Tension Without a Drill

Your daily briefing for Thursday, June 30, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

For Thursday, June 30, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Military planes flying over Caracas on Tuesday weren’t enough. This Wednesday, the government decided to increase the general tension with an absurd earthquake drill, involving more pictures than actual logistics. Propaganda, that’s the only thing worth their time.

Nicolás announced this Wednesday that, in addition to strengthening national production -by dint of urban conucos-, the PSUV must finally defeat the National Assembly in the next six months. “If we were to summarize these past six months, after the failure, the painful hit of December 6, it’s obvious that the Legislative Branch has fallen to lows we hadn’t seen for 20 or 30 years.” According to Nicolás, the AN means a “political, moral and institutional setback.”

Regretting that the “burguesía parasitaria” had refused his dialogue offer, he said nothing about Didalco Bolívar’s proposal; he didn’t mention that the Commander of the National Guard, Nestor Reverol, had declared himself chavista, revolutionary and guardian of el finado’s legacy -although this blatantly violates article 328 of the National Constitution-, nor did he present a solution for production, other than assigning the Francisco de Miranda Front to the production of seeds in the country as an “extremely special mission”. He admitted that it’s a task nobody wants to commit to, that it’s just the beginning, that bonds must be created, experts must be consulted and we must know our land. Hunger is coming.

From the North

During a press conference after the North American Leader’s summit, and accompanied by his counterparts Enrique Peña Nieto (Mexico) and Justin Trudeau (Canada), Barack Obama said: “And given the very serious situation in Venezuela, and the worsening plight of the Venezuelan people, together we’re calling on the government and opposition to engage in meaningful dialogue. And there is the Venezuelan government to respect the rule of law, and the authority of the National Assembly (…) Political prisoners should be released. The democratic process should be respected, and that includes legitimate efforts to pursue a recall referendum consistent with Venezuelan law.” Someone must still be translating the contents for Nicolás, who’ll use these words for the next six months.

From the South

Nicolás and Delcy must be equally angry at the statement issued by Eladio Loizaga, Paraguay’s Foreign Affairs minister, regarding the decision of his Argentine and Uruguayan counterparts to appoint Venezuela as temporary head of Mercosur, without consulting with the rest of the member countries. Brazil’s Foreign Affairs minister, José Serra, said that he’s also astonished by this decision. According to Loizaga, the Venezuelan government lacks the necessary democratic vocation that must represent Mercosur’s presidency.

Yes to Jorge, no to Didalco

The lawsuit filed before the Supreme Tribunal by Jorge Rodríguez against the recall referendum is already being read by justice Luis Damiani Bustillos. There’s no information on whether this lawsuit will be admitted, or if the requested cautionary measure will be approved, but we do know that Damiani is one of the justices hastily assigned by the outgoing AN last year, and before that he was vice-minister of Higher Education. Impartial, surely.

Tarek William Saab, on his part, rejected the proposal of former governor of Aragua, Didalco Bolívar, of abolishing the National Assembly and calling for elections. The Ombudsman used contradictory phrases: at the same time the AN must “assume the responsibility before the country for what’s happening” y ahí mismito said that those isolated voices -like Didalco- “won’t find any kind of national support,” because the only one with the authority to dissolve Parliament is Nicolás and besides, these ideas can destroy the sincere call to dialogue.

Will it happen or not?

National Assembly Speaker, Henry Ramos Allup, said that the government won’t shut down the referendum process, which has to take place this year “even with the traps they’ve set for us to prevent it.”

This Wednesday night, AN member Diosdado Cabello assured that, in his view, there won’t be a recall this year, as he demanded the opposition: “Stop lying to your people.” He added that the collection of 20% voter signatures could take place in November, must be done in one day and with just 20% of captahuellas available, because they’re not going to make it easy for the “escuálidos.”

Difficulty exists at all levels and there’s plenty of channels for extortion. That’s why the testimonies of Zuliano students whose Fundalossada scholarships were canceled for signing in support of the referendum, were shared publicly this Wednesday. A Fundalossada representative -in his office in Rafael Urdaneta University- was recorded by one of the students saying: “How is it possible that the government is helping you (…) and then you sign against the revolution”; recommending the student to remove the signature at the CNE and send a letter with that requisite for the case to be re-evaluated. Human Rights?

Espionage under a new boss

Colonel Leonardo Alfredo Bello Ortega was appointed Head of the Strategic Center of Security and Protection of the Country (Cesppa), according to Decree 2361, published on Official Gazette N° 6233. The Cesppa is an institution affiliated to the Ministry of the President’s Office and Monitoring of the Government Administration, dedicated to data collection and espionage, focused on information control. Bello Ortega was previously commander of the Presidential Honor Guard and replaces Gustavo González López, who remains in the cabinet as Interior minister.

In figures

Oscar Meza, head of Cendas-FVM, explained today that the increase in food prices could reach %1000 during July, adding that, up until May, the price index for the basic food basket had increased by 817.1%, which means 68% monthly inflation rate and 2.2% daily. 50% of the food basket products are scarce and most homes dedicate three fourths of their income to buying food. Our everyday depreciation: the Simadi exchange rate closed at Bs. 626,01 per dollar, with an increment of just Bs. 0.13, after the Bs. 7.74 it increased on Tuesday.

Farewell to a great maestro

Inocente Carreño, musician, composer, teacher and orchestra conductor, died this Wednesday night at 96 years old. Born in Porlamar, Nueva Esparta state, he made noble contributions to Venezuelan culture. “Glosa Margariteña” is one of his best known works. Look it up, you’ll love it. Rest in peace, maestro; thank you.

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.