For Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
“Never before has the country put so much economic power in people’s hands.”
To make sense of that quote and show how clearly this Government sees economic priorities, Francisco Arias Cárdenas gave Nicolás the original sword that Simón Bolívar entrusted to Rafael Urdaneta, so it can be replicated and given to every new officer of the Army, while also turning it into an honor for loyal officers.
Nicolás went to Zulia to make some more bureaucracy by creating the Socialist Corporate System and the National Production Company, which will oversee every entity created by the government, including expropriated or nationalized companies. In the midst of this crisis, he proposed that every company should create a plan to guarantee its own supplies -without explaining how are they going to access foreign currency to achieve that-; that they should lower their costs and increase production to import less. Nicolás defined this absurdity as the “most powerful instrument that the country has to win the economic war.”
Parliament, gorgojos and Evo’s defeat.
He couldn’t help mentioning the National Assembly, so he said he would face down the lies told by opposition deputies with truth. If chavismo doesn’t do this, the risk is that they will lose the companies to privatization; because the opposition doesn’t have a plan, “only ambitions.”
About the anti-corruption plan, Nicolás said that gorgojos – wievils – go beyond the food itself, that they’ve invaded distribution processes as well, so they have to take care of every product to avoid “mafias from reselling to the people.” He criticizes a system that he controls as a phenomenon created by others; without assuming responsibilities, with no apologies.
Finally, he was angered by the fact that, with 73% of votes counted, Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Court announced that the “No” side in the referendum won by 56.5% vs. 43.2%. He’s frustrated that Evo won’t be able to reform the Constitution to rule for a 4th consecutive term. Can you guess the explanation? The U.S. carried out a dirty tricks campaign to discredit Evo, whom he considers the world’s most honest man. Moving.
11 minimum wages
The Food Basket’s price for January was Bs. 106,753, an increment of 482% compared to the price for January 2015. The Venezuelan Teachers Federation’s Center of Documentation and Social Analysis says that 11.1 minimum wages are needed in order to buy the food basket, which is calculated for a family of five; with shortages affecting 24 out of 58 of its products; and a price increase in every item and a 1,405.25% gap between restricted and market prices.
The Central Bank is getting two new banknotes ready: Bs. 500 and Bs. 1,000. It’s ironic for the Government to announce this as a measure “that will make cash transactions more convenient.” This will also include the suppression of the lowest denomination bills (Bs. 2 and Bs. 5). Deputy Alfonso Marquina said that these new bills will become useless due to inflation rates, so they should start designing Bs. 5,000 and Bs. 10,000 bills. No representatives of the Central Bank went to the Finance Committee’s first meeting to discuss the reform on the Law of the Central Bank. They will be invited again for February 23 and 24 meetings. Marquina’s statement is pertinent according to the IMF’s predictions: a GDP contraction of 18% and an inflation rate of 720%.
De donde sea
Eulogio Del Pino reported on Monday that Rosneft (the Russian state-owned oil company) increased their shareholding in Petromonagas to 40% and paid PDVSA $500 million for the privilege. The agreement was signed last Friday, the very day when Nicolás maduro swore on the Orinoco Belt that oil was to be Venezuela’s or nobody else’s. Supposedly, Russian investment would double Petromonagas’ output capacity, which is 140,000 barrels per day at the moment.
PDVSA and Rosneft signed another agreement which allows the Russians to extract natural gas offshore, with 50% shareholding in the Mariscal Sucre project. Besides Camimpeg -which nobody talks about-, the diversification of shareholders in the petrochemical and hydrocarbon sector keeps being announced, in untimely and superficially terms.
Del Pino also announced that point of sale terminals will be installed at gas stations, starting with those at the country’s borders, where a special system will be applied to charge in dollars at international rates, because Venezuela will export high octane gas not consumed by its inhabitants. He said that, right now, Venezuelans consume about 41 million litres per day, which assumes a national consumption per vehicle of 300 litres per month: “the highest in the world,” said the minister.
A leak of nitrogen gas that cools El Rosal’s electrical substation caused a malfunction that led to a blackout in most of Chacao municipality and shut down several Metro stations, creating severe traffic issues and forcing shools, healthcare centers and businesses to close.
At this time (9:00 p.m.), neighbors of La Urbina keep reporting conflicts between the National Guard and people from nearby barrios, who blocked the Francisco Fajardo highway to protest over water supply problems. Likewise, several places in the country report looting attempts, but you know, the priority is to replicate Urdaneta’s sword as a symbol of loyalty.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.