For Wednesday, July 27, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
The period established by the CNE’s rectoras to officially announce the 1% validated signatures and ratify the Democratic Unity Roundtable’s right to request the recall referendum expired today. The results have been known for a week and the time the officials took for the process was unnecessary. The opposition is only waiting for them to set a date for the signature collection of 20% registered voters. But the rectoras have no qualms about breaking their promise and keep favoring the PSUV. Although the distance between the office of the National Electoral Board, charged with issuing the report, and the office of the Political Participation and Financing Committee, charged with approving it, appears to be big enough as to prevent them from discussing it for this Tuesday, the rectoras were meeting with Jorge Rodríguez, mayor of Libertador and signature verifier.
Nullifying the MUD
Once the meeting concluded, Jorge Rodríguez explained that they requested the invalidation of the MUD’s registration as a political party because, according to the PSUV, they committed the “greatest electoral fraud in the country’s history,” meaning the irregularities found in collected signatures. He repeated that it’s absurd to activate a mechanism such as the recall referendum with a “dirty” procedure. He announced that they’ll present a document with their request, highlighting its immediate nature. He nearly said that his request takes precedence over announcing the date for the 20%.
An immediate answer, Jorge
Lawyer José Ignacio Hernández (@ignandez on Twitter) clarifies that article 32 of the Law of Political Parties doesn’t allow the invalidation of the MUD’s registration for alleged fraud, because such an invalidation is only possible in accordance to the serious causes set forth in the Law, which are not applicable in this case. There’s no fraud, only a CNE decision that rejected a few signatures, and the MUD could only be invalidated after a trial before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice. The MUD can request the call for the 20% without waiting for the CNE to certify them, because there’s evidence that the required 1% was fulfilled.
On a press release, Tibisay Lucena reported that they’ll discuss the report on the validation of the 1% next Monday, August 1st, considering that the march called by the MUD for this Wednesday is an act of agitation and pressure against the CNE, taking the chance to threaten once more with shutting down the electoral procedure if public order is disrupted. Tibisay insists that the Electoral Branch’s actions have strictly complied with the law to guarantee the rights of all the parties involved. So much cynicism is overwhelming.
The PSUV keeps staging events of “popular” support for Nicolás. This Tuesday, it was Trujillo state’s turn, where AN deputy Diosdado Cabello barked: “We won’t accept blackmail, if you say there won’t be dialogue without a recall, then we’ll have neither (…) If you’re crazy enough to rise in arms against the Republic, we’ll take up arms as well, we won’t let you get away with it,” adding that if the MUD wants to take to the streets, they’ll find the government there. So far the PSUV was happy to delay the recall, but they want to shut it down altogether now. Which alternative carries the greatest political cost?
The -ornamental- vice-president of the country, Aristóbulo Istúriz, said this Thursday that the Executive Branch could announce a new wage increase: “We have to keep updating wages to adjust them as we’re hit by inflation rates (…) That could mean an increase in food bonuses,” the teacher said. He dismissed currency exchange rate unification for the time being and spoke about the lack of foreign currency as if it was caused by climate change and not by their terrible government. Don’t worry, the Tourism ministry authorized tourism services providers to charge customers in dollars.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) revealed in their annual report that the region’s GDP will drop by 0.8% in 2016 and six countries are expected to suffer economic contractions. Venezuela takes the lead (-8%), so much so, that if we were suspended along with Brazil (-3.5%), the region’s economy would grow 1.8%. Our contraction, as well as the drop in international reserves and exports, are overwhelming, as we lead the list of country risk, with 2,137 points above average. If they include us, the region’s average inflation rate is located at 16.5%; if they exclude us, it would be 7.9%. Venezuela paid the equivalent to 40.6% of its exports in foreign debt. Tax revenues dropped by 15.8% and income tax collection decreased by 31.8%. The ECLAC foresees that Venezuela’s contraction will worsen. Add this to inflation rates, the growing severity in food shortages and rising unemployment. By the way, the International Monetary Fund’s projections are even bleaker.
Paraguay announced that they won’t participate in Mercosur’s meeting scheduled for next Saturday because, presumably, Uruguay decided to appoint Venezuela as head of the organization. Paraguay’s Foreign Affairs minister, Eladio Loizaga, said: “We want Venezuela to find the most convenient path to solve its internal issues; we don’t want to interfere, but we do believe and are convinced that there are democratic principles and values that we must all respect.” Hours later, Uruguay’s Foreign Affairs ministry cancelled the meeting they’d scheduled with their Parliament to discuss the matter.
In the National Assembly
The parliamentary majority approved the Bill to Regulate International Economic Aid for the State, with the PSUV voting against it: “[The Law] establishes that any international aid must be approved by the National Assembly (…) it’s a law that grants the AN’s Comptrollership Committee the authority to review all international agreements every three months.” Pataleo is coming.
Bad, really bad
The Labor Ministry designed a transitory -and obligatory- labor regime for all employers in the country, that allows the government to request the necessary workers to “reactivate the food and agricultural sector.” This beauty was published on Official Gazette N° 40,950 of July 22nd, justified by the State of Economic Emergency Decree N° 2,323. The recitals must’ve written by Nicolás’s speech writer, but supposedly, the Communes ministry requested the Labor ministry to authorize them to borrow a group a workers to recover State-owned companies. Cuba’s and China’s agricultural forced labor models offer a better explanation.
The resolution states: “Public and private sector employers are obligated to comply with the strict rule of this administrative act and must provide the workers required to increase productivity…” The incentives? The working relationship of borrowed workers with their original employers will be suspended (labor immobility,) but the employer will still have to fulfill its obligations with the borrowed worker. The requesting entity will only pay the wages. There’s a lot to discuss about this subject, but I insist, just publishing this on Official Gazette is extremely serious, especially while people are still struggling to find food.