Requiem for a tool

Former BCV President Edmee Betancourt, on a recent cigarette break
Former BCV President Edmee Betancourt, on a recent cigarette break

Today the Central Bank of Venezuela saw a changing of the guard.

Out went recently-named president Edmee Betancourt – a protege of the radical wing of the economists in the government that is headed by Planning Minister Jorge Giordani – and in came the new president, Eudomar como vaya viniendo la política monetaria vamos viendo” Tovar.

Tovar is a member of the more pragmatic wing, headed by Finance Minister Nelson Merentes, who is now de facto economic czar of the Maduro republic.

In honor of former President Edmee, we highlight some of the notable quotes from a recent interview she gave. Whether these jaw-dropping quotes contributed to her downfall, or whether it had more to do with shady dealings at Bandes and with the money given to us by the Chinese … that, dear reader, is up to you to decide.

Take it away, Edmee:

“In November and December of 2012 there was an attack on the economic war front, and this caused inflation in November to spike up to 2.5% and to 3.5% in December.”

“In January of 2013, the economic war of 2013 began, and they took advantage of the painful contingencies of the first four months of the year, disturbing the economy. Inflation in January was 3.3%, it was 2.6% in February, 2.8% in March, 4.3% in April, and 6.1% in May. But in June it went down to 4.7% and we know that in July it will continue going down.” (Note: it was 3.2% in July – these are all monthly inflation rates, mind you)

“One of the things we did was consult the population. We took a poll to see what they saw as the solution to their problems, and the people tell us important things. Of course, since we are the Central Bank, we asked them what inflation meant to them and, it’s amazing, people don’t know the exact figures of inflation; last year it was 20%, but people started giving out other figures.” (Note to Edmee: Not even you know the rate of inflation … unless, that is, some flunkie gives you a cheat sheet)

“We shouldn’t forget that our supreme commander made social investments of up to 550 billion dollars. That’s not money that went abroad, but money that stayed here, at home, to benefit our people.” (Note: It stayed in Venezuela, and was spent by the government once, twice, thrice … )

“Yes, our people know the problem in the economy is solved with production, but also fighting against this economic war that causes hoarding, speculation. They say in three months everything will be solved. We think this answer means that our president Nicolás Maduro will finally get his honeymoon, because people have the expectation, the hope that in three months, these problems with the economy and production, speculation and hoarding, will be over. Every other ruler, when they win an election, gets a honeymoon period, but this hasn’t been given to our first chavista president, Nicolás Maduro, because of the economic war.” (Note to Edmee: Maduro didn’t get a honeymoon because he couldn’t afford it. The country is bankrupt, toots, get it in your thick head)

“People have said in the media that I am an orthodox chavista, and I can only say that I was born that way, if I were to change I would have to be born again. There are people that don’t care about regulations and controls, they don’t want there to be a rational use of foreign currency, they are not interested in that, that is why we must insist on prior and definitive controls.” (Note to Edmee: Is there an ornithological chavista reincarnation in your future?).

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  1. Recently, there was an internet-driven depiction of a door with an ordinary doorknob in a featureless wall; above the door was the legend, “PARALLEL UNIVERSE”. One can but speculate whether any ladies have voluntarily crossed that threshold into the surreality beyond of late.

  2. As much as I like some of the recent financial signals coming out of Venezuela, I still think its a similar scenario to bailing water and trying to patch a hole on the Titanic. Its a bit too late to save the ship, and instead it would be better to come up with a viable long term survival strategy.

    The (attempted) needed reforms are starting to take place, but the pace is far, far too slow, and not nearly radical enough. Moreover, they are so small compared to the bigger fish out there (financial lifelines to Cuba, extremely discounted oil to pretty much anyone that seems anti-US, adjusting regressive subsidies such as gasoline, and addressing the currency gap) that could have a much bigger impact on solving the country’s fiscal issues.

    I do realize that some of these are not ideologically fashionable or politically palatable, but its better to fix it now than latter. Amputating a gangrenous limb is horrific enough, but its better to do than let the disease run its course.

    • “I do realize that some of these are not ideologically fashionable or politically palatable, but its better to fix it now than latter.”

      Anything even remotely unpopular is avoided until there is no choice.


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