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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  1. Maduro:
    “we deserve another National Assembly, are we ready to go to battle for another National Assembly?,”

    If legislative elections were held tomorrow, an honest tally would probably show in increase in seats for the MUD.

  2. Not much suerte with “Gaceta Hipica”. Races were suspended at Maracaibo Santa Rita Racetrack many months ago, have been suspended at the Valencia Racetrack for a few months, and have just been suspended at the Caracas Hipodromo Racetrack–basic problem, non-payment of winning horse purses (Caracas since FEBRUARY of this year), and this with record gross revenues, bu all basically due to grossly incompetent race activity administration/corruption by Govt. officials.

      • Hi Kepler, I would disagree, though I see your point of course …. these measures are dictatorial and arbitrary, indeed. But, in political opposition, one has to be very specific and measured with such terms. This is a actially a growing dictatorship. Else, it is irrelevant if, for example, he tomorrow has the TSJ refule any revocatorio. That might be the ultimate step to dictatorship. Indeed, if he moves too fast and too far, he risks provoking opposition even from within chavismo.

        Well, IMHO. We had this problem with characterizing various right-wing governments in the past in Latin America and elsewhere. Saying they are dictators while there remains democratic possibilities gives peope the feeling that there is not use trying to continue exploiting whatever democratic instruments remain (this comes up with Venezuelans who are sometimes resigned that a revocatorio will never work because this is a ‘dictatorship’ already.)

        I recall lots of people used to like to call Nixon a fascist. Indeed, one can sympathize. However, this was counterproductive. Speaking of ‘growing fascism’ and anti-democratic measures in Nixom’s using the political police (FBI, etc.) and intelligence services against the mass anti-war, anti-racist and other popular movements was important. But when he turned these state institutions also against the official opposition (e.g., the Democratic Party) that was a particular step on such a road, but still not ‘fascism’ of course (this might seem obvious today, but at the time it was not so clear to people given events and the world situation as well). Those who thought he was already a fascist and the country hopwlessly lost to democracy were little motivated to protest, say, Watergate.

        There is a significant analogy to the stage of these matters with Maduro as well, IMHO.

        • Tom, I know how people misuse the terms fascism and dictatorship. Pinochet had to step down because of world pressure. There was a referendum. Do you think because there was a referendum his was not a dictatorship?
          The general definition of democracy is that there be free elections AND rule of law and division of powers. The only power we have is completely emasculated and Maduro is doing everything he needs to do to stay in power against the law. Sorry, I do not think one has to study political science to see this.
          Most likely the referendum willl take place….after 10 January. Are you going to keep saying it is a democracy then, just a cheeky cheeky one?
          The concept of dictator has changed over time as you know. Right now actually there is not a single country outside perhaps North Korea where there are not ‘democratic means’ to change things, even in systems where no multi party system is allowed. And yet there are quite some dictatorships because the governments that be actually do have the total power.
          Pinochet was a dictator. Ultimately it was not the referendum that took him from power but the process that forced that referendum, a process he knew would lead ultimately to a coup against him and ultimately prisonor death had he chosen to ignore it.
          The fact we call this what its does not mean we want now a coup, just like in the times of Pinochet people were trying other things to get rid of him.
          The only difference right now is that in a XX century dictatorship a person could reaĺly hold powers over everything whereas here it is a club of military thugs together with a bunch of top political chavistas backed by Castrismo.

        • Chavismo is a dictatorship since the day Chávez sent the Llaguno gunmen to slaughter the people protesting against him in april 11 of 2002.

    • I am shaking my head with amazement. Kepler is right. This is a dictatorship in all but name. You might argue that Maduro does not hold ALL the power, because he is beholden to the various factions within Chavismo. I suppose that makes Maduro less of a dictator than, say Saddam Hussein. However, we can say for certainty that it is no longer a Constitutional Democratic Republic.

    • Only apologists for socialism run rampant and unchecked authority in the name of “progress”.

      Dictators come from all walks of liife, but they all gravitate towards socialism and eventually the comunnist manifesto by trade. It helps keep the population online while you pick their pockets and search their homes.

  3. Its a de facto Dictatorship , no bones about it , but one which still makes some trite attempts at maintaining a papier mache fachade of being a democracy , for example its holds parlaimentary elections which it ‘allows’ the oppo to win , but them makes sure , thru acts of institucional fraud that the new parlaimentarians are in fact unable to exercise any of their constitutional powers …….!! it is brutal, but perfumes its brutality with sirupy protestations of always acting to protect the sacred interests of the people !! .

  4. Bill, I think the regime was totally surprised and unprepared for the outcome of those parlaimentary elections, that the margins were so great that not even they dared try to manipulate the final outcome….short of the BS with the delegates from Amazona.

    It’s for that reason I say often that they won’t risk another election, ever, including the RR.

    • “… not even they dared try to manipulate the final outcome…”

      Yet they said at the end that the AN “no vale”, and that is NOT manipulating the outcome?

  5. The issue of the pending balloon payments on outstanding bonds was glossed over but looms large. Last week Reuters reported:

    Venezuelan state oil producer PDVSA’s bond prices dropped on Thursday after the company again extended a deadline for its $5.3 billion debt swap offer, suggesting investors are hesitant to partake.

    PDVSA [PDVSA.UL] on Wednesday night moved the date for both the early deadline and the expiration to Oct. 17, from Oct. 12 and Oct. 14, respectively.

    The swap requires more than 50 percent participation to go through.

    From what I’ve heard the level of participation is more like 20% as of yesterday, perhaps less, and if Maduro and co. are forced to pay the vig on these bonds, the country is going to get a whole lot worse in a hurry, making the new budget even more of a terrible and tragic joke.

    It’s going to be interesting to watch because as been pointed out by many, Maduro et al runs the country like a military outfit, and is unwilling to negotiate or even brook second opinions. Being forced into an action (pay what you own) may cause some unforeseen consequences, since the gov has always been so inflexible, deeming any dissent as “meddling.” It’s like looking at a drunk who has to quit drinking but can’t.

    • Maduro needs to remember that taking complete control of the budget makes him completely responsible for the budget. He cannot blame the AN for a bad budget. Then again, Maduro will pull scapegoats from the air if needed.

      Maduro list of scapegoats should be amended to the constitution as an appendix. He can then reference the constitution when placing blame.

      • Maduro has no intention of letting anyone see what is coming. He hides it behind accounting gimicks and back room deals.

        The military are complicit in this and will not let anything happen to their power. There is nothing to stop them either.

  6. If anyone here believes that either a recall will be allowed to take place or that (in time) the next election will remove the Chavista from power, you are most sadly mistaken. There will never be “free” elections at this point.

    Maduro and the Chavistas will find another way to either postpone or discredit the election in 2019 to hold onto power.

    And the AN is becoming more and more isolated and marginalized as time goes on. The September march was wasted effort. Nothing has changed and nothing will be done going forward.

    The crack down on social media and news outlets (what are left) has already started and you will not see much to be proud of.

    Socialism is not social, it is all about power. Taking it. Keeping it. Removing things from the public view that would otherwise indicate otherwise.

    But the VZ people voted for this, “people get the government they deserve”.

  7. “But the VZ people voted for this, “people get the government they deserve”.”
    Most Venezuelans did not vote for Maduro. He stole the election.


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