Eight trillion bolívares

Correction: we had earlier mischaracterized “billones” as billions.

For Saturday, October 15, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

With the National Pantheon as a stage -the best possible allegory for the event-, Nicolás self-approved the Nation’s Budget for 2017, for Bs. 8.5 trillion, with an average oil barrel price of $30 and estimating that 73.6% of this amount will go to the missions: “Nobody can oppose the Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s decision and here’s the signed [budget,] ready to be published in Official Gazette (…) this budget will make justice and build people’s equality,” he said, except that 83% of that justice and equality will depend on taxes. The remainder will come from the oil rent and socialist companies. The hike in taxes will be savage.

Nicolás dared to speak of increasing the constitutional allocation of funds for governor’s and mayor’s offices by 413% despite how much he already owe them, but if authorities don’t comply with the TSJ’s decisions, they won’t get a dime. A threat he supported with the story about the National Assembly, which he claimed has “destroyed the Legislative Branch’s integrity, prestige and structure (…) we deserve another National Assembly, are we ready to go to battle for another National Assembly?,” he asked his audience, made up of militants, security guards and public servants. He had the gall of speaking about dialogue, because José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s in the country, to take advantage of the quincena.

The one who submitted it to the TSJ

The ornamental vice-president, Aristóbulo Istúriz, submitted the Nation’s Budget to the Supreme Tribunal’s Plenary, accompanied by a presidential commission that decided to speak about the pertinence of this violation against the Constitution and about the budget’s contents. Sadly, none of them explained that expenses for 2017 far exceed the monetary liquidity; that the budget is 447.55% larger than the one approved by the National Assembly for 2016 and that any estimation presented is subject to increasing inflation rates despite the expectations of a new wage hike. Todo bello.

Solvent abroad, broke at home

This Thursday, Venezuela paid a total of $199.6 million in external debt, corresponding to the payment of bond interests. Additionally, the PDVSA 2016 bond is approaching maturity, so the oil company will have to pay $1,000. Mind you, PDVSA announced a new extension of its early maturity date and the maturity of its swap offer for 2017 bonds, until October 17th, because participation in the swap has been low, and they’re yet to find big investors ready to accept the proposed conditions.

Bankrupt but dignified

PDVSA filed a lawsuit in a court in Caracas against Rafael Poleo, owner of newspaper El Nuevo País, and a group of journalists which it accuses of slander: “One of the precautionary measures we’ve demanded is for this newspaper to be suspended from publishing any further information about PDVSA,” said Eulogio Del Pino, head of PDVSA and Oil minister. According to him, everything El Nuevo País has released about PDVSA are lies and attacks against his conniving, sorry, insolvent company. Del Pino demands that they “take responsibility with their own money, with their freedom if necessary.” Meanwhile, Rafael Poleo said that this lawsuit responds to Nicolás’ efforts to destroy yet another independent news outlet: “The government can shut down El Nuevo País. But even if he wins this battle, Maduro will lose the war,” he said.

Twitter’s canciller

Delcy Rodríguez ratified on Twitter that Venezuela has legitimate rights over the Esequibo, disputed with Guyana for almost 100 years. With several pictures that prove that she met with outgoing UN SecGen Ban Ki-moon, she remarked that she monitored the Good Offices mechanism, as a tool to enforce respect for the Geneva Convention, adding that she met with the new head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, to whom she communicated Venezuela’s decision to cooperate with his office through the Non Aligned Countries Movement, which I assume must have thrilled Guterres, eh?

What does refusal mean?

Miranda state’s governor Henrique Capriles ratified yesterday through Periscope that the Supreme Tribunal of Justice is preparing a precautionary measure to violate the constitutional right to recall Nicolás. Insisting that there are still justices who don’t agree with the measure but who still vote following political orders, he remarked that the Constitutional Chamber is working with the Criminal Chamber to add details to the decision with the intention of frightening Venezuelans: “We refuse to accept a precautionary measure against the recall. We have to remain alert, because they’re capable of announcing it today (Friday,) tomorrow (Saturday) or next Monday,” he said, restating that we’re forced to react if they kill the referendum.

No quorum without wages

Lawmaker Williams Dávila explained that the National Assembly’s members haven’t been paid their wages or other remunerations for the last four months, calling it a crime against humanity and saying that not even Juan Vicente Gómez or Pérez Jiménez ever committed this abuse, and ranking it as one of Nicolás’s worst decisions, because it has affected the rest of the National Assembly’s employees along with the legislators. Dávila said that there are lawmakers who depend exclusively on their wages, because they can’t receive income from other professional activities: “The strategy is to hit our morale, weaken and discourage us. President Maduro won’t achieve that, because we’re at the core of the Assembly’s resistance.“ An actual consequence of this is that several lawmakers are unable to attend the plenary because they have no means to pay for transportation, stay or food. Lawmaker Héctor Rodríguez should review Dávila’s statement.

Lilian Tintori spoke from the Prosecutor’s Office to announce her complaint against Diosdado Cabello, saying that in his TV show, the lawmaker “violates the Human Rights of our people,” so she demanded that VTV and the show’s producers be investigated for promoting hate speech. Suerte y Gaceta Hípica.

 

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