For Tuesday, February 16th, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
It’s been a month since the Economic Emergency was decreed, said Nicolás; and he spoke about activating 14 production engines – before his most recent appearance, there were 13 – which will supposedly “put us on the path for a new national economy”. There was a portrait of Bolívar on the background. A sort of disdain in El Libertador’s eyes seemed to hover over the president’s speech. Nicolás announced that: “due to eminently personal reasons, family business he’s been taking care of, comrade Luis Sala will be fulfilling other duties (…) I’ve decided to name Miguel Pérez Abad the new vice-president of Productive Economy.”
Journalist Blanca Vera Azaf said on Twitter that Salas resigned. He put his bets on stronger price restrictions, supported the economic emergency and proposed default. He lasted five weeks in the post, things must be pretty bad for a vice-president to quit. We’ve had two vice-presidents for the Productive Economy in less than two months, and no measures were taken or decisions made. On my count, that was Nicolás’s ninth speech announcing that he’s going to announce something. He offered a complete summary of the economic schedule for tomorrow, and took the opportunity to ask: “What are you doing for the country? How many potatoes have you sown?”. We apologize, Mr. Kennedy.
Marea Socialista said today that the PSUV’s top ranks are discussing Nicolás’ resignation, who insists on political agendas while the crisis kills everything else. This Government is messing up on purpose, the hunt for the coup now seems deliberate.
Jesús Torrealba, MUD’s secretary-general, announced they’re in campaign to create a suitable strategy for political change: “There won’t be a coup or a violent resolution (…) but a peaceful political transition,” he said.
This decision involves three actions: creating national and regional comandos de campaña; designating offices for the MUD to coordinate December’s gubernatorial elections; and restarting the door-to-door canvassing campaign. Torrealba thinks that this year’s challenge will be to face political, economic and institutional crisis, since provocations are escalating quickly. He mentioned the four instruments provided by the Constitution to produce a political solution to the country’s situation, but he highlighted the need to carry out key institutional changes, like renewing the Supreme Court, before choosing a course of action. The strategy is clear: urgent change; tactics will be discussed later, because the Government must leave power in peace.
The opposition’s challenges are indeed complex. They need to change the Government, remain united and secure governability during the transition.
The home of Mayor of El Hatillo municipality, David Smolansky, was attacked last night; the robbery seems casual compared to the anti-semitic messages left on the walls. It was important for the Mayors’ Association to condemn the events today.
SIDOR workers attempted to take the company’s presidency office in protest for poorly adjusted salaries. Five people were wounded after a National Guardsman allegedly used his firearm.
Journalist Oliver Blanco, the Assembly’s chief of Communications and Institutional Relations, reported the attack he suffered while walking through Plaza Bolívar. He was hit him and people threw bottles at him. The assailants had radios and guns.
The minister for Women delivered a written statement to the president of the Supreme Tribunal, supporting her against Henry Ramos Allup’s statements, where he called her “un cero a la izquierda.” According to the minister, the statements were a reaction to the decree of economic emergency’s responsible approval.
Interior and Justice minister, Gustavo González López, reported that 49 people were arrested during operation “Ataque al Gorgojo” (anti-black-market plan) performed on Abastos Bicentenario. They all were medium and low ranking. It’s no coincidence.
Mayor Antonio Ledezma’s court hearing – postponed ten times already – finally took place this Monday and the Prosecutor’s Office ratified the charges: criminal association and conspiracy. He faces 16 years in jail if found guilty.
What about the National Assembly?
Deputies Alfonso Marquina and José Guerra elaborated today on the implications of the Tax Unit’s increase to Bs. 177. SENIAT chief unilateral decision violates the Framework Tax Code, since the 18% increase will diminish worker’s cestaticket income, but also, anyone with a monthly salary of more than Bs. 15,000 (many more people than at present) will have to pay Income Tax.
The Assembly’s Committe on Energy said that the newly created Military Corporation for Mining, Oil and Gas should have been debated in Parliament. Deputy Carlos Berrizbeitia said the company increases State bureaucracy and called the decision irresponsible. He said that the Assembly will investigate this issue in depth.
Tomorrow’s schedule includes the first debate about the Law on Amnesty.