Noticias

The Criminal Court

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 11/17/2017 - 13:32

Yesterday, prosecutor general Luisa Ortega Díaz submitted formal accusations of alleged crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court against Nicolás Maduro, ministers Vladimir Padrino López and Néstor Reverol; SEBIN chief Gustavo González López and Capital District Government chief Antonio Benavides Torres.

In a short press conference with international media outlets at The Hague, she told reporters that the regime has engaged in torture, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrest, and that these crimes happened “under the orders of the Executive Branch, as part of a social cleansing plan carried out by the government.”

#ENVIVO Acabo de denunciar al Gobierno de Maduro ante la Corte Penal Internacional por crímenes de lesa humanidad https://t.co/8BMeM1pHRI

— Luisa Ortega Díaz (@lortegadiaz) November 16, 2017

She didn’t take any questions, of course, considering that she’s personally responsible for many of the same crimes.

Foro Penal chief Gonzalo Himiob said that this NGO has been denouncing these crimes before The Hague since 2004 and that international justice is a matter of endurance, not speed.

Ortega Díaz’ accusations must first be sent to ICC prosecutors and after a long review process, they’d be the ones to decide if the cases proceed.

Meanwhile, OAS chief Luis Almagro said that Ortega Díaz’s actions will be “extremely useful” to OAS experts, who have been carrying out their own investigations on these issues.

Dialogue

The opposition and the government will resume negotiations on December 1st and 2nd, with the attendance of Foreign ministers from Mexico, Paraguay and Chile.

The announcement comes after a preliminary meeting in the Dominican Republic, where MUD was represented by former CNE board member Luis Vicente Díaz, and their expert negotiator Gustavo Velásquez.

The National Assembly established a special committee headed by lawmaker and UNT leader Stalin González, to carry out a national consultation process with various sectors of society ahead of the event, in order to be able to have more data to take to the meetings. The consultation process will take place between November 20th and 27th.

Meanwhile, Maduro was rejoiced by the news and claimed: “I finally made it, I made it again, there they are, the delegates of MUD, or the Venezuelan opposition, ready to negotiate,” thanking Dominican president Danilo Medina for his efforts to make this possible.

The Chinese Debt

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that “the Venezuelan government has vowed to pay its debt and has turned its words into action […] We believe that the government of Venezuela has the credibility to appropriately handle debt issues.”

He didn’t say whether China was following on Russia’s footsteps and was planning on restructuring  the $23 billion debt Venezuela owes them: “We expect the concerned parties to solve this issue through negotiations.”

Who knows what the government has offered them already.

In memoriam

José Alejandro Blanco, best known as Blanquito Man, lead singer of Venezuelan band King Changó, died yesterday in New York due to complications caused by colon cancer. He’d been fighting it for three years. On Monday, the 42-year old singer wrote: “I send these blessings with all my love to thank you for your support. It’s been crucial in this hard battle.”

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Categorías: Noticias

No Cash, No Debit, No Luck

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 11/17/2017 - 10:00

Some of you may remember my story about the “cash dealer” (I’d give him a percentage of the cash he’d give me). At that time, the shortage of cash was hitting hard. But now, things are a lot worse.

The little kiosk where my “dealer” sells candies and magazines is now bleak. Neighbors would spend a few minutes in line before buying a pack of cigarettes, but now the salesman is mostly on his phone. “There’s barely any connection to the bank, so there’s no way people can make payments with their debit cards, and nobody has cash. I’m losing 70% to 80% of sales because no one can buy stuff.”

“I can’t give you cash because I have no cash.”

For a business like this, no cash or no bank connection is fatal. “We made an investment buying this and now it’s worthless” he said, holding the small point of sale. “Everyday there’s less people with money, and if you have it, you can’t spend it. The cheapest candy is Bs.800, and lines at ATMs are huge, for Bs.10,000 at most.”

A country with no cash sounds like a futuristic idea, but in Venezuela it’s disastrous, and folks like Miguel, a 50-something taxi driver from eastern Caracas, find solutions any way they can: “I have my clients that I’ve kept for years, and they transfer to my bank account. No, I don’t work with people on the street. You can’t with the cash issue.”

But his method is not bulletproof: “The other day I did a carrera (a taxi ride) for Bs.80,000, and I never got the transfer.”

The lines you stand in when you have no choice and you’ve become a hostage of circumstances.

Most businesses in Venezuela today depend on how reliable their point of sale is. You may try a transaction four times before giving up half an hour later, an exercise in frustration where everyone’s a loser. Stores that only rely on cash are dead in the water, exposed to both a breakdown of business and crime.

And on paydays, the frenzy must be seen to be believed.

It’s not only those looking for shelter and what little fun can be found at bars and restaurants, it’s everybody buying groceries as fast as they can, knowing the next day everything might be dramatically more expensive. It’s lines everywhere, loaded with weariness, rage, fear and enough hope to make it all painful. The lines you stand in when you have no choice and you’ve become a hostage of circumstances.

“Most people don’t carry checks, there’s no cash and lines in banks are eternal. For us, this day is completely lost” says Luisa, the not so cheerful cashier at a little restaurant with a line of more than 30 people waiting to pay for their meals.

After almost two hours with broken point of sales, she just gave pieces of papers with the establishment’s bank account number and information. “Transfer the money please, it doesn’t matter if it comes from different banks.”

But she lowers her head in private.

“We are going to lose so much money today” is her grim prediction. “Los vivos no van a pagar.

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Categorías: Noticias

On Mendoza, Hunger and the Potato

Caracas Chronicles - Jue, 11/16/2017 - 18:00
Original art by @modográfico

As I came home yesterday from a long business trip, I decided to catch up on Venezuelan news. I took to Twitter, and found this gem from our official Carta De Racionamiento 2.0: one potato a day gives you half of what you need for proper nourishment. It made me sick: this is Ceaușescu at his worst.

Communists should know that you can only fight hunger by producing food. And when I read this profile on Lorenzo Mendoza, a silent hero standing against genocide, I had to share it.

Venezuelans are hungry, one study reported that 73 percent of the population involuntarily lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016. But in the midst of chaos, there is a simple product stocked in every kitchen: precooked corn flour called Harina Pan produced and distributed primarily by Mendoza’s company. It’s the key ingredient for making arepas (the equivalent of sliced bread in the U.S.). Except to keep the product on store shelves, Mendoza has to import the raw materials. To get raw materials, he has to buy dollars from the government. And Venezuela’s access to dollars is drying up, putting Polar’s main product in jeopardy.

My instinct, even though I don’t have the proof here, is that Mendoza took a loss on Harina Pan to keep the company intact. He knows how to stick to business, not get into politics and not threaten the government,” says Robert Bottome, a consultant and former editor of VenEconomy who has interviewed Mendoza several times.

I can’t appreciate Mendoza’s efforts enough. Lorenzo, man: Thank you. Millions of Venezuelans will see better times because of you.

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Categorías: Noticias

What Suffering Means

Caracas Chronicles - Jue, 11/16/2017 - 10:00

It’ll be fine, I thought. Just another night shift, like the dozens before and the hundreds to come. I’ll sit in Merida’s Hospital Pediatric Emergency Evaluation Room with Gabriel, Patricia and Nay, we’ll take care of asthma crisis with a sole bottle of bronchodilators and we’ll stabilize diarrheas that can’t be properly treated in small hospitals. You know, the usual dose of underdevelopment we’ve gotten used to.

Little did I know, my night was about to turn into a parade of Sub-Saharan diseases.

It started before 8:00 PM with a 20-month-old girl named Lucía, from a small town south of Lake Maracaibo. Her mom arrived after a three hour bus ride because Lucía’s legs were swollen. She had diarrhea two weeks ago, received intravenous rehydration and now the 20-something mom feared her girl may have gotten too much liquid. A quick look proved her wrong: Lucía’s heart and lungs were ok, like her blood pressure. She was scared and started crying, so I rubbed her head until a patch of thin, fragile hair stayed in my hand. I took a new look and realized how her ribs were pushing through the skin of her chest. We see so many skinny kids nowadays that sometimes it goes unnoticed. I took her to our weighing scale and my stomach squirmed. It said she was 8 kg (about 18 pounds). That’s the weight she should have… if she were nine months younger! This girl was badly malnourished and her swollen legs were a sign.

“Severe malnutrition, type Kwashiorkor” I wrote as presumptive diagnosis.

In less than twelve hours, I had seen three patients with diseases that most doctors around the world only read about.

Kwashiorkor, which literally means “the sickness the baby gets when the new baby comes” in Ghana’s tongue, is a form of malnutrition provoked by insufficient protein intake. People in Ghana realised it usually appeared in older brothers as their mothers reduced their rations to feed newborns. Low protein levels cause water from blood vessels to escape the neighbouring tissues, swelling them. The disease became famous in the 60’s, when it was commonly seen in Nigeria during the Biafran War. I read about it, heard the news about it, but I was emotionally unprepared for that tiny baby in front of me.

“What do you eat in your house, ma’am?”

I hadn’t finished the question when I was already afraid of the answer.

The closest they were from eating meat was the beef broth they could afford once every two weeks. Other than that, it was arepas and homemade cheese from the farm where her husband worked. She was happy because at least they could eat three times a day – and she should, one third of Venezuelans aren’t that lucky.

A nurse took Lucía to her new bed, next to an 18-month-old baby who got malaria after a trip to the Bolívar mines, where his parents were illegally mining to sustain themselves. A perfect third world combo, pues.

We were almost done with Lucía’s entry form when 10-year-old José crossed the wooden door on a gurney. He had been vomiting for hours, after telling her mom about a headache. Now he couldn’t even talk, his neck was rigid and he had a 40°C (104°F) fever. Textbook meningitis. This disease is traditionally linked to poverty but, most importantly, it can be prevented with vaccines.

The closest they were from eating meat was the beef broth they could afford once every two weeks.

In Venezuela, most meningitis is caused by bacteria and vaccine exists against the three more common strains (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Neisseria meningitidis). The local vaccine against H. influenzae comes in the same vial as the one against diphtheria, so it’s easy to see how deficient vaccination propels both diseases at once. The vaccines against S. pneumoniae are also included in the national vaccination scheme, but have recently disappeared from most public institutions and are sold privately for up to $100.

11 minimum wages.

Vaccines against N. meningitidis were available through private practitioners, since they’ve never been included in the state-sponsored scheme. There’s no need to tell you how that’s going today.

We transferred José to his bed and started the antibiotics he needed immediately. There were a couple of vials left in the hospital. I guess miracles do happen.

At 2:00 AM, when I thought I could get some sleep, I heard the characteristic sound of an ambulance parking and my colleague Gabriel’s words “that’s definitely for us” were a little too ominous for the pain we were about to face.

María came in the hospital in her mother’s arms. She had a fever, could barely breathe and her neck looked like a football. Her mom told us it all started the night before, when she said she had a sore throat and refused dinner. The next day she couldn’t even drink water. She was taken to a Barrio Adentro consultory where some Médico Integral Comunitario told her she had a common cold.

Patricia asked the girl to open her mouth and all we could see was pus.

That’s diphtheria” I thought, scared, looking for a disposable mask. There were none.

“Common cold my ass,” she whispered as we felt the smell coming from her tiny mouth. It was like something died in there. We cleaned it with water and we saw it, a grayish bleeding membrane sticking to her swollen throat, obstructing most of her airway.

“That’s diphtheria” I thought, scared, looking for a disposable mask. There were none.

This couldn’t be a full #TropicalMierda experience without diphtheria. It’s been over a year since the current outbreak started in Bolívar, and things have only gotten worse. María is the third case I see in the last month, and now we have reports from alleged well-being oasis like El Hatillo. In the meanwhile, our Health Minister called the situation a “media matrix.”

In less than twelve hours, I had seen three patients with diseases that most doctors around the world only read about. Three patients who shouldn’t be sick and who represent all that’s wrong with Venezuela. They don’t care about bondholders or defaults. For them, it’s just suffering.

Things calmed down after María arrived and we managed to sleep a couple of hours before waking up at 6:00 AM, to get things ready for a new day of socialist paradise. A new day with more Only in Revolution stories.

After four days of brave struggle, María died on November 13th, 2017, at the ICU. She was a victim of a perfectly preventable disease for which a vaccine exists since 1920. Her death is inexcusable.

Este artículo es para ti, María, que en paz descanses.

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Categorías: Noticias

The Venezuelan FARC Franchise

Caracas Chronicles - Mié, 11/15/2017 - 19:02

This weekend, FARC – the brand-new Colombian political party born from a 5-decade-old guerrilla army – organized a meeting with little publicity in a small facility two hours away from Caracas. Their goal? To lay the foundation for FARC-Venezuela.

As we all know, FARC has a long, deep relationship with the current Venezuelan government. Exactly how vast, though, remains a mystery for experts – and the DEA –, but considering how Venezuela was their choice to oversee the peace treaty negotiations of the past five years, it’s safe to say they’re more than acquainted with each other.

We saw the government welcoming the ex-guerilla into “civilian life.” After all, since this FARC is completely different from that FARC, because their logo is now a flower, there’s nothing to worry about. Besides market saturation. FARC first stood for Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia. Now, it stands for Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común. In Colombia, some people call them misma loca, diferente peluca as in: same shit, different color.

The weekend event, dubbed “The First National Gathering,” was done with some privacy in Santa Cruz, a small community just outside Maracay. According to the brief statement of a local PSUV leader, it was an “exchange of ideas between the nascent Colombian political organization and the Venezuelan government party.”

Some people call them misma loca, diferente peluca as in: same shit, different color.

The official press release, posted in the website of the Colombian Communist Party, is vague about the exact nature and goals of FARC-Venezuela. It throws around broad statements, calling for “unity of common borders, to combat the paramilitary (…) and fight the economic blockade that the United States tries to impose against the homeland of Hugo Chávez.”

What’s the FARC very obviously concerned with? Public image. Because kidnappings and drug dealing don’t do well in Gallup polls. The statement highlights that:

“An element that will be given top priority is the creation of an informational structure, to answer the siege of lies from news outlets financed by the Right, equally from Colombia and from inside Venezuela.”

It’s hard to say what this collaboration means. Could be anything from a purely nominal representation to an actual political party, which seems unlikely, now that we know PSUV is struggling with small leftist parties already.

Whatever happens, don’t be surprised if you see a FARC-TV channel between the Russia Today and Telesur signals very soon. Something tells me Antena 3 won’t be there for long…

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Categorías: Noticias

Ten Million Percent Later

Caracas Chronicles - Mié, 11/15/2017 - 14:09

The Republic and PDVSA’s failure to make recent debt payments on time won’t trigger legal action from bondholders if the regime keeps dishing out the petrodollars to Wall Street, even if late. And while everyone is distracted, the bottom is falling out of Venezuela’s currency and oil sector.

The black market rate blew past 60,000 today. It’s now up over ten million percent since Chavez became president in February 1999. That’s a one with seven zeros and a % sign: 10,000,000%. The black market rate is up by a factor of 10x since May 18th this year. All the while, the government’s putting the pedal to the metal with the monetary accelerator, fueling an unprecedented expansion in the supply of bolivares.

The government will try to engineer a consumption boom for municipal elections scheduled for December 10th. That plus the usual year-end Christmas bonuses will likely make November record breaking for money printing and push monthly inflation past the traditional 50% threshold for hyperinflation. As the economy tanks and the government funds more and more of its spending with monopoly money from the BCV, base money will grow faster and faster and faster, locking in hyperinflation.

If nothing changes, all prices but especially food prices will continue to rise at an accelerating rate and outpace wages, fewer and fewer price controlled goods will be available, the cash shortage and problems with electronic payments will intensify, and life for Venezuelans will become yet more chaotic and desperate. Things are horrible now, but they can and will get worse.

And it’s not just the domestic situation that’s deteriorating: oil production at PDVSA is falling faster than pessimists thought possible just a year ago. So far in 2017, in addition to crude quality declining, production is down 14% to under two million barrels according to OPEC, the lowest level in three decades. Secondary sources say production is even lower. And it’s oil from PDVSA’s solely operated fields that’s falling the most, not the joint-ventures where production has been at least holding steady. So the decline in PDVSA’s production of cash-generating barrels is bigger than 14%.

The price of Venezuela’s oil export basket is up 30% this year versus 2016, but it’s not enough. Between the lower production, higher debt service and depletion of financing sources, there’s still less money leftover for imports. Less money to invest to curb PDVSA’s production decline, less money for critical production inputs for the private sector, and less money to import food and medicine keep people from starving and dying. On the plus side, there’s also fewer dollars left to steal.

Production is down 14% to under two million barrels according to OPEC, the lowest level in three decades. Secondary sources say production is even lower.

Sometimes, I’m tempted to think the regime doesn’t understand how damaging its policies are. But that’s naive: they just don’t care. Maduro brushes off Venezuela’s misery just like he gave the world the middle finger by appointing a U.S. designated drug kingpin to lead debt restructuring negotiations. Oceanic corruption and total impunity are not just a features of Chavez and Maduro’s clientelist politics, they are its lifeblood. The crackpot economic distortions, authoritarianism and dysfunction are central for military and narco support. Maduro could give a damn the country is going into hyperinflation, he just crushed the opposition in regional “elections”.

Every day without a change the country’s suffering deepens. If three quarters of Venezuelans lost, on average, almost 9 kg of weight involuntarily in 2016 according to the ENCOVI survey, I can’t imagine what ghastly weight loss figures the survey will turn up this year.

If 82% of Venezuelans were income-poor in 2016, how much farther into poverty will Venezuela have fallen in 2017? If 93% of Venezuelans reported not having enough food for their family to eat last year, how hungry must people be at this very moment? How many have left the country for good? 100,000? 200,000?

Who knows…

Things look bleak for Venezuela. It’s too late for the country to climb out of the hole it’s in without concerted effort from the international community. Whatever the E.U. and Latin American countries are doing, whatever the government and what’s left of the opposition are negotiating, whatever the U.S. is plotting by sanctioning most high ranking regime officials but not Diosdado Cabello, I hope it works. It has to work. It needs to work.

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Categorías: Noticias

Maikel Exposed

Caracas Chronicles - Mié, 11/15/2017 - 13:51

Reuters’ Girish Gupta has quite the profile on TSJ chief justice Maikel Moreno. Although much of the information covered in the article has been on the rumor mill for years, the piece shines some new light and provides hard evidence on the outrageous fact that an actual murderer managed to be appointed justice and then chief of our highest court.

Moreno shot 19-year-old Rubén Gil in the back when he was bodyguard for President Carlos Andrés Pérez, back in 1989:

“Two people close to Gil told Reuters that witnesses and family members at the time of the brawl said Moreno fired the shot that killed the 19-year-old. These people, who requested anonymity, saying they were afraid of reprisals, said Gil had been a gang member and that an existing, but unspecified rivalry with Moreno had sparked the brawl.

One person, who says he saw Gil’s body in a Caracas morgue, said the young man was shot in the back. Gil’s death certificate, reviewed by Reuters, cites gunshot as the cause of death.”

The piece then maps his unlikely rise after his release from prison and how he was removed from his post as criminal judge in 2007 – because, even for chavismo standards, he had gone too far:

By 2006, word of the phone call and of Moreno’s controversial role in the 2002 shooting trials was increasingly well-known in judicial circles, according to several judges, attorneys and other officials active at the time. The Supreme Court ordered its security division to investigate.

The resulting intelligence report unearthed allegations that helped derail Moreno’s first stint as a judge.

The report, for instance, held that Moreno’s efforts to affect judicial outcomes went beyond pressuring colleagues. It cited testimony by numerous witnesses alleging Moreno took part in an extortion ring — known as “Los Enanos,” or “the Dwarves” — that secured payments from defendants in exchange for lenient sentences or acquittals.

Moreno was never charged for anything related to the alleged extortion. But his behavior, the report warned, was a threat to the courts, to Chavez and to “the revolution.”

In 2007, the Supreme Court found Moreno in contempt of the tribunal and defrocked him as an appeals court judge. Citing “grave and inexcusable errors,” the high court found Moreno had improperly released two murder suspects, according to its ruling.”

After all of this, he was appointed justice and then chief justice thanks to his ties to Maduro and, particularly, to #TropicalMierda’s Lady Macbeth, Cilia Flores:

“With his allies firmly in power, Moreno revived a judicial career that three senior judges said would have remained moribund without such connections, given Moreno’s arrest in the 1989 killing and his later ouster from the court system.

The country’s 1999 constitution, rewritten by Chavez, stipulates the head of the Supreme Court be of “good repute.”

In 2014, Maduro named Moreno, with a fresh doctorate in constitutional law, to the top court.

Since then, Moreno’s influence has only grown.

In February 2017, Maduro named him chief justice, outraging critics, including Gabriela Ramirez, the national ombudsman at the time. Ramirez unsuccessfully sought to derail the appointment, citing to senior officials Moreno’s ouster from the appeals court.”

In a surprising move, Moreno personally denied some of the claims after being contacted by Reuters:

“In a brief text-message exchange with Reuters on Nov. 7, Moreno said the allegations of jail time, long rumored in Venezuela, were “invented” by sensationalists.

He offered to give Reuters an interview, but then did not respond to requests to schedule one. He did not respond to additional questions by text about his career or other episodes in which he was accused of wrongdoing.”

Please do yourself a favor and give it a read. It displays the fundamentally criminal and amoral nature of chavismo, and the death of the rule of law in our country.

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Categorías: Noticias

Divide and Conquer

Caracas Chronicles - Mié, 11/15/2017 - 12:47

The National Assembly nullified the Law Against Hate enacted by the ANC.

But even more relevant than that was lawmaker Richard Blanco’s announcement about the group of 13 parliamentarians who created a new caucus called July 16th: “This new caucus will defend the political liberties and mandates of 7 million Venezuelans who voted in the popular consultation held on July 16th,” he said, adding that he’ll head the caucus along Dinorah Figuera, that they won’t accept agreements of any kind because they aspire to promote “Venezuela’s integrated transformation” and that they’ll vote against any motion if they have to.

No merengue

Lawmaker Luis Florido announced that the negotiation scheduled for today in the Dominican Republic won’t take place because government representatives didn’t extend an invitation to the foreign ministers that would be serving as witnesses to the meeting: “Thus far, the foreign ministers haven’t been invited, therefore, a process of international negotiation is impossible.”

He restated that the negotiation process requires the presence of the countries that will make up the group and that they’re looking for a date for everyone to attend.

Debt refinancing

Communications minister Jorge Rodríguez said that the government started on Monday the process of refinancing the foreign debt despite the “brutal” blockade of the U.S. Treasury Department and the “national right-wing” and that, in view of the intention to “financially choke the Venezuelan economy,” Nicolás designed a strategy.

Sadly, he didn’t explain such strategy, although, regarding the main conclusions of the minister council meeting, he did mention that the distribution of perniles (pork legs) for “all the Venezuelan people” will start today. Great!

In any case, Reuters says that Venezuela hired a lawyer specialized in debt restructuring to counsel the country with its liquidity issues to renegotiate some $60 billion in foreign debt. According to that report, David Syed is working with a team of lawyers from legal firm Dentons, which confirmed Syed’s role “to help establish and lead [the country’s] sovereignty,” although the extent of the work Syed and Dentons are going to do for Venezuela remains unknown.

Oh! The International Swaps and Derivatives Association postponed the decision to declare PDVSA in default, once again.

Not free

According to the annual report by Freedom House, Freedom of the Net 2017, Venezuela’s internet is now labeled “not free”, because on top of the government’s control and manipulation strategies, users had to deal with poorer access, more censorship, blockades and technical attacks. Add this to the issues journalists had to go through during protests and you’ll have an even clearer picture of our new category.

The report reads that

“The manipulation of online content contributed to a seventh consecutive year of general decline of internet freedom.”

And it lists governments of 30 countries that used some sort of manipulation to distort information on the internet. In Venezuela, they use this example: hired commenters, trolls, bots, fake news sites and propaganda media “to exaggerate popular support and essentially validate themselves.”

Does it ring any bell?

China, Nicolás’ great partner, was “the worst abuser” of internet freedom worldwide for a third time in a row, followed by Syria and Ethiopia. The most notable setbacks took place in Ukraine, Egypt and Turkey.

Spine?

“There’s no socialism without a working class, and there’s no country without socialism,” said Nicolás during the installation of the Productive Labor Councils (CPT) which will allegedly contribute to the development of a new economic model, although their installation was delayed for a year after the announcement of the presidential decree presenting them as part of the great program Sovereign Supply.

Nicolás wants to recover “the time we lost with the economic war and the oil rentier model” and CPTs are immediately included in the ANC’s committee in charge of price regulations, and they’ll submit proposals for this instance to turn them into constitutional laws, some of the perks of being “the spine of the new socialist economy.”

The needs for raw materials, Nicolás claimed, will be solved soon with the investment in countries such as Russia, Iran and India, because the country needs “a great economic revolution and the only ones who can make that happen are workers.”

Strange that Defense minister Vladimir Padrino López was the one left in charge of the “micromission” for sugar production.

Even stranger seems that, amidst a humanitarian emergency, he’d lash at Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos for allegedly not allowing Venezuela to import medicines: “Santos, eat your medicines, we’re buying them in India and they’ll arrive soon, eat your medicines, your drugs and your cocaine.”

ANC

As a reaction to the sanctions approved during the meeting of European Union foreign ministers, the ANC approved a document demanding the EU to “act in accordance to international law” and “refrain from coercive actions,” as well as supporting Nicolás’ willingness to keep harmonious international relationships with all nations in the world.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela strongly rejects the decision made by the Council of the European Union, which intends to impose illegal, absurd, and inefficient sanctions against the Venezuelan people pic.twitter.com/iIPVoClnar

— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) November 15, 2017

Delcy Rodríguez claimed that with the arms embargo on Venezuela, the EU undermined the country’s sovereignty and chose to adhere to the United States’ demands: “It’s absurd. It’s ridiculous to try and impose an arms embargo on Venezuela (…) It’s ridiculous because Venezuela is a land of peace,” she said.

Abroad

Without mentioning the announcement made by Brazil’s government about a debt of $262 million in export credits guaranteed by the State that’s trying to renegotiate, foreign minister Jorge Arreaza met with diplomatic representatives of European Union countries, to express his condemnations for imposed sanctions and said these are practically the same as the ones imposed by the United States, regretting that the EU “plays by the rules of interference established by the U:S.”

Russia and Venezuela are set to sign an agreement today, aimed at restructuring 3 billion dollars in debt, as announced by ambassador Carlos Faría, although the Russian Finance Minister hasn’t confirmed this information and isn’t planning to hold any kind of public event.

Social networks are on fire due to a possible coup d’État in Zimbabwe, allegedly meant to purge the administration, including veteran members of the political president Mugabe’s party ZANU-P, starting with vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a loyal party member and potential successor, who had to flee to South Africa because Mugabe wants to be succeeded by his wife Grace.

The black market dollar has just crossed the Bs. 60,000 line.

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Categorías: Noticias

Overture at the UN

Caracas Chronicles - Mar, 11/14/2017 - 20:34

The UN Security Council talked about Venezuela yesterday in a meeting with striking, and at times moving, declarations focusing mainly on the staggering humanitarian crisis in the country. And it didn’t end without controversy.

Since it was a meeting under the Arria Formula, it wasn’t considered a real Security Council meeting, so some Council members didn’t show up, including two of the permanent five, Russia and China. Shortly before the meeting at the Economic and Social Council chamber, the ambassadors of Bolivia, Russia and China joined Rafael Ramirez in a short press conference where they rejected the meeting, based on the now usual argument of the US meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs. To them, the gathering violated the UN Charter principles and purposes and does not belong in the Council’s agenda — Venezuela is not a threat to international peace and security, something later agreed by Uruguay’s delegation.

Despite this, the meeting was extraordinary, as it was the first time the UN, albeit informally, heard about Venezuela’s dire political and humanitarian situation. OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, two of the most outspoken international figures defending the Venezuelan people from the Maduro regime, presented bold facts and figures from their past reports. Both referred to serious Human Rights violations involving Venezuelan security forces and government officials, and both referred to possible crimes against humanity, as well as the need for further investigation in order to determine if such cases could reach the International Crime Court.

Almagro called the situation “tragic,” saying the country is a “dictatorship” ruled by “a criminal scheme with official links to drug trafficking, that those in power use the state’s resources for drug dealing and money laundering.” Zeid expressed concern at reports of discrimination in food distribution through the CLAP program and its manipulation for political purposes, as well as the growing number of Venezuelans leaving the country. His office estimates that at least 600,000 Venezuelans have migrated to neighboring countries. Both Almagro and Zeid condemned the ANC, and declared Venezuela is not a democracy.

Venezuela is not a threat to international peace and security, something later agreed by Uruguay’s delegation.

But perhaps the most compelling statement was made by Caritas International, which presented the staggering reality of most Venezuelans in the face of severe food and medicine shortages, and its profound effects on families broken by ill health, death or migration. It labeled Venezuela a “failed state” unable to provide the most basic services for its population, particularly children and teenagers, saying the Venezuelan government “needs to take care of its own people.” By their estimates, there are 4 million Venezuelans who eat twice or less a day. Parents don’t eat in order to give children what little they have.

The US, Italy, UK, France, Japan, Uruguay, Ukraine, Sweden and Ethiopia took the floor, describing the need for concerted efforts in the face of the serious political and humanitarian situation.

Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador, made a moving statement, citing the case of 14 year-old Deivis Perez, a kidney patient who contracted sepsis through dialysis and died at a children’s hospital. She addressed the many hardships Venezuelans face, concluding that “justice is coming.”

And now?

Diplomacy has its ways, and they tend to be slow – particularly through UN channels.  Yesterday’s meeting is a baby step towards creating awareness on how serious the situation is and in mobilizing support in favor of the Venezuelan people (not its government). However, as long as the US continues to be the country taking the lead in pushing the issue of Venezuela, getting support from countries in different regions to back initiatives aimed at helping Venezuelans in need seems unlikely. Mainly because it sort of gives confirmation to Maduro’s calls of “imperialist ambitions,” a vision shared and feared by many in Latin America and beyond.

Nikki Haley has become a strong advocate for Venezuela, but it’s not clear if her stance is part of a larger, coherent strategy from the State Department or stems from her close relationship with Senator Marco Rubio and other Florida Republicans. Either way, the Trump Administration policy on Venezuela seems to be surprisingly coherent, and as long as Haley remains on the job, we should expect more from her corner.

Although slow, the wheels of fate are turning…

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Categorías: Noticias

When Hate Becomes State Policy

Caracas Chronicles - Mar, 11/14/2017 - 15:43

Original art by Mario Dávila

While we were distracted by Shrödinger’s default, our totalitarian, illegitimate and unconstitutional (same adjectives you’ve read over and over) Constituent Assembly was busy enacting the “Constitutional Law Against Hate, for Peaceful Coexistence and Tolerance” and, as you can probably guess if you know chavismo’s track record, the law aims to do exactly the opposite of what its name purports.

It starts soft. Article 10 declares September 21 as the National Day for Peace (and May as the month to Promote Peace and Coexistence)…

September, 21st of each year is hereby declared the National Day of Peace. Similarly, the month of May of each year is hereby declared the National Month for the Promotion of Peace, Cohabitation and the Fight Against Intolerance.

…which are things you don’t actually need a law for (there’s a reason we have a Criminal Code). And although Article 7 states that…

The State has the unavoidable responsibility to develop public policies to promote and guarantee peaceful cohabitation…

…the real meat of this stew lies in Article 11:

Any political parties and political organizations whose statement of principles, articles of association, political action programs, rules or activities are founded on or promote fascism, intolerance or hate based on nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, political or social affiliations, ideology, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and any other nature that constitutes inciting discrimination and violence will not be allowed to register before the National Electoral Council. Similarly, the registration of any political parties or political associations that do not comply with the present provision will be revoked.

All political parties and political organizations must establish within their disciplinary rules the preventive measure of suspension and the penalty of expulsion for individuals who do not comply with the present Constitutional Law.

The National Electoral Council will revoke the registration of any political parties and political organizations that fail to include these rules or to timely open, process and decide all disciplinary procedures for these reasons.

So, technically, it is strictly forbidden to provide for, or allow the creation or operation of entities, social movements and organizations that fail to comply with the aforementioned article.

Any institution or political party, whatever its nature and purpose, will be subjected to the judgement of a group of censors that will punish a whole organization for doing shit chavistas love to do and have been doing for over a decade.

The “law” punishes, for example, discrimination and “incitement to hatred” by reason of:

Religion…

Sexual orientation…

And political orientation…

We already have a Ley Resorte, but articles 12 and 13 read:

Article 12. All public, private and community radio, television and subscription service providers must disseminate messages for the promotion of peace, tolerance, equality, respect and diversity. To that order, the State may order the providers of these services to broadcast these messages for thirty minutes per week. National independent producers and social organizations and movements of People’s Power will be prioritized for the broadcast of these messages.

The Fund for Social Responsibility and the Fund for Film Promotion and Financing must prioritize financing for the production of contents aimed at promoting peace, tolerance, equality, respect and diversity.

Article 13. All campaigns and messages in favor of war and all apology of hate based on nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, political or social affiliations, ideology, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and any other nature that constitutes inciting discrimination and violence are hereby forbidden.

The State will guarantee compliance with this provision on all public, private and community radio, television and subscription service providers, as well as on digital media.

Meaning that self-censorship is here to stay, and that all media that steps out of line is liable to severe repercussions. How severe? Article 22 states that…

Any radio or television service provider that broadcasts messages that constitute campaigns in favor of war or apology of hate based on nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, political or social affiliations, ideology, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and any other nature will be sanctioned and their concession will be revoked, in compliance with the procedure established in the Law of Social Responsibility on Radio, Television and Digital Media.

…they will revoke your fucking broadcasting rights. And consider Article 20:

Everyone who promotes or incites hate, discrimination or violence against an individual or a group of individuals, either publicly or through any other means, for their real or alleged association with any particular group based on social affiliation, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or any other discriminatory reason will be punished with ten to twenty years in prison, without prejudice of the civil and disciplinary responsibility for damages caused.

They will punish whole institutions and the person who actually conveyed the “message of hate” with ten to twenty years in prison. This is a great moment to remember some of Diosdado’s greatest hits:

And who decides what’s a “message of hate?” The Commission for the Promotion and Guarantee of a Peaceful Coexistence, as stated on Article 15:

The Committee for the Promotion and Guarantee of Peaceful Cohabitation is hereby created, as an inter-institutional space in charge of diagnosing, organizing and establishing the guidelines of the public policy aimed at promoting and guaranteeing human dignity, the recognition of diversity, tolerance and mutual respect, as well as to prevent and eradicate all forms of violence, hate and intolerance based on political and social affiliation or any other kind.

Its members will be appointed by the fully chavista Constituent Assembly (Article 18). They will elect these committee members and there’s no reason or chavista precedent to make us even dream about having balanced, tolerant, qualified people in it. They’ve never appointed anyone who’s worthy of the job, why would they start now?

This thing (because its not a law), by the way, is also aimed at social networks. The last beacon of hope for the Venezuelan people to know what’s going on and to be informed. Venezuelans got their news (and yes, their rumors too) from social media. Networks are afraid of covering news and telling the truth because it might represent being sanctioned, fined or taken off the air with any excuse CONATEL can find. So, under this “law,” social media will be in pico e’ zamuro according to article 14:

The use of social and digital media to disseminate messages that promote war or incite hate based on nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, political or social affiliations, ideology, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and any other nature that constitutes inciting discrimination, intolerance or violence is hereby forbidden.

The legal persons that manage social and digital media must strictly comply with this provision and will adopt the appropriate measures to prevent the dissemination of these messages. To that end, they must immediately remove the dissemination of any campaign or message that violates it.

And, as we can read in the last article of this loving, caring, nurturing law something, these violations will haunt you forever, since they’re considered Human Rights violations.

Article 25. The acts established in the present Law will not prescribe as they are severe human rights violations.

There’s nothing scarier than a “law” written by a ruthless dictatorship blackmailing people and establishing “love” as a guiding state principle, but whatever they say, we hope we’ve given you the evidence to know where we stand. Erich Mielke himself would be proud.

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Categorías: Noticias

Belkis Lost Her Life

Caracas Chronicles - Mar, 11/14/2017 - 12:25

The Coalition of Organizations for the Right to Health and Life (Codevida) shared the testimony of Belkis Solórzano, a 50-year old patient who died yesterday after losing the transplanted kidney she’d had for 13 years. For three months, Belkis was unable to take the necessary medications to prevent kidney rejection because the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security stopped providing them. Codevida head Francisco Valencia has cautioned about the risk of organ rejection that suffer dozens of transplanted Venezuelans. “I lost my life, as many transplanted patients have,” said Belkis hours before dying.

How much more must we plead for the opening of a humanitarian channel to help stave off the shortage of medicine and food? How many more Belkis does the government need in order to understand the magnitude of this tragedy, this crime?

European sanctions

The European Union (EU) approved sanctions against Venezuela. After expressing their concern for human rights abuses and the excessive use of force, European countries banned the sale and supply of weapons, ammunition, vehicles and both military and paramilitary equipment. Additionally, European citizens and companies are barred from offering technical assistance or brokerage services, as well as financing (or providing financial aid) for military activities, and the embargo also extends to equipment susceptible to be used for repression, as well as technology that might be used for surveillance or for intercepting phone and internet communications.

The ban doesn’t include non-lethal military material and equipment used for border protection, regional stability and interception of narcotics.

Not even with a $200 barrel!

Oil output in Venezuela in October was lower than 2 million barrels per day (bpd), the lowest in almost three decades, according to data reported by OPEC. The figures show that Venezuela produced 1.95 million bpd in October, a drop compared to the 2.08 million bpd produced in September. The last time Venezuela produced less than 2 million bpd was in 1989.

Other production indicators, calculated using secondary sources, show an oil output of less than 1.86 million bpd in October, a difficult scenario in view of the drop in foreign currency from oil sales, which is 90% of the country’s dollar income, but PDVSA has been postponing crucial investment to boost production for years, on top of its voracious system of internal corruption.

And now that we mentioned corruption

Imposed Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab said that 10 people were arrested and two other were issued arrest warrants for the tampering of PDVSA oil output figures, which caused property damage to the nation for over one billion dollars. He estimated the payment of royalties for the State “for crude oil that was included in calculations but that doesn’t exist” at $266 million and the embezzlement of PDVSA’s financial cash flow at $21 million, emphasizing that figure tampering started during the process of crude exploration and production in PDVSA Oriente, with fake efficiency and marketing levels.

PDVSA Oriente managers are indicted for the crimes of breaching the special security zone regime, embezzlement of public funds and criminal association.

The meeting with bondholders

Bondholders were received in the White Palace by an honor guard for the first meeting with the government to discuss the restructuring of the foreign debt, which lasted only 15 minutes and concluded without any concrete proposals.

Less than a hundred investors left with bags of chocolates and coffee, and several of them had to remain in a room adjacent to the meeting, because OFAC-sanctioned Tarek El Aissami and Simón Zerpa were there.

The vice president read a statement criticizing the global financial system and the obstacles imposed against Venezuela and requested help from creditors to seek out ways to prevent the effects of sanctions, claiming that the government’s willing to keep honoring payments.

They want negotiation roundtables, but they didn’t even describe their size or color.

Additionally, the Committee of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) will meet today to continue discussing the technical default.

Last night, Fitch lowered PDVSA’s rating to Restricted Default.

And in the UN

In the Security Council meeting, OAS chief Luis Almagro demanded that the international community take actions against the Venezuelan regime, arguing that no country can ignore what’s happening here or remain complacent with the systematic violation of human rights.

Comparto video de mi intervención y Sesión de hoy en Consejo de Seguridad de @ONU_es sobre #Venezuelahttps://t.co/AKR9c4PKtr

— Luis Almagro (@Almagro_OEA2015) November 13, 2017

Foro Penal representative Julio Henríquez demanded an end to the government’s pattern of persecution. Nikki Haley, American ambassador to the UN, said that Venezuela is edging closer to a “violent narcostate” that threatens the region and the entire world and criticized several Council members for choosing not to participate in the meeting.

Rafael Ramírez, Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, said that they wouldn’t accept any kind of meddling or tutelage and that the United States perverts the role of the Security Council.

Against social networks

While Nicolás spoke on Sunday about freedom of expression with Jordi Évole, chavista colectivos were assaulting the offices of newspaper El Nuevo País.

Yesterday, the Rodríguez siblings and Elías Jaua spoke about the reach of the “Law” Against Hate (we call it that because it’s easier, but you know it’s not a law because of illegitimacy). The relevant part? Jorge Rodríguez claimed that Conatel will exercise control and surveillance on social networks, just like they do with media outlets, “to prevent hate on social networks” so that networks don’t become a niche of impunity. Todo bello.

Abroad

Yesterday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence thanked the Vatican’s state secretary Pietro Parolin, for their efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela, whose citizens, by the way, top the list of asylum requests in Brazil.

Spanish Defense Minister María Dolores de Cospedal said that the government is in the process of studying which entities are behind the disinformation campaigns coming from Russia and Venezuela.

The level of shamelessness with which Juan Carlos Monedero answered the questions of the Senate committee investigating the Venezuelan government’s financing for Podemos was epic.

For the first time in 60 years, the Italian soccer team is out of the World Cup. Russia 2018 won’t be the same.

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Categorías: Noticias

36 Hours in Caracas

Caracas Chronicles - Lun, 11/13/2017 - 22:55

Visitors to Caracas are often surprised by how much sweeter the rum tastes when the money you pay for it is hilariously devalued. It doesn’t matter which of the four different exchange rates you use, a glass will not cost you more than what you tipped your Uber driver to JFK on the way over.

It’s not like we need to give you money-saving tips while you’re here —God knows you’ve made a killing off of this government so far. Still, a bargain’s a bargain: a baggie of cocaine will set you back VEF 250 thousand ($5 at the parallel market). And for the best pairing, try savoring it together with one of the contestants from last week’s Miss Venezuela. You may well make your second best trade this trip.

If you want the best local flavors, however, skip the rum and go straight for the dumpsters. Here’s your chance to get up close and personal with the charming poverty straight out of a late-night “adopt-a-child” infomercial. Take this unique opportunity to fraternize with the locals: Venezuelans are known for their friendliness and warmth, and crisis has a way of bringing out some truly amusing behavior. Witness first-hand the local sense of humor, while you laugh about what a big joke this economy is, and how you get to go back home in a few hours while they remain here until they die. If interaction makes you feel uneasy, fear not: most of the people around are harmless, they probably haven’t eaten in a few days and are too weak from hunger. Always keep in mind that you are a visitor in this strange and magical land. Be respectful: don’t give any food to the kids begging on the street. You’d just be enabling this unwanted behavior, and disrupting the local culture.  

Much like the rest of the country, Caracas is lawless, which means that if locals really start to annoy you with stories about how it’s your fault they have no medicine, you can always have them jailed or taken care of, provided you have the right regime connections (wink, wink!).

But as always, you won’t manage to do anything that escapes politics in Venezuela. Earlier this year, when government security forces threw protesters in dungeons and tortured them, opposition critics launched the hashtag #MaduroDictadorVioladordeDerechosHumanos [#MaduroDictatorViolatesHumanRights]. So, just to play it safe, ask the off-duty cop bodyguard driving you around in an armored vehicle to be discrete with the evidence.

Do remember that Caracas is the most violent city in the world. But there are always safe areas: We at Corino particularly enjoy the lobster dinners at Enchufée, a classic french bistro where we take turns making the waiters convert their wages from bolivars into dollars and then tell them how long it takes us to earn the same. Sometimes they cry, but they know it’s all just good fun. For a more down to earth experience, our team will take you to the arepera in an undisclosed location where artisanal cheese is made by malnourished kids who ran out of food long ago because the government stopped importing it, to pay for your bonds and our lobster dinners at Enchufée. It really is adorable how tiny the children can get when they’re not fed enough, Venezuela’s answer to Bonsai trees or Teacup pigs.  

Your flights home won’t be until late Tuesday, so after your meeting in el Palacio Blanco, where our business partners government officials will have hosted you, do go to the Central Bank to look at their art collection (don’t ask how much the artwork is worth for future asset seizure, we’ll take care of that later). Or take a stroll down the Petare roundabout, so you can see—from a safe distance, of course— the desperation in people’s eyes as they inquire about the price of essential goods, and calculate in real time if they can afford them. They likely can’t; they’ll go home with their bags empty, but you’ll go home with great stories! You’ll go home having seen up close the effects of monetizing the deficit, and the perils of the government capture of a Central Bank. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness market forces at play and the dangers of socialism.

Once you’re done definitely-not-negotiating-with-an-OFAC-named-drug-kingpin, head over to Maiquetia airport to see real-life families being ripped apart; witness as a generation leaves the country with what they can fit in one suitcase in hopes of earning just enough to help their families fight off famine. Or go to the Aeropuerto Caracas, a site of pilgrimage for those looking to run off, away from the prying eye of the impoverished. Just be careful not to take any packages from strangers, a good friend’s nephews just got into some major trouble for failing to take up this advice.

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Categorías: Noticias

A Meeting About Nothing

Caracas Chronicles - Lun, 11/13/2017 - 21:30

Today, the hotly anticipated meeting between Tareck El Aissami’s Debt Restructuring Committee and Venny and freshly flown-in PDVSA Bondholders went down in Palacio Blanco – just across the street from the Presidential Palace in Caracas. It had its very own #TropicalMierda red carpet. Reports suggest the only productive thing that came out of the meeting was the rum-tasting experiences organized for the select few afterwards. CC had its very own mole there and we’re telling you how it went down.

In spite of the previous announcement that no OFAC sanctionées would be present, El Aissami and Finance Minister/PDVSA CFO Simón Zerpa were in fact in attendance, which motivated some early defections (oh, to be a fly on that wall).

El Aissami chaired the meeting and read a prepared statement parroting the usual propaganda lines about the economic blockade by the US and the illegal OFAC sanctions. He bitched about the decision by Citibank and Deutsche Bank to close several of the Republic’s accounts, and the difficulties this creates for the government when making payments. He talked vaguely about a new “sustainable ” payment schedule based on the UN Resolution of Sovereign Debt Crises, Restructurings and Resolution Mechanisms. “We need to work together to get the sanctions lifted,” said Tareck at one point, finally hinting at one real reason the meeting actually needed to happen.

“We need to work together to get the sanctions lifted,” said Tareck at one point, hinting at the one real reason the meeting actually needed to happen.

There was just nothing said here that hasn’t been said on VTV a thousand times before.

The meeting and the government’s “proposals” were as serious and carefully crafted as Miss Venezuela’s wishes for world peace.

After Shrödinger’s Default drama of the last two weeks (and with the grace period for several overdue coupons expiring today) the government’s only proposal is a propaganda gabfest delivered by a Drug Kingpin, and let’s take a moment to remember most of the attendees are forbidden to do business with him. You’d call it shocking if it wasn’t all so very what’d-ya-expect?

It’s easy to underestimate just how dire the absence of minimally competent technocratic figures has become within chavismo. Even if the government wanted to restructure, it just doesn’t seem like there are people in that team with the capacity to lead a highly complex negotiation like that. They just gathered together investors from all over the world and trundled them into Palacio Blanco to dish out propaganda. because dishing out propaganda is all they know how to do.

They say they’ll keep paying – but if that’s true, why would anyone negotiate with them? As things stand, the next time a payment is late bondholders who attended the meeting (and, even more so, the ones who did not) will be heading to the nearest court to sue the hell out of them.

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Categorías: Noticias

Negotiations Ahead

Caracas Chronicles - Lun, 11/13/2017 - 15:05

The fabled meeting between bondholders and authorities to discuss debt restructuring/refinancing is set for today. As previously announced, Vice-President and drug trafficker Tareck El Aissami and Economy Minister Simón Zerpa, both sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, will head this meeting. This in itself is enough reason not to have great expectations, the talks are likely to fail either because bondholders won’t attend, or because they won’t be able to even shake hands, let alone discuss money issues with their interlocutors, pending heavy punishment.

Meanwhile, Maduro confirmed yesterday that talks between his government and the opposition will take place this coming Wednesday: “National dialogue starts this Wednesday. If we want democracy, we can’t have guarimbas, we must find peace through the path of peace.”

Although Mexico, Paraguay, Chile, The Vatican and the United Nations are all set to accompany the process, the guy in charge of this is newly-appointed Communications minister Jorge Rodríguez, who said they’ll attend, but they won’t accept conditions or international meddling. Translation: the opposition’s demands will be ignored once more, and the government won’t take credible international mediators, one of MUD’s express conditions to resume negotiations.

Maduro also announced that, starting this Sunday, 11,890 shops and businesses would be inspected to fight off bachaquerismo and speculation. With his natural charm and humor, he branded this operation Plan Navidades Felices contra la Especulación (Merry Christmas Plan Against Speculation), and ordered that all the products that are being “speculated with” should be taken out for social sale, meaning that soon, several other ítems may join beef and chicken in the mythical land of regulations, and vanish from the shelves for good.

By the way, the guy finally said “Hyperinflation”, but he claimed it was induced by a foreign campaign and promised to solve it through more wage increases and bonuses.

FARC in Venezuela

The FARC, originally Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and now rebranded Alternative Revolutionary Common Force as a political party, held a meeting this weekend in Maracay, Aragua, called “First National Preliminary Assembly,” with the goal of establishing their political organization in the country. According to the event’s invitation, the meeting was necessary in order to face the “complex scenario created by imperialism with the open cooperation of fascism and the far right that are assailing the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” So, FARC is going to create a political party in Venezuela ahead of mayoral elections, while well-established parties such as Voluntad Popular and Primero Justicia struggle to remain afloat amidst a heavy campaign of persecution.

Health

The first round of anti-diphtheria vaccination organized by the Health Ministry in Caracas took place yesterday at the Sambil Mall. Víctor Sánchez, the official in charge of the operation, said that they’re applying not only tetanus toxoid and diphtheria vaccines, but also trivalent viral, anti-hepatitis B, oral anti-polio, pentavalent and BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin).

Meanwhile, two children died  in Anzoátegui and Bolívar respectively, while a third child became a victim of the disease in Nueva Esparta and Germán Rodríguez, head of the Health bureau of Guárico, also confirmed the first possible diphtheria case in that state.

Abroad

European Union foreign ministers approved economic sanctions against the Venezuelan regime, including an arms embargo on any kind of equipment used for repression of peaceful protests, and established the basis for sanctions targeted against individuals. “Everything we do is aimed at seeking dialogue between the government and the opposition to find a democratic and peaceful solution,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis.

The UN Security Council is set to discuss Venezuela’s situation today.

Russia agreed with Venezuela on the restructuring of a three million dollar debt, with gradually higher payments over a period of 10 years. The agreement will be signed next Wednesday and will require Venezuela to pay Russian exporters for already-delivered products.

Another assault against the press

Late last night, El Nuevo País reported that their offices in San Agustín, Libertador municipality, were attacked by a group of at least 50 government supporters ready to break down the main entrance and take over the place. The National Guard and the National Police managed to control the situation while the group of people claimed they were waiting for “orders from above” to proceed. Sadly, we should expect many more of these incidents, now that the ANC approved its long-promised law against hate.

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Categorías: Noticias

Venezuela goes to the Security Council

Caracas Chronicles - Lun, 11/13/2017 - 09:57

The United Nations Security Council will meet this afternoon to discuss Venezuela. Unlike the more democratic and universal General Assembly, the Security Council has a very specific mandate and limited membership (the General Assembly elects 10 non-permanent members for a two-year term) as well as an exceptional enforcement mechanism for its decisions. Its 15 members, including the permanent 5, with capacity to block any decision – a veto power – have a responsibility for maintaining international peace and security.

While the work of the UNSC revolves around an agreed agenda of issues, there are procedural exceptions for certain situations. Created by former Venezuelan Ambassador to the U.N. Diego Arria in the context of the Balkan Wars, the Arria Formula is a mechanism by which individuals, organizations or institutions are heard by the Council in an informal setting, given how their responsibilities and/or influence can contribute “to a better understanding of the situation under consideration.” This is the modality the Council will use to examine the issue of Venezuela.

Little did Arria know in 1992, when he came up with this idea, that one day it would be used to examine his own country.

The Council will hear presentations by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, and representatives from Caritas International and Foro Penal.

The fact that the meeting is exceptional means that Venezuela is still not considered a threat to international peace and security. Not yet. But the fact that it’s being considered at all, really matters – especially given how bureaucratic and slow the UN can be at times. Today’s meeting will transcend what would normally be expected of Security Council treatment: it’s not only hard politics, also the humanitarian and social crises in Venezuela will be discussed.

The idea that the country and its dire humanitarian situation cannot wait for a political resolution seems to have finally sunk in.

The meeting has been framed from a preventive angle, in which inaction might result in worsening violence and severe socioeconomic consequences, particularly in the coming months. The idea that the country and its dire humanitarian situation cannot wait for a political resolution seems to have finally sunk in. Countries in the region, from Brazil to Aruba, and from Colombia to Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the United States and Canada, are feeling the effects of the crisis in a variety of ways, so addressing it collectively, along with Venezuela’s potential to destabilize the region, is a sensible way to go.

I have personally been against the UN dealing with Venezuela for reasons I explained in this post (mainly the fact that Maduro still has the capacity to pull some strings and get the votes he needs where they’re required). But this new approach, while it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of voting someday, certainly opens a new alternative, albeit still remote, for the UN to act on the much needed humanitarian front of our crisis. The Latin American and Caribbean regional group (GRULAC) has also been reluctant to accept the Security Council’s help in the Venezuelan issue, but it looks like there has been a shift since the last Lima Group meeting in October, when the declaration adopted back then acknowledged the worsening food and health crisis, requesting the UN Secretary General to address it. There is an understanding that the potential for Venezuela to become a failed State, unable to meet the most basic needs of its population, is enormous.

Since this isn’t a formal meeting, it isn’t expected to have a formal declaration, binding resolution or any other document with legal status after it wraps up. But perhaps some sort of follow up mechanism emerges from it. It’s a first step towards addressing Venezuela’s multi-dimensionsional conundrum, putting the focus on the one thing that’s causing so much death and suffering.

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Categorías: Noticias

Watching the 2017 Miss Venezuela

Caracas Chronicles - Dom, 11/12/2017 - 15:38

7:13 p.m.

I’m clueless about this; I’ve never watched a Miss Venezuela before. I’m only doing this for research purposes. This was not my choice. I know this is one of the biggest TV shows of the year, an event for the whole family, but that’s it.

There’s an opening speech and las misses appear in shiny, half see-through dresses while a hostess talks.

Don’t they feel naked?

“Nuestras reinas lucen creaciones de Andartu diseños y accesorios Voyage.”

Voyage accessories? No wonder they’re wearing space outfits.

They all look the same: same height, same body, same pose. Super-advanced drones designed to look perfect and win Miss Universe titles.

“We have learned to never stop in the face of hardship, and that’s maybe the best demonstration we are giving today.”

Must be getting pretty hard to put a on show like this today, huh?

The guys who just sang lip synched turn out to be Sixto Rein and Juan Miguel. I have no idea who they are. They ask the audience to visit their YouTube channels, and talk about their musical projects. Self-promotion, really? I mean, this is el Miss Venezuela, all those space girls are back there waiting for the trials, you are supposed to introduce them. Not the other way around.

But what do I know? This is my first rodeo.

7:25 p.m.

Commercial break! The ads are all beauty-related: shoes, makeup, nail polish, breast implants. When the show resumes, the socially conscious part begins. The Misses are shown making food and giving it away. Pretty nice.

Pero ahora sí, LET THE TRIALS BEGIN!

First, the “interactive gala.” Apparently, there were surveys and the public could choose their favorite Miss for different categories.

But wait… these are more ads! They are not even being sneaky, they award the girls with random categories and then some company manager gives them a prize.

Poor Miss Apure. She won “Miss Personality” and everyone knows what that means.

7:42 p.m.

Commercials. Again. This whole thing is one big ad.

Is that the Zamora jingle? The government managed to sneak its ads en una noche tan linda como esta?

7:48 p.m.

This studio is crazy small. The audience sits close to the stage (really close), and the back is half-covered with white drapes, like a shitty quinceañera. I’m told this shindig used to be held in El Poliedro. I guess they use that larger venue for other pressing matters these days…

8:00 p.m.

The swimsuit competition. A trial at last.

The Misses walk and pose while the host reads out their measurements. All of them are very near to 90cm, 60cm ,90cm, except Miss Delta Amacuro, who is an exact 90-60-90.

This is so silly, they all look perfect. In their neon green capes.

After the first group finishes, the host makes sure to name the swimsuit designers, with their Instagram accounts displayed on screen. One big ad, I’m telling you.

8:30 p.m.

Someone should tell those Pantene guys that you can’t buy shampoo anymore.

I’m unable to pay attention. With so many brands and commercials, it’s all so repetitive. Pretty, but devoid of essence.

9:12 p.m.

Now it’s time for the traje de gala event, but Miss Venezuela 2016 parades first in a blue dress, with an ad in the background for feminine hygiene products. I’m told girls can’t find those in stores anymore. 

I cannot say that the dresses were espectaculares, so here’s what the host said:

“Radiant and sparkly fabrics surge and mix with bindings in French embroidery, the body is surrounded with stylized lines in relief and coordinates with the great hasp decorating the shoulders.”

Who writes this?

10:00 p.m.

There’s a lot of filler here.

10:26 p.m.

Finally, they narrow it down to ten models. I’m having a hard time giving a fuck.

11:00 p.m.

It has taken this long to reach the five finalists and now it’s time for the (in)famous questions round. Journalist Shirley Varnagy came up with five questions on why is it so stupid to participate in beauty pageants and the girls fumble with their answers. A bit humiliating, but Shirley should have done follow ups.

11:30 p.m.

This thing goes full-on Venevisión mode. It’s folkloric dances and pavo real dresses. There’s this old super important lady and my mom would scold me for not knowing who this “Mirla” person is [Editor’s note: ¡La primerísima Mirla Castellanos, por Dios! Fucking Millennials].

I don’t think the Miss Venezuela pageant was always this crappy. It wouldn’t have lasted 65 years.

Alright, the time to pick the winner is close. The stage turns yellow and the Pantene logo flashes huge in the background, but first we have more baranda time: commercials. I can’t watch another fun fact about the Miss Venezuela, or another makeup ad. In a section, they talk about the achievements of previous contestants: marrying famous men.

And the winner is…

Miss Delta Amacuro!

There’s crying, and the Venevisión song. Has this show always been like this? One of the older Caracas Chronicles collaborators, I won’t say his name (but it rhymes with “Abdul Folk”), said that Joaquín Riviera would have never allowed this train wreck to happen. I don’t know who Mr. Riviera was, but I just watched a cheap, devalued, version of something that I probably would have made fun of, but respected out of tradition.

Miss Venezuela is promoted as “the year’s most anticipated television event.” I can’t find the escapism through the crackhead production values.

After it was (thankfully) over, I was left with many questions. What are the ratings like? Are the ads the only way to keep this going? And once they declare a winner, does she become a promoter for products that have disappeared from the shelves?

And who the hell still uses Pantene?

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Categorías: Noticias

The Juan Planchard Inside Each of Us

Caracas Chronicles - Sáb, 11/11/2017 - 12:00

Las Aventuras de Juan Planchard is a book that turned into a phenomenon and  through word-of-mouth, became a mandatory read. Press and public have praised Jonathan Jakubowicz’s book for its sharp, no-holds-barred satirical portrayal of chavismo and, particularly, bolichicos, the small clique of pragmatic entrepreneurs who, with innate opportunism, have turned into the new ruling class.

Juan Planchard, the book’s narrator and protagonist, is a shady creature from that wildlife. Once a Procter & Gamble employee living with his parents, we meet him in his Las Vegas suite in a daytoday of coke-fueled orgies and fishy million-dollar businesses with the Venezuelan government.

All it took was for him to realize that, in a country where everyone bends the rules, the key to success is to cheat, swindle, abuse, and hamper everyone, in the name of the people. In his words:

“In this land of cannibals there’s no reason to be honest. No virtue on respecting others. No punishment for the bad guys. No reward for the moral being. Only the hustler succeeds, the abuser, the one who doesn’t break for anyone else.”

I’ve been curious about books written in the shadow of chavismo. After all, our dictatorships forced Rómulo Gallegos, Miguel Otero Silva and Teresa de la Parra to make a stand and condemn their reality. As such, it’s easy to see why this book is so popular; it’s a weekend read with some Wolf of Wall Street quality that makes you both appalled and attracted to that amoral realm where Juan is a demigod. You can’t help but feel sympathy for the devil.

I know I’ll get some backlash for this but Jakubowicz, better known as the director of Secuestro Express and Hands of Stone, is not that great of a writer. He falls hard in telling things instead of showing them – particularly in sex scenes –, and clutches to obvious tropes, even if they are tongue-in-cheek.

In this land of cannibals there’s no reason to be honest… Only the hustler succeeds, the abuser, the one who doesn’t break for anyone else.

The humor, by the way, didn’t work for me; it relies on how outrageous the bolichico world is. I mean, I believe most of what is portrayed has happened one way or the other, but for me is more enraging than amusing. Likewise, the narration never misses the chance for a wisecrack observation and, at times, the line between Planchard’s views and the author’s blurs. Also, I’ll never forgive Jakubowicz for that awful Cohen/Coen Brothers joke.

But there are many shining spots. The Cementerio description hits the spot, and Planchard’s parents’ subplot was fine, somewhat jarring compared to the rest.

Juan Planchard, in a way, represents every single thing we hate about those who, again and again, avoid justice and live opulent lifestyles, profiting off of misery while repeating it’s for our own good. It took me over a month to read it because of the sheer indignation of each chapter. Had the book focused on the human element and dropped the comedic angle, it would have been much more thought-provoking. Instead, it just preaches to the choir about how chavismo is bad, and jerks profit from it.

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Categorías: Noticias

Shrödingers Default

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 11/10/2017 - 21:55

Yesterday, the grace period over the last coupon of Electricidad de Caracas bonds (ELECAR 8,5% 2018) lapsed. The paying agent had seen no money, so the bonds were declared in default by the trustee, Wilmington Trust, as of this morning.

“This is it”, many market agents and journalists said.

“R.I.P. Elecar”, others whispered (including me).

Even over at Zero Hedge, the headline was “Venezuela Officially Declared In Default,” which was definitely the wrong thing to say in the beginning because there’s no cross-default between Elecar and any other bonds — Venezuela bonds or PDVSA or anything else. Either way, a default on the ELECAR 18s was widely expected by the market ever since Maduro starred in Empanada-Gate, the most tropicalmierda declaration of a restructuring/reprofiling/default/credit-soap-opera of all time.

It’s a kind of inside information festival out there right now.

Investors spent all week scrambling to position themselves for the following scenario: the government would decide to pay PDVSA bonds in arrears (as late as legally viable), and sacrifice ELECAR. The next question was if they were going to do the same with Sovereign bonds next week.

The bonds had plummeted to historic lows following Maduro’s non-default default announcement eight days ago. After trading in 60-80 territory for the last twelve months, ELECAR fell off a cliff as soon as Maduro spoke. The climax of ELECAR-geddon came this morning as the default notice started to make the rounds in the market. Broker-dealers aggressively lowered their bids (I heard somebody was bidding  just 1 cent on the dollar, and TRACE reported some 8 million face value in several trades below 25 cents.) The vultures were ready to jump.

And then, just after lunch, this:

Transferidos a las instituciones financieras el 08/11, los recursos correspondientes al pago EDC2018 (8,5% Notes due 2018). Cambios en la operatividad han afectado las transacciones. @LMOTTAD

— CORPOELEC Informa (@CORPOELECinfo) November 10, 2017

“Funds corresponding to the payment of EDC2018 (8,5% Notes due 2018) were transferred on November 08th. Operational issues affected the payment.”

Are you kidding me? Seriously?

Are they telling us they paid two days ago, and decided to tell us about it only today, after the notice of default by the trustee?

Why didn’t they say anything on Wednesday? What the shit?

The trouble isn’t just all the chaos the government causes by not paying or paying late. The problem is also that their communications are so opaque markets don’t know what to think. Administrative chaos + chavista opacity make for a horribly dangerous “strategy” that could wind up setting off a messy default and the harshest legal battle of our country’s history.

What’s for sure is that the more opaque the market is, the bigger the profit opportunities for the select few with an inside line to what the government plans to do. It’s a kind of inside information festival out there right now. While normal bondholders sweat and normal Venezuelans go hungry, people in the know must be making off like bandits.

So yeah, Quico. I’ll go for option A.

Sube el telon:
Elecar no paga un cupón a tiempo, es declarada en Default.
Baja el telón.

Sube el telon:
Colapsan los precios de los bonos elecar.
Baja el telón.

Sube el telon:
Corpoelec anuncia que *claro* que sí pagó el cupón.
Baja el Telón.

¿Como se llama la obra?

— Francisco Toro (@QuicoToro) November 10, 2017

Diosdado just got a new yacht.

The post Shrödingers Default appeared first on Caracas Chronicles.

Categorías: Noticias

Quiet Little Sheep

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 11/10/2017 - 18:00

Remember when we predicted the death of free speech?

Well, the law that will execute it was just passed. It attacks theoretically invulnerable rights, and was conceived (and now enforced) by an illegitimate body with the sole purpose of making sure we all remain quiet little sheep. Even on our way to the slaughter.

What does this mean in practice? It means that a body of censors will review everything (I imagine harder and more thoroughly than they already do) and, based on whims and feelings in the moment, decide who gets thrown in jail. Maybe you said something to Delcy on the street, or you vented on the radio. Maybe you wore the wrong t-shirt. I could be arrested for writing this or you for commenting on it. We have the law here for you to read it, but I think the phrasing isn’t very important. You know what it says at heart. And we have seen the type of peace they want.

Human Rights are irrelevant and justice is irrelevant because, as Winston Smith found out, what matters is the Party. And the Ministry of Love will make sure you don’t forget.

Ley-contra-el-Odio-por-la-Convivencia-Pacífica-y-la-Tolerancia by Caracas Chronicles on Scribd

Our regular contributor Gustavo Hernandez saw all of this coming and his insight is portrayed in The Anti-Escrache Law and the Death of Free Speech, reproduced here in its entirety:

The Anti-Escrache Law and the Death of Free Speech

The government has been coercing the broadcasting media into silencing criticism for years. Now it wants to do the same to you.

At times, Venezuela can feel like an exercise in competitive Orwellianism. A couple of weeks ago, Nicolas Maduro went to his tailor-made Constituyente to denounce the “campaigns of hate, violence and intolerance” regime higher-ups have been subjected to, after a series of incidents (known colloquially as escraches), where angry Venezuelans both at home and abroad confronted regime officials for their legendary corruption and mismanagement.

Elsewhere in the world, this is known as “your constituents giving you a piece of their mind” — and officials’ willingness to sit through them is considered a crucial part of keeping democracy working. In Venezuela, the regime describes it as a terrible vice to be stamped out using all the repressive power of the state.

Indeed, the Constituent Assembly is fast-tracking a bill that could send people who ball out their leaders with up to 25 years in prison. Yes, twenty-five. They’re styling it as the “Law on Peaceful Coexistence and Against Intolerance” (Ley de Convivencia Pacífica y contra la Intolerancia.) Like we said, Orwell is a rank amateur next to these guys.

The legislation is really aimed at curbing all forms of criticism against the government, as Carlos Correa, head of NGO Espacio Publico explains, with harsh penalties imposed for people for expressions that would be considered protected speech in any vaguely democratic country.

The Constituent Assembly is fast-tracking a bill that could send people who ball out their leaders with up to 25 years in prison. Yes, twenty-five.

For some time, the hegemony has toyed with the idea of placing new curbs on social media. This is a perfect excuse.

The text of the Anti-Escrache hasn’t been made public, but we’ve been around the block often enough to know what to expect. Going from official descriptions, and considering the current Media Law (which originally regulated all content shown on radio and television, and was later widened to cover the Internet), we can expect yet another vaguely worded text that regime-controlled courts can use indiscriminately to cow opponents into silence.

If it was just about media, there’d be little point in writing a new law. But by the looks of it, this bill is aimed not just at the media, but at regular citizens as well.

It was announced right after the two largest free-to-air TV channels were put under formal investigation for their “lack of coverage” of the July 30th constituyente election, which bucked Maduro’s personal orders to them. Indeed, local media owners could face their own inquisition at the hands of the Constituyente too.

Funny that even when the government wants to offer their side of the story, such as at the Tuesday press conference with international media, the hegemony shows its unhinged repressive spirit by coercing outlets into doing their coverage the way Maduro wants, on penalty of being kicked out of Miraflores.

Like democracy, free speech has been on life support in this country for a long time. If this bill becomes law, free speech will die.

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Categorías: Noticias

Bad Day for the Dictatorship

Caracas Chronicles - Vie, 11/10/2017 - 12:14

As a consequence of the October, 15th elections “marred by irregularities,” yesterday the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned each of these Venezuelan citizens:

  • CNE board member Socorro Hernández
  • CNE board member Sandra Oblitas
  • CNE Deputy rector Carlos Quintero
  • Minister Ernesto Villegas
  • CANTV President Manuel Fernández
  • Conatel head Jorge Márquez Monsalve
  • Misión Transporte head Carlos Osorio
  • Venezuelan ambassador to Italy Isaías Rodríguez
  • National Constituent Assembly member Elvis Hidrobo Amoroso

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pointed out that they’ll keep working to sanction officials who are allies in Nicolás’s attempts to “undermine democracy, violate human rights, inhibit the freedom of expression or peaceful assembly” and also those who engage in corruption.

Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza condemned the sanctions claiming that they’re “unilateral coercive measures” that show contempt for the people “by disregarding their sovereign will,” while he applauds the election of a new governor in Zulia and the hate law that we shouldn’t be calling that way, because of where it came from. Coherent.

More serious

Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), believes that the hate law approved by the ANC is alarming: “It will have the systematic effect of inhibiting criticism within the country, because all human beings naturally fear suffering in a regime without guarantees, it’s much more serious that it might seem at first,” he explained in his preliminary comments, while the IACHR is studying the text recently approved and preparing a report on the situation of human rights in Venezuela.

“Important to note the totally draconian and disproportionate punishments established by the law for those who engage in those expressions, prison sentences of 10 to 20 years, which could even be compared to a murder,” he added.

According to the expert, the decline in Venezuela has been constant and gradual, but until now, there were still certain guarantees for journalists and dissidents, yet the “law” creates the conditions for persecution and for the establishment of an absolutely totalitarian State, emphasizing that “the last free space in Venezuela, social media, will be shut down.”

No domino

The government promised investors invited to discuss the debt restructuring that officials sanctioned by the U.S. won’t take part in the meeting, according to reports by Reuters, while several economists consulted by AFP dismissed the risk of a general crisis in view of eventual default, because the markets have anticipated that possibility some time ago.

The three main financial rating agencies (Moody’s, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s) once again lowered their respective ratings on Venezuela, saying that it’s “highly probable” that Venezuela will default on its debt, estimated at $150 billion.

Venezuela’s default sets a new record in State insolvency, exceeding Argentina, which defaulted on $100 billion in 2001. “It will for sure be the most complicated default in history, but it will also have the least global impact,” says Christopher Dembik of Saxo Banque.

For Tony Springer, head of Fitch, the meeting scheduled for Monday will be “the start of a long and painful process.”

Additionally, it was also revealed yesterday that PDVSA hasn’t honored its debt with India’s State-run oil company ONGC in six months.

What happened to the conditions?

The government and the opposition will resume negotiations next Wednesday 15th in the Dominican Republic to discuss the crisis and seek guarantees ahead of presidential elections in 2018, both parties announced.

“We’re ready to start a negotiation process and build electoral conditions for a democratic resolution,” said lawmaker Luis Florido. His statement was confirmed by minister Jorge Rodríguez.

UN and Vatican representatives, as well as a group of countries chosen by each side will be present: Chile, Mexico and Paraguay (from the Lima Group) chosen by MUD, and Bolivia and Nicaragua, chosen by the government.

Florido said that the economic crisis, the release of political prisoners and the restitution of the Legislative Branch’s authority are the subjects proposed by the opposition delegation. For Parliament Speaker Julio Borges, the goal is “to achieve a reliable presidential election.”

Reaction

Lawmaker Luis Barragán claimed that Luis Florido lied because Vente Venezuela has never met him, adding that this dialogue doesn’t involve all lawmakers and that the essential role of the National Assembly is vindication, not cohabitation with the regime, so he demands three tasks: negotiating the necessary conditions to oust the dictatorship, vindicate Parliament’s authority and being transparent with the country. Vente made their rejection public in a statement, saying that this new attempt at dialogue is fraudulent, in the certainty that it was designed to benefit the regime.

Florido responded on Twitter to Barragán’s statements claiming that the decision to establish conditions and start negotiations was accepted by all parties, including Vente.

Visits

The International Labor Organization decided yesterday in its administration council to send a mission to Venezuela to investigate alleged violations committed by the government against agreements on social dialogue, which were denounced by institutions such as Fedecámaras.

The decision was made at the request of the Lima Group and the mission will come to the country in January 2018 to collect information on the government’s actions regarding issues of economic and salary interest.

Additionally, Venezuela could soon be visited by Russian warships, according to a document signed by Russian minister Dmitri Medvedev to open the corresponding negotiations in Caracas. The draft of the agreement establishes that the visits of the three warships will have a maximum duration of 15 days, and that the country’s airspace and airports will be used for transporting the necessary technical material for the warships’ maintenance. Todo bello.

There was no place for “Una noche tan linda como esas”, the 65th edition of the Miss Venezuela pageant went unnoticed, with a black market dollar at Bs. 50,000. The announcement of Star Wars’ new trilogy caused a bigger fuss.

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Categorías: Noticias

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