At ease

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, May 24th, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

The price for past weekend’s military exercises was $20 million. With that money, Venezuelan public universities -like many other areas- could solve the severe budget problem they’re currently facing and for which they’ll start a strike this Tuesday, leaving the education of thousands of young students in as much suspense as their professors’ and administrative staff’s chance for survival in this crisis.

The opposition earned two labels during the weekend: we’re internal enemies and military targets. Laughable or not, the televised military deployment ended with a simulation of loyalists -to economic incentives, not to Nicolás- destroying an opposition manifestation. The guy who yelled “¡viva la paz!” amidst dozens of cannons that rivaled his copete’s height, avoiding depth of field and martial rigor, left with his peace of rifles to buy other loyalties throughout the Caribbean. Whatever’s necessary to undermine the application of the Inter American Democratic Charter.

Additionally, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, through the Second Court of Administrative Litigation, issued a decision in which it orders the National Guard and the National Police to implement any security measures necessary for the safekeeping of the National Electoral Council’s offices countrywide, to block “violent” marches, protests, gatherings and manifestations, since these represent a threat against constitutional rights of CNE’s workers. They seem to have priority over the political rights of all Venezuelans. The decision seeks to legitimise the government’s discourse and repression, as if the military threat wasn’t enough.

Broken economy

The Vice-minister of Productive Economy, Miguel Pérez Abad, told Mumm-Ra -José Vicente Rangel- that there are no more fake companies because there’s no foreign currency, that the inflation for 2016 wouldn’t reach 900% -if it reaches 899%, he wins- and while never saying how he’s planning to stop inflation and promote productivity, he asked for trust in the progress that the economy will show in the year’s second semester.

However, the Teachers’ Federation’s Center of Documentation and Social Analysis published the price of the food basket for April: Bs. 184,906.35. That’s an increment of 718% in a year, and it takes 16 minimum wages to buy it. That’s why deputy José Guerra spoke about the nutritional and food deficit that Venezuela suffers, due to the significant drop in consumption of basic items and the decrease in incomes: at this point, whatever’s not on shortage is simply impossible to pay.

The bolívar depreciated again. Simadi closed this Monday at Bs. 452.08 per dollar.

Cynics and liars

Aristóbulo Istúriz said that if the National Assembly fails to recognise the rest of the Government Branches, the PSUV won’t respect Parliament. I’d swear that fulfilling all of the CNE’s ad-libed requirements was a proof of recognition, but no.

Diosdado Cabello said that there won’t be a referendum this year “not even if they cry on the floor, or if they call Obama,” that they won’t give the opposition any concessions. He used the necessary amount of 20% signatures to activate the referendum as an example, and speaking like a CNE official, he said that they wouldn’t accept even one less signature. “Either they collect them or they collect them, but we won’t give them any option at all.”

Ricardo Menéndez, vice-president of Planning and Knowledge, reported that the unemployment rate reached 7.3% in April, the lowest compared to the same month in the last 20 years, a faithful reflection of how efficient the policies implemented by Nicolás have been. As the cherry on top, he said that formal employment is 60.3%, showing a steady increase in the last three years, the same three years in which we’ve had the world’s highest inflation, hundreds of companies have closed and the diaspora has accelerated. Funny, eh?

I finish with the Ombudsman, because he said that within the next three months, a plan will be implemented to receive complaints about overcrowding in police stations all over the country, with 23,000 people detained in police stations -2,000 of whom are sentenced-, and since Saab has observed “an irregular situation,” he’s thinking of benefits such as probation.

Coromoto free

Since there are no charges, commissioner Ángel Coromoto Rodríguez, security chief of the National Assembly’s President, was released. Reports of tortures against the young marchers arrested last Wednesday abound this weekend. The intention is to make them declare that they followed instructions from this commissioner, who was detained for five days in SEBIN headquarters, arrested without a warrant, whom Nicolás called “old torturer,” violating the presumption of innocence. As usual.

Bottom of the ninth…

Rubén Blades was trending because he dedicated his Sunday article to the Venezuelan dictatorship. In his words, Democracy can’t be sanctioned by an ideology and authority doesn’t originate in imposition. He also recognises the National Assembly’s opposition majority, speaking about how Nicolás has tried to nullify its functions and decisions. He says that not even el finado would’ve resorted to such dark schemes, always referencing the person mainly responsible for this disaster, but added that both the government and the opposition have been very stubborn in terms of consensus, Pepe Mujica style: with God and the devil. Better he should write another song.

This Tuesday there’s going to be another PSUV march. This one doesn’t need authorisation to go through Libertador municipality, like the TSJ’s decision says. The Metro will work normally this Tuesday. Let’s see what happens on Wednesday.

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.