Please, Take my House

Your daily briefing for Friday, April 14, 2016.

For Friday, April 14, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

104 years ago the Titanic ran into an iceberg. Just three years ago, Nicolás did the same against the Presidency, and he celebrates it by silencing calls for help, shattering the telegraph system, smashing emergency boats and drilling holes in the life jackets. Pero eso sí, adding musicians to the band. There’s no bread, we’ll have to settle for circus.

Try to explain to a foreigner how the PSUV managed to organize a march for beneficiaries of the Great Housing Mission to shout that they didn’t want to own their homes, that risking losing your home if you change political opinions is a-ok with them. Then add this to the absurdity: the time zone that el finado established in December of 2007, setting our clocks back 30 minutes to save energy, will revert back starting May 1st, and for the same reason.

It’s obvious that this new energy saving plan will fail, so we’ll keep getting more and more days off. This Thursday, public employees left their offices until next Wednesday: nobody studies or works on an the Monday before a holiday that falls on a Tuesday.

Nicolás told the National Assembly to start preparing their suitcases because “their time will come,” a way of saying that Hermann Escarrá’s proposal to reduce the legislative period for the current deputies is already as good as law, and he took the chance to promise Jorge Arreaza a seat in the AN. He also acknowledged the “great government in terms of infrastructure” achieved by Marcos Pérez Jiménez.

Without explaining how, he announced to bring the Barrio Adentro outpatient clinic network back up 100% capacity and approved extending credits issued by the National Bank of Housing and Habitat for the acquisition, extension, self-construction and improvement of housing units. For instance, credits to buy homes rose from Bs. 500 thousand to Bs. 3 million and for self-construction, from Bs. 400 thousand to one million. A hit!

Three working days

After imposing a new requirement for activating the recall referendum, three members of the National Electoral Council: Sandra Oblitas, Socorro Hernández and Tania D’Amelio decided (with official Luis Rondón’s vote against) to verify all the elements of the request delivered by the MUD on Tuesday, asking for three working days to get the job done. The times when the CNE checked ten million signatures against Barack Obama’s executive order in a day are a distant memory. Since CNE officials only convene on Thursdays: with some luck the MUD will get an answer to their request for official petition forms on April 28.

Corrupt officials

The Comptroller General of the Republic, Manuel Galindo, said in an interview that high ranking officials in Venezuela are being investigated: “At present, there are active ministers and former ministers who are being investigated for corruption cases, but such an investigation doesn’t mean they’re guilty.” adding that they’re investigating projects created by the State in the food sector and in public procurement.

Merely opening an investigation for corruption should mean the official’s suspension from their post, considering this government’s track record. The Comptroller speaks as if he was the defense lawyer for the ministers, but you know, everybody’s innocent until proven guilty.

Ni las asas ni las canasta

Oscar Meza, director of the Center of Documentation and Social Analysis of the Venezuelan Teachers’ Federation (Cendas-FVM), said this Thursday that for the first time in 20 years, the minimum wage now covers just 7.9% of the food basket, which reached Bs. 121,975 in February. In percentage terms the basket’s price has risen 424.2% over the last year. Add this to the Bolívar’s continued devaluation as the DICOM dollar rate rises, closing today at Bs. 328.03. Great.

And PDVSA producing less

The drop in PDVSA’s production is another variable that exacerbates the picture. According to OPEC’s monthly report – based on official figures provided by the national government-, the country produced 2.72 million daily oil barrels in the first trimester of 2015, but that amount fell to 2.53 million b/d in the same period this year, a 7.14% drop.

Other sources indicate that PDVSA’s production is even lower, putting it at 2.32 million daily barrels for March. There are only a few days to go before the meeting at Doha where they’ll discuss cutting oil production, and Reuters informs that Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s Oil minister, already told his country’s press to “forget about that matter.”

Meanwhile, At the National Assembly

Henry Ramos Allup thinks that, 100 days since being sworn into office, the deputies’ performance can be considered positive. Aside from the institutional and physical harassment, and the poor participation from chavista deputies, they’ve worked tirelessly.

Today’s plenary was dedicated to the food crisis, generated by acute food shortage levels, located at 83% and a complete collapse in domestic food production, according to data collected from the Food Ministry’s Annual Report for 2015, which has had ten ministers already in 13 years of existence, most of them removed due to administrative issues.

Chavistas meekly justified their food policy with arguments that included “the MUD’s deputies don’t like them”; “Polar is a packaging company”; “el finado promoted production in the country” and the cherry on top: “the 14 engines have become a spearhead for Venezuelan economy!”

The MUD’s deputies demanded the government find a solution to shortages, but the chavistas deputies left to march against property rights. The majority approved -against the PSUV vote- that Carlos Osorio and Rodolfo Marcos Torres will be questioned at the Assembly next Tuesday, April 26, and also demanded the government to guarantee supply systems.

Three years of struggle and victory was the hashtag promoted by the bots paid with our taxes. Three years of a villain without history. It’s fair. You’ll meet your iceberg soon.

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.