For Friday, February 19th, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo
Carabobo, Zulia, Mérida, Táchira, Trujillo, Apure, Guárico, Portuguesa and Lara. This Thursday, eight states reported severe power outages, even though Guri hasn’t collapsed yet, even though it supposedly still has some wiggle room. A country in the dark produces nothing.
At the same time, Nicolás called another cadena to show the “pharmaceutical engine” is ramping up. Repeating yesterday’s speech almost word for word, even quoting himself -as if he was his own best reference-, he spoke about malice and how it drives people crazy, pushing them to vile actions. Of that, we’re all witnesses.
Social networks in Venezuela have slowly morphed into classified ad sections for people urgently seeking medicine. Each day, every day, dozens of people ask others to share their requests in hopes that a third party might supply them with what they can’t find in the pharmacies. Mocking their pain, Nicolás recycles the speech of a president who’s just taken office, who holds no responsibility for this humanitarian crisis.
Several representatives of pharmaceutical companies were with him in Miraflores, where they signed an agreement to produce medicines with strict access to foreign currency. Nicolás said that, starting now, every dollar would be for producing medicines and food. The minister of Health herself, Luisana Melo, proved that she could be worse than the president by launching an elementary school level explanation, praising the inspection of the country’s pharmaceutical companies as a success.
And so the ministry of Health will devise a plan to make use of the dollars; the Chief of Staff of Health will approve the grant; CENCOEX will proceed with the approval and all the institutions will oversee the execution, because every dollar aproved must be supported by final products or else, there won’t be any more authorizations.
The question is: was it any different before? I want to believe I heard it wrong, but the minister says that this plan will cover 55% of what’s needed. In any case, what they said is what they presumably will do, but Nicolás said nothing about the millions of dollars that the Government owes the pharmaceutical sector, the most critical variable of this drama we’re experiencing.
As if it would’ve been an alien decision, Nicolás said that: “the oil rent made everybody comfortable and it was easier to import than to invest in the country”; he coupled this idea with his call to keep pushing, admitting that this problem won’t be solved soon, that “Venezuela’s new reality is like childbirth”. He demanded the creation of a better emergency system than the one created by the previous minister of Health, which was perfect only on paper.
Unapologetic and detached from the tragedy of so many, he went on with his script of promises, of idiots dressed with new medical coats, while they repeated political slogans and guaranteed that their plants were working at maximum capacity. I couldn’t bear it, I turned off the TV, thinking about the death of so many Venezuelans amid a health crisis produced by Government inaction. It’s a crime and they’ll have to answer for it.
Late, as usual
The Central Bank published a report detailing the National Price Index, the Gross Domestic Product and the Balance of Payments, putting the cumulative inflation rate for 2015 at 180%. No one buys it. GDP contraction was pegged at 5.7%, adding the drop in oil prices to the damage the country’s productive capacity has suffered.
The communications sector was the only one to report growth during 2015, compared to the construction sector’s dramatic decline (-28.8%, putting the lie to the numbers reported by the Government for the Great Housing Mission), financial institutions (-13.0%) and commerce (-11.8%), among others.
The food sector’s price index rose 315%, tripling the rate for 2014 (102.2%).
The value of sincerity
Naomi Tutu, Lech Walesa and Oscar Arias made beautiful contributions during the National Assembly’s special meeting. It’s worth looking up their speeches and listening to them carefully and critically, because the thought exercise on the importance of Human Rights, of justice, of acknowledging dissent and plurality as democratic values, and of a government’s impossibility to call itself democratic while keeping political prisoners, deserves more than a brief paragraph.
None of their words penetrated the minds of the PSUV caucus, who stubbornly keep on their path of heaping contempt on debate and resorting to violence. Ricardo Sanguino – who doesn’t understand why we talk about a crisis in the country – and Elías Jaua, who demanded the creation of a special committee to investigate the deputies’ lifestyles, starting with the MUD caucus, delivered two of the worst contributions.
“We’re not corrupt, we’re not thieves, we’re revolutionaries!” Jaua yelled after using mayor Carlos Ocariz as an example of a public authority with a questionable lifestyle.
We’re talking about the same Elías Jaua who used PDVSA’s planes for family trips, whose wife was treated in a Syrian-Lebanese hospital in Sao Paulo, for which he demanded consideration; the guy with the armed babysitter. He assaults Ocariz and his son with leukemia. It’s a calculated gambit, to incite violence. Jaua has been unable to win a position by popular vote – he sits in the Assembly via party-list vote – he broke his word in Corpoelec, he heads a parallel governor’s office in Miranda, among the many posts he’s had over 17 years of chavista government.
Sincerity would save us a lot of misunderstandings. If each authority abided by the Law, if each authority issued a sworn declaration of assets, there wouldn’t be a need for special committees to investigate inconsistencies; those would surely spring up everywhere with chavista deputies.
Jaua should know that the word “not” doesn’t exist in communication, that his statement sounded like this: We’re thieves, we’re corrupt, we’re revolutionaries!Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.