El Becerro

For Sunday, May 1st, 2016.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gestures as he speaks during a press conference at Venezuela's Socialist Party (PSUV) headquarters in Caracas, on October 21, 2013. AFP PHOTO/Leo RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

“I need time”, said Nicolás. 17 years in power, three of them in the Presidency haven’t been enough. He referred to the PSUV as “warriors of the light” and to the opposition as the Apocalypse, while he smiled, excited about the reopening of Mérida’s teleférico, just as the country faces a fierce power rationing plan. A genius, eh?

Since the media’s “insides burn when they see the country move forward,” they’ve decided to demoralize the people. We’re not demoralized by scarcity, inflation, crime, corruption or impunity, but by the media. That’s why he called for a march on Workers’ Day, in a country he shut down via decree, where public workers enjoy five-days weekends. Odd, isn’t it?

He was going to give some houses this Saturday, but the rain didn’t let him. He was eager to tell the only relevant piece of news in the event: the minimum wage increases by 30%. This puts it at Bs. 15,051, with the food bonus (cestatickets) now calculated based on 3.5 tax units, putting it at Bs. 18,585. Daily wages increase to Bs. 501; an empanada and a café grande -with luck; because the basic food basket’s price for March was Bs. 142,853. The minimum integral wage is significantly superior to that of a teacher with a master’s degree and graduate studies. 

In the course of last year, minimum wage raises added up to 130%. They’ve reached 105% already in 2016. It’s called inflation and loss of purchasing power.  Another raise with diminished production capacity -due to lack of raw materials, electricity, water, etc-, keeping up with currency exchange and product price restrictions, without a solution to inflation, only means mounting costs for the little that remains, forcing many companies to dismiss their employees or to close if they can’t pay the new adjustments. Nicolás puts his chips on unemployment.

Branch autonomy

Simultaneously to wage announcements, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice issued a decision that establishes the constitutional validity of the Law on Bonuses for Food and Medication for Pensioners and Retirees, approved by the National Assembly. Yes, you read correctly: it’s the first law declared constitutional by the PSUV-controlled TSJ. Where’s the catch? The AN is required to guarantee the economic viability of the law, even though they shouldn’t be responsible for that. The money must come from the National Government. If you believe this decision means the TSJ’s finally coming clean, you’ve not been paying attention. This doesn’t contribute to prove the Judicial Branch’s autonomy, nor the Constitutional Chamber’s good intentions ni un carrizo. The artificial synchronicity in both the announcements and the decision wasn’t free. Synchronicity has a price.

“Mariposa está que no sabe qué hacer”

“Porque ella sabe, la suerte de él.” The recall is not an obligation, but an option, repeated Nicolás, saying that nobody’s going to impose on him a national and international blackmail campaign: “the more they blackmail me, the more becerro I’ll be.” I just thought of how many extortions he must’ve been exposed to in order to be anointed as the becerro he is. That’s why he thinks that the referendum is an attack and thus he has the right to defend himself and chose Hermann Escarrá and Jorge Rodríguez as his Avengers, granting them absolute powers.

Maybe they’ll check the signatures one by one, but the message is wrong. Nicolás, in truth, is declaring that he doesn’t trust the technical capacity -and work ethics- of the National Electoral Council. he’s telling the electoral authorities that he prefers the work of a mayor and a traitor. It might be a moral punishment for delivering the form, for giving in to pressure. But the negative balance is his, for a change.

Nevertheless, Nicolás doesn’t fear any test or sacrifice because he’s already lived and his fate is written. I endorse his interpretation. It’s written with the calligraphy of two million Venezuelans who signed to request the activation of the recall referendum. But he says that the people won’t abandon him, that the first ones to vote in his favor would be us women, and in turn we’d take our husbands and children. So adorably misogynistic, el muy becerro.

And the psychopath

He’s been in so many simultaneous posts that it doesn’t take an extraordinary effort to understand what Libertador’s mayor isn’t. That’s why Caracas is in the state it’s in. After Nicolás suggested drinking moringa con manzanilla, he gave way to his guardian, who made a mistake the moment he opened his mouth by talking about “the Revolution’s” Constitution instead of the Republic’s. That wasn’t free either.

Rodríguez clarified that this is merely an administrative requirement, not the recall referendum. That votes are secret but signatures aren’t. That the PSUV has the right to go to the CNE and see who signed, why we signed, and under which conditions. For that, they’ll be accompanied by experts in graphology, fingerprinting, biometrics and the Law. He didn’t say who’s going to pay for them, but it’s probably going to be the State because “we must respect what the people of Venezuela chose” when they elected Nicolás into office. Unfortunately such a distinction doesn’t apply to the deputies elected on December 6.

Probable scenarios

If the required 1% of signatures passes the verification test, we’ll have the referendum anytime, said Nicolás, suggesting that we shouldn’t despair. We should take it easy, because in three months the AN’s popularity will be 25%. He didn’t say where got those figures, and he also failed to say that Datanálisis estimates that seven out of every ten Venezuelans want a regime change, and that, according to DatinCorp, 69% of Venezuelans would vote to revoke his mandate.

But if the requirements are not met, the referendum is a no-go. Nicolás spoke again about challenging a process that can’t be challenged. He keeps ignoring -like a becerro– the root of his unpopularity, he continues on without rectification in his propaganda-filled country, while the apocalypse only gets worse under his absolute irresponsibility.

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.