenditure.


Colombia's Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo announced that they'll conduct an investigation to see if there are indeed informants for the chavista regime in their intelligence institutions, as Jorge Rodríguez assured on Monday. (Reuters) - AT&T Inc said on Tuesday it was shutting its DirecTV subscription access to Venezuela due to U.S. sanctions, cutting off a key source of entertainment for millions of people stuck in their homes under a strict coronavirus quarantine. DirecTV was the country's most popular television service, providing a range of foreign channels as alternatives to the country's beleaguered local television industry that has been battered by a hyperinflationary economic crisis. U.S. sanctions meant to force President Nicolas Maduro from office prohibit companies from contracting with state agencies, but local Venezuelan laws require subscription services to carry channels run by the government. "Because it is impossible for AT&T's DIRECTV unit to comply with the legal requirements of both countries, AT&T was forced to close its pay TV operations in Venezuela," the company said in a statement.

Some users reported seeing their screens go blank, while others said they continued to receive foreign channels but no local ones. DirecTV has for years been a mainstay of poor neighborhoods in Venezuela, where the company's antennas were often visible on the zinc roofs of low-income cinder-block houses. "I don't like these Venezuelan channels, it's all politics," said Aura Leon, a homemaker in Catia, a working class area of Caracas. AT&T said Tuesday it will immediately ditch Venezuela's pay TV market as U.S. sanctions prohibit its DirecTV platform from broadcasting channels that it is required to carry by the socialist administration of Nicolás Maduro. The Dallas-based company's closing of its Venezuela unit is effective immediately. It follows a decision by the Trump administration not to renew a license it had granted AT&T to continue carrying Globovision, a private network, sanctioned by the U.S., owned by a businessman close to Maduro who is wanted on U.S. money laundering charges, three people familiar with the situation told the AP. AT&T joins a number of other U.S. companies — General Motors, Kellogg Co. and Kimberly-Clark — that have abandoned Venezuela due to shrinking sales, government threats and the risk of U.S. sanctions. "Because it is impossible for AT&T's DIRECTV unit to comply with the legal requirements of both countries, AT&T was forced to close its pay TV operations in Venezuela, a decision that was made by the company's U.S. leadership team without any involvement or prior knowledge of the DIRECTV Venezuela team," the company said in a statement. AT&T has a 44% share of the pay TV market and its departure is likely to hit hard working-class barrios of larger cities and the interior that depend on DirecTV for access to information and entertainment. An Associated Press investigation from January found that AT&T had been under increasing pressure from the Trump administration to stand up to Maduro's censors, who since 2017 have ordered the removal of some 10 channels, including CNN en Español, that had broadcast anti-government protests. DirecTV is also a major platform for the broadcast of state-run TV outlets criticized by the opposition as propaganda. A never-implemented plan promoted by the State Department would have forced AT&T to pull the plug on Globovision and the state-run channels while restoring some of the banned international news channels, according to five people familiar with the discussions cited in the earlier AP investigation. AT&T hasn't made money from its Venezuelan operations for years due to strict government controls that keep the price of its packages artificially low — a few pennies per month. But the company was reluctant to close down its operations in Venezuela because of its market share — the largest it has anywhere in the world — and its commitment to a satellite broadcast centre from which DirecTV beams about a third of its programming to several parts of South America. A man aged in his 40s who tried to intervene in the incident was also stabbed and is in a serious condition in hospital. The victim has been named locally as 32-year-old Melissa Belshaw. The woman killed in a double stabbing in Wigan was a 'caring and lovely' mum-of-one, her friends and family have said. Detective Superintendent Jamie Daniels, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "Our thoughts are with the lady's loved ones after this absolutely tragic incident. "Clearly this investigation is in its very early stages and we are working to ensure that we follow every line of inquiry. "There will be a higher police presence in the area and I would encourage anyone with any concerns to please speak to these officers who are there to offer support and help. A "LOVING" mum was stabbed to death and a hero neighbour who tried to help her seriously injured in a double knife attack yesterday. Beautician Melissa Belshaw, 32, suffered "catastrophic" injuries when she was fatally stabbed at her home in Wigan, Greater Manchester. 6 Melissa Belshaw, 32, suffered catastrophic injuries when she was fatally stabbed in Wigan yesterday Credit: MEN Media 6 Tributes have been paid to Melissa after her horrific killing Credit: MEN Media 6 The young mum was stabbed to death and a man seriously injured in a double stabbing in Wigan yesterday Credit: Zenpix Police say the injured man, who is in his 40s, was hurt as he tried to tackle the knifeman during the rampage in Upholland Road just after 4.10pm. Tributes have been paid to Melissa following the horror stabbing. Melissa's devastated stepmum, Lisa Belshaw, said the young mum was "lovely". Ms Belshaw told Manchester Evening News: "She is going to be so sadly missed. Close pal Leanne Fairhurst described Melissa as "caring and lovely". Ms Fairhurst said: "She was so outgoing and was always smiling and loved a good time. Detective Superintendent Jamie Daniels said the killing was "an absolutely tragic incident". He said: "We will offer them full support and do all that we can to provide them with much deserved answers. "Clearly this investigation is in its very early stages and we are working to ensure that we follow every line of enquiry. MOST READ IN NEWS Exclusive PICK'S NICK Lyons gangland hood and his son-in-law 'running' tough Scots prison Live Blog COVID LIVE Nicola Sturgeon set to announce Scotland's lockdown 'road map' today PARTY TIME Celtic fans flout lockdown to do coffin dance at boozy garden title celebrations BEER WE GO! "We understand that this news will likely cause concern among the local community but I would like to stress that at this stage we do believe this to be an isolated incident." 6 The beautician was knifed at her home Credit: MEN Media