Boy makes Maduro Grumpy

Your daily briefing for Wednesday, March 9, 2016.

For Thursday, March 10, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

“We know that building a revolution with a president like Nicolás Maduro is complex, but not impossible.”

-A Venezuelan high school student

A risky country

Cameramen made the mistake of focusing Nicolás after those words. Someone covered their face in the background, either sneezing or smiling. It doesn’t matter. The boy imitated el finado’s gestures, tones of voice and pauses; even the message of faith invested in people’s feelings instead of the President’s authority. I don’t blame him, in fact it seems that Nicolás’ stylist chose a different color for his copete, a kind of bluish black which made his makeup look even more plastic, and his face of total bewilderment when he heard the boy’s phrase, like when he read that famous “Chúpalo” tweet.

I got the news today that March 9 was declared a national holiday as the Day Against Imperialism. They chose the National Pantheon for the occasion, with Bolívar’s sword as part of the scenery and at the same exact time at which María Corina Machado spoke before the National Assembly; she said that Nicolás’ resignation is the easiest way for regime change, that chavismo itself is calling for his resignation and that’s why he’ll do it.

Maximilian, come home!

On social media, the country was quite different; hopping between an audio in which supposedly, Jordán Rodríguez, president of VTV, complains about an imposed shoot at early morning and about the Army’s mistreatment; and a video of Juan Barreto denouncing an attack before Brazilian authorities, just because someone asked him if he travelled with CADIVI dollars.

Nicolás spoke about “shooting” decisions, about triumphant revolutions of the twentieth century; he praised armed movements, Fidel, Cuba, Raúl. He mused about the days when Venezuela could finance the creation of Alba, Petrocaribe and Unasur, all in past tense, all thanks to el finado. The only relevant thing about the speech: ordering the return of Maximilian Arveláez, ambassador of Venezuela in the United States. I would bet Arveláez made a pout. Aside from that, he announced the special campaign to condemn Obama’s decree worldwide, even as Raúl Castro himself is set to start negotiations during Obama’s historic visit to Cuba, scheduled for March 20.

Change of name

According to Miguel Pérez Abad, this is the best moment for expansion of our internal market, supported by “today’s economic strength.” The long-awaited modification to foreign exchange policy can be summarized as a change of names and one less exchange rate. Foreign exchange restrictions remain in place, they will keep performing acupuncture the back of the forex market with the best needles.

The Foreign Exchange Agreement N° 35, which will come into force this Thursday, March 10, establishes a Protected Exchange Rate (Dipro) which starts at Bs. 10 and will progressively increase. The Floating Exchange Rate (Dicom), will start at Bs. 200 and vary from there “according to the country’s economic behavior.”

The three questions allowed to the press were useless. There were too many missing details about what most people wanted to know: traveller, electronic and cash cupos; the amounts to be assigned to each item and whether or not State-owned banks will remain the sole exchange operators. We’re left with three exchange rates: two official ones and the black market, the true ruler of everyday transactions.

Signatures, support and risks

The mayor of Sucre municipality, Carlos Ocariz, said that this weekend, they’ll start collecting the signatures of 1% of voters that they need to request the recall referendum to the National Electoral Council. Once these signatures are delivered, the CNE must organize the collection of the signatures of 20% of voters demanded by this method, and establish collection days. Ocariz also said that they’re already planning and getting ready for this process because, in his view, a recall referendum is the best tool for regime change, because people can participate. The mayor pointed out that this Saturday, March 12, there will be a march in support of the plan for government change proposed by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD).

Meanwhile, the members of the Assembly’s Committee on Foreign Policy said that they would meet on March 15 in Washington with Luis Almagro, secretary general of the OAS. The will take the opportunity to update him on Venezuela’s present political and social context, deliver their formal request for the application of the Inter American Democratic Charter, and explaining the institutional importance that supporting our cause holds for both the OAS and the region. It makes sense that the announcement comes today, when a map of political risks for 2016 was published, which indicates that Venezuela represents the same risk for investors as Syria, Iraq, North Korea or Afghanistan.

The reasons? Crime rates, political instability and uncertainty, apart from all the losses that international companies have suffered in the country due to devaluations. Another of Nicolás’ achievements: Venezuela is the only country in Latin America which is marked for high political risk; Somalia and South Sudan are less risky.

Nicolás tries to turn Obama’s decree into the insult that will reunite chavismo again, despite the general collapse the country’s experiencing. Pérez Abad’s announcements are evidence that this Government cares only for politics, they only want to remain in power, while people suffer the consequences of their irresponsible, corrupt and ineffective performance. A detail: Nicolás’ tone when he claimed that, if it were for the opposition, they would launch a coup d’etat this very day, didn’t sound like an accusation, but rather like a plea. He reminded me of the little girl from that Plumrose commercial.

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.