For Friday, August 19, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
“The people have been quiet, they have been calm, but the people aren’t stupid” Diosdado Cabello
The same day that the Latin American Business Council (CEAL) expressed their concern for Venezuela’s economic crisis; that the Bank of America suspended their investors’ visits to Venezuela due to increasing social tension as a response of political and economic crisis; and that it is revealed that trade between Venezuela and the United States has dropped markedly (compared to the first six months of 2015, it has dropped by 44.68%,) Nicolás launches the fifteenth engine in his agenda, the one dealing with Basic, Strategic and Socialist Industries.
In Chaguaramas, Monagas state, convinced that the blood of libertadores arrechos flows through his veins, he said that the engine will create wealth. He didn’t offer much detail as to how, but he also narrated everything in future tense and without dates, summing up the reasons to stop listening to him with this phrase: “If we’re persistent, sooner rather than later, Venezuela will experience a miracle of economic prosperity that will amaze the whole world.”
He promised between 400 and 700 megawatts for each special shift in SIDOR (there will be three) and thus, increase production from 45,000 tons of steel to 100,000, starting in September; all thanks to the rains which have allowed El Guri’s recovery, so that SIDOR, in this statesman’s words: ¡se pondrá buchón! They used their most servile supporters for the testimonies presented during the cadena from companies expropriated by the government, telling unbelievable tales. That must be why Nicolás himself scolded them: “The time to talk, talk and talk is over, now it’s time to act, act and act. We need to go from the written paper to reality,” and then added that just like he gives justice, equality and employment, he has the moral right to demand commitment and dedication.
Nobody against the president
The two street blocks the PSUV managed to fill with their supporters in Anzoátegui, enjoyed Diosdado Cabello as their speaker. He threatened to investigate the employees of every governor’s and mayor’s office in the country for their political tendency, calling for workers to make their complaints because “nobody can be against the president in a revolution”. That’s why he said that he’ll present leaders and ministers a list to verify that not a single opposition supporter is in the payroll, giving them just one week to complete the process of discrimination and layoff.
Convinced that company owners conspire against the country and the people, he said that they can be “más brutos que el carajo” when they want to, and promised to rescue Empresas Polar’s working force. The contributions made by Aristóbulo Istúriz, the ornamental vice-president, make me appreciate his silence more: he said that Nicolás won’t resign because that would be treason; that there’s no Democratic Charter and that the people will be ready in the four corners of the country for “La Toma de Caracas.”
This Thursday, the Inter American Press Association condemned the slanderous and discrediting campaign against several Venezuelan media outlets, carried out by the government with the support of the public media system. Claudio Paolillo, chairman of IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, explained it pretty simply for Nicolás: if you use public media -paid with the resources of Venezuelans- as partisan organizations, that’s corruption. And Paolillo hadn’t even heard that Andreína Flores and Jorge Luis Pérez were illegally arrested for recording on El Calvario, a public park which is now considered by the Armed Forces as a presidential walkway.
Once they were taken to Fuerte Tiuna by the Military Intelligence Division, the National Syndicate of Press Workers issued an emergency statement demanding their release and making Vladimir Padrino López, Defense minister, accountable for what could happen to them. The NGO Espacio Público sent their lawyers to assist the arrested journalists, while the Ombudsman’s Office announced on Twitter that their delegation would go to Fuerte Tiuna. They were released at 4:20 p.m. and ombudsman Tarek William Saab attributed their release to his good efforts, although his cellphone’s autocorrect played him a few tricks, including changing “precited” for “precipitous” citizens. According to Saab, the journalists were detained to be “interviewed,” but they were released after his meeting with Padrino López.
Up and down
The Center of Documentation and Analysis for Workers reported that the Food Basket’s price for July was Bs. 228,043.96. This amount represents an variation of 23.9% (Bs. 43,971.57) compared to June. The Food Basket’s price has had a cumulative variation of 287% in these seven months of 2016. Most products are still scarce, while oatmeal and ketchup reappeared at chilling prices.
Add this to the fact that according to economist Asdrúbal Oliveros, the black market dollar will increase again starting September and could fluctuate between Bs. 1,250 and Bs. 1,350 per dollar by the end of 2016. Considering that our economy has been dollar-based in practice for a while now, when comparing our food basket with those of Colombia, Brazil or the United States, many of our prices significantly exceed their prices.
Besides, during the first six months of the year, the price of the gold that the Central Bank has in its international reserves dropped by 25%, according to financial reports published this week. The BCV increased the price of its reserves from $1,140.43 per ounce by the end of 2015, to $1,181 in June. The bank’s report reveals that Venezuela’s gold volume has decreased by 27%, with reserves that used to exceed the 8.8 million troy ounces in December, to 6.3 million troy ounces in June. Why? Because the BCV has been making exchanges in monetary gold to obtain liquidity so Nicolás can contain the financial crisis while he promises megawatts for SIDOR.
I have my doubts about the authenticity of the document leaked by “sources within the National Electoral Council,” with a proposed integral electoral schedule that doesn’t include either gubernatorial elections or the recall referendum in 2016. The collection of 20% signatures to activate the recall could start on Sunday, October 20th, but the elections themselves would take place in March, 2017. We’ll see. By the way, if you still have doubts about joining the march on September 1st, just listen to Nicolás for 15 consecutive minutes. I assure you that you’ll walk the entire route.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.