Noticias

2014: “El que se cansa pierde”

Caracas Chronicles - Mié, 12/06/2017 - 14:22
Photo: Gabriel Méndez

Simón Díaz, one of the main icons of Venezuelan traditional music, died at 85.

Photo: El Impulso

Ipostel suspended shipments abroad because the government failed to pay airlines, and Alitalia, Lufthansa and Iberia, among others, suspended ticket sales while others reduced operations, or simply left the country, like Air Canada. Six newspapers shut down due to lack of newsprint, which the State controlled through the Alfredo Maneiro Editorial Complex, restricting press work. Censorship and self-censorship increased in the use of the internet, cellphones and social networks. During the protests of 2014, episodes of massive detentions across the country spiked and Nicolás even claimed that material losses caused by protests were estimated at $15 billion, bigger than the losses caused by the oil strike in 2002. Although there were talks between the opposition and the government (the only one that was broadcast on TV left chavismo in a bad spot) Nicolás’ refusal to negotiate condemned the exercise.

#LaSalida

Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado led La Salida, a political movement that joined the indignation of youth that started expressing itself as university protests in San Cristóbal and, days later, became a movement for social and political vindication, with recurring demonstrations in the country’s main cities.

The events of the Day of Youth were key in escalating the conflict, because the march to the Prosecutor’s Office ended with the murders of Tupamaros’ member Juan Montoya and young carpenter Bassil Da Costa. That night, Robert Redman, one of the men who carried Bassil’s body, was murdered in Altamira. An investigative report showed that SEBIN officers and other unidentified armed men fired against protesters.

The Prosecutor’s Office issued an arrest warrant against Leopoldo López, accusing him of provoking acts of violence and, after a meeting with Diosdado Cabello, López decided to turn himself in to the authorities.

Mayors Daniel Ceballos and Enzo Scarano were also arrested in March.

“Candelita que se prenda, candelita que se apaga”

Nicolás admitted that was his order for colectivos, UbCh, communal councils and communes, because protests were a “nazi-fascist attack.” Conflict escalated and repression reached unprecedented numbers, adding variables that would remain in the official playbook: joint attacks by the GN, the PNB and pro-government paramilitary groups; systematic and disproportionate use of tear gas and rubber pellets; applying cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments against detainees, as well as torture and sexual assault; arbitrary arrests and house raids without a judicial warrant; criminalization of protests; attacks against journalists while covering protests; persecution against opposition, social and student leaders. Public powers supported the excessive and disproportionate use of State security forces. Neither the Prosecutor’s Office nor the Ombudsman’s Office condemned any of these situations.

Human rights

Everything we know about people killed, wounded, arrested and tried during 2014, we owe to the work of NGOs dedicated to the defense of human rights. Without them, the opacity on this matter would be even greater. What official figures did reveal was that both poverty and extreme poverty increased in the country. Food shortages also intensified and the only idea the regime came up with to reduce queues for food was activating captahuellas to monitor the purchase of regulated products. Medicine shortages sparked protests and severe health issues across the country. The pharmaceutical industry couldn’t produce even at a loss, because they lacked raw materials: the chikungunya epidemic ravished the country, and dengue and malaria cases also spiked. Nicolás claimed that it could be a bacteriological war incited by a foreign power and gave orders to bring Cuban experts on the matter. Venezuela became a member of the UN Security Council, since it was the only country in the region to present a nomination for the post. After almost 10 years in Ramo Verde, commissioner Iván Simonovis was granted temporary house arrest due to his health condition.

Power plays

The government published in Official Gazette the regulations for the Strategic Center for the Country’s Security and Protection (CESPPA), a body that extended the State’s (military) powers to control information. Diosdado Cabello removed María Corina Machado from her post in the National Assembly, for speaking before OAS while using Panama’s seat. The TSJ endorsed his decision, even though in 2009, Venezuela did the same thing for deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya. Machado’s seat passed to her deputy, Ricardo Sánchez. There were important splits within chavismo, with the departures of Jorge Giordani, Héctor Navarro and Ana Elisa Osorio. Nicolás removed Rafael Ramírez from his three most relevant posts, appointing him as foreign minister. Due to the protests of armed colectivos, Nicolás removed Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres from his office, and Vladimir Padrino López entered the scene, while Néstor Reverol became the new chief of the National Guard.

Violence with V for Venezuela

Actress Mónica Spear and her partner were murdered in the first week of 2014 while on the road to Puerto Cabello. Caracas ranked second in the list of the 50 most violent cities in the world and other four Venezuelan cities showed up in the ranking: Barquisimeto, Ciudad Guayana, Maracaibo and Valencia. The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence estimated that the year concluded with just about 25,000 murders and a rate of 82 violent deaths for every 100,000 citizens. Between 1998 and 2014, 231,562 homicides were committed in Venezuela, the third cause of death in the country. Crime wasn’t particularly affected by the State’s 21 security plans. On October 1, lawmaker Robert Serra was murdered inside his residence, stabbed nearly 50 times; his assistant María Herrera was also killed. The way the regime handled the whole Serra business was so shady, that it left public opinion with more questions than answers.

Building the default

Chavismo’s economic contraction started long before the drop in oil prices and the default wasn’t caused by foreign debt, but by internal debts with the automotive, pharmaceutical and food industries, with medical suppliers, airlines and telecommunication companies, among others. Chavismo bankrupted the country amidst a oil boom, and the economic issues that were answered with more controls at the time later created other repressed increments, while the BCV multiplied the issuance of Bs. 100 banknotes and refused to issue higher denomination notes.

PDVSA indebted

The financial debt acquired by PDVSA was estimated above $44 billion (it was 15 times smaller in 2006), in addition to the debt it already had with its employees and national suppliers (over $20 billion.) Despite this, PDVSA announced it was issuing new debt bonds for $5 billion which would expire between 2022 and 2024, even though oil output had dropped by 460,000 barrels per day. The company later signed an agreement with Halliburton, Schlumberger and Weatherford to get a $2 billion loan. The government took a bite off international reserves to pay bond debts due in October, leaving them below $20 billion. Ah! Venezuela lost the case against Exxon for Cerro Negro’s expropriation.

Indicators

The government decreed a 55% nominal wage hike or 64.5% compared to the one in 2013, spread over three announcements: 10% in January, 30% in May and 15% in December. The BCV didn’t publish the rates of key indicators such as inflation, shortages and unemployment. The yearly inflation rate reached 63.4%. The GDP suffered an important contraction and, besides Haiti, Venezuela showed the least economic growth in the last two decades in Latin America and the Caribbean. The BCV’s statement at the end of the year ended with this remark: “Although 2013 and 2014 were years of hardship, 2015 and 2016 will be years of opportunity and development.” Only Aristóbulo Istúriz offered a sincere explanation of FX controls: “Foreign exchange controls are a political measure. If we lift the controls, people will take their dollars abroad and topple us,” although in truth, regime officials had already siphoned those dollars through suitcase companies and preferential rates.

The post 2014: “El que se cansa pierde” appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Así es la correlación de fuerzas para los comicios de este domingo

Prodavinci - Mié, 12/06/2017 - 13:57
El escenario municipal es abiertamente favorable al gobierno. Si toda la oposición participase y estuviese movilizada, el debate de este domingo se centraría en la cantidad de votos agregados a nivel nacional que pudieran conquistar ambos bloques políticos.
Categorías: Noticias

Turn Around

Caracas Chronicles - Mié, 12/06/2017 - 12:04

Nicolás took Rafael Ramírez to the end of the line, Chávez’ love is like a shadow on him all of the time, and he doesn’t know what to do and he’s always in the dark. The guy who was Venezuela’s Ambassador to the UN announced his resignation on Twitter.

Debo informar que ayer, 4 de Diciembre de 2017, he renunciado, a solicitud del Presidente de la República, a mi cargo como Embajador Representante Permanente de Venezuela ante la ONU. Se me ha removido por mis opiniones, me mantendré, pase lo que pase, leal al Comandante Chávez! pic.twitter.com/tIfsamCHgz

— Rafael Ramirez (@RRamirezVE) December 5, 2017

His opinions, apparently unacceptable for Nicolás, produced the result expected days ago. Several institutions were already calling him a traitor on social media, ratifying his prediction that he’d be attacked and vilified, and although he suggested an assessment on how this could hurt “the unity of revolutionary forces.”

He forgot that as long as they can blackmail the people with the carnet de la patria, no unity is required.

Dated December 4, the Official Gazette shows the appointment of Samuel Moncada as the new ambassador in charge. Nobody’s forgotten the sad show  that Moncada gave in the OAS Permanent Council, with his aggressive and scarcely diplomatic speech on the debate on the rupture of constitutional order in Venezuela. Ramús should know that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the enforcement of Trump’s travel ban and it includes restrictions on Venezuela exclusively against some government officials and their immediate family.

Bankrupt

Yesterday, the National Assembly issued its first Monthly Economic Activity Index (Iaeman), produced by five roundtables, which will work as a proxy for the GDP, according to lawmaker José Guerra, head of the Finance Committee, who said that economic figures have been concealed since 2015 and the regime acts as if everything was fine. THe GDP dropped by 12% between January and September 2017, and “people have lost nearly 30% of their income, due to hyperinflation,” he added.

On top of this, the country’s largest refinery, Amuay, with the capacity to process up to 645,000 oil barrels per day, produced some 70,000 barrels on Monday, according to union representative Iván Freites, who added: “The country’s refinery system has nearly shut down completely.” Cardón produced up to 50,000 barrels, way below its capacity of 310,000 barrels per day. Amuay has been operating at 27% capacity due to other issues in its units, lack of crude or shortage of spare parts for maintenance, but it’s currently producing at 13%, sadly.

That’s why the show goes on

Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab reported that there are 40 people linked to the corruption network of Andorra, among former PDVSA officials and its affiliates. The data he presented had been revealed by journalistic investigations in 2015, but he promised “some surprises” that he’ll uncover in due time. Regarding the arrests of Diego Salazar and José Luongo, he said that there’s an investigation on a former director of Polibaruta and Polichacao; that he’s already proven the existence of at least 40 ghost companies used for money laundering and how the bonuses paid by other companies – where Salazar was some kind of intermediary – allowed him extraordinary expenses. According to William, one of the most “unfair and corrupt contracts in PDVSA history” is the contract of the ship PetroSaudi Saturn, which was rented in 2010 for exploiting gas and it only took the State seven years to find that the company that owns the ship is a ghost company created in Barbados. For this case, national prosecutor 67 issued arrest warrants before the 10th Court of Control against six PDVSA managers. Tarek’s epic is a disaster: the anti-corruption crusade isn’t unprecedented and corruption is chavismo’s sole responsibility, which he failed to mention. In any case, the guy with the most Twitter accounts blocked urged citizens to give him constructive criticism: he’s lost impact, though. Bots don’t interact!

Information for Tarek

Lawmaker Julio Montoya said that PDVSA “is technically bankrupt” and that the government mortgaged Citgo, handed the Cienfuegos refinery over to Cuba and it won’t be long before it loses the Curazao refinery due to nonpayment. According to Montoya, 22 businessmen are currently being investigated by the FBI and the Treasury Department, all of them linked to the ruling clique and that in 2011, when Nicolás was PDVSA’s external director, was the year with the biggest insurance operations in the company. Regarding Andorra, he stated that they haven’t mentioned former Chávez secretary Carlos Aguilera, and former vice-minister Javier Alvarado, emphasizing that Diego Salazar’s fortune doesn’t come solely from insurance operations but also from operations with the Chinese Fund, the funds of Iran and Belarus and the maintenance of several sections of Metro, with which he bought 110 apartments in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to hide more than $3 billion, for a total of $32 billion stolen among operations with Derwick, the Chinese Fund and insurance. Montoya told Nicolás: “Are you an idiot or an accomplice? You can’t walk out unscathed from the corruption that took over $35 billion from the Venezuelan people.”

Concerning Paúl Moreno’s murderer

Let’s go back to the case of the medical student run down by Omar Barrios Rojas, because the official document of sentence N° 050-2017 was released publicly yesterday, signed by judge Yesiré Rincón who did several things in the same document: she dismissed the Prosecutor’s Office’s accusations and evidence, as well as the formal accusations from Paúl Moreno’s family; she changed the date of the murder to August 2, 2009 (it took place on May 18, 2017) ignored the intermediate levels of accusations approved by the TSJ to the murderer’s benefit, and also, the judge claims that the murder was “a traffic accident caused by recklessness” and Paúl’s carelessness for being in a public road, meaning that Paúl is somehow partially guilty for his own murder. This cocktail of barbarities should nullify the entire ruling that released Omar Barrios Rojas. The lawyers of the Moreno family have already appealed. Such a vile thing to do, tampering with the law for the sake of a murderer!

Bravo, Liliana Ortega!

The ambassadors of France and Germany in Venezuela, Romain Nadal and Stefan Herzberg, awarded Liliana Ortega, director and founder of Confavic, with the Franco-German Award for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.

Mucha emoción al entregar con el embajador de Alemania el premio franco-alemán de los derechos humanos a @LilianaOrtegaM de @COFAVIC. Con Alemania nos movilizamos para defender los derechos humanos en todo el mundo. @AlemaniaVzla @UEenVenezuela @EmbaFrancia @FranceONUGeneve pic.twitter.com/ccRqc9Kq53

— Romain Nadal (@NadalDiplo) December 5, 2017

Ortega has worked for decades on the defense of human rights, starting with the relatives of the victims of El Caracazo. Greatly dedicated and conciliatory, Liliana is a respected and valued voice, constantly striving to end impunity, to raise awareness and educate more people on the importance of respecting human rights. Thanks to people like Liliana, we can be one step ahead of corrupt officials like Yesiré Rincón.

Yesterday was the Day of the University Professor, and Venezuelan professors in particular are a kind of civil heroes, considering their complex circumstances and poor salaries. We all should be congratulating them, supporting their cause and vindicating their work; we should be thankful for allowing knowledge to keep expanding, even under a dictatorship.

The post Turn Around appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Cuerpo sano en arquitectura sana: hospitales y clínicas caraqueñas

Prodavinci - Mié, 12/06/2017 - 12:00
El presente artículo, sexto de una serie de nueve, forma parte de una línea de investigación sobre la modernidad venezolana desarrollada en el área de la teoría e historia de la arquitectura y el urbanismo de la Universidad Simón Bolívar. En esta oportunidad, en conjunto con la Fundación Espacio y con el Archivo Fotografía Urbana, en el marco del proyecto CCScity450, se exploran aspectos que supusieron una transformación del paisaje urbano caraqueño en relación con el trasiego de ideas y formas entre países.
Categorías: Noticias

Cuando hasta un niño puede darse cuenta de que no encajas

Prodavinci - Mar, 12/05/2017 - 20:12
Antes solía llevar a la escuela a mi hijo, Angus, y a otro chico llamado Niklas. Un día mi hijo le explicó rápidamente a Niklas qué eran las familias reconstituidas. Le dijo que mi esposo estuvo casado antes, por lo que tenía otros dos hijos, que eran el hermano y la hermana mayores de Angus.…
Categorías: Noticias

2013: The Dubious Luck of Being Hugo

Caracas Chronicles - Mar, 12/05/2017 - 15:57
Original art by @modográfico

Hugo Chávez’ gift for timing struck me anew just after he died, when a colleague told me she had spent three days reporting in and around Caracas and concluded that “the place seems pretty much OK.”

It was March 2013 and there was electricity, food on the shelves, coffee, milk and sugar to start the morning, and no queues outside supermarkets.

My friend worked for a big TV network, spoke Spanish and wasn’t dumb. She knew statistics about employment and poverty reduction were dodgy and those about crime and inflation were grim. But Venezuela wasn’t Cuba, and certainly not the Mad Max hellhole depicted by the opposition.

And there was no denying of the grief swamping the streets. I saw it under a broiling sun on Avenida San Martín, as Chávez’ coffin bobbed on a human wave from the military hospital to Fuerte Tiuna.

“He was a world leader, a father” sobbed Yoceida Morales, a civil servant. “He will live in us forever.”

She pushed into the crowd to try to touch the coffin. Others chanted “Chávez forever! Chávez lives!”

This is what I wrote for the Guardian when I got back to my laptop, sweaty, dehydrated, buzzing with deadlines and the day’s psycho-drama:

‘They poured down the hillsides chanting he was alive, that he would always be alive, but as the cortege wound its way through the sea of red T-shirts, and the coffin appeared, a hush fell over the throng.

He was lucky to rule amid a historic oil boom, lucky to have fractious opponents at home and lucky to have Bush as an imperialist villain.

They gazed at the casket, absorbed its physical details, the flag draped over it, the flash of wood beneath, the glint of metal in the sunlight. Surrounded by so many people on Avenida San Martín, it looked puny, a raft buffeted on the tide.

How extraordinary, how perverse to think that Hugo Chávez was inside. That Hugo Chávez was dead.

… No matter how many poured down from the hills under a baking sun, walking, riding motorbikes, hitching lifts, squeezed into buses, there was no saving him. State media repeated the mantra Chávez no ha muerto, él vive en la revolución! – Chávez has not died, he lives in the revolution! – as if repetition could make it true, could deny death.

“I feel so bad. I feel a lot of pain,” said Astrúbal Sembrano, 47, a building site guard, holding a Venezuelan flag. “But the comandante is not dead, no, not dead. He has sowed something in us, the people, and that way he will live. He was our second liberator, our second Bolívar.” Sembrano corrected himself, appalled at the slip. “He IS our second liberator. He is.”’

It was feverish, infectious and, thus, much of the international media gave el comandante a decent review: some disappointments and concerns, an authoritarian slide, but a friend of the poor, the people loved him, and by God he stuck it to Bush.

Chávez, in other words, quit while he was ahead. In 2013, democracy still had a pulse and a spending blitz masked economic zombification.

It would be callous to call this “luck.” Succumbing to cancer at 58 was, for him and his family, a tragedy. But it fit a pattern; he was lucky to rule amid a historic oil boom, lucky to have fractious opponents at home and lucky to have Bush as an imperialist villain.

Venezuela’s hollowing was apparent to anyone who cared to really look, but try explaining Cadivi to foreigners and their eyes would glaze over. Try explaining PDVSA’s atrophy, or Jorge Giordani’s terminology, and they fell asleep. So Chávez bowed out while supporters at home and abroad could still laud the “Bolivarian process” without looking completely ridiculous.

That Maduro is still in Miraflores proves he’s no idiot when it comes to keeping power. But the cost to the country (and chavismo) is incalculable.

A lot happened after his death – a snap election, Nicolás Maduro’s squeaking victory, Henrique Capriles conceding, street protests and the long, belated slide towards an economic meltdown. That Maduro is still in Miraflores, four years later, despite everything, proves he’s no idiot when it comes to keeping power. But the cost to the country (and chavismo) is incalculable.

Would Chávez have done things differently? Corrected course, ameliorated some of the damage? He craved global approbation and fiasco, visceral, undeniable fiasco, would have stung his pride. He had the political strength, ideological malleability to shift direction and the creative gifts to cover a retreat with distractions. But he also ignored the smoke. The stage caught fire and he didn’t know how to put it out, or direct our gaze elsewhere.

By any rational measure, Chávez’ legacy is scorched. Even foreigners with the dimmest interest in Latin America nod sorrowfully at any mention of Venezuela. No longer a country, it’s an event, a word bracketed alongside hunger, crisis and disaster. That Chávez piled the fuel and started the blaze in a hundred different ways should be obvious.

But for apologists, the timing of his departure gives him an alibi – he was with Che and Bolívar, in the dubious luck of checking out before the dream crashed and burned.

The post 2013: The Dubious Luck of Being Hugo appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

2013: Without Him

Caracas Chronicles - Mar, 12/05/2017 - 15:57
Photo: PSUV

In 2013, chavismo opened Simón Bolívar’s brand-new Mausoleum, an architectural calamity that failed to divert attention from the malfunctions of the National Electric System’s transmission lines, which caused power outages in most of the country’s states. A 90-day electrical emergency was declared and the system was put under military control. There was a new outbreak of AH1N1 flu in the country and Unesco declared the Parranda de San Pedro an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 1.3 tons of cocaine were seized in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, distributed among 31 suitcases in an inbound flight from Maiquetía, while the government imported 50 million rolls of toilet paper, announced by minister Alejandro Fleming as an accomplishment. The regime created the Bolivarian System of Communication and Information, Corpomiranda, the program Patria Segura (which didn’t make it through that year) and the the Vice Ministry of Utmost Social Happiness. Food rationing started in Zulia, restricting the purchase of regulated products to up to twice a day. Gabriela Isler won the Miss Universe in Moscow and the Armed Forces opened its own bank and TV station.

Violating the Constitution

The year starts without Chávez, with Nicolás minimizing the inauguration as well as the elements to declare the president’s vacancy, violating the Constitution with the support of the National Assembly (AN) and the TSJ, because according to the Constitutional Chamber’s interpretation of article 231, there was administrative continuity. A show was then staged in Miraflores Palace, Chávez’s “virtual” inauguration, including speeches from Evo Morales, Daniel Ortega and José Mujica. Nicolás gave the Accountability Speech of 2012 before the AN, violating article 237 of the Constitution, but he did it in fifteen minutes and he used them to appoint Elías Jaua as Foreign Minister.

He died

Chávez went from a “stationary situation,” to using a tracheal cannula to breathe. From smilingly reading a Granma with his daughters (a meme that’s still in use) he returned to the country early one day straight to the MIlitary Hospital, where a nurse said she’d seen him walking. Three months of severe secrecy about his condition followed, but on March 5, while coming home from my office, I heard one of my neighbors shouting from his balcony: “The dictator is dead! Chávez is dead!”. It was Nicolás who announced it.

In addition to the seven days of national mourning, Jaua decreed that Nicolás would assume the provisional presidency. The next day, a huge funerary procession carried the body from the Military Hospital to the Military Academy and once he was embalmed, he was taken to the Military Museum (now the infamous Cuartel de la Montaña) where an extended wake was held for him. Nicolás was sworn in before the AN, and immediately requested the CNE to call for presidential elections and proposed a constitutional amendment to take Chávez’s remains to the National Pantheon.

The Fast and the Tricky

Henrique Capriles Radonski accepted MUD’s nomination for presidential elections. He accused Nicolás of manipulating the information about Chávez’s health and of using his wake for electoral purposes. It was the shortest campaign in our history: it only took 10 days! Nicolás said he’d received the visit of a bird that he felt was imbued with Chávez’s presence, while State media obsessively emphasized his anointment, chavismo’s best propaganda. On election day, late at night, with 99.12% of transferred ballots, the CNE announced Nicolás as the winner with 7,505,338 votes (50.66%) while Capriles got 7,270,403 votes (49.07%).

Reactions

In his victory speech, Nicolás proposed verifying 100% of the electoral process’ ballots, considering the narrow gap in the results. Capriles claimed he wouldn’t recognize the CNE’s results until a full audit was performed on the entirety of the electoral ballots, demanding a manual recount. Despite this point of agreement, Nicolás was proclaimed President the next day, unleashing protests across the country, with a significant balance of dead and wounded citizens. Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz blamed the opposition for the violence, while the CNE declared that they wouldn’t do a manual recount. The opposition challenged the results before the CNE. The head of TSJ ruled that manual recount wasn’t a legal method in the country. At night, Tibisay Lucena announced that it was “impossible to perform and audit under the terms demanded” by the opposition, and they challenged the results before the TSJ and requested that elections be repeated; a process they would complete nine more times and which the TSJ invariably denied, ordering Capriles to pay a fine for “insulting the institution” and urging the Prosecutor’s Office to open a criminal investigation against him.

And in the National Assembly

Diosdado Cabello announced that he would ban any lawmakers who didn’t recognize Nicolás as president from addressing the Chamber. MUD’s legislators protested the decision and were physically assaulted, leaving seven of them wounded.

Photo: La República

They went on a tour through Peru, Paraguay, the U.S. and Panama to denounce the attacks and after 21 days without sessions, they recovered their speaking rights. The AN stripped Richard Mardo from his parliamentary immunity due to alleged investigations on corruption. Nicolás presented his request for an Enabling Law to fight corruption and reform the economic system which was approved by chavismo. They also stripped lawmaker María Aranguren from her parliamentary immunity and her deputy, Carlos Flores, became chavismo’s “99th lawmaker.” Luisa Ortega Díaz requested the TSJ to proceed with a preliminary hearing on merits against lawmaker María Aranguren which the TSJ accepted.

Abroad

That year, Venezuela finally left the IACHR and Caracas hosted ALBA’s Political Council, the 7th Summit of Petrocaribe and the International Anti-Fascist Meeting, for the 40th anniversary of the coup d’état in Chile. Former Iranian Finance Minister Tahmasb Mazaheri was arrested in Düsseldorf’s airport with a check from the Central Bank of Venezuela for Bs. 300 million, around 54 million euro back then. The U.S. imposed sanctions on Cavim for selling weapons to Iran. In the OAS, Panama’s ambassador Guillermo Cochez had a fall-in with Roy Charderon for criticizing Nicolás’ government. Peruvian Foreign Minister Rafael Roncagliolo spoke for dialogue in Venezuela and Nicolás recalled the Venezuelan ambassador in Peru for consultation. The Interior Ministry announced the arrest of American citizen Tim Tracy, accusing him of destabilization. It was later revealed that he was a producer making a documentary and he was deported without charges. Nicolás met with Pope Francis in the Vatican. Later in Haiti, he offered political asylum for Edward Snowden, while in Paris, Ilich Ramírez – aka Carlos el Chacal – was sentenced to life in prison. The government expelled three officials of the U.S. Embassy, accusing them of planning actions of sabotage and destabilization.

Municipal elections

The elections for mayors and council members of the country’s 335 municipalities were postponed from May 26 to July 14 and were finally held on December 8. The CNE announced PSUV as the winner in 242 municipalities, while MUD obtained 75 and independents got 18 mayorships.

Indicators

The second “Red Friday” took place in February: the official dollar rate went from Bs. 4.30 to Bs. 6.30, the fifth adjustment in 10 years of FX controls, allegedly ordered by Chávez from Cuba. The regime created the Complementary System of Currency Administration (Sicad) to replace Sitme, as well as the Higher Office of Economy. This was the year of the “Dakazo,” the take over and forced discount in prices across all Daka stores; which would later be repeated in JVG stores.

Inflation reached 56.1%, and the government blamed it on the “economic war,” although there was actually a drop of over 70% in the allocation of dollars for importers. The administration didn’t update the product shortage index, which had reached 20% by October, and the GDP grew by 1.34%. The black market dollar opened the year at Bs. 18 and closed it at Bs. 69.

The post 2013: Without Him appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

La Berlinale y el fin de una era

Prodavinci - Mar, 12/05/2017 - 15:49
El puesto de un gran festival cultural queda vacío y debe ser ocupado por un nuevo jefe. Esto suele ser solo una noticia en las páginas culturales o para los expertos, pero el caso del Festival Internacional de Cine de Berlín es algo diferente. Por lo menos a juzgar por los debates emocionales que han…
Categorías: Noticias

Sobre Caracas City 450

Prodavinci - Mar, 12/05/2017 - 15:15
Fotografías de CCS CITY 450 La ciudad no es solo su espacio físico, sino la combinación del intercambio entre ciudadano, grupos e instituciones que ocurre en el medio urbano construido. Una ciudad sin intercambios simplemente no es ciudad, y entre el intercambio más relevante está la generación de conocimiento. Mi capítulo favorito del libro Vida y…
Categorías: Noticias

So Far From 15D

Caracas Chronicles - Mar, 12/05/2017 - 14:05

Photo: @unidadvenezuela

Following his usual pattern of sabotaging all negotiation attempts with the government, minister Jorge Rodríguez said yesterday that the government won’t reach any agreement with the opposition to convene new elections if international economic sanctions aren’t lifted:

“Venezuela won’t go to any electoral event or sign any agreement with the Venezuelan opposition until the obscene sanctions that the Venezuelan right-wing requested Donald Trump’s State Department and Spanish, Canadian or any other authority, are lifted” he told EFE, and cited that the opposition’s recognition of the ANC is an official demand, as if legitimacy could be imposed.

Funny thing! The same government obsessed with launching accusations of meddling against anyone who criticizes their policies is the one who wants the opposition to force the U.S., Canada and the European Union to lift their sanctions; and it conditions having an election to that possibility. Chavismo decided to trash the Constitution, but they didn’t erase it from existence.

Common ground

Lawmaker Luis Florido said that MUD is willing to remain in the negotiation process as long as it leads to agreements and that, despite failing to reach them last weekend, the platform is set to accomplish them later on. He emphasized that this process must remain under the conditions agreed upon by the parties and summed up the opposition’s exercise as the proposal of “a process of democratic normalization and political guarantees for the country’s improvement.”

Regarding Nicolás’ refusal to open a humanitarian channel, Florido said that the government has the responsibility of acknowledging the weaknesses and welcome the help that many nations are willing to provide. The lawmaker restated that they seek better electoral, democratic and social conditions for Venezuelans and stated that agreements can’t be decreed or imposed, but that they expect to reach them on December 15 and that they’ll strive to find common ground with the government through the foreign ministers before the next meeting.

The Foreign Ministers speak up

Mexican minister and MUD-aligned mediator Luis Videgaray urged the government and the opposition to “act with absolute restraint and seriousness,” explaining that “what happened in Santo Domingo is the beginning of a process that hasn’t concluded; it will conclude in the next few days. That was the agreement and there’s progress in the right direction.” His Chilean counterpart Heraldo Muñoz said in Colombian channel NTN24, that “when there are differences between the parties, [dialogue] is always complex”; that “nobody can win everything, both parties have to give something way” and that both parties promised to consult with their supporters and superiors about the progress made in this occasion.

Human rights

Political prisoner and former mayor Daniel Ceballos released a public letter narrating the abuses he had to suffer in El Helicoide (SEBIN), saying: “I won’t cooperate anymore, I will endure any cruelty that violates my human rights.”

Hoy tengo 57 días continuos sin visita y en aislamiento, no veo el sol desde hace unos 3 meses y no veo a mis hijos desde mediados de Septiembre.
Son 3 años, 8 meses y 15 días preso y sin juicio (secuestrado), en absoluta indefension, sin estado de derecho. pic.twitter.com/19NdVb5pAm

— Daniel Ceballos (@Daniel_Ceballos) December 3, 2017

Ceballos has been isolated for 57 days, without visits from his relatives or lawyers; he hasn’t seen sunlight in three months, or his children since mid-September. He’s been in prison for three years, eight months and fifteen days without a trial.

He asserted that he assumes the consequences of his decision: “the Dictatorship and the agents who execute these orders should also assume it.”

The parents of 18-year-old political prisoner Carlos Velasco requested judge Angy Canelón to authorize the retrieval of the results of the forensic tests practiced on the boy, diagnosing that he suffers from testicular hydrocele. His father said that during his imprisonment, Carlos has also suffered from kidney lithiasis, epididymal cysts, gonalgia in his right knee and depressive breakdowns.

Yesterday, from his exile, Voluntad Popular leader Lester Toledo urged the European Union to sanction 62 alleged human rights abusers in Venezuela, including Nicolás, Tareck El Aissami, Diosdado Cabello; SEBIN chief Gustavo González López and Carlos Calderón, whom he called SEBIN’s “torturer”.

Parte de nuestras declaraciones hoy en Madrid. Denunciamos y ofrecimos detalladamente los nombres de los violadores de DD.HH en Venezuela que según los últimos informes de @hrw @oea_oficial y @ForoPenal deben ser sancionados en Europa. ¡El que se cansa pierde! pic.twitter.com/AhVtpOasl7

— Lester Toledo (@LesterToledo) December 4, 2017

Toledo thinks it’s necessary to appeal to international justice to make these officials pay for violating human rights.

“Nel blu dipinto di blu”

That’s what we’ll sing as we fly, my friends. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that it will suspend activities in Venezuela on January 31, 2018. The information will be ratified today from Switzerland, but so far, the plan is for Venezuela to be managed by IATA Central America, based in Panama. In their statement, they explain that the organization is migrating to a “centralized customer service” model, but the announcement comes after a dozen airlines associated to IATA have left the country, due to the extraordinary debt the State has with them.

Additionally, the general managing office of Bolivariana de Aeropuertos (BAER) reported that they won’t be able to provide the distribution of fuel for piston planes, due to supply and production issues in their plant in Catia la Mar, Vargas state. The inventory of airplane fuel is in critical condition, according to the note.

Se acaba el combustible AV-GAS para aviones de pistón. Ya no hay en casi ningún aeropuerto del país. Barcelona era el último lugar donde quedaba aún, ya se había terminado en Maturin, Puerto Ordaz, Ciudad Bolívar, Higuerote, Aeropuerto Caracas, Charallave y Cumana pic.twitter.com/spSMq54BzY

— Federico Black B. (@FedericoBlackB) December 4, 2017

Abroad

EU parliamentarians and U.S. government representatives will hold a series of meetings until Wednesday, working on their bilateral relations, foreign policy and economy, and Venezuela is a part of the agenda due to our humanitarian crisis. In terms of Security Policy, they will discuss North Korea, Iran and others. Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández, ruling candidate for the National Party, was announced as the winner after the special audit of 1,006 inconsistent vote tallies, with which David Matamoros, head of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, announced the audit had concluded, amidst a state of emergency decreed on Friday for intense citizen protests.

Offering an example of how they can worsen what’s already bad, the Price Control Bureau (SUNDDE) has forced hundreds of shops across the country to lower their prices and lose their profits, so shop owners won’t have any capacity to replenish their inventories or, even less, incentives to invest. Give William Contreras his espada de Bolívar already, please.

The post So Far From 15D appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Omar Zambrano sobre la hiperinflación en Venezuela

Prodavinci - Lun, 12/04/2017 - 19:42
En 2005 la mayoría de los venezolanos se sentía optimista por el comienzo del mayor boom petrolero de la historia y la dosis de fe que inyectó el incesante relato de Hugo Chávez, que dibujó un futuro de progreso y prosperidad. Sin embargo, por aquellos días se sembró la semilla del descontrol monetario que hoy tiene a Venezuela en el túnel de la hiperinflación.
Categorías: Noticias

2012: Sick but proud

Caracas Chronicles - Lun, 12/04/2017 - 15:49
Photo: Liga de trabajadores por el Socialismo de Venezuela

A year of shocking contrasts, from the oil spill in the Guarapiche river, Pastor Maldonado’s triumph in the F1 Grand Prix of Spain; the explosion at the Amuay Refinery which sadly left 48 dead and 156 wounded, as well as professional fencer Rubén Limardo’s victory in London’s Olympic Games, the second gold medal for Venezuela since “Morochito” Rodríguez in 1968.

Click to view slideshow.

The tropical storm Rafael and incessant rains, contrasted with the recognition of Diablos Danzantes declared as Intangible Heritage of Humanity. In 2012, Jimena Araya – aka Rosita – became notorious for collaborating with the escape of a pran (ganglord) of Tocorón prison, but also, the Miranda satellite was launched to space and Miguel Cabrera became the first Venezuelan to be named the Most Valuable Player of the American League. After holding several debates, with a format closer to an accord among gentlemen than to a confrontation of proposals and ideas, Miranda governor Henrique Capriles Radonski was chosen in primaries to run against Chávez in the presidential elections of October 7th.

His life in Cuban hands

We never knew the kind of cancer Chávez had, but the opacity surpassed the diagnosis and he travelled to Cuba more times than we could count. He beat his own record with his Accountability Speech before the National Assembly: nine hours and a half, which was also the longest cadena in his 13 years in power. It was in that cadena that he announced that the Consulate in Miami was to be shut down in retaliation for the expulsion of the Venezuelan consul, and he claimed that poverty had gone down in parallel with the increase in social investment. On January 29, he held his last “Aló, Presidente” and we spent the Carnavales weekend among rumors and official denials about his cancer, but in March, Chávez himself confirmed that a new tumor had been successfully extracted and he needed new radiotherapy sessions, so he cut down his public and media appearances, without delegating the Executive Branch and with the power to announce decisions via his Twitter account or through phone calls aired on VTV, including the enactment of the Framework Law of Labor and the reform of the Organic Code of Criminal Proceedings. All of his absences were unanimously approved by the National Assembly and the weight of government fell on Elías Jaua, Diosdado Cabello and Tareck El Aissami.

Violence without diplomacy

In Maracaibo, CICPC officers killed the Chilean consul’s daughter, 19-year old Karen Berendique. The Commercial Attaché of Costa Rica’s Embassy, Guillermo Cholele, was kidnapped and released two days later. The Mexican ambassador’s residence was robbed, three months after he and his wife were kidnapped and released after paying ransom to a criminal gang. There were a couple of express kidnappings against members of the Bolivian and Vietnamese embassies, but the embassies of Greece, France and Suriname were also burglarized. Drug trafficker Walid Makled named the accomplices that allowed him to traffic drugs, which included State authorities such as former general and TSJ justice Eladio Aponte Aponte, who fled the country after he was pressured to give an explanation for the TSJ credential he granted Makled. Former DIM director, general Wilmer Moreno, was murdered: ten shots in Anzoátegui state.

Corazón Venezolano vs. Hay un Camino

The presidential campaign kicked off in July. Official mouthpieces attacked Capriles with xenophobic and homophobic slanders, but they later popularized the adjective “majunche,” while pro-Chávez cadenas increased. An unforgettable event was the interview of Aymara Lorenzo with presidential candidate María Bolívar, who asked her for “una ayudaíta” to answer how she’d reduce inflation. Capriles chose to visit towns, while Chávez used the entire State apparatus to present himself as the protective father, with few public appearances, and he only “acknowledged” his administration’s mistakes in the last ones. For presidential elections, a million Venezuelans were estimated to be living abroad and only 50,000 of them had updated their data in the Electoral Registry. This year, captahuellas were first used to activate voting machines. Chávez was arrogant enough to run for his third re-election despite his deteriorating health and little chance of recovery. He won with 55.08% of votes, against Capriles’ 44.31%.

Anointment and other elections

A week before holding gubernatorial elections, Chávez returned to the country and announced that his cancer had reappeared: he had to undergo surgery. He anointed Nicolás, asking PSUV militants to support him, because he had to be his successor.

The news united chavismo and they walked away with 20 out of 23 governorships in December 16th. The opposition only won Amazonas, Lara and Miranda states. Andrés Velásquez denounced fraud in Bolívar. Chávez didn’t appear on camera again, nor did he speak to the country over the phone. Nicolás and minister Ernesto Villegas issued some thirty reports on his health and insisted that Chávez had full use of his faculties, sealing the most repeated phrase of the coming year: “Chávez told us to say that…” The TSJ was pressured to postpone the presidential inauguration and closing the year, Nicolás said in a cadena that Chávez was suffering complications due to an infection, suspending New Year’s celebration at Bolívar square.

Human rights

Former justice Eladio Aponte Aponte wrote a letter from Costa Rica, confessing that he was ordered and pressured by Chávez to imprison commissioners Henry Vivas, Lázaro Forero and Iván Simonovis for the events on April 2002. José Amalio Graterol, lawyer of judge María Lourdes Afiuni, was arrested by the National Guard for refusing to try the accused in absentia. He was released after standing trial and sentenced to 6 months in prison which he was able to serve out of jail. According to reports by the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, there were an average of 15 protests per day in 2012, for a total of 5,483, a new record. The conflict in La Planta prison was huge and Prison Minister Iris Varela transferred the inmates to other prisons, later saying that this dignified their human rights.

Abroad

The 11th Summit of ALBA-TCP was held in Caracas and member-state presidents, safe for Cuba, adopted a resolution to forego the the Inter American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance. Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo was removed from office and Mercosur expelled Paraguay, considering Venezuela’s membership, which would later be approved in Brasilia. Only three countries ran and were “elected” for the three vacant spots in the U.N. Human Rights Council: Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. The government presented the event as a confirmation of its solvency on the matter, despite refusing to let U.N. rapporteurs into the country and dismissing the institution’s proposals. Presidents Ollanta Humala and Mahmud Ahmadineyad visited the country, the latter on his tour to win support for Iran’s political and economic crisis.

Indicators

The minimum wage rose by 15% in May (Bs. 1,780.45, which amounted to $414.06 back then) and by another 15% in September, taking the figure to Bs. 2,047.52 ($476.17). GDP was 5.5% and inflation was 20.1%, keeping its place as the highest in Latin America. Just two years after Agroisleña was expropriated, the State-owned company AgroPatria went through a budget crisis and the government granted it $300 million. Planning Minister Jorge Giordani presented the National Budget for 2013, for Bs. 396,406,000, 33% larger than in 2012, estimating oil prices at $55 per barrel, even though the price for that year was $103.42. The black market dollar opened the year at Bs. 8.69 and closed at Bs. 17.32.

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Categorías: Noticias

Eulogio’s Fatal Naïveté

Caracas Chronicles - Lun, 12/04/2017 - 15:41
Photo: PDVSA TV

Reuters’s Alexandra Ulmer has a wild and unmissable report with the inside story of former Oil Minister and PDVSA CEO Eulogio del Pino’s downfall, from head of one of the largest oil companies in the world to common jail inmate. The tale is super juicy, though ultimately it’s very sad.

The first juicy bit is that she found out where he shot those bizarre Blair Witch Project-like videos of him speaking in a low voice and sounding exhausted and out or breath: he was hiking on el Ávila!

“On Nov. 29, three days after his ouster, an exhausted Del Pino went to El Ávila, a verdant mountain that towers over Caracas, the capital, where he liked to hike, one person said. Del Pino found a quiet spot under a tree and recorded a video on his cell phone. He said he believed he was about to become a ‘victim’ of an ‘unjustified attack.’”

Then she goes over his tenure at PDVSA and reflects on the fact that, despite his background as a Stanford-trained nerd, Del Pino was never able to fulfil the hopes that his appointment as PDVSA CEO had raised with many of the company’s investors and partners mostly because, by then, the company his predecessor Rafael Ramírez had bequeathed him was an unfixable wreck.

But then, his own shortcomings as a business leader didn’t help:

“Maduro promoted Del Pino, who was born in the Canary Islands and holds a Spanish passport, from PDVSA’s exploration and production division to the company’s top job in 2014.

At the time, foreign oil executives and analysts largely welcomed the arrival of the genial and low-profile technocrat. He replaced Rafael Ramirez, a once-powerful loyalist of the late Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor.

Ramirez, who dominated Venezuela’s oil industry for a decade, sought to make PDVSA “redder than red.” He urged workers to wear red shirts in support of Chavez’s socialist movement and to attend pro-government rallies.

Del Pino, by contrast, eased up on revolutionary garb and attendance at militant gatherings. He also sought closer relationships with foreign partners frustrated by currency controls and a lack of professionalism at PDVSA.

Still, many PDVSA insiders and oil executives were ultimately disappointed with Del Pino’s management. Instead of improvements, he presided over a major production fall that brought Venezuela’s oil output to near 30-year-lows.

Del Pino ultimately found his hands tied at a company where intervention by the government is common. Last January, Maduro replaced many of his top executives with political and military appointees.”

But the saddest, most ironic part about the whole affair is Del Pino’s surprising naïveté. He was urged by friends and family members to flee and, as a Spanish national, he would have had it easier than many. But he refused to believe they were going after him until it was too late:

“Days before masked agents arrested him, family and friends pleaded with Eulogio Del Pino to flee, warning that he could be next among executives detained or pursued, one after another, in a mounting purge of Venezuela’s faltering oil industry.

But the former oil minister, detained by police before dawn on Nov 30, was reluctant to believe he could soon be among those targeted in what President Nicolas Maduro has characterized as a cleanup of the all-important sector.

‘I told him: ‘Go!’,’ said one of three people who described the lead up to the former minister’s detention. ‘But he told me ‘I haven’t done anything wrong. I trust that they’re not going to do anything bad to me.”

That trust, the product of three years during which Del Pino held the top two jobs in Venezuela’s oil ministry, now appears alarmingly misplaced. Maduro is charging Del Pino and many other former industry executives with corruption and blaming them for economic woes now crippling the Andean nation.

It is not clear whether any of the charges against Del Pino are substantiated. Prosecutors, without presenting any evidence, accused him of belonging to a ‘cartel’ that operated a roughly $500 million corruption scheme in the western state of Zulia.’

We usually complain about the opposition’s naïveté in understanding the basically criminal and amoral character of chavismo. It drives us nut when the beatas fail to grasp that actual guilt makes zero difference, since the ultimate decision of your life and liberty depends on the whim of the kleptocrats who run the country unchecked. But I never imagined that a chavista top dawg like Del Pino could fall into the same trap.”

Did he buy into the propaganda so much that he failed to realize that people like Alfredo Ramos, Araminta González or María Lourdes Afiuni did nothing wrong but were nevertheless imprisoned on trumped-up charges and had their lives destroyed as a result? Or did he believe that because he had a Twitter profile pic with the galáctico he was going to be spared?

Either way, Alexandra’s piece is a must-read.

The post Eulogio’s Fatal Naïveté appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

El largo y sinuoso camino hacia una quita de deuda

Prodavinci - Lun, 12/04/2017 - 14:15
CAMBRIDGE – Los impagos están de vuelta. Aunque estos últimos años las finanzas soberanas lograron atravesar sorprendentemente bien una terrible recesión global y el derrumbe de precios de los commodities, un modelo económico fracasado no puede durar para siempre, y la lenta sangría de las economías de Puerto Rico y Venezuela ha forzado a sus gobiernos…
Categorías: Noticias

Death is better than help

Caracas Chronicles - Lun, 12/04/2017 - 12:09

“Venezuela is not a country of beggars, as some would say with this thing about humanitarian aid. No. We produce our things,” said Nicolás in his show yesterday, denying one of the crucial points of this negotiation before a new meeting even takes place, and proving that indifference in the face of the humanitarian emergency is a decision made by the government, just as they use hunger for social control and as their official “truths” are focused on widening the splits within the opposition by sheer insidiousness. Hopefully, the foreign ministers that acted as mediators are paying attention to this statement, further ratifying the death sentence against so many people suffering from malnutrition, so many Venezuelans in need of medication.

The “Petro” coin and show

Ignoring the drama of denying the opening of a humanitarian channel, the most talked-about subject in international media was the stupidity presented by Nicolás with these words: “I want to announce that Venezuela will create a cryptocurrency, the Petromoneda. It will bring progress in terms of monetary sovereignty, to defeat the financial blockade.” Then he added that it will be backed by the reserves of natural wealth such as gold, diamond, oil and gas, while the announced the creation of the National Blockchain Observatory under the University Education Ministry, made up of 50 people that will develop the cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies depend on trust, exactly what a nation in default, with production problems, amidst hyperinflation and in economic contraction, can’t offer and something Nicolás will never have.

Tea in Miraflores

Nicolás also invited National Assembly Speaker Julio Borges and other MUD leaders to a meeting in Miraflores to resume the negotiations that started in the Dominican Republic: “To review the six points and make progress in the necessary agreements for December 15,” offering to lend them a hand with a smile. Julio Borges replied on Twitter:

The date, he said, has already been established for the next meeting with the foreign ministers as witnesses, along with the agenda and clear rules. “Why don’t you invite Venezuelan families suffering from hunger and shortage of medicines created by your model (…) It’s not about personal invitations, but about reaching an accord with a roadmap for the future of Venezuela, including food, medicines and free elections.”

Speculating

Nicolás announced that workers whose annual income is less than 32,000 tax units (about nine million bolívares a year) are exempt from paying Income Tax. He announced a plan of financial support for families to get their CLAP, which will only be accessible for carnet de la patria holders. He repeated the lie that president Juan Manuel Santos denies, that pharmaceutical companies have access to Venezuelan dollars, which forces them to buy medicines in India as well as imported food for CLAPs, a corruption network that he described like this: “I do the grocery shopping for six million families.” He urged national producers to “work hard” because “Daddy State can’t provide everything, you have to look for your own supplies.” Just like that, without dollar auctions, without seeds, fertilizers or even water. A true genius, huh?

Another arrest

The Prosecutor’s Office reported on Twitter the arrest of José Enrique Luongo for his alleged involvement in acts of corruption committed by Diego Salazar Carreño through Banca Privada D’Andorra. Luongo was arrested in Maiquetía airport trying to board a plane to the United States. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Luongo had made transfers to instrumental Panamanian entities linked to Salazar for over $192 million. Salazar Carreño was arrested on Friday.

Venezuelan host and producer Nelson Bustamante received an Emmy Award in Miami for his documentary RCTV: 10 Years Later, which tells the story of the experiences of some of the talents of channel 2 after it was shut down in 2007.

The post Death is better than help appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Albe Pérez: “El Festival de la lectura es una celebración de la vida, la libertad y la democracia”

Prodavinci - Lun, 12/04/2017 - 04:00
Con la idea de rescatar el espacio público, la calle, para el encuentro ciudadano y con el lema Leer Siempre, entre el lunes 4 y el viernes 8 de diciembre se llevará a cabo la 9ª edición del Festival de la Lectura de Chacao, en la plaza Francia de Altamira.
Categorías: Noticias

Independencia y locomotoras

Prodavinci - Lun, 12/04/2017 - 00:10
Categorías: Noticias

Maduro anuncia la creación de una criptomoneda venezolana: El petro

Prodavinci - Dom, 12/03/2017 - 20:10
El 3 de diciembre de 2017, el presidente de Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, anunció en su programa de los domingos que el gobierno de Venezuela creará una criptomoneda llamada “el petro", "a partir de las reservas petroleras"
Categorías: Noticias

The beginning of his end

Caracas Chronicles - Dom, 12/03/2017 - 10:55
Photo: Le Point

In a mandatory broadcast from the National Assembly, the ministerial cabinet gave their accountability speeches, a cynical exercise of propaganda favoring Chávez, who would later announce the Great Housing Mission to cover an estimated deficit of three million housing units, so they created the 19th registry using housing as an electoral strategy.

The clowns, sorry, the experts who analyzed Simón Bolívar’s remains exhumed from his tomb, established that he could’ve died from hydroelectric shock instead of tuberculosis.

A national census was carried out, with severe criticism to some questions that violated citizens’ intimacy. There were problems in fuel distribution, which caused gas shortages in several cities, and power outages continued, with greater intensity in the country’s central areas. Chávez chose to finance Pastor Maldonado in Fomula 1 and Jhonattan Vegas, despite having threatened to expropriate nine golf courses in 2009.

Rains and homeless

An unusual rainy season started in December and stayed throughout January, causing landslides, floods and the collapse of roads and housing infrastructure. Once more, nature proved that the State had no structural capacity to deal with natural disasters. 130,000 people lost their homes and were placed in improvised shelters in schools, churches, military compounds, ministry headquarters, hotels and Sambil Mall La Candelaria, and the government ordered them to not return to their homes, but instead stay in the shelters until their new houses were ready. The outgoing National Assembly used this tragedy to approve a pack of “express” laws in a series of extraordinary sessions, including the law of higher education, which Chávez himself had to veto, obtaining a third Enabling Law for 18 months to legislate by decree. The AN appointed new TSJ justices in an illegal procedure, choosing judges who didn’t comply with the constitutional requisites. The emergency didn’t stop expropriations either. By January, the payment for expropriations was estimated at $20 billion, most of them unfulfilled. Meanwhile, the AgroVenezuela mission started the national producers census.

The new Assembly

With the opposition’s return to the National Assembly, necessary debate was also back. Fernando Soto Rojas was Parliament Speaker and the opposition started condemning the courts’ decision to prevent the induction of elected lawmakers José Sánchez and Biagio Pilieri, political prisoners who weren’t entitled to parliamentary immunity, according to chavismo. Chávez’s third Enabling Law crippled the AN’s capacities. The Emoluments Law was enacted, causing many problems in public administration for slashing wages and benefits. The Law of Complementary Indebtedness, the Law of Foreign Service and the new Sports Law were also approved.

The size of a ball

It all started with a medical leave, for which several public and media appearances were cancelled, allegedly because Chávez was suffering a really strong flu. Then, he’d suffer a knee injury that had to be surgically operated and, days later, when he was about to go on a tour, an abscess was detected in his pelvis and he chose to treat it in Cuba. During his convalescence, Chávez enacted (from Cuba!) an indebtedness law for Bs. 45 billion, in addition to the Bs. 52 billion already established for 2011. Chávez never announced a date for his return and the government’s silence made the rumors multiply. In a cadena, he finally reported that he had undergone two surgeries and that a tumor with cancerous cells had been extracted from his body, “the size of a baseball ball,” thus confirming suspicions and opening another stage in the country’s political and social life. Chávez eventually resumed his routine, turning his recovery into another emotional link with his grassroots. The cancer demanded much more rest, but he insisted on getting ready for the 2012 presidential campaign.

Protests and human rights

Several workers’ unions and groups demanded an end to expropriation threats against private companies that were still productive, even involving some union leaders from chavista ranks, because the collective bargaining discussions in the public sector had stagnated for years. A group of students from several universities went on hunger strike for 23 days before OAS headquarters in Caracas to demand attention for the status of human rights in Venezuela and the release of political prisoners. The government denied that there were political prisoners, but released Biagio Pilieri and Freddy Curupe, promising to review other cases, such as the case of judge María Lourdes Afiuni. The hunger strikes multiplied across the country in several sectors. People affected by rains also demanded better living conditions due to the lack of safety in shelters and delays in the handing over of promised housing units. Once again, the IACHR was the scenario of discussion regarding the government’s actions, once domestic instances had been exhausted. Three people were confirmed dead in CICPC headquarters in EL Rosal with signs of torture, but then Interior and Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said it was an isolated incident.

Power games

Francisco Illaramendi, who managed the pensions fund for PDVSA’s employees, pleaded guilty for fraud before U.S. prosecutors and confessed that he used thousands of millions of dollars from his customers to arrange a fraud. Since the Emoluments Law slashed large salaries, TSJ justices established a Bs. 10,000 monthly food bonus for themselves. The Education Ministry sent a memorandum barring schools from requesting textbooks different to those found in the Bicentenario Collection, made by the ministry itself with notable ideological revisions. Average and extreme poverty both increased in the 2010-2011 period and the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence estimated 19,000 murders during 2011. The candidates who aspired to face Chávez in 2012 were determined in the first week of November: María Corina Machado, Pablo Pérez, Henrique Capriles Radonski, Leopoldo López and Diego Arria.

Indicators

The social and political conflicts in the Middle East, with regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt, destabilized oil prices in the global market, and the barrel reached $100. The national budget was planned based on $40 per barrel, but minister Rafael Ramírez dismissed the need to review it and Chávez (via habilitante) ordered oil surplus be transferred to Fonden, managed by the Administration and distributed at its discretion. For $400 million, the government returned the gold reserves stored in banks in the U.S. and London. They also sent the dollars of international reserves to banks in China and Russia. Inflation peaked at 27.6% (surpassing the 26.5% minimum wage hike) and the State’s public debt reached $163.7 billion. The GDP grew by 4%. International reserves were at $29,8 billion. The bolívar kept losing purchasing power. Don’t forget the $70 million Venezuela paid for the installation of an underwater optical fiber cable to provide telecommunications services for Cuba.

The post The beginning of his end appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

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