Noticias

Hambre y política: Sin Lenin no hay paraíso

Prodavinci - Dom, 12/17/2017 - 04:05
Nadezhda Alilúyeva era una joven estudiante universitaria soviética en el año 1932. Era conocida como una mujer culta y aplicada. En las aulas de clase escuchaba a sus compañeros hablar sobre los horrores del hambre en Ucrania. Las historias sobre la antropofagia y la muerte de miles de niños la sobrecogían. Una noche, al llegar a su casa, le contó a su esposo las historias que contaban sus compañeros en la universidad. El esposo la escuchó y desestimó las historias como simples rumores, como mentiras. Nadezhda insistió durante algunas noches, hasta que su esposo le pidió que no tratara más el tema en la casa, reclamándole su indisciplina política. A los días de esta conversación, los compañeros de clase de Nadezhda fueron detenidos y se produjo una purga en las universidades soviéticas de todos aquellos estudiantes que hubieran participado en la Colectivización y que conocían de primera mano lo que ocurría en el campo. Poco después se aprobaría un decreto que prohibía hablar del hambre en la Unión Soviética. Hablar de hambre era sancionado con la pena de muerte. Joseph Stalin, el esposo de Nadezhda, no quería escuchar más sobre el tema.
Categorías: Noticias

Laureano y su SOS Venezuela

Prodavinci - Dom, 12/17/2017 - 04:03
Cuando suena mi chat y veo un mensaje de Laureano se produce un efecto equivalente al de ese experimento del que la señorita Calatrava me hablaba en tercer grado: los perritos de Pavlov, que acostumbrados a recibir comida después de escuchar la campanita, salivaban al oirla, incluso sin que les tiraran algo. Sólo que en mi caso, el estímulo no se trata de comida para la barriga, sino alimento para el alma, en forma de comentarios inteligentes, agudos y divertidos que siempre vienen después de un contacto con Laureano.
Categorías: Noticias

Roberto Patiño: “Mi generación no se va a quedar en las lamentaciones”

Prodavinci - Dom, 12/17/2017 - 04:01
Antes de iniciar la conversación periodística, Roberto Patiño y quien escribe hablamos de economía. De ese largo camino que empieza en la filosofía y transita por las páginas de dos obras opuestas, de dos hombres que representan las visiones en las que se debatió la humanidad durante el siglo XX. Adam Smith, La Riqueza de las Naciones y Carlos Marx, El Capital. Prueba fehaciente de que la política y la economía vienen siendo la misma cosa.
Categorías: Noticias

Gobierno y oposición continuarán negociación el 12 de enero

Prodavinci - Sáb, 12/16/2017 - 04:38
El gobierno y la oposición venezolana concluyeron el viernes 15 de diciembre una nueva ronda del proceso de diálogo. Danilo Medina, presidente de República Dominicana y anfitrión de las negociaciones, anunció que la próxima reunión será el 12 de enero de 2018.
Categorías: Noticias

Superman contra la religión de Nietzsche

Prodavinci - Sáb, 12/16/2017 - 04:05
“Un gran poder conlleva una gran responsabilidad”. El tío Ben en El Hombre Araña (Sam Reimi, 2002) Pese a que las historietas del Hombre de Acero son aventuras de acción para jóvenes, en el contexto de la ciencia ficción constituyen un mito cuyo subtexto religioso nunca ha estado lejos de la superficie. Jerry Siegel y…
Categorías: Noticias

Tres novelas en la montaña

Prodavinci - Sáb, 12/16/2017 - 04:04
Megeve, viernes 8 de diciembre de 2017 Una libreta de direcciones Me encanta recordar aquel comentario de John Updike, incluido en una reseña publicada hace muchos años en The New Yorker, donde decía, más o menos, que cuando se lee una novela de un autor alemán (incluía también a los austriacos y suizos) uno debe…
Categorías: Noticias

Crónica de un regreso a Caracas VI: Antecedentes penales

Prodavinci - Sáb, 12/16/2017 - 04:02
A las cuatro y media de la mañana, con las calles desoladas, nos dirigimos en carro hacia el centro de Caracas. Tomamos una de las rampas de acceso a la avenida Libertador. Apenas descendemos, a pocos metros, un hombre completamente desnudo de espaldas a nuestra vista se baña con el agua de un chorro que cae sobre la avenida.
Categorías: Noticias

Inopia y fascinación en la autoficción de Carrère

Prodavinci - Sáb, 12/16/2017 - 04:01
Jean-Claude Romand, cuyo crimen sirve de narración central de «El adversario», protagonizó un proceso judicial que interesó a la prensa francesa: al asesinar a su mujer, hijos y padres se inició una investigación policial que pronto demostró no sólo su culpabilidad, sino también que había engañado durante años a su familia y amigos, haciéndose pasar por médico sin siquiera haberse graduado y estafando a su círculo íntimo para mantener un alto nivel de vida.
Categorías: Noticias

Antonio López Ortega: “La cultura es una dama muy incómoda para los regímenes dictatoriales”

Prodavinci - Sáb, 12/16/2017 - 04:00
Por un largo proceso de dos duras décadas, se reanima la zona de la escritura venezolana en la que el yo y sus intermitencias aparece. En estos márgenes de la escritura se incorpora Antonio López Ortega con Diario de sombra (El estilete, 2017).
Categorías: Noticias

The Bane of Shopkeepers

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 12/15/2017 - 15:55
Photo: José Díaz

The Sabana Grande boulevard, a commercial reference of the Venezuelan capital, is already out of products. After the mandatory 50% discount on everything, some stores might close for good.

“I’m waiting for Sundde to arrive. I have 300 pairs of shoes, I’ll apply the discount they asked of me and when the merchandise runs out, I’ll close the shop. My six employees are aware of the situation. I can’t recover after this inspection, I’m leaving the country and six unemployed families.”

Dimas Silva was behind the counter of his shoe store, a block from the Bolívar square in downtown Caracas. From there, he watched with concern, waiting for his turn in the next few hours.

On Saturday, December 2, for the fourth year in a row, the Bureau for the Defense of Socio Economic Rights (Sundde) went on an “inspection” of private businesses. They began in Plaza Venezuela, the Sabana Grande boulevard and, by Monday, they were close to Chacaíto. Escorted by the National Guard (GNB) and the National Police (PNB), they forced shopkeepers to sell their entire merchandise at a 50% discount.

People made lines almost immediately outside stores selling shoes, underwear, trousers, shirts, purses and even food. In less than seven hours, shops were emptied out.

I can’t recover after this inspection, I’m leaving the country and six unemployed families.

It’s a lethal stab to many shopkeepers, since sales already dropped by 40% right in December, a period that usually has an important cash flow. The reason: exorbitant prices. A pair of sports shoes costs Bs. 800,000 ($7.7, at the current black market rate), far more than the average employee can pay, with the current minimum wage plus food stamps at Bs. 456,507 ($4.42).

But some items cost even more – a pair of shoes of a famous brand can go for Bs. 3,000,000 ($29); a pair of jeans goes for Bs. 1,500,000 ($14.53). Even a bra can cost Bs. 250,000 ($2.4).

“I think it’s good they lower the prices” said a woman in line at a shoe store. “(Merchants) cross the line too often.”

“Prices go up everyday, and not by 20,000 or 50,000 bolívares” said another woman who’d been waiting for two hours under the sun to enter the store.

The GNB officers stood guard in the shops as if products were food for refugees fleeing a war. With rifles close to their chest, they controlled the crowds and diffused the constant clashes among customers.

“Last year we managed” he sighs. “It’ll be hard this time. Factories don’t know if they’re opening again.”

Giovanni Mincior owns a shoe store his father opened in el Centro. Like his colleagues, he’s out of merchandise. “I have two pairs of each model in the back. We don’t have much left. Factories aren’t producing, and when they sell us their products, they give us two or three days to pay. That’s why we’re forced to adjust prices. The shoemakers say that the glue, the thread, the leather, the boxes, everything costs more every day, and that shows on the bills we pay. We don’t raise our prices to hurt people, nobody can pay Bs. 2,000,000 for a pair of boots.”

“Last year we managed” he sighs. “It’ll be hard this time. Factories don’t know if they’re opening again.”

Some shops remained closed on Monday and Tuesday morning. Owners only opened after midday, once they were sure Sundde agents weren’t around. Employees were removing price tags and taking brand shoes off the shelves.

Shopkeepers in el Centro are expecting Sundde to drop by at any minute on their nearly empty shops, while employees face an ominous prospect for 2018. The operation in Sabana Grande is common practice for the regime now: they regulate prices, destroying production and restricting free market. The employees of chains such as Balú, which has four stores in the boulevard, or Prime, Traki, Total and Seven, weren’t inspected this year or the previous ones. Overseer William Contreras boasted that they’ve inspected 5,776 stores all over the country.

“We’re profiting now, because I could buy shoes for my two children, but are these products going to disappear, like meat and chicken?” a customer wondered.

“If stores don’t open, we will open them,” said a GNB officer.

The post The Bane of Shopkeepers appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

El futuro de la negociación en dominicana

Prodavinci - Vie, 12/15/2017 - 14:04
Es probable que contra todo pronóstico el país culmine con un acuerdo en República Dominicana. El acuerdo, si bien no será perfecto, puede llegar a cambiar la situación política tan desfavorable que actualmente enfrenta Venezuela. Ciertamente, después de los resultados electorales tanto del 15 de octubre como del 10 de diciembre, el gobierno asiste a…
Categorías: Noticias

Sundde: the Terror of Shopkeepers

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 12/15/2017 - 13:06
Photo: Sundde

Imposed a 50% discount on everything.

The Sabana Grande boulevard, a commercial reference of the Venezuelan capital, is already out of products. Some stores might close after these inspections.

“I’m waiting for Sundde to arrive. I have 300 pairs of shoes. I’ll apply the discount they ask me to and when the merchandise runs out, I’ll close the shop. My six employees are aware of the situation. I can’t recover after this inspection. I’m leaving the country and six unemployed families.”

Dimas Silva was behind the counter of his shoe store, a block from the Bolívar square in downtown Caracas. From there, he watched concerned, waiting for what was coming for him in the next few hours. As the saying goes: “When you see your neighbor’s beard burn, soak your own.”

On Saturday, December 2, for the fourth year in a row, the Bureau for the Defense of Socio Economic Rights (Sundde) started inspecting private businesses. They began in Plaza Venezuela, the Sabana Grande boulevard and by Monday, they were close to Chacaíto. Escorted by officers of the National Guard (GNB) and the National Police (PNB), they forced shopkeepers to sell their entire merchandise at a 50% discount.

People made lines almost immediately outside stores selling shoes, underwear, trousers, shirts, purses and even food.

In less than seven hours, the shops were emptied out. Some shopkeepers said they were having a rough time, because sales dropped by 40% right in December, a period that usually has an important cash flow.

The reason: exorbitant prices. A pair of sports shoes costs Bs. 800,000 or more ($7.7, at the current black market rate for today, Bs.103,555.08  per dollar), which is far more than the average employee can pay, with the current minimum wage plus food stamps, Bs. 456,507 or $4.42.

My six employees are aware of the situation. I can’t recover after this inspection. I’m leaving the country and six unemployed families.

But some items cost even more – a pair of shoes of a famous brand could go for Bs. 3,000,000 ($29); a pair of jeans goes for Bs. 1,500,000 ($14.53). Even a bra could cost Bs. 250,000 ($2.4). Again, since the minimum wage is less than $5 per month, it’s really hard to buy clothes in Venezuela.

“I think it’s good that they lower the prices. They cross the line too often,” said a woman who was waiting in line to enter a shoe store.

“Prices go up everyday, and not by 20,000, 30,000 or 50,000 bolívares,” said another woman who’d been waiting for two hours under the sun to enter the store.

The GNB officers stood guard in the shops as if the clothes were food for refugees fleeing a war or a natural catastrophe. With their rifles close to the chest, they controlled the crowds and diffused the constant clashes among customers.

News spread like fire and reached the ears of shopkeepers in downtown Caracas who were fearful, just like Dimas.

Giovanni Mincior owns a shoe store his father opened in el Centro. He’s also awaiting Sundde. Like his colleague, he’s out of merchandise. “I have two pairs of each model in the back. We don’t have much merchandise left. Factories aren’t producing anything, and when they sell us their products, they give us two or three days to pay for them, that’s why we’re forced to adjust the prices. The shoemakers tell us that the glue, the thread, the leather, the boxes, everything costs more every day, and that’s reflected in the bills we have to pay. We don’t raise our prices to hurt the people. I don’t want to sell a pair of boots in Bs. 2,000,000, I know nobody can pay for that. But the product comes to us from suppliers with a new price already,” he explained.

Pointing at one of the models in his shelve, he said that he’d had to increase the price by 10,000% in a year, because that’s the producer’s price.

Even a pack of plastic bags goes through the roof, he says.

“Last year we managed. It’ll be hard this time. Factories don’t know if they’re going to open again,” Mincior said.

We’re profiting now, because I could buy the shoes for my two children, but are these products going to disappear, like meat and chicken?

Shopkeepers in el Centro’s “soaked their beards.” They’re expecting Sundde to drop by at any minute on their nearly empty shops, while employees face an ominous prospect for 2018.

“Starting the year without a job is really sad. This worries me. The government attacks the most vulnerable.”

Actually, Mincior thinks this is all a show orchestrated by the government and that they’re also the ones responsible for inflation.

Some shops remained closed on Monday and Tuesday morning. The owners only opened them after midday, once they were sure Sundde agents weren’t around. Employees were removing price tags and taking brand shoes off the shelves. “My boss took the merchandise out of the store. He doesn’t want to lose everything this time,” said a salesman.

Sundde already slammed Sabana Grande stores, a common practice for the Bolivarian regime: they regulate prices, destroying production and restricting the free market. Shopkeepers in downtown Caracas are next. Last year, three stores had to close and this time, at least four businesses are expected to close for good.

The employees of chains such as Balú, which has four stores in the Sabana Grande boulevard, or Prime, Traki, Total and Seven weren’t inspected this year or the previous ones.

Overseer William Contreras boasted that they’ve inspected 5,776 stores all over the country already. Apparently, the policy continues until December 9, a day before municipal elections.

“We’re profiting now, because I could buy the shoes for my two children, but are these products going to disappear, like meat and chicken?”, a customer wondered.

“If stores don’t open, we will open them,” said a GNB officer.

The post Sundde: the Terror of Shopkeepers appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Twenty Years is Nothing

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 12/15/2017 - 12:50

Image retrieved from Daily News

But eighteen is something. Judge Paul Crotty accepted the Prosecution’s stance that a life sentence was excessive, so they asked for a 30-year verdict. But, since Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, our presidential couple’s nephews, didn’t have any prior criminal records and are too young, they were sentenced to 18 years in prison for conspiring to smuggle 800 kg of cocaine into the U.S. They must pay a $50,000 fine each and they won’t have access to any benefits, except a reduction of the period they spent under custody. Technically, the Prisons Office will establish a prison in Florida to make it easier for their families to visit them (at least that’s what they do with Latino inmates, they send them to Florida or Texas.) The visits should include Cilia Flores, who was a sort of mother for Efraín Antonio, a parentage that explains how in 2008, he was made an employee of the Latin American Parliament, where he worked until 2011, along with the first lady’s remaining thirty-so relatives.

Off sight

While the country tries to come to terms with the fact that the CAF Board approved a credit line for up to $400 million for the Central Bank – to offer macroeconomic support and to mitigate liquidity risks in the handling of debts –, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Cepal) announced that the region will close 2017 with 1.3% economic growth but Venezuela will end 2017 with a 9.5% GDP drop, which they estimate will contract to -5.5% in 2018.

For Fedecámaras chairman, Carlos Larrazábal, the drop is greater – he estimates it at 12.5%. “Trust and the capacity to invest in the country are still being destroyed,” he declared. Such contraction already equals that of the four previous years, exceeding 35% since 2014, so Larrazábal demands an urgent change and correct economic decisions to solve the situation.

In the dark

Despite the sentence against his nephews, Nicolás and Cilia travelled to Havana to participate in the meeting of the ALBA-TCP Political Council in honor of Fidel and Chávez. Cuba announced that they signed their cooperation plan with Venezuela for 2018, which includes 9 exchange programs with 27 new projects in the areas of sanitary services, medicine supply, electrical support, human talent training and cultural and sports promotion. After signing, Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza said that the objective of this this agreement is that both countries continue “united in the battle for integration.” Inspiring. But the sad note comes with the information revealed by Reuters – Venezuela left the association in the Cienfuegos refinery and Cuba took full ownership of the plant, as payment of Venezuela’s debt for services provided, as well as for the rented ships. And then the newspaper Granma reported: “Since August 2017, the Cienfuegos refinery has been operating as a fully Cuban State entity.” The first ones to take their slice of cake weren’t the Americans, but the Cuban “brothers”. Cool, huh?

At the National Assembly

The National Assembly unanimously voted to nullify the approval of the national budget for 2018, because it was never submitted to this body, violating the constitutional mandate. The lawmakers added that any public credit operation made without the National Assembly’s approval “will be null and not recognized,” including debt operations (in case CAF didn’t remember). They also unanimously approved the Operational Regulation of the unit bridging the AN with Parlasur; the report of the Mixed Committee for the Creation of the “Orinoco Mining Arc” Strategic Development Zone and the Bill for the Recovery of Assets Produced by Corruption.

Threats

During the swearing-in ceremony of the 18 PSUV mayors in Mérida state, Vice President Tareck El Aissami threatened opposition mayors: “We won’t be weak before your threats anymore; any right-wing mayor who steps out of line will immediately be taken to justice.” He had the nerve to demand governor Ramón Guevara to rehire the “bolivarian” employees who were allegedly laid off and asked the Prosecutor’s Office to open an investigation against those who “incited violence” during protests, because there’s still impunity, but don’t worry, according to him, the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) managed to consolidate peace and stability. Additionally, Darío Vivas claimed that former Zulia governor Juan Pablo Guanipa permanently worked “for the coup d’état and international intervention” and accused him of promoting and “leading guarimbas and violence.” Which is why it was so nice of Freddy Bernal to announce that between December 20 and 25, the government will distribute ten million toys through the CLAP; a way to cool down protests for the promised “payment” for voting on Sunday. He added the dates for the distribution of perniles that nobody’s seen, but that he claims won’t be missing on the tables of patriots.

Abroad
  • “The OAS has revealed itself as an enemy of Venezuelan democracy,” said Carmen Velásquez during a speech before the Permanent Council, reducing protests in 2017 to a “meddling plan led by the U.S. with the aim to oust” Nicolás. Her speech was so off-beat, that the Council’s chief, Jenny May Loten, asked her to end it due to lack of time.
  • Exiled Voluntad Popular leader David Smolansky and Freddy Guevara’s father, went to different instances of the Colombian Congress to denounce the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and the persecution against opposition leaders, saying that “all nations should be aware that the Venezuelan dictatorship is a threat to Colombia and to Latin America as a whole.”
  • Once again, the Dominican Republic will open its doors to the opposition and the government this Friday, December 15. Jorge Rodríguez claimed that there could be an agreement with the opposition and lawmaker Simón Calzadilla said that if there’s no “integral agreement, we won’t sign anything.”

Grandeliga José Altuve and athlete Yulimar Rojas were named Athletes of the Year, by the Circle of Sports Journalists of Venezuela. Empresas Polar was once again named Company of the Year for their support to national sports.

The post Twenty Years is Nothing appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Ninguno de los dos quería suicidarse

Prodavinci - Vie, 12/15/2017 - 12:00
—Hay que tener valor para tirarse a los rieles —dice una señora mientras camina hacia la salida de la estación de metro. —Mucho —responde otra que guarda el ticket amarillo en su monedero—. Pero le joden el día a uno. Es la tarde del lunes 27 de noviembre y una voz femenina habla por los…
Categorías: Noticias

Law & Order: Stupid Venezuelans Unit

Caracas Chronicles - Jue, 12/14/2017 - 21:30
Original art by @modográfico

Turns out, all Efraín Campo Flores really wanted was a big cat.

“I’d really love to get a leopard cub, that would be nice; I might be giving you a call sometime to see if you can get one for me?”

As he tapped the mad idea into his WhatsApp chat, the last thing he suspected was that the guy on the other end was a DEA undercover agent – or that his drug lord fantasies would be submitted as evidence in the trial against him and his cousin.

That pipedream was one beat in the thumping 1,500 page narcosobrinos trial transcript I spent a few weeks reading. Today, Efraín and his cousin Franqui Francisco Flores (AKA the narcosobrinos) were sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment and to pay a $50,000 fine by a U.S. federal judge, after being found guilty of conspiring to transport cocaine to the United States.

The conviction came after a hearing where unintendedly hilarious letters were presented by the defense, arguing for their release and deportation to Venezuela, since the defendants helped their cousins do their homework, never did anything “bad” (besides dealing drugs) and his family “can’t afford tickets to visit them in NY” (another worthy cause for gofundme).

As most of the conversations examined during the trial were in Spanish, it was necessary for the prosecution to translate the exchanges. Communications were, of course, laden with expletives and regional jargon. As the defense sought to question the accuracy of the official translations, the prosecution interpreters testified and were cross-examined by the defense.

The last thing he suspected was that his drug lord fantasies would be submitted as evidence in the trial against him and his cousin.

One of the funniest bits is the exchange between one of the fancy lawyers and a Venezuelan interpreter, during which they discuss profusely about the different meanings of the word marico in Venezuela. The fancy lawyer argues that, in some cases, it can be a term of endearment among friends (and not a slur), while the interpreter says that, even when used among friends, it’s a slur.

It’s a funny thing about how the defense went about: it wasn’t the prosecution who shone the spotlight on Efraín’s zoological fantasies. It was the defense. It was his lawyer who, faced with a wall of evidence, settled on a “they’re-just-too-stupid-to-be-drug lords” defense, and ended up with a perverse incentive to comb through the evidence, looking for anything that might make his clients look like idiots.

We’ll never know much about the cub thing from the transcript, because the prosecution objected to this line of questioning and the judge sided with them: “We’re not talking about lions and tigers here.”

We’re left to wonder if Campo wanted to look as a Venezuelan Pablo Escobar, or if he really likes baby lions and tigers; we’re left to wonder why the first lady’s nephew is dumb enough to record evidence of his own crime on his own phone.

And, as a lawyer, I am left with grudging admiration for the best counsel Wilmer Ruperti could buy: bits of the transcript make this too-stupid defense sound oddly plausible.

Then again, parts of it don’t. Some of the material found on their phones is downright chilling, violent gangland stuff (texts about cutting people, pictures of dismembered bodies) that doesn’t jive with the ingenue defense. To be sure, the context to these messages isn’t clear and there is no specific evidence of their participation in murders in Venezuela. In asking for a harsh sentence, the DA did, however, show these texts as evidence that they were involved and had knowledge of drug hit jobs, talked about them nonchalantly and may have been planning a few of their own.

We’re left to wonder why the first lady’s nephew is dumb enough to record evidence of his own crime on his own phone.

So, that’s a bit less Benny Hill and a bit more Scarface.

And the too-dumb-to-know-better defense was a far cry from the strategy announced by Cilia Flores after their arrest: “The DEA committed a kidnapping, which the defense will prove.” Instead, their claim was entrapment; that is, the nephews committed the crime, but did so because they were tricked into it by the DEA. Normally, this requires evidence that the accused had no predisposition to commit a crime, but they were wheeled into it by exploitative police officers.

In any case, it fell flat. You might feel a certain sympathy for the inept wannabes who got caught because they are less cunning than, say, Hugo Carvajal, but truth is that they were criminals who operated with impunity in a country where top government officials and their entourages can moonlight as drug dealers facing no consequences.

It’s the full circle of corruption; the transcripts and text messages suggest that they had participated in small-time drug operations, handled illegal drugs, were involved in violent threats to other dealers  and had the connections to charter a private plane. They clearly agreed to sell a large amount of cocaine to be trafficked to the U.S. and got convicted because they confessed to it. The defense exaggerated the trapped-by-stupidity argument, but it’s pretty clear they were selected precisely because of their lack of power and influence within chavismo. Unlike the Kafkaeske show-trials political prisoners in Venezuela have to face, these two men were given all the guarantees established in the U.S. Constitution. At one point, one of the narcosobrinos even thanked the DEA for allowing him a phone call after being arrested, and commented that they wouldn’t have been treated the same way had that happened in Venezuela.

The real drug kingpins of chavismo would have never fallen for this one and, within chavismo, the narco-nephews were expendable. No tears for these pobrecitos.

The post Law & Order: Stupid Venezuelans Unit appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Retrieving the Prize

Caracas Chronicles - Jue, 12/14/2017 - 12:02

This Wednesday, National Assembly Speaker Julio Borges received the Sakharov Prize for Thought Freedom. He asked the European Union to send an official mission for presidential elections in 2018, in order to guarantee their fairness, and said that the opposition receives the prize on behalf of those who suffer and deserve a future of opportunities, and that the award honors the memory of Venezuelans murdered by the brutal repression against peaceful protests in 2017. Borges said that the fight to recover democracy will go on and that “sooner rather than later, the long fight for dignity, referred to by Sakharov, will yield its fruits and allow us to reconquer our freedom.”

European Parliament Speaker Antonio Tajani expressed his desire that Venezuela returns to democracy, and said that the award is for all Venezuelans in the world and that the National Assembly – like all Parliaments in the world – is a symbol of democracy and diversity of opinion and that by granting them this prize, they’re defending their respective Constitutions, their institutions and their branch autonomy, essential elements of democracy together with freedom of expression.

Despite the prize
  • The Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) approved a protective measure for professor Santiago Guevara, arrested by the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence in February, accused of treason and instigation to rebellion.
  • Amnesty International requested specialized medical attention for student leader Villca Fernández, in prison since January 2016, because she’s suffered from hypertension, bronchitis, back pains and gastrointestinal problems. The Prosecutor’s Office issued an order to transfer him to a hospital, but the transfer has been postponed five times.
  • Lawmaker Edgar Zambrano spoke for the rights of the Metropolitan Police officers and of former Security Director Iván Simonovis, prosecuted for the events in April 2002, in a letter to imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab demanding the granting of their respective judicial benefits.
  • After a year and a half of detention in SEBIN, the preliminary hearing of American Joshua Holt and his girlfriend Thamara Caleño, arrested during an OLP in Ciudad Caribia, was held this Wednesday. The judge sent them to trial.
  • Former mayor Delson Guárate escaped Venezuela through the Colombian border. He said that they wanted to take him back to SEBIN El Helicoide, where he was imprisoned for a year.
Silence isn’t peace

The IACHR’s Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Edison Lanza, spoke yesterday in a forum of NGO Espacio Público which studied the hate “law” imposed by the ANC, explaining its implications on human rights and confirming assessments regarding the leeway this represents for the discretional administration of a justice without independence. Created as one more instrument of political persecution and not as a law to prevent hate crimes, Lanza explained that there are “less restrictive ways to regulate this (hate crimes), but they’re using criminal law with severe punishments” and that no law in the hemisphere imposes such severe punishments to regulate expression, which means its purpose is censoring and inhibiting the dissemination of information, giving the government “an arsenal of tools to intervene contents, censor the media and establish sanctions for the media.” Lanza mentioned that the IACHR is preparing a report on Venezuela.

Bankrupt

In OPEC’s most recent report, Venezuela reported that its current oil output is 1.83 million barrels per day, which was the minimum output back in the 80’s and represents a 6% drop compared to last month, proving that the collapse of oil production continues at an alarming rate. The report also shows the decline in the amount of active drills, which were about 70 up to 2016 and has now dropped to 40 in 2017. Another drop in production would collapse the necessary cash flow to sustain production and to pay debts, while the financial sanctions and the technical default make it much harder for partners to invest in joint ventures. PDVSA doesn’t have the capacity or the willingness to take the necessary measures to accomplish the changes it requires, even less in the hands of a general with no experience in energy matters. Ah! The GDP per capita is in 1955 levels. When you can, check the work of professor Francisco Monaldi in Prodavinci: PDVSA’s death spiral.

The misaligned

Nicolás ratified that Venezuela and the members of the Movement of Unaligned Countries pledge their full solidarity and support of Palestine’s cause, and condemn Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He had the nerve to call for “compliance with the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations, due to their binding nature,” as well as justifying Palestine’s fight with the “unalienable right to be free and their right to self-determination,” so he obviously condemns violations of international law (like every sentence ignored by the government) and actions without judicial validity (like the imposed “election” of the ANC), which are null and void (like the “laws” issued by the ANC). Isn’t he cute?

Brief and serious
  • The public transport fee in Caracas will rise to Bs. 1,000 starting on December 15.
  • They’re up again: Bs. 102,277 per dollar and Bs. 120,285 per euro!
  • The 60,000 tons of wheat that arrived to the country yesterday will only be enough to cover the national demand for 15 days.
  • Decrees N° 3.196, authorizing the creation of the Bureau on Cryptocurrencies and Related Activities, and N° 3.197, appointing Carlos Vargas Urbina as Cryptocurrency Supervisor, were published in Official Gazette N° 41.296.
  • This Wednesday, Zulia’s new governor Omar Prieto took his oath of office before the ANC. I don’t know what was prettier: whether it was him yelling “Chávez vive” after the induction, or Prieto explaining that he won thanks to his “socialist, humanist and deeply Christian” government plan.

María Gracia Sosa, a 29-year old surgeon who left the country for Uruguay, won this country’s Master Chef and was granted a vehicle, $200,000, a course in the Crandon Institute and a trip to Spain to receive training in the restaurant El Celler de Can Roca. The Venezuelan won by cooking rice with mussels, shrimp with plantain chips; shrimp with avocado cream and mango chutney, and passion fruit mousse with crispy chocolate!

The post Retrieving the Prize appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Lea aquí el discurso de Julio Borges en la entrega del Premio Sájarov

Prodavinci - Mié, 12/13/2017 - 21:14
Presidente de la Asamblea Nacional, Julio Borges, acompañado de Antonio Ledezma en representación de los presos políticos recibieron el máximo reconocimiento que otorga la Unión Europea a los defensores de los derechos humanos.
Categorías: Noticias

Falling Into Line

Caracas Chronicles - Mié, 12/13/2017 - 18:53

These people are hungrier and poorer by the day, and their faith in the abstraction of socialism is long gone. Maduro, to them, is a clown and there’s only contempt for the rest of the lot. Many don’t even like Chávez. They may deny it, they’d rather keep quiet than admit they messed up, but deep down they know El Comandante screwed them.

They see it in the mirror as they grow thin, and I see it too, as I walk up the stairs of my building, greeting neighbors as equals, and not as foes. That’s the thing with crises, sooner or later you have to hold yourself accountable for your decisions, and people here, in Guarenas, really chose wrong. This has been my home for the past ten years and, during that period, I’ve been surrounded by people who still have portraits of Chávez in their homes. They voted Maduro into office and will deny that there are political prisoners or Human Rights violations in this country.

Last Sunday, election day, I asked them about the election itself, which I never do, just to see why they supported this government to the point of self-sabotage. My neighborhood, Menca de Leoni, brimmed with activity. There were Puntos Tricolor every fifty meters or so. As the bus made its way through the street, I could see children playing and people strolling around while others lined up for their carnet and their bono Niño Jesús near voting centers. Maduro, Jorge Rodríguez and Erika Farías promised a reward for those who voted red, and they mostly came through in Guarenas, so people were in high spirits.

My closest neighbors are three women. Two have dogs and we’ve found a way to bond by avoiding arguments and talking about their animals and lives. This has given me an understanding of systems like CLAP and the carnet de la Patria as successful political tactics for the regime.

¡Hoooola, mijo! ¿Y la abuela?

Sooner or later you have to hold yourself accountable for your decisions, and people here really chose wrong.

That’s how Libia, the first woman in my floor, greets me every time she sees me. She’s about 60, but the bones are so prominent beneath her skin that she looks much older. A housewife living off a pension with her two children (both of them with cognitive disabilities), she’s the only source of income in their household. She voted for the criminals whose actions reduced her chances of survival; if she falls ill, if anything happens to her, her two sons will be completely helpless. Now, the CLAPs are the only way she can even eat or provide for her children. When I asked her about Sunday’s elections, she just shrugged. “If it weren’t for Chávez, I wouldn’t have my pension. But I didn’t vote this time, politicians are all the same.”

The second woman, Doris, lives with her son and daughter. She’s a nurse at Guarenas’ main hospital and although I’ve come to like her personally, I have no illusions about her principles; she’s the building’s CLAP coordinator. She collects the money every month and brings the boxes to the building. “I left home at 5:00 a.m. (today) and got back at midnight. It was a lot of work. We went to each building with wheelchairs to help the old and sick.” I originally thought she only worked with the CLAP, but she’s also a member of the UBCh and Unamujer. She’s not a member of the local communal council because “they never do anything. Back when we worked with Corpomiranda, they offered the council a chance to manage the whole thing, but food started to go missing, they didn’t want to work, CLAP took over and now they’re angry at us.” She worked for Héctor Rodríguez’ campaign and also for Luis Figueroa, the new mayor. “We work really hard for the community and they must do the same” she says, utterly convinced.

The third woman, Dilia, is a full-time housewife. Her daughter and son-in-law are the breadwinners of the house; my sister has a better relationship with them than I do, but we treat each other cordially. She’s a member of the local Consejo Comunal and the building’s unofficial management, and she’s not doing that bad, even if it’s been a while since she’s thrown a party. “I don’t vote. I voted for Chávez but not for Maduro or his people. And the opposition’s nearly as bad.”

They all fear that they might lose access to their “benefits” if they don’t have the carnet, a fear more than justified since the government has been making explicit threats lately.

“When Chávez was alive” she adds, “he had things under control, but these people don’t know what they’re doing. The CLAP arrives whenever they want and the boxes have less products each time.”

However, she still got her carnet. “Just in case I need it. We never know.”

Despite the difference in contexts and motivations, they all fear that they might lose access to their “benefits” if they don’t have the carnet, a fear more than justified since the government has been making explicit threats lately. I don’t condone these people’s support for the regime, but I understand. Supporting the system of control that will guarantee your demise is completely counter-intuitive, but the connection to crime, to high-scale embezzlement or drug-trafficking, isn’t evident to them. This is a circumstance unrelated to their survival and the story repeats everywhere now. It’s no longer chavistas who depend on this type of blackmail anymore.

Chavismo has always been good at using violence and turning everything into a weapon. They’ve weaponized hunger now, and they’ve been successful in stomping down public demonstrations. That doesn’t mean they’re more popular than a year ago, or that they’ve regained people’s trust; people are just running out of options, and they will do whatever they must to provide for their families. We may want nothing to do with carnets de la patria or CLAPs, but a lot of people just don’t have a choice.

Of course they take the carnet and the grocery box. Of course they promise to vote for PSUV candidates, even if they don’t. Some, like Doris, still believe in the revolution after all these years and actively participate in the government’s schemes. Others have never refused the government’s gifts and figure this is no time to start. And if the government plan succeeds, even dissidents will learn to fall in line.

The post Falling Into Line appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Verónica Zubillaga: Los que manejan la seguridad insisten en el fracaso

Prodavinci - Mié, 12/13/2017 - 13:32
A Verónica Zubillaga la conozco desde hace poco más de un año. El tema de la violencia y la letalidad de las armas nos hizo coincidir. Yo había escrito un par de artículos sobre la necesidad de movilizarnos socialmente para exigir políticas públicas para el desarme, invitando a la ciudadanía a aportar ideas ante un fenómeno que hemos normalizado hasta la exasperación, al que recurrimos en una narrativa casuística del horror.
Categorías: Noticias

Páginas