Noticias

2011: Pax Bolivariana

Caracas Chronicles - Dom, 12/03/2017 - 10:54
A Report on the Affairs of the Empire to our Eternal Emperor Hugo

In, MMXI, the XIIth year of the V Republic and the VIIIth year since the founding of our glorious Bolivarian empire, affairs seem to be going well, for the most part.

The rise in oil prices that began in late MMIII allowed us to establish an empire like no other Venezuelan ruler ever achieved. Today we are happy to report that we have satellite protectorates in Ecuadoria, Bolivania, Paragus, Nicalandia, Salvatore, and many Caribbean islands. Our administrators there are proving to be unfailing loyalists.

Ecuadoria and Bolivania deserve special recognition. They each have essentially adopted the Empire’s idea of a constituent assembly to destroy the separation of powers. They have also implemented many of the Empire’s laws and ways of governing. Ecuadoria and Bolivania in particular are each enjoying a booming trade, minimizing the need for our Treasury to subsidize them as much as in the beginning.

We have created a coalition of ideological allies and economic opportunists abroad. They provide diplomatic cover for all we need.

Nicalandia remains poor and dependent, always in need of plenty of subsidies —$1.6 billion since 2007, close to 8 percent of the country’s GDP—but nothing the Empire cannot afford. Our regent Danilo has been able to use our subsidies well—coopting all merchant barons and church officials—thus ensuring peace rather than confrontation, as was the case when he ruled in the 1980s. Our Emperor should be congratulated for turning governor Danilo into a transformed man and for giving him so much advice on how to organize self-serving elections.

We lost our protectorate of Hondurasia, after Zelaia was unseated in MMIX, but something positive did come out of that loss. We were able to change public opinion on a train wreck. Before Zelaia’s removal, world discourse focused on our spies’ undue influence over the affairs of Hondurasia and his re-election drive, a policy we advised him to pursue. After Zelaia’s removal, we managed to focus the narrative on the undue influence of our enemies—coup-seeking judges, politicians, and capitalists. We should acknowledge the role of your foreign minister, Brutus Madurus, in turning this crisis into a semi-win for the Empire. You should continue to deposit all your trust in him. Yes, brighter men surround you, but none as insistent and loyal as Brutus Madurus.  

Another side benefit of the Hondurasia imbroglio is that it allowed us to learn to cooperate with our most important neighbor, Brazilicum. Relations with Brazilicum are always difficult. We have never been able to conquer that giant. It is clear at this point that our Empire cannot compete with Brazilicum’s global reach and prestige. Brazilicum, first under Lulia and starting this year under Dilmana, has acquired a level of soft power that we can only envy. Brazilicum is respected by both the left and sectors of the right, whereas our Emperor is admired only by the radical left. Brazilicum has succeeded in being treated as a second-tier empire by the Orientals, which of course fills us with jealousy.

Yes, brighter men surround you, but none as insistent as Brutus Madurus.

So it was a smart decision on the part of the Emperor to abandon the idea of preventing Brazilicum from trying to become the leader of the Americas. It was a smart decision also to allow business tycoons from Brazilicum to win major contracts at home. Thanks to our overpayments, imports from Brazilicum expanded by more than 500 percent this past decade to $5 billion. Direct investments from Brazilicum amount to almost $20 billion. Thanks to these numbers, rather than turning against us as competitors at the world stage, Brazilicum has become our strongest defender in world affairs, and will soon welcome us into Mercosur, which is not a trivial victory for the consolidation of Pax Bolivariana south of the Equator.

Regarding the South, the Vichy kingdom in Argentia, led by Queen Cristiana, has been a godsend.  More so than her deceased husband Lord Néstor, Queen Cristiana has been truly accommodating of our wishes. She has started implementing some of our favorite policies—massive nationalizations, aggressive rhetoric toward the opposition and media, increased polarization—and this has consolidated her base. Like Brazilicum, Argentia has become one of our biggest champions in the world, in part because they, too, send us lots of bills for their exports. It almost seems that, now that she is a widow, the Queen has united our two lands by virtual marriage. Furthermore, she creates problems for the renegade lands of Chilia, which helps our interest. The Emperor should be congratulated for having sent all those funds to secure the Queen’s permanence at the throne.

Brazilicum has become our strongest defender in world affairs, and will soon welcome us into Mercosur, which is not a trivial victory for the consolidation of Pax Bolivariana south of the Equator.

Relations with our most important partner, Cubanacán, also look good, despite the semi-retirement of our most formidable ally ever, Fidelius, now Commander Emeritus of the Empire. Relations with his brother and successor Raulius were rocky at first, but have improved considerably. The Emperor is paying a significant price to keep this alliance afloat — major oil subsidies and above-market payment for Cubanacán slaves —costing us close to $18 billion since 2008. But this is money well spent. The empire needs all the help we can get from this gerontocracy.  It is essential for domestic order.

Our war in our neighboring kingdom of Columbia did not go that well, as the Emperor knows. Our forces there, the FARC, experienced severe losses over the years—from possibly 18K troops in the late 1990s to about 8K last year—all under the steadfast heavy hand of King Uribium, who fortunately was de-throned last year. In recognition of those losses, the Bolivarian empire changed its foreign policy last year, away from promoting war to promoting a long and protracted peace negotiation in Columbia, now under the weaker and more pliable Sanctum. If you can’t defeat them, make peace with them, under your terms.  We thank the Emperor for such an insight. Incidentally, one added bonus from our new policy toward Bogotae is that we can now import electricity from Columbia, which we urgently need and which nobody needs to know about.

Overall, Pax Bolivariana is secured. Our sphere of influence today extends beyond the borders of our protectorates and allies. Thanks to our unprecedented open-import policy and huge construction contracts, we have created a coalition of ideological allies and economic opportunists abroad. They provide diplomatic cover for all we need. Analysts are wrong in assuming that our greatest economic foreign policy tool is our oil subsidies. It is instead our import policy and our non-transparent contracts with foreign actors at visiting Domus Miraflores. We are redefining what it means to be nationalists.

It almost seems that, now that she is a widow, the Queen of Argentia has united our two lands by virtual marriage.

Things are not going that badly either with our biggest adversary, the United Forces of the North. The good news is that we succeeded in forcing Washington to cease engaging in efforts to recruit mercenaries to destabilize our lands. The current administration in Washington does not seem too worried about our relations with Persia, The Orient, or Cubanacán, and this has compelled them to lower their guard.

However, not all is well with the United Forces. Our oil sales to the United Forces, when Devil Ambush was ruling, provided an added benefit that we no longer get. Under Devil Ambush, our oil sales helped fund the United Forces’ militarism in the Middle East and South Asia, which was a hidden blessing for the Empire’s affairs, because it gained us adoring fans. Remember Fidelius’s great teaching: the more people hate the United Forces, the more they will forgive our trespasses.

Things are a bit more complicated under Obamaman. Militarism has declined, and the president is enormously popular, all of which reduces our pool of apologists abroad. Funding Obamaman makes less sense.

The Emperor is paying a significant price to keep our alliance with Raulius afloat—major oil subsidies and above-market payment for Cubanacán slaves.

We have reviewed your suggestion to interrupt oil sales to the United Provinces of the North, but we have concluded that we cannot afford this move. Oil exports to the United Provinces, though declining, still represent our only source of unrestricted funding. All in all, our enemy offers us a better deal than we get from our strategic partner, China of the Orient, whose leaders have nothing positive to say about our placid tropical culture in which failing to meet deadlines stresses no-one. The Bolivarian Empire thus has no choice but to continue to fund the unfortunate Obamaman administration and hope for its replacement with another Ambush-like president. It will come.

Our foreign policy has been the subject of three main criticisms.

The first is that our conquered lands are worthless. Our inability to secure control of the rich kingdoms of Chilia, Columbia, Peruvium, and Mexicum means that we only have control of the poorest, less consequential territories of the Americas. We don’t respect this criticism. Our protectorates provide plenty of diplomatic shield—we even control the OAS— and in today’s world, cover is more fundamental than taxing our subjects.   

A second criticism has to do with rising piracy. Ever since the Empire made the landmark decision in 2005 to expel spies from the United Forces, operating under the guise of fighting narcoterrorism, our land has become the favorite passageway for drugs from the Andes into the world. There is no question that this contraband is huge and growing, and pirates are always potential troublemakers. But we applaud the Emperor’s smart policy toward piracy, really unique in the region: if we cannot defeat them, let’s figure out some modus vivendi.

Allowing narcotraffickers to do their work unimpeded, as the Emperor wishes, has delivered a magnificent payoff. Pirates are choosing not to direct their fire against the State. The war on drugs is one war that we don’t need—fighting the resistance at home is hard enough, and at least, the resistance does not have weapons. Corruption and illicit business are increasing, that is true. But this is not unfortunate, since it does not pose a security threat, and in fact may be helping our Pax Bolivariana by lowering the number of battlefronts to monitor.  


The current administration in Washington does not seem too worried about our relations with Persia, The Orient, or Cubanacán, and this has compelled them to lower their guard.

The third criticism is more serious. It is the idea that we may be engaging in imperial overstretch. Imperial overstretch is a term attributed to Magister Paul Kennedy, a historian at Universitatis Yalensis. In his treatsie The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, Magister Kennedy argued that empires have a tendency to extend beyond what they can realistically afford militarily and economically. Eventually, the cost of overextension becomes unaffordable and the path to ruin.

These critics have a point. We are the only oil-dependent empire, at peace, whose deficit is out of control and whose production is declining. We strongly recommend holding key meetings with our economic and oil experts, if there are any left, to address imperial overstretch. While Pax Bolivariana is currently secured, it is costing a lot.  

Perhaps it is time for one more Hu-Evo summit. Our governor Evolio in Bolivania has figured out a way to keep finances under control and still deepen our common extractivist economic model. Meeting with him again, strictly to discuss finances this time and not just mysticism, could give you some ideas on how to mend the Empire’s strained macroeconomy. Bring along Oil Minister Raphael; he could learn a thing or two about how not to run an extractivist energy company to the ground.     

Allowing narcotraffickers to do their work unimpeded, as the Emperor wishes, has delivered a magnificent payoff.

We cannot emphasize enough the problem with our deficit, and more seriously, declining oil output.This is an urgent matter: with declining production, the Empire has fewer dollars. With fewer dollars, we have fewer imports. And with fewer imports, we stand no chance of offering bread and circus at home.  

We wish the Emperor a prompt recovery from all your surgeries this year. We were delighted to learn, directly from you that Cubanacán doctors in June successfully removed your tumor from your abdomen and that you are now “cancer-free.”  Praise be to the Gods. And praise be to Cubanacán medicine. It can always be relied upon to assure that the Emperor, and by extension, our Pax Bolivariana, have a long life ahead.

The post 2011: Pax Bolivariana appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

No Agreement

Caracas Chronicles - Dom, 12/03/2017 - 10:28

The government and the opposition will resume talks in two weeks after concluding the two days of dialogue in the Dominican Republic without concrete agreements, according to Chilean Foreign minister Heraldo Muñoz. He explained that the statement issued by the foreign ministers that participated in the process will be reviewed by the parties.

Afterwards, president Danilo Medina reported that the next meeting will take place on December 15th, also in his country, with the purpose of coming to a definitive agreement. Muñoz and Medina asked parties to remain optimistic on the possibility of a political solution, saying that “it’s best to go slowly to do things the right way.” In truth, sources revealed that both parties refused to accept key demands in the negotiation.

The opposition’s version

National Assembly Speaker Julio Borges restated that they attended the meeting with the goal of guaranteeing the rights of Venezuelans, describing the exercise as a difficult, tough process of debate and confrontation, but he said it was necessary to open a path for the future for Venezuelans. He emphasized that the dialogue doesn’t preclude other efforts to recover the country’s democracy and that they discussed elections, human rights and political prisoners, remarking that the fight for food and medicines was the opposition’s main demand: “We offered solutions (…) it was one of the most heatedly debated subjects,” said Borges. The method for this two-day exercise involved opening the discussion about a point, establishing the essential conditions required to solve it and making the proposals. Later, Collete Capriles tweeted: “A framework of internationally backed proposals was established, which each party must discuss internally. Some people expected us to acquiesce, but what I saw was firmness.”

The government’s version

“We don’t need to negotiate with the opposition for 18 hours to maintain our hold on power,” said minister Jorge Rodríguez, admitting that the discussion was hard, that many left satisfied and that now they’re in a structural phase of consulting the people, while the opposition does its thing with “the opposition factors.” Jorge says that they presented their truths, that they showed evidence of attacks against the government and surmised that the true aid will come with the end of sanctions against the economy that chavismo destroyed; as if the sanctions imposed by the U.S., Canada and the EU against tens of government officials had bankrupted PDVSA or ruined the nation. He admitted that there were problems “with the distribution of medicines,” and arrogantly added that they’ll solve them, denying the existence of a humanitarian emergency.

Concerted denial

This Saturday, Health minister and IVSS chief Luis López discarded the possibility that the government would accept humanitarian aid to abate the shortages of food and medicine: “Nobody bows before an empire here and we won’t allow the right-wingers to impose some humanitarian aid on us,” he said during the presentation of the report on medicine delivered through 0800-SaludYa, a mechanism that lacks the structural capacity and the budget to cover the demand of medicines in Venezuela. López’s response is unacceptable and cruel, a death sentence for so many people; I hope it will be documented for the crime it is. Using ideology to justify the disdain for life in the face of hunger and death only intensifies the misery that the most vulnerable already suffer.

Paz Activa is right

Remember Paz Activa’s report mentioning how many policemen and military agents have been involved in organized crime? In Zulia, two vehicles belonging to the State Secret Police (SEBIN) were transporting 530 packs of cocaine. Chased down by a commission of the National Guard’s anti-drug division, one of the SEBIN vehicles crashed and the second one was abandoned as the occupants fled. Three officers with SEBIN uniforms and equipment were arrested: Ángel Barrios Díaz, Orlando Santeliz Díaz and Daniel Villegas, from SEBIN Caracas. In addition to the drugs, the vehicles contained two pistols, two rifles and a fragmentary grenade. In Caracas, the forensic police (CICPC) arrested two National Bolivarian Police (PNB) officers (Michael Lozada and Daniel Prieto) for the kidnapping of two businessmen for a $5,000 ransom. According to CICPC’s report, thirteen other PNB officers were involved, they were already identified.

Tell Jorge Arreaza

Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer on Twitter,) is a human rights activist, Executive Director of United Nations Watch (UNW). From the moment the clown, “independent U.N. expert” Alfred de Zayas set foot in the country, Neuer denounced the false investigation organized by the Venezuelan government, which included the dissemination of pictures of Caracas markets full of food, another with Delcy and one other with smiling soldiers.

Through UNW’s social networks, the organization has challenged the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to speak out and did the same with Antonio Guterres and other U.N. delegates, denouncing the betrayal against the U.N.’s foundational ideals represented by a propaganda exercise like Zayas’s. Alfred de Zayas deleted all pictures and the text with which he accompanied his “official visit to Venezuela,” but UNW remarks: “he didn’t apologize for this despicable propaganda bent on denying the massive hunger of Venezuelans.” My respect for their tenacity and how they used social networks to expose a fraud with colorful bowties.

I don’t usually write briefings on Saturday, but this was important.

The post No Agreement appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

¿Algo bueno para 2018?

Prodavinci - Dom, 12/03/2017 - 04:00
Categorías: Noticias

María Fernanda Palacios: “Este gobierno no está interesado en la democracia”

Prodavinci - Dom, 12/03/2017 - 00:04
¿A qué obedece que un ensayo escrito en el pasado no pierda su vigencia? ¿Al hecho de que poco o nada han cambiado las cosas en una sociedad o a que el autor posea amplias miras? Si es lo segundo, estamos en presencia de un intelectual, seguramente de un poeta, cuyos versos se conjugan en un tiempo premonitorio. Aunque a María Fernanda Palacios la abrume, la sobrepase la condición de poeta, ella lo es, y con todas las letras.
Categorías: Noticias

Lo antifrágil

Prodavinci - Dom, 12/03/2017 - 00:02
“En las circunstancias actuales de Venezuela, no basta con activar el modo supervivencia: debe activarse el modo antifragilidad”. Eso dijimos como cierre en el Evento Prodavinci que realizamos en el Teatro Chacao, donde estuvieron Yorelis Acosta, Michael Penfold y Asdrúbal Oliveros. 
Categorías: Noticias

In the dark and rotten

Caracas Chronicles - Sáb, 12/02/2017 - 16:52
Photo: PolítiKa UCAB

In 2010, Chávez dons the Marxist-Christian garb. For the first time, people started banging pots in protest during his speech in a public event in El Valle. NGO Control Ciudadano denounced that several soldiers were registered in PSUV, violating the Constitution, with the CNE and the National Assembly refusing to open proceedings over this situation. The symbolic remains of Manuela Sáenz were placed in the National Pantheon beside Simón Bolívar’s. Rejection against Chávez reached the final of the baseball championship between Caracas and Magallanes: people protested from their seats with RCTV flags, along with the slogan “1, 2, 3, Chávez, you’re out!” Actually, he still had a few strikes left as president.

No power

The national electrical power crisis grew worse due to lack of investment and maintenance for national distribution networks, on top of the severe drought which lowered water levels in all dams. Caracas was favored in detriment of the rest of the country and a water rationing plan was imposed which did nothing to prevent outages. Alí Rodríguez Araque is appointed energy minister. He decreed the electrical emergency and ordered the purchase of thermo-electrical plants (most of the installed systems didn’t work well). The workday for public employees was reduced, along with the activity in Guayana’s basic companies. There was 20-hour outage in Lechería which was memorable because Cadafe said that an iguana was to blame. The rains returned and the dams were replenished, but hardships continued.

The depreciation of the bolívar fuerte

Announced on January 8th, Chávez declared that the Bs. 2.15 exchange rate, which remained in place since 2005, would split into two rates between Bs. 2.60 (only for State imports) and Bs. 4.30 (for travelers and misc imports.) The measure was baptized as “Red Friday” mirroring the “Black Friday” that the country experienced in February, 1984. The measure was deemed necessary but abrupt. People started purchasing every product they could find, so as not to lose half their savings’ worth. Chávez also decreed that there could be no mention of the black market dollar on media outlets, but the government announced that they would enter that market through bonds and currency purchases, creating a third rate to acquire dollars.

Several other companies

Starting the year, the National Assembly declared the “public use and social interest” of the hypermarket chain Éxito (later Abastos Bicentenario), owned by French group Casino; Chávez signed the expropriation decree but later accepted Casino’s proposal to purchase 80% of their shares in Cativen (owner of both Éxito and Cada).

Several buildings in downtown Caracas were expropriated, along with Polar warehouses and the food company Monaca, while the Santa Inés University was nationalized. The next step was the forceful takeover of the companies Envases Internacional, Venoco and Aventuy; the expropriation of the company Industria Nacional de Artículos de Ferretería as well as nine shops, 11 oil drills belonging to Helmerich & Payne (H&P) and Agroisleña, main distributor of farming products. Chávez also expropriated the branch of Owens Illinois; Sidetur (he seized all of its assets) and textile company Silka. He also ordered the forceful acquisition of Sambil Mall La Candelaria and 19 unfinished residential complexes.

PDVAL’s putrefaction

150,000 tons of expired or decomposing food were discovered within PDVAL containers, a crime that was a consequence of excessive purchases, problems in national ports and in distribution. The National Assembly refused to discuss the matter, the trial was postponed all year long and the Administration merely removed PDVAL from PDVSA’s management. There were only three arrests. The rotten food also had an impact in the Food Program for Schools, which saw difficulties in 18 states, diminishing the food coverage and increasing school desertions. A ship was sent back from the Dominican Republic with 1,500 tons of food, it was sent as humanitarian aid for Haiti and had decomposed in the meantime. Despite the scandal, the FAO declared that the country was “on the right track in the fight against hunger,” although we lost a few ranks in the Human Development Index.

Parliamentary elections

The National Assembly appointed two new CNE board members, Socorro Hernández and Tania D’Amelio. The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) managed to agree on single candidates for 17 states. Once more, chavismo’s electoral campaign was full of enormous opportunism and the CNE no only ignored the complaints of NGO Ojo Electoral, but also threatened to remove their monitoring credentials. With over 65% turnout, the AN ended up with 98 PSUV lawmakers; 65 from the opposition and 2 from PPT. Notably, the reform of the Framework Law on Electoral Processes altered the amount of seats obtained for the amount of votes for each party: 52 seats were chosen based on the system of proportional representation and 110 based on the the party list system.

Franklin Brito’s death

49-year old agricultural producer Franklin Brito died after an eight-month hunger strike waiting for a compensation for his property rights, after six years of conflicts before State institutions. His immolation was dismissed by the Prosecutor’s Office as the act of a lunatic.

Photo: El Guardián Católico

The were protests for power outages, food shortages, the dwindling budgets for universities and even, for Conatel’s decision to exclude RCTV Internacional from the offer of cable TV providers.

Reaching the Internet

The protests moved to social media and the government took it as another scenario of confrontation. Chávez declared that the Internet couldn’t be free, but a week later he called on his militancy “to wage the digital communicational battle.” The ministers of Communication and Education inducted children and teenagers as “Communicational guerrilla commandos,” paid for it with public funds, who would spread “the Revolution’s truth.” Chávez created his Twitter account to receive complaints and, due to the overwhelming amount of unattended needs, he created Misión @Chávez Candanga to process them.

Agreements everywhere

During his speech in the meeting of world leaders in Copenhague, Chávez accused the Netherlands for allowing the U.S. to use their lands in the Caribbean as military bases. In Mexico, he faced down Uribe Vélez, remember the phrase? “Be a man and stay to debate face to face,” and he replied with a “Go to hell!”. Aleksandr Lukashenko, José “Pepe” Mujica and Vladimir Putin all visited the country. They all left with a replica of Bolívar’s sword. But no subject was so talked about as the presence of paramilitary groups in Venezuela (FARC, ELN and ETA). In a long tour (Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Syria, Belarus, Libya, Argel and Portugal) Chávez signed numerous agreements of economic, social and political cooperation, so many that the opposition demanded that they be reviewed in detail.

Indicators

In order to control the FX exchange market, the government intervened and shut down several stock exchanges; they penalized the parallel dollar and offered State-issued bonds to acquire currency bypassing Cadivi. The State didn’t have an adequate offer for the billions of dollars that the market required to reactivate imports and other economic activities. The BCV approved a system of daily dollar actions at a Bs. 5.30 rate (Sitme), with monthly limits per company ($300,000), requiring natural persons to open an account in dollars abroad to access the system. Venezuela closed 2010 with 26.9% inflation, the highest in Latin America for the fifth year in a row and the second highest worldwide, despite rising oil prices. The GDP contracted by 1.9% and the black market dollar, which opened the year at Bs. 6.30, closed at Bs. 9.14.

The post In the dark and rotten appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

2010: The “Exprópiese,” today

Caracas Chronicles - Sáb, 12/02/2017 - 16:51
Original art by @modográfico

It was in the 11th year of the Revolution that president Chávez went on an expropriation spree; sudden, voracious and unpredictable. The list of victims is long, and includes not just the big emblematic cases, but also small companies you may never have heard of: Vivex, Owens Illinois and Fábrica de Vidrios Los Andes, in glass production; Fundidora de Chatarra Antímano, Sidetur, Acerías Iberovenezolanas and Aluminios de Venezuela, in metal production; Silka in textile manufacturing; Beneficiadora de Aragua, Friosa and Monaca, as food processors;  Alentuy and Cartonajes Gráficos, in container manufacturers; Industrias Venoco and Fertinitro, in chemicals…

All of these companies saw their output fall immediately after the takeover — most have stopped production completely as of 2017. The message sent was unmistakable: the government will not respect property rights or “the rule of law.”

It’s not that the economy was doing badly in 2010; it wasn’t. After the small blip of the 2008-2009 world financial crisis, oil prices had continued to climb, and with them, Venezuela’s national income. GDP had grown to $390 billion, with per capita GDP at $11,500. $35 billion worth of goods came into our country as imports, much over the historical norm. Oil prices were climbing, from $45 to $72 in the Venezuelan basket, giving us $62 billion in oil income. International reserves were brought to the $30 billion level (down from the $42 billion reached before 2008, but still a solid sum).

And yet, even if the macroeconomic fundamentals looked relatively okay, the destruction of local industry was advancing by leaps. The consumption boom only masked the deeper trend towards collapse.

The message sent was unmistakable: the government will not respect property rights or “the rule of law.”

All you had to do was scratch beneath the surface: foreign debt had increased almost threefold, showing that the surplus in the trade balance was being mismanaged. The country was producing less and less locally. Steel production was down to 2.2 million metric tons, down from 5 million MT when SIDOR was privately owned. Thermoplastics production by state-owned Pequiven wasn’t even enough to satisfy local demand, and the fixed price (far below cost) was badly undermining the company’s balance sheet. Even electricity generation was running a deficit: demand stood at 16,700 MW versus a generation of 16,200 MW in a country that, a few years earlier, had achieved a surplus of 4,014 MW. Car assembly had decreased from 170,000 vehicles to 104,000.

And while expropriations were the most menacing factor, even companies that weren’t seized outright were subjected to increasing draconian controls: In order to import, certificates issued by the Ministry of Industry were required by Cadivi, the agency in charge of exchange controls. Price controls forced whole industries to sell at a loss and distribution authorizations (the infamous guías) were required to ship groceries from point to point. Quotas for rationing raw material were established and certificates for moving them within industries were created. All the while, Cadivi delayed the approval of payments from companies to suppliers and a commercial debt, which kept increasing, had discouraged international suppliers from selling directly to Venezuelan companies.

Industrial production in Venezuela was never easy, and in 2010 it was harder by the month. Labor laws had been changed, prohibiting firing workers even under justified causes; this sole factor decreased productivity when workers understood that they were going to be paid even if they didn’t work. The principle of working in order not just to keep jobs, but to advance professionally had been broken.   

Price controls forced whole industries to sell at a loss.

The Chávez government created direct government subsidies (Misiones), aimed at handing money to those who registered as political allies. Funds were distributed freely, without accountability or audit, and Chavez himself harassed and insulted investors and businessmen, calling them exploiters and thieves, by public broadcast.

School curricula were changed to ideologically predispose children. Institutionally, the separation of powers was disregarded, state checks and balances were stopped and institutional counterweights to the executive branch were eliminated. The fabric of a civilized society was being destroyed while everyone enjoyed their Cadivi party. That was the year 2010.

I was then chairman of Asoquim, the Chemical Industry chamber. In our discussions, from our workplace, we clearly understood the destruction that taking place at every level; and we watched helplessly as the country’s economy was being devastated, knowing that the end-result would be nothing short of tragic. Countries go through cycles and many learn their lessons –we pondered– we will have yet to see the very worst of this cycle and be ready to build a new country at some point, and start producing again.

Venezuela once had 12,700 manufacturing companies. In 2017, fewer than 4,000 remain. Whatever manufacturing remains does so knowing full well that only a political change can usher in a new beginning.  

But hyperinflation sets a time limit to how long they’re able to sustain themselves. The Venezuelan government has gone from abusive to outright authoritarian, creating a de facto Constituent Assembly with unlimited powers. The clock is ticking against Venezuelan industries and against us, Venezuelan people in our quest for building a better life.

The post 2010: The “Exprópiese,” today appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

The Meaning of Misery

Caracas Chronicles - Sáb, 12/02/2017 - 10:00

Carolina Luna doesn’t know when was the last time she ate chicken, meat, fish or pork. Now she can’t even afford “teticas” (small bags of sugar, milk and oil); the cheapest is Bs.5,000, 0.05 cents of a dollar, which reached Bs. 103,024.27 in the black market (today, who knows how much when you read this?).

Of course, she can’t afford eggs, since a package of 30 already broke past the Bs. 100,000 mark. Those $0.97 might be nothing to you, but it’s an impossible figure for her.

Food prices in Venezuela are absurdly cheap for anyone abroad, but a disaster for locals. The monetary collapse has reduced the true current minimum wage of Bs.456,507 to just about $4.4.

Carolina earns Bs.40,000 cleaning houses when she does find work, perhaps once or twice a month, which means she only has $0.38, from which to eat and feed her eight children, the youngest being only 10 months old.

“If a kilo of tomatoes is Bs 25,000, onions are Bs.40,000 and peppers cost Bs.45,000, it’s impossible with this kind of income.”

According to the Center of Documentation and Social Analysis of the Venezuelan Teacher’s Federation (Cendas-FVM), the price of the Basic Food Basket for October was 5,549,119.73. Some $54.3, too much and nothing at once.

Carolina, 36, would need Bs. 186,470.65 ($1.80) daily to cover her expenses.

She cooks beans as soup and has spent days eating only boiled papaya to trick the belly.

“Obviously, I can’t afford anything. So when I have to season the food, I can only bring a tomato, a pepper and an onion.”

Buhoneros in Petare’s roundabout sell teticas with those three main products and a sprig of coriander at Bs.10,000, or $0.09, though they’re open to bargaining. The food is not fresh, of course.

According to Cendas, out of the 58 products in the food basket, 17 are scarce, and their prices have also increased.

For Carolina, that list is pure abstraction. She only understands that she has no money to buy food. She cooks beans as soup and has spent days eating only boiled papaya to trick the belly.

Since the second week of October, the government has been publishing a list of 50 products that will be regulated, including sugar, a product that has vanished from the shelves and is available only at Bs. 89,000, less than a dollar, about 19% of the $4.4 that the minimum wage is currently worth. A lot more than the $0.38 she earns per month.

“I can’t even make feed my little girl” she said, resigned.

The post The Meaning of Misery appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

El regreso de los lombardos a Pavía

Prodavinci - Sáb, 12/02/2017 - 08:15
El narrador del cuento “La tienda de muñecos”, nieto y ahijado, ingresa al círculo económico de la tienda con la idea festiva de trastocar el orden, de jugar con la lengua patrimonial que debía resguardar, una lengua que no existe más que en su relación con el sentido genealógico del relato.
Categorías: Noticias

Vender-Manosear: Homenaje a Julio Garmendia

Prodavinci - Sáb, 12/02/2017 - 06:00
El narrador del cuento “La tienda de muñecos”, nieto y ahijado, ingresa al círculo económico de la tienda con la idea festiva de trastocar el orden, de jugar con la lengua patrimonial que debía resguardar, una lengua que no existe más que en su relación con el sentido genealógico del relato.
Categorías: Noticias

Hebras de paz, San Agustín

Prodavinci - Sáb, 12/02/2017 - 05:42
Montaigne es inapreciable cuando nos dice que no estudiemos la muerte: ya la conoceremos lo suficiente cuando llegue. Agustín nos dice que debemos leer, pero que no esperemos iluminación.
Categorías: Noticias

Los alimentos del deseo: Rodolfo Izaguirre sobre el libro de Maruja Dagnino

Prodavinci - Sáb, 12/02/2017 - 03:00
«Los alimentos del deseo», de la escritora, periodista y cocinera Maruja Dagnino, acaba de publicarse en España en una coedición de la ONG venezolana ArtesanoGroup y el sello ibérico Turner. Cuenta con exquisitas ilustraciones y un recetario con fórmulas de los venezolanos Sumito Estévez, Tamara Rodríguez, Wendoly López y Betina Montagne y la española Montse Estruch.
Categorías: Noticias

Forman gobierno sin opositores en Zimbabue

Prodavinci - Vie, 12/01/2017 - 21:24
El mandatario interino, Emmerson Mnangagwa,convocó a miembros del ejército y veteranos de guerra al gobierno
Categorías: Noticias

Rafa’s Pity Party

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 12/01/2017 - 17:57
Photo: Diario de los Andes

The forever-in-the-making demise of former oil czar Rafael Ramírez finally played out this week, and he’s threatening Nicolás Maduro to turn on the fan if he is removed from his UN post. This sounds juicy in principle, but it’s worth wondering if, after his criminal, disastrous and corrupt tenure at PDVSA, Ramírez will be capable of revealing any dirt that may ultimately remind us of his role in our catastrophe.

The riff between Ramírez and Maduro has been brewing behind the scenes for a long time, going public after the arrest of top Citgo officials and the firing and arrest of Ramírez’ protégées Eulogio del Pino and Nelson Martínez. Now, Reuters is reporting Rafael’s sacking and he’s denying it. Truth remains, his ousting seems imminent in the chavista purge.

But who is Rafael Ramírez and how did he rule PDVSA?

Gocho and son of a coffee farmer, his alleged relation to terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka “Carlos El Jackal”, gives him a lot of cred within chavismo.

It’s worth wondering if, after his criminal, disastrous and corrupt tenure at PDVSA, Ramírez will be capable of revealing any dirt that may ultimately remind us of his role in our catastrophe.

Ramírez speaks with a low, soft voice that belies his physical height and cunning. He graduated from Universidad de los Andes in 1989 (electrical engineering), rising through the ranks of Chavez’s presidency, first as Oil Minister, 2002, then as PDVSA CEO, 2004. He held both posts until 2014, when he was appointed Foreign Minister and demoted to Ambassador to the UN a few months later.

His management turned PVDSA from a world class and professionally-run oil company, into a train wreck with 3 times the employees it had before, and billions of dollar in debt that were not reinvested, but used for patronage to win elections. Much of today’s suffering in the nation can be attributed to this.

Shameless corruption scandals that were never investigated and a catastrophic explosion in the Amuay refinery (for which nobody was ever jailed) were marks of his tenure. Ramírez could never increase our oil production, which in fact declined. His is the infamous “roja, rojita” speech, evidencing illegal political discrimination. His tribalism and corruption was legendary, as he and his family participated in corruption schemes disguised as rendering of services to the company. Their arrogance and opulent lifestyle can be seen in their escrache video at New York’s most expensive steakhouse.

His management turned PVDSA from a world class and professionally-run oil company, into a train wreck with 3 times the employees it had before.

Maybe because of this lack of achievements (unless you count his La Gaviota Humanocrática brain fart), his only defense is a tweet reminding everyone that Chávez called for him on his deathbed. His excuse for the destruction of the country’s most valuable asset was pledging fidelity to the narcissist whose deranged project destroyed the country.

I know his message was intended for disgruntled chavistas and not for me, but with the adulation chavista defectors tend to get, it’s our duty to remember who these people are and what they did. Ramírez never expressed remorse. He was forced out of power and went on to write nonsensical Aporrea posts on socialism while eating $100 steaks.

Any sympathy for disgraced chavistas, like the food and drugs they disappeared from the shelves, should be scarce. I, for one, save it for the millions of people who have to live in the hell Ramirez helped create.

The post Rafa’s Pity Party appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Enter, La Unidad

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 12/01/2017 - 14:17

It has been said that “familiarity breeds contempt,” and ever since chavismo’s electoral rise in 1998, many of the leading faces within the opposition’s leadership have been the same. Much like that old rhyme against José Antonio Páez (“Desde esta República y la Otra República/ Vos Señor Mandando”), our public life has been characterized by a trend of longevity that belies and defies regular political cycles. Has there been a year without the presence of Mrs. Ramos, Borges or Ledezma?

It’s tempting to assume that every stab at political unity has been much of the same: some paeans toward a common program, unwieldy ruedas de prensa and awkward concessions after stinging defeats (and public recrimination). Rinse. Repeat. “Frijolito1 es igual a Frijolito2, es igual a la Coordinadora, es igual a Rosales.

This seeming continuity hides the fact that, for good or ill, the “Democratic Unity Roundtable” – MUD, and hereafter “Unidad” – attempted to be qualitatively different. Realizing this sheds light into some of its most important successes, and highlights many of its shortcomings.

Had it been a mere reunion, would we be so frustrated today?

Beginnings

The early years of Chavismo saw the consolidation of the long-foregone conclusion of the old party system. The 1999 Constitution, while maintaining a commitment to political pluralism, was very hostile to the idea of political parties, substituting their preponderance in the 1961 text with that reeking euphemism of “organizations with electoral/political purposes.” And as AD and Copei’s support plummeted to historic lows, and Proyecto Venezuela never achieved the position of national leadership that the 1998 election paved the way for it to be, there was an important disarray.

Hard to fathom now, but by 2004, it had been AD, and not Copei, which had shrunk the most, marred by a loss of high to mid-level ranks and personnel, and losing almost every elected political office above municipal level. Democratic socialists, critical of chavismo’s authoritarian bent – which was very daring even back then – rallied around Francisco Arias Cárdenas, and the 2000 election went for the first time without a nominee from the traditional parties, a regional and social-democratic split from AD (the basis of Un Nuevo Tiempo), and a surge of new, fresher and hungrier organizations, of which only Primero Justicia stood the test of time. Needless to say, a combination of both was the seed from which Voluntad Popular would emerge.

Our public life has been characterized by a trend of longevity that belies and defies regular political cycles.

The void left by this political leadership was filled by the rise of “civil society,” bringing about the 2002 rebellion, the Carmona coup and the creation of the Coordinadora Democrática, the political coallition (together with Gente del Petróleo) behind the general strike of 2003, and the 2002-2004 OAS-sponsored dialogue.

Alas, chavismo survived the ’04 recall referendum with flying colors and the Coordinadora was destroyed after those regional elections, when the chavista MVR won every state but Zulia and Nueva Esparta. Then the ’05 parliamentary elections came about, and many parties chose not to participate, creating a domino effect which led to the lowest turnout in a national vote, in a futile attempt to delegitimize the status quo.

The 2006 presidential election became a turning point. The pact between Teodoro Petkoff, Manuel Rosales and Julio Borges to not participate in NGO Sumate’s opposition primary, wrestled the opposition’s limelight from civil society to party consensus. It is hard to remember this, but in early ’06 no opposition candidate had double-digit support in opinion polls. Rosales managed to reach almost 40% on election day.

A Change of Strategy

The actual, effective gestation of the Unidad came about from a course for parliamentary candidates in early 2009, and the parties’ initiative to establish a stronger, formal alliance, harmonized by Ramón Guillermo Aveledo. A flurry of meetings led to the launch, on the 8th of June, 2009, of the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática and its structure. A common strategy was discussed and a framework for nominations within the alliance were agreed upon.

Thus, the 2010 parliamentary elections witnessed a growth for the opposition, carrying for the first time in a competitive election over 50% of the vote. Most of the PPT joined the opposition then, leading to the crowning moments of the Unidad: the 2012 presidential primaries, and the 2015 parliamentary elections, where the coalition gained more than 55% of the vote and two thirds of the National Assembly, under the stewardship of Chúo Torrealba.

Truth is, they all call for unity, but a unity led by themselves.

Two things then emerged: first, a long-lasting commitment toward electoral politics and sustainable growth towards a new majority, uncharitably called by some as the “electoralist obsession”; second, a consensus around a liberal-democratic platform aiming to recognize the need for both a strong set of social policies, and important market corrections to the nefarious policies of PSUV. A cursory glance at the Unidad party platforms of 2010, 2012 and 2015, all developed with the help of experts in various fields, show a general commitment towards a fairer, more open society.

There have been shortcomings besides the obvious defeats, with key factors at play in the uneven performances: the continuing rows and growing mistrust within competing parties inside the alliance (not only are the parties jealous of each other, they also oppose further strengthening into a single coalition that can usher in a political transition), and the failure to grow from the progressive politics (hailed in Miranda and Lara) as a political center. This progressive ethos, coupled with its electoral commitment, has estranged much of the traditional opposition’s base, which has moved ideologically rightward, to either fringe radical agendas, or mainstream calls for abstention (which have gained traction).

Unidad or Unity?

What lies ahead for the Unidad, whose obituary has been written time and again, is uncertain. Three alternative agendas battle for preeminence: there’s a left-leaning alliance between former governor Falcón, independent moderates like Claudio Fermín, and some other parties, which are set to make inroads in the upcoming elections; more famously, there’s an ideologically conservative, but more radical movement in #SoyVenezuela, led by the libertarian Vente, María Corina Machado’s party. Ultimately, the mainstream Unidad standard-bearers set around AD-PJ-UNT-VP, the “G4”, remains the more internationally recognized faction, and quite possibly the most electorally competitive.

Truth is, they all call for unity, but a unity led by themselves.

The opposition has not reached a sustainable sweet spot that rekindles those disappointed from its perceived blandness, and those put off by its more radical outbursts. Disappointment leads to mistrust, and mistrust to hopelessness. What do we, as voters and citizens, want from our leaders? Can politics, as the Unidad conceives it, actually be practiced in today’s Venezuela? The PSUV-State under Nicolás Maduro has deepened the repressive structures they set up. Most of our opposition leaders, whichever faction they lead, are consistently harassed, barred from for public office or have their positions nullified de facto, when they are not simply put behind bars.

The Unidad began with a massive gain in political capital, which lies dormant atop the social crisis underneath. The future of any significant political opposition will come from a commitment toward unity under a democratic banner. But who will lead it?

The post Enter, La Unidad appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Eternal Chávez

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 12/01/2017 - 14:17
Photo: PSUV El Hatillo

In the February 15 referendum, with 54.88% votes in favor, the possibility for Chávez to run for president as many times as he wanted was approved, despite the problems in water and power supplies, the pandemic dengue and AH1N1 virus (the vaccines wouldn’t arrive until 2010), lands and homes invasions and scarcity. Chávez won with the entire apparatus of the State at his service, even the National Assembly suspended regular sessions to campaign for him and the remaining public institutions became PSUV´s headquarters, opportunism was obscene, but the CNE didn’t intervene. The TSJ issued a ruling stating that eternal reelection didn’t affect alternability, because it provided progressiveness to people’s voting rights. Additionally, they ruled that the rejected reform could be introduced as an amendment because they were different things. Add this to the changes in the Decentralization Law to revert the transference of power to regions, which chavistas defined as “progress in the construction of the legal architecture of the new State.”

When I say “everything,” I mean “everything”

Chávez started 2009 with the intervention and military takeover of rice-producing companies, with Alimentos Polar being the most affected. Later, he ordered the expropriation of Cargill’s rice-processing plants and the intervention of 1,500 hectares that belonged to Smurfit Kappa “to sow black beans, corn, sorghum, cassava, yam.” He also ordered the military takeover of the ports of Maracaibo and Puerto Cabello. It was announced that Aeropostal airlines would become social property. 60 companies dedicated to complementary oil activities in Maracaibo were seized; 10,000 hectares of large estates were expropriated for “food production”; the “temporary occupation” of Cargill’s pasta processing plant began and Chávez nationalized four metallurgic companies: Matesi, Comsigua, Orinoco Iron, Venprecar, and another factory of steel beams. Chávez led the takeover of PIGAP II Gas Compression Plant, expropriated from Williams Companies Inc; he formally purchased Banco de Venezuela; he decreed the “forceful acquisition” of the Margarita Hilton Hotel Complex, as well as the coffee-producing company Fama de América and the coffee-roasting company Cafea. With this measure, the State took control of 70% of the national production of coffee. Closing the year, two sugar plants were intervened, the previous stage of expropriation.

Powers

Venezuela became a country free from trawl fishing, while the Framework Law on Education was imposed by the government without consultation, unleashing marches and protests. This was the year of the assault against the Maripérez Synagogue, the year in which Chávez ordered his security forces to repel any attempt of sabotage with “gas del bueno.” Vice President Ramón Carrizales suggested that the government would take control of imports to guarantee supply. He would later be appointed defense minister. Ombudswoman Gabriela Ramírez demanded that the Prosecutor’s Office investigate the members of colectivo La Piedrita, which Chávez labeled as terrorists, claiming that they had connections with the CIA. While Chávez changes the names of several ministries, scraps others and transfers faculties at will, Public Works Minister Diosdado Cabello is appointed head of Conatel and started announcing a war against “radioelectric large estates.”

Against the media

While the Venezuelan State denounced at the OAS the permanent practice of “media terrorism,” Chávez ordered Cabello, Luisa Ortega Díaz (Prosecutor’s Office) and Luisa Estela Morales (TSJ) to take actions against the media and made it clear that they didn’t care what the world said about these actions. Ortega Díaz proposed a law against the media to create fear and panic, because they couldn’t evade punishment. The National Union of Press Workers condemned the prosecutor’s proposal; and she also presented a special law to punish media crimes that the AN never discussed.

The railway that never arrived

In propaganda and with access to incredible resources, the national railway plan was “in progress,” especially the Puerto Cabello-La Encrucijada stretch and the connection with Cúa, as well as the rehabilitation of the existing Puerto Cabello-Barquisimeto railway promised for 2011 along with the Acarigua-Turén stretch and the San Juan de los Morros-San Fernando de Apure section that would allegedly be finished in 2012. Who knows where those funds ended up?

Human Rights

The commissioners and officer of the Metropolitan Police were sentenced: the former to the maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and the latter with 15 years while only two were acquitted. The Metropolitan Mayor’s Office was stripped of its headquarters and budget with the Law of Organization of the Capital District. Ortega Díaz ratified the right to protest, but within boundaries, thus justifying police and military repression. The opposition requested before the TSJ a preliminary hearing on merits against her. There was also notable pressure against human rights defenders, denounced by Foro por la Vida because the government disregarded international obligations enshrined in agreements signed by the nation. The Ombudsman’s Office didn’t even notice. University students started several hunger strikes demanding a visit of the IACHR to verify the conditions of political prisoners.

OAS chief José Miguel Insulza admitted the request but the State didn’t approve the visit. By the way, Venezuelan lawyer Luz Patricia Mejía was elected to head the IACHR.

Visits and suspensions

Cristina Fernández signed 21 cooperation agreements with Chávez. Lula Da Silva had already signed 12 for agro-industrial development, promising to transfer Brazilian technology for supermarkets, fruit-processing plants and fertilizer plants. In compensation, Venezuela supplied oil, natural gas and aircraft fuel. There was an agreement with Colombia to create a fund with a contribution of $100 million from each country to finance common projects. The Moroccan embassy was closed and transferred to the Dominican Republic because of Chávez’ interests, because they were contrary to those of Morocco. The U.S. condemned Venezuela in its annual report on human rights for general corruption, the harassment against the press and the opposition, the politicization of the judicial system and the inaction against drug trafficking. Lech Walesa suspended his visit to the country, because he was warned that he’d be under surveillance. Chávez didn’t attend the inauguration of president Mauricio Funes in El Salvador because there was allegedly a plan to kill him. Yes, another!

Indicators

Nelson Merentes was appointed head of the BCV. The government started using the earnings of nationalized companies to pay for common spending. In order to compensate for the drop in oil revenues, the IVA increased (from 9% to 12%) and the Republic’s indebtment limit was also increased, but additionally, with the partial reform of the Law of the BCV, the Administration started making the institution’s decisions on project financing, aside from Fonden. Cadivi broadened the group of goods whose import required the Certificate of Non-National Production. The minimum wage increased by 20% and with the drop in the production of goods and services, the GDP contracted by 2.9% while inflation reached 25.1%, the highest in Latin America for the fourth year in a row! The bolívar fuerte lost a fourth of its purchasing power. In January, the black market dollar’s price was Bs. 5.85 and in December, Bs. 5,97.

The post Eternal Chávez appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Nicolás’ Purge

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 12/01/2017 - 12:13

Photo: El Nacional

“That’s why I decided to hold an audition (…) I’ve appointed comrade Nelson Martínez as new chairman of PDVSA and comrade Eulogio Del Pino, new Oil and Energy minister, two veterans, then; two veterans for battle.”

Those were Nicolás´ words scarcely three months ago. But yesterday, journalist Sebastiana Barráez reported that both had been arrested early in the morning.

Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab confirmed that they were in custody for cases of corruption: “The Prosecutor’s Office, together with the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence, carried out a series of arrests to dismantle the cartel within PDVSA’s structure (…) we have arrested Eulogio Del Pino and Nelson Martínez, former chairmans of PDVSA and Oil ministers.”

Tarek added

“We arrested Nelson Martínez for his alleged involvement in refinancing Citgo’s debt, which was done without the executive’s authorization. We have arrested Martínez because the Citgo board members we arrested last week mentioned him by name, he was aware of Citgo’s contract without informing the authorities of the Venezuelan State.”

About Del Pino, he said that in addition to the request of the 10th prosecutor of control of the Metropolitan Area, for cases of corruption in Petrozamora, “he’s also indicted for tampering with output figures between 2013-2014.”

Oddly, Saab said that actor Manuel “Coco” Sosa has ratted on politicians, managers and businessmen regarding corruption in PDVSA; that he spoke of 65 detainees, 15 high-ranks, as if it really was an accomplishment, and not a disgrace.

And Eulogio said

After Del Pino’s arrest was announced, a couple of videos were uploaded to his Twitter account where he pleads for his right to a legitimate defense:

pic.twitter.com/s3dUHOdIFo

— Eulogio Del Pino (@delpinoeulogio) November 30, 2017

pic.twitter.com/GfTcq5nEQZ

— Eulogio Del Pino (@delpinoeulogio) November 30, 2017

“If you’re listening to this recording, it’s because a series of rumors I’ve been hearing have come true…,” he starts the first video, speaking in undertones, with his eyes darting around, as if his potential captors were gorillas who could drop down from one of the trees of the garden where he was recording the message.

Nicolás told him not to fall “for the psychological war” when Del Pino talked to him about the charges against him and compares the accusations with the sanctions imposed by Canada, calling them unjustified and illegal.

Without economic war

Del Pino claims he feels proud for accompanying Nicolás in the list of authorities sanctioned by Canada, but that doesn’t count, because he’s in another list now, the black list of the absolutely treacherous purge that the ruling clique has designed to hold onto power.

It was tough to hear him admitting that the right to a defense isn’t guaranteed in Venezuela; admitting that, “instead of prioritizing the maintenance of equipment, we prioritized the imports of food and medicine for our people,” which means that the little food that has arrived in the country, was brought in detriment of oil production.

Additionally, Rafael Ramírez criticized Nicolás’ economic policies and this weird guy Eduardo Samán was outraged, because electoral regulations are being violated, and he has a long history of consequences of supporting a dictatorial regime.

And now, Tareck

The National Constituent Assembly (ANC) approved yesterday, via decree, the national budget for 2018, for Bs. 36,102,059,000,000. Vice President El Aissami claimed that the budget 2018 “is meant to sustain and guarantee the nation’s economic and social equilibrium,” which is so obvious these days. He explained that SENIAT’s tax collection will have a greater involvement in the budget’s financing, that this colossal amount includes operational expenses, servicing the public debt, financing projects by acquiring more debt, allocating the State’s constitutional share and contributing to the Inter Territorial Compensation Fund and the justice system. Also, 72.5% of the budget will go to social and productive investment.

Quevedo’s conspiracy

While OPEC’s oil ministers and a group of external partners agreed to extend output cuts (until year’s end) to reduce the demand and increase prices, reports revealed that Amuay, the largest refinery in Venezuela, is producing at 27% capacity, although the brand-new minister Manuel Quevedo claimed that PDVSA has the resources to fulfill the coming debt payments and remarked that the delays are caused by banking transactions: “We have the resources available, the sufficient cash flow and the output to pay,” said Quevedo in Vienna, blaming banks for establishing an U.S.-mandated blockade.

Quevedo should read about the meeting organized by MacroSynergy Partners which will analyze the roadmap for the debts held by the government and PDVSA, and the possibility of creating a informal committee of creditors.

One in, others out

Lawmaker Adriana Pichardo, from Voluntad Popular, denounced the arbitrary detention of Luis Daniel Cabezas, mayor of Marigüitar municipality, carried out by SEBIN agents when the mayor went to testify about a vehicle bidding process. This is allegedly a preventive detention, but it’s still arbitrary.

Yesterday afternoon, nine national guards imprisoned in Ramo Verde military prison (indicted for the alleged crime of conspiracy) escaped after reducing their custodians and taking two firearms, an assault rifle and a pistol. They fled through La Mariposa road. Authorities managed to capture four of the nine runaways.

Abroad
  • Venezuelan Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza met with the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.
  • Argentine authorities confirmed proceedings against former president Cristina Fernández and her two sons as alleged leaders of an illegal association dedicated to money laundering.
  • Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski also faced accusations for the case of construction company Odebrecht.
  • The Chilean government agreed to participate as a mediator in the negotiation in the Dominican Republic, said Foreign minister Heraldo Muñoz, stating that his country doesn’t want “a simulacrum of negotiation.”
  • Ah! Avior didn’t approve the assessment to get the certification of Third Country Operators required to be able to travel to European cities from countries outside the bloc.

We go on, my friends.

The post Nicolás’ Purge appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

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