For Friday, June 3, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
I explained a few days ago that the Local Committees of Supply and Production (CLAP) are a perverse incentive with which the government seeks to reward the hard-core supporters they still have. Controlling their scarce inventories, the government forces their most vulnerable employees to feign loyalty in exchange for some food, handed out at whim, without rules but with a lot of perversion. Many “beneficiaries” share some hard facts: suppliers take part of the content from the original food bags for personal benefit and, in order to even receive the bags, you must be chavista.
Although the vice-president of the Economic Area, Miguel Pérez Abad, guaranteed this Thursday that in the next 30 days there will be a considerable improvement in the offer of Venezuelan-made products -without explaining how-, protests for food happen daily across the country. This Thursday, there was one in the Fuerzas Armadas and Urdaneta avenues (downtown Caracas). Everything started with the involvement of police officers who wanted to redirect the food that was arriving to a shop to one of the CLAP storage centers. There was a line of people waiting to buy those products, people who can’t benefit from the CLAP. Between waiting to get a bag of food by flattering Nicolás or buying whatever you can, the choice isn’t hard. People want food.
The people blocked the avenues and, once the protest started in earnest, the threat was to go to Miraflores. The National Guard used tear gas to disperse protesters and some of them responded by throwing stones. There were several media outlets covering the events and they were the ones to suffer the most severe attacks by armed groups supported by chavismo. No less than 17 press workers – journalists, photographers and cameramen – were attacked for covering the protests: threats, intimidation, beatings and stolen equipment, before the inaction and complicity of the authorities. “The street deserves respect,” the criminals chanted.
In his role as Mayor, Jorge Rodríguez said that the Fuerzas Armadas avenue protest was the responsibility of politician Carlos Melo -who retired from the public scene ages ago- and the Bandera Roja party -which has as much rallying power as the Mayor has likeability -, developing the strange theory that there are shops selling government-subsidised products to “spark unrest.” Jesús Noel Hermoso, spokesman for Bandera Roja, said: “Riots aren’t caused by any party but by people’s dissatisfaction (…) people’s anger can’t be attributed to political parties. The government is responsible.”
The Prosecutor’s Office assigned official 13th of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas, Yamilet Romero, to investigate physical attacks, robbery of equipment and belongings suffered by press workers, an aspect that the Mayor/signature verifier forgot to mention.
The force majeure
The CNE took a month for a task they should’ve completed in five days. They should’ve delivered a report this Thursday about this phase and also meet with the Democratic Unity Roundtable to discuss technical parameters for fingerprint authentication, but they suspended the meeting again. Why? Reasons of force majeure, was Tibisay Lucena’s argument. The meeting will take place -with luck- next Tuesday.
Chúo Torrealba, MUD’s chief, accused the CNE of not fulfilling their responsibilities to the country, of being an institution that violates their own rules and established schedules. He then made a call for calm, because the opposition is trying to build a peaceful solution amid a complex situation. “The government can’t escape the referendum,” he said later: calling to marches for next Monday, June 6, to all CNE offices in all the country’s capitals.
After repressing the people who protested for food close to Miraflores, Nicolás started his cadena this Thursday dancing, disguised with a necklace whose purpose is obviously lost on him. “All the power to the CLAP,” he said, legitimizing violence, blithely speaking of battles like one who can commit crimes with impunity; constantly using his favorite oxymoron: socialist efficiency. Those present got all confused when attempting to establish similarities between slavers of the past and the MUD, and liberators and the PSUV. Noeli Pocaterra was the most vehement flatterer, while another indigenous beneficiary blessed the resistance of his people, Catholic style.
Aristóbulo Istúriz deserves a special mention: “The People are on the street to defend anything, to defend their independence, to defend you, President.” And then he gave way to Jorge Arreaza who admitted that, after 17 years in power, many extremely poor communities exist; a way to admit that they’ve multiplied them, as daily protests show. Another useless cadena, like the President.
Appeal and brake
Leopoldo López’s lawyer, Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, said that defence arguments are to be discussed next June 20, about the viability of an appeal for López’s case. The case of imprisoned students will also be discussed, although it’s not going to be a trial but a hearing to debate case evidence which, in the best scenario, would result in the sentence’s annulment, allowing López to walk free.
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero returned to Caracas to monitor the mediation, seeking new meetings with the delegate commissions of both political blocs. Obviously, the MUD dismissed the possibility of continuing talks and with solid reasons: CNE’s delays to start the signature authentication process, Nicolás’ threats of suing the National Assembly’s board and the PSUV’s constant attacks, including the actions of armed groups this Thursday.
Our everyday depreciation: the Simadi exchange rate closed this Thursday in Bs. 549.21 per dollar – Bs. 5.91 more than yesterday -. Todo bello.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.