In the Dark

Your daily briefing for Thursday, February 11th, 2016.

For Thursday, February 11th, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo

The rushed decision by the Ministry of Electrical Energy which forces shopping malls to either generate their own power for four hours a day or restrict their operations, affects thousands of services and jobs and prompted a number of statements about the subject. The minister of Electrical Energy, Luis Motta Domínguez, found it in him to say that there’s no electrical curfew in Venezuela and that the State is working with great normality, and all complaints about the measure are therefore part of a manipulation campaign because they’re only demanding energy generation, not protesting the restrictions in operating hours. The Government never created the necessary incentives to invest in electrical infrastructure, nor did they grant dollars to allow such investments. In saying that they only want to minimize the effects of El Niño – a phenomenon for which they failed to prepare -, they display not just cynicism, but stupidity.

A.N. member Miguel Pizarro said that the Assembly’s Committee on Social Development will team up with the Commission on Administration to tackle the subject of power rationing, and they expect to come out of a meeting with the Chamber of Shopping Centers and Malls with the information they need to make decisions. Solveig Hoogesteijn, manager of El Trasnocho Cultural, said that the operations cut from 1:00 to 3:00 pm harms the fine dining sector and the cut from 7:00 to 9:00 pm forces movie theaters to close at peak times, while also affecting most theatrical shows.

According to councilman José Bucete, this decision will only increase municipal economic problems by reducing tax revenue, as is the case of Valencia, where 80% of the Mayor’s Office budget comes from tax collection. Luis Vicente León, who heads Datanálisis, reminded us that shopping malls have had successful rationing strategies with reasonable proposals. Finally, Juan Pablo Olalquiaga, president of the National Confederation of Industries (Conindustria), said that non-scheduled power cuts cause losses to the food sector and indicated that electrical generators are kept for emergencies rather than regular consumption.

¿Y Nicolás?

On Facebook. The man hasn’t announced any economic measures, but he’s more than happy to to talk about his brand-new fan page, saying that the account already has 150,000 followers and promising to post on it daily. He also said that he met with Aristóbulo Istúriz to evaluate the work schedule for the National Council of Productive Economy.

In fact, all the official outlets highlighted the Council meeting that Aristóbulo held in Miraflores; Participants included Eulogio del Pino -back from his fruitless tour-, Wilmar Castro Soteldo and Miguel Pérez Abad, as well as businessmen, PSUV deputies and other ministers. This tall tale about moving forward with o a productive model to start up “the 13 engines” when you don’t electricity is about as useful as Nicolás’ fan page.

The nephews

Kafahni Nkrumah, the attorney representing Efraín Antonio Campo Flores, supposedly requested the judge at their New York Court to postpone his client’s hearing, scheduled for next February 29. The request was supported by Jonathan Marvinny and Vincent Sutherland, attorneys representing Flores’ cousin, Francisco Flores de Freitas. The reasons for postponing the hearing are unknown but it’s believed that either the defense needs more time to study the evidence, or the nephews are negotiating a plea deal to cut their sentences in exchange for information on others. Sooner or later, the Floreses will have to answer for the accusation of conspiring to transport cocaine into the United States.

2015 was rainbows and unicorns next to 2016

Bank of America published a report forecasting that the official exchange rate might get close to Bs. 50 per dollar and even estimating that sectors within the Government might impose a rate closer to SIMADI (Bs. 200). Obviously, the latter possibility could cause the black-market dollar rate to drop. The Executive has claimed that they will honor their debts and it would seem that the Ministry of Foreign Commerce is working to refinance payments. There could be bigger changes for this institution than expected by the market, but they won’t be enough to stabilize macroeconomic variables, because they’ll need a huge influx of foreign financing to work, and such an influx remains unlikely. The report further states that, unless price policies are corrected, shortage levels could grow so severe, they would make us feel that 2015 was “a year of bounty.”

Samper is coming to town

The Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) is slated to come to deliver the final report on December 6 elections. A source within the organization reported to EFE agency that the Special Representative of the Electoral Mission, former Dominican president Leonel Fernández, and Chief Coordinator José Luis Exeni will also participate in the event. On December 11, 2015, UNASUR issued a statement in which they praised “the climate of peace, respect, participation and tolerance” during the election, including congratulations for the Mission’s work, which was present in 15 out of 22 parishes in the Capital District and in 25 municipalities in nine states of the country; they visited 100 voting centers and 300 voting tables. Whether the Electoral Chamber of the Supreme Court will comment on the situation of the challenged Amazonas deputies remains to be seen.

The conflict at Tocorón prison, the mess at Guanta and Sabana Grande, would require three more pages. In the face of such unrest and violence, chavismo had the gall to take to social networks -or, rather, let loose their bots- with the hashtag “la derecha es violencia.” They have no boundaries.

Naky Soto

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.