Better by Miracle

Your daily briefing for Friday, July 22, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

For Friday, July 22, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Complying with safety protocols required by production lines in a hygiene products company, Nicolás, Padrino López and the rest of their entourage wore plastic head caps. They looked like the ones moms use to increase a cream bath’s effectiveness. Soldiers, though, couldn’t be bothered to take off their uniforms’ caps, so the plastic ones looked ridiculous on top of the olive green visors. According to Nicolás, we must all make an effort to advance a process of economic recovery. Praying for a rise in oil prices -without mentioning how badly our daily oil barrel output has dropped- he said: “I’m certain that we’re going to experience in the next few months (…) a miraculous recovery of the Venezuelan economy.”

It makes sense for him to say that from Kimberly Clark’s plant, to which he decided to grant Bs. 700 million and $22 million -which he refused to grant its previous owners- while he angrily complained that “those who shut down the plant wanted to leave their workers out of a job.” Since he decided to leave the possibility for an economic recovery to a miracle, he appointed a guy called José Gregorio Hernández as the plant’s Sole Authority, as he declared himself as an obrero time and again, that vulgar justification to his pathetic performance as President. He took the opportunity to swear in the Secure Supply mission’s state commands, he promised a place in Guárico prison for resellers and announced the launching of a new urban agriculture plan for this Friday. He also announced that he’d announce measures to protect families from private schools’ steep enrollment fees: “We’ll neutralize the thieves,” but he wasn’t talking about his own corrupt government.

This isn’t socialism

According to Jesús Faría, minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, the official currency exchange rate will keep rising but it’ll eventually start to decrease, closing the gap between the official dollar price (Dicom/Simadi) and the black market. Faría thinks the rate’s going to increase so much, that it’ll serve as incentive “to bring foreign capital back in.” In his view, Venezuela’s still far from socialism, which hasn’t started to be implemented, they’re barely setting the foundations, and what’s being presented as a failed model is actually the crisis of rentier capitalism. The optimist finishes with this: “If we overcame these dramatic first six months, we’ll be in a coherent position (…) to overcome this.”

That must be why the Industry and Trade ministry’s vice-minister of Internal Trade, Renier Enrique Urbáez, announced that they’ll assign $100 million -via Corpovex- to import food and hygiene products from Panamanian companies. Additionally, Juan Arias, Basic Industries minister, said this Thursday that the government has made mistakes in economic policy which have prevented them from containing inflation in the country, admitting that it’s necessary to revise price control and that they’ve lacked the sense to handle an efficient price policy.

The imaginary dialogue

“Our main task is building a country, not wasting time with a treacherous opposition,” said Nicolás this Thursday. A brilliant incentive for dialogue. However, opposition representatives met with UNASUR’s secretary general, Ernesto Samper, and the mediating former presidents. This meeting produced no results, but the mediators spoke later, accompanied Nicolás and Delcy, stating that dialogue is to start in a few days and announcing that they agreed to involve the Church in the mediation process: “their involvement will enrich us spiritually and politically,” said Samper, as he reflected on polarization as an element that worsens violence and meddling.

Next week

The three challenged opposition legislators for Amazonas state, Nirma Guarulla, Julio Ygarza and Romel Guzamana, decided to deliver a formal request to the Parliament’s secretariat to occupy their seats next week, thus fulfilling the formal requirements for rejoining the Assembly. Holding his proclamation certificate, Ygarza remarked that the Supreme Tribunal of Justice has remained silent for six months regarding their case: “If we have to go to prison, then we’ll go to prison for democracy,” he said.

Deputy Héctor Rodríguez (PSUV) said that they’ll file a lawsuit against Amazonas’ deputies if they’re sworn back into the National Assembly, for usurping authority: “Those who were candidates for Amazonas state aren’t deputies, because an electoral crime was committed and clearly proven (…) We demand the CNE and judicial institutions to issue a statement on the matter,” adding that the PSUV’s deputies will go to the swear-in session to repeat that it’s illegal and that they won’t have any kind of legitimacy.

Stepping over the National Assembly

The TSJ issued a decision recorded under number 619, where they allow the Central Bank to borrow a billion dollars from the Latin American Reserve Fund (FLAR), without the National Assembly’s authorization, which was previously denied by Parliament. Gladys Gutiérrez, TSJ’s chief, stated in the decision that the BCV “is a legal entity with autonomy to exercise its authority with efficiency,” although article 150 of the Constitution states that the National Assembly must approve public interest agreements. This is the 18th decision of the TSJ against the Legislative Branch’s authority in favor of the Executive Branch.

Deputy Alfonso Marquina remarked that anything that doesn’t go through the Assembly will be null in an immediate future, stating: “We demand the Constitutional Chamber to respect the Constitution,” ratifying the obvious, “any act that violates the Constitution is invalid.”

Ricardo Menéndez’s lies

The vice-president for Planning and Knowledge lied during his hearing before the UN to present his report on Sustainable Development Goals, since he based Nicolás’ achievements on 2013 data instead of current figures. The NGO Transparencia Venezuela said that Menéndez’ report distorts the information by stating that the National Geostatistics System’s website is operational, presenting productivity with a GDP that keeps leaning on or mentioning the “economic war” to conceal the government’s responsibility in the serious shortages of food and medicine; confusing propaganda with information. The NGO refutes in their report, the biased and incomplete information presented by Menéndez. An example: Menéndez said that extreme poverty is 4.78% but the ENCOVI’s 2015 living conditions poll remarks that the country experiences and important setback in poverty, caused by the rapid increment in prices and diminishing purchase capacity. In practical terms, there’s no middle class in Venezuela.

You can read Transparencia Venezuela’s report in their website.

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.