To Be Part of the Solution

9

Translated by Javier Liendo

Polar remains a profitable company even though it has become the government’s permanent subject of political harassment. Its president, Lorenzo Mendoza, gave a press conference this Tuesday, in which he providea context to their production capabilities and also offered proposals to relaunch domestic production.

Mendoza gave some dramatic examples, like the halt in operations of Polar’s plant in Marigüitar, which puts 10,000 jobs at risk, or having less than a day’s worth of raw materials in inventory to make sugar. Polar accounts for 30,000 direct jobs and 180,000 indirect ones. Its tax contribution has topped $23,3 billion over the last 13 years.

In the face of this severe economic crisis, Mendoza said that no country in the world has been able to eradicate poverty without cooperating with the private sector. He further explained that the country would have to pay 18 more times to import the products produced by Polar. His proposals:

  • Reopening the access to raw materials and supplies.
  • Requesting international financing, handled as efficiently and transparently as possible.
  • Creating an emergency fund for the acquisition of raw materials for domestic production.
  • Adjusting controlled prices.
  • Aiding vulnerable groups and guaranteeing food security.
  • Promoting agricultural development.

Addressing Nicolás directly, Mendoza said: “The country can no longer afford political discussions; we need to talk about the economy with transparency,” also offering his talents and those of his organization to work together for a solution.

Nicolás’ screenwriters must be processing the first five minutes of the press conference. Fortunately, they had a show planned for today, Nicolás has no ability to answer a message like this one. Not without the intervention of tens of advisers and many adjectives.

The show

A theatrical piece of dubious manufacture, with children and teenagers trying to simulate national heroes but speaking in neolengua. Nicolás didn’t understand half of the play, sitting in a huge wooden chair with some teenagers surrounding him, bored with their utility roles and anxious to keep checking their phones. Only Héctor Rodríguez played his part well, saying that never had there been a “better prepared and educated generation.” But Nicolás stopped Rodríguez’s speech because it was outshining his in both tone and content.

This Tuesday they commemorated el finado’s coming into power, the same event, according to their script, legitimized the failed coup on February 4, 1992. 17 years are only the beginning of the construction of the Venezuela we dreamt of, Nicolás said. This long introduction is a lot like a nightmare that adds, to what he calls “the golden generation,” thousands of teenage pregnancies and hundreds of criminals under 18, murdered within the same system of violence that recruits them as children.

“Y va caer y va caer, esta Asamblea va a caer,” the youths sang before Nicolás demanded more rebelliousness from them, promising a extreme poverty rating of 0% by 2018 and for next week, the activation of a social and economic program called Productive Youth, and also a plan against Zika. He ordered Aristóbulo Istúriz to go to the Assembly’s hearings once Carnival was done.

Memoria y Cuenta

The Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz, started her presentation before the National Assembly guaranteeing that the Public Prosecutions Service (fiscalía) has always strictly observed human rights, ethics and the law. That was enough to make you want to turn off the TV, but well. She started the report on drugs crimes, where she mentioned the need to investigate the police forces for their involvement.

According to her summary, 17,778 people were murdered in 2015, which establishes a rate of 58,1 victims for every 100,000 inhabitants. This number differs from that of the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, which reported 27,875 victims; but also, it presumes a decrease relative to 2014, when the rate had been 62. How can we believe that the murder rate decreased in 2015? On the side, Ortega said that 82% of murders are committed with guns. The Attorney General suggested the creation of a new Criminal Code and other resources to socially prevent crime.

No Energy

Guri’s water level stands at 256,21 meters above sea level, which gives us barely 60 days to reach the area of collapse if we face rainfall 20% below historic averages. The use of the dam to replace thermoelectric deficiencies puts the operation of the biggest source of hydro power of the country at risk, according to engineer José Aguilar, international adviser on electricity. Let’s be clear, the problems with water levels started in May, 2014, and yet, Guri has been pushed to generate power way above recommended criteria since then. Muy bonito.

From the empire

PDVSA imported a shipment of 550,000 barrels of oil from the United States to one of its terminals in the Caribbean (Bullenbay in Curazao) according to Reuters. This operation represents the first oil purchase in Latin America since the ban on exports was lifted in 2015. Tracing the ships’ movements reveals that the cargo was loaded in the US coast in the Gulf of Mexico and unloaded on January 28. The supplier was Citgo Petroleum – PDVSA’s refinement unit in the United States -, although it’s unclear who was the original seller. Citgo didn’t comment. We assume that Del Pino won’t either, busy as he is with his successful Grand Tour. 😉

 

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Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.

9 COMMENTS

  1. “…like the halt in operations of Polar’s plant in Marigüitar, which puts 10,000 jobs at risk, or having less than a day’s worth of raw materials in inventory to make sugar..”

    umm .. I think it’s a thousand jobs at Mariguitar, not 10,000. And as far as I know, Polar does not produce sugar.

  2. If Mendoza came out of his CEO office to bare the political storm its because this will get very bad in the near future. I must say that his intervention is enlightening on how a CEO makes a “High Level Analysis” of a situation with a “High Level Solution” in a country idiotisized by politics.

  3. Any idea of why Mendoza decided to hold a press conference now? Yes, we’re going through a difficult crisis, and it’s going to get worse, and that alone might be enough to warrant the press conference any given day… but, maybe there’s more? Maybe he got wind that the government decided or is seriously considering expropriating one Polar’s companies? The government knows very well that food scarcity can soon reach humanitarian crisis levels. Desperate as they are, they might be considering going after Alimentos Polar?

    (if a similar comment shows up before or later, it’s because the comments monster ate my previous comment and never showed up)

  4. “According to her summary, 17,778 people were murdered in 2015, which establishes a rate of 58,1 victims for every 100,000 inhabitants. ”

    Well at least now there are some official statistics, even if understated, of how much worse the murder rate is then when Chavez took power.

    • My guess is that these figures underestimate the number of violent deaths. For example, people shot by the police are not counted as “murders”. I don’t know how many people die (supposedly) fighting the police, but judging by the news is a daily (and numerous) occurrence.

      • Yup. Violent deaths and intentional homicides sound a like, but they count different things. There’s an apples-and-oranges problem here.

  5. Our “illustrious” Fiscal General also claimed that Victor Hugo, the author of Les Miserables, was from Nicaragua.

    Go Figure…

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