He who does not laugh

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, May 17th, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Jorge Rodríguez doesn’t know how to laugh. His sneer, closer to mockery than to joy, reveals the limitation of villains, of those who exercise power fueled by hatred and who lead nothing but press conferences. He’s fallacious, predictable, boring, repeating the same words to discredit the opposition -as if he had any credibility-, obsessed with showing National Electoral Council’s lack of autonomy. He speaks as the electoral official he isn’t, and demands anti-doping tests and lie detectors, claiming someone else’s the madman.

He said this Monday that he’ll sue several digital news outlets for publishing a story that links him to sexual abuse charges. He also threatened Henry Ramos Allup, saying that his time in the National Assembly is almost up, and Henrique Capriles as well, saying that he’ll reveal a story from 2000 that proves the governor’s sexual tendencies. Taking advantage of his undeniable empathy, he cautioned each opposition supporter: “Don’t let yourself be misled.” The strategy would change if he said that Nicolás would win the referendum in case it takes place, with the same conviction that he says there won’t be a referendum at all. Since he can’t, he tries to get the last laugh, something he doesn’t know how to do.

The decree

Announced by Nicolás to confront internal and external threats, the decree is a mish-mash of economic and political authority which includes capacities from the three kinds of states of emergency established in the Constitution. Its clauses -written with VTV-like logic- cite the “economic war” as the axis of all evil, the drop in oil prices, the National Assembly -for being under the opposition’s control-, Obama’s decree, El Niño, and “bachaqueo” as an induced phenomenon. It also mentions the Operation for People’s Liberation (OLP) against the new political paramilitarism. That arroz con mango, according to the government, has the sole intention of ousting Nicolás, which is a danger for the country’s security. Read it carefully and you’ll find admission that the electrical crisis and scarcity will get worse, that agricultural development will be exceptional, and that they’ll use the military as much as they can. There are no pros and plenty of cons:

– Con -the private sector: the Executive Branch will be able to take measures to intervene the private sector to produce, market and distribute supplies and goods to the people; they will also be able to regulate working hours.

– Con -the NGOs: the Foreign Affairs Ministry will be able to inspect agreements, signed by natural and legal persons with foreign institutions and entities, to carry out projects within the country.

– Con -financial freedom: once again, the Banks and Finance Ministry along with the Central Bank, will be able to establish top levels for income and expenditure on the currency and restrictions for baking operations and transactions.

– Con -control: the Executive Branch will be able to authorise the use of funds from the National Treasury even if they’re not established on the Budget Law. Public interest contracts will be legal “at the Executive Branch’s sole discretion”, and primary products will be established for the purposes of State purchases, determining the direct allocation of foreign currency.

– Pro -impunity: Nicolás will be able to decide the suspension of political sanctions against high ranking government officials and heads of public institutions.

– Pro -propaganda: the Executive Branch may establish policies of evaluation, monitoring and control of production, distribution and marketing of basic necessities, and ministers will be able to implement measures to guarantee the sale of regulated products according to “opportunity schedules.”

– Pro -the military: the commissions that deliver bags with regulated food products (CLAPs) will now aid in keeping public order. More discretional power for the remainder of their militancy, or a few civilians to aid in yet another action of military control.

But it’s ok, because the Ombudsman said that his office will resolve any circumstance that arises during the State of Emergency, which has to be done “in strict compliance with the Constitution and international protocols.” I was very relieved.

An anguish called country

Our devaluation, marked by Simadi exchange rate, reaches Bs. 420 per dollar. On the same day, employees of Alimentos Polar reported that white corn inventories to produce Harina PAN will run out by late May, since the whole national harvest is depleted. Fedenaga (Federation of Beef Producers) also reported that the beef offered in the country is insufficient to cover the demand, that the price will keep rising because there are only 11 million heads of cattle out of the necessary 30 million.

Although minister Pérez Abad said that China’s willing to help them, Hong Lei, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, said this Monday that the economic crisis in Venezuela is an internal matter. They hope the government can handle it appropriately and safeguard the country’s stability and development, refusing to say if they’ll give el finado’s children even one more dollar.

Meanwhile, Josh Earnest, spokesman for the White House, said that Venezuela’s situation is discouraging and that the conditions in which we Venezuelans have to experience are terrible. He said that “these challenges will require the inclusion of all interested parties. And now is the time for leaders to listen to diverse Venezuelan voices and work together peacefully to try to find solutions.” In this regard, former presidents José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Leonel Fernández and Martín Torrijos are coming to the country invited by the government as international observers for the [C]omisión de la verdad and also intend to meet with the opposition to favor dialogue.

Human Rights Watch

José Miguel Vivanco, chief of HRW for the Americas, sent a letter to Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, that resolves a dilemma about the damn Inter American Democratic Charter: “If the OAS really needed permission from abusive governments to take action, that would defeat the purpose of the Democratic Charter. Fortunately, for situations as catastrophic as Venezuela’s, the Charter doesn’t include such an absurd requisite.”

Let Delcy know that the offending Government’s consent is not required, and that Almagro already offered a first response to Vivanco via Twitter.

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.