With the border closed (yes, again)

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, December 13, 2016.

As Google and Cuba were signing an agreement to improve internet speeds on the island, Venezuelans were waiting for more details about Nicolás’ decision to take the Bs. 100 banknote out of circulation. He was struck by a heat wave and asked for the doors of Miraflores’ Ayacucho Hall to be kept open; perhaps the air conditioning wasn’t strong enough for him, perhaps the lights and the speech raised his temperature.

Confused but happy

Just like lawmaker Héctor Rodríguez, Nicolás thanked everyone for our understanding and patience regarding a decision he believed to be unavoidable, but he doubled down on the three worst lies he used to support this new abuse: that the Bs. 100 bill can be put out of circulation in 72 hours without any major problems; that the goal is to punish “mafias” and that the operation was led by an NGO hired by the US Treasury Department to drain Venezuela off paper money. He asked us not to doubt that “the right” was behind the paper money mafias.

The important part is that Nicolás doesn’t hesitate to make this decision, although the cause some disturbance and, happy because he dealt a blow against the mafias, he answered any doubts with this pearl. “Everything will have a solution,” because Merentes, the head of the Central Bank, “was giving [him] some measures, a set of measures that will be announced in due time.”

Nicolás said nothing regarding the procedures they’ll follow in the ten days after the 72 hours period, he gave none of the answers Venezuelans actually needed to hear. He only announced that the Colombian-Venezuelan border would be closed for three days, that people will be able to exchange their Bs. 100 bills through private banks and added that the National Civil Aviation Institute (INAC) had suspended private flights —including drones— all over the country until December 14th.


Nicolás said that the meeting with the Banking Association of Venezuela had gone very well.

Nicolás said that the meeting with the Banking Association of Venezuela had gone very well, that’s why he talked about boosting electronic payments with rewards: “Starting now and until January 5th, anyone who makes electronic payments will get a little something.” I’ll be sure to bring that up with the guy who sells ice cream on my block today, to see what he makes of it.

Mind you, since his performance has been exemplary, he promised that the people won’t lose a puya, that they have a plan to include the CLAPs in the banking system and this unavoidable measure “will leave us financially and economically stronger.” Sadly, he didn’t explain how.

It’s always someone else’s fault

If the mafias wanted to deal a financial blow and leave the country without liquidity, and that’s precisely what the government’s doing, who won?

Nicolás blamed other countries for Venezuela’s inflation and financial collapse, but he decided to threaten the application of a “menu of options of measures” to destroy the mafias, anyway. Hoping for president Juan Manuel Santos’s cooperation to solve his conspiranoia with Colombian exchange houses, he took a while to blame Colombia for the bolívar’s depreciation, but he eventually got around to it, adding that Defense minister Vladimir Padrino López has set up a meeting with his Colombian counterpart, Luis Carlos Villegas, to set out actions against the mafias at the border. If the mafias wanted to deal a financial blow and leave the country without liquidity, and that’s precisely what the government’s doing, who won?

A sci-fi competition

Interior minister Néstor Reverol reported that they’ve taken actions to ensure that the banknote exchange process takes place without problems, with the support of his office and SUDEBAN, claiming that they’ve taken “all security measures (…) for strict earth, sea and air monitoring, to make sure banknotes cannot secretly enter the country.” I’m sorry for Batman, Superman and Aquaman, who have to keep all those bills now. The most questionable part of his tale was the explanation of the evidence of alleged smuggling, a PowerPoint presentation —made with Office 2000— claiming that there are warehouses in Switzerland, Poland, Ukraine, Spain and Germany full of Bs. 100 bills. Reverol said these operations are made to finance terrorism and promised that they’ll receive appropriate punishment. Can you imagine him making the same pledge regarding PDVSA’s embezzlement scandal involving Iranian construction companies?

The worst of the worst

The Inter American Development Bank released a report evidencing that Venezuela is one of the countries hardest hit by this year’s drop in exports, at -32%, worse than Bolivia (-22%,) Colombia (-21%,) and Ecuador (-15%,) all of them dependant on energy exports. South America is the region with the highest contraction, with an 8% drop. The BID’s annual report is pessimistic about next year’s evolution and the darkest shadows loom over Venezuela, because Nicolás can only avoid default by further reducing imports.

The pran Hood

The National Superintendent for the Defense of Social-economic Rights, William Contreras reported that William Contreras investigacion henrique capriles kreiselagainst MUD head Jesús Chúo Torrealba, Miranda mayor Henrique Capriles Radonski, economist Luis Vicente León and lawmaker José Guerra, plus the heads of Consecomercio and Fedecámaras, Cipriana Ramos and Francisco Martínez, for saying that SUNDDE’s intervention against the toy company Kreisel was a robbery. He thinks it’s unacceptable for them to call him a thief for confiscating nearly four million of the company’s toys for alleged hoarding and speculation, because according to him, the process was compliant with the law. A righteous man, said Nicolás.

Humanitarian channel?

On Monday, the head of Cáritas de Venezuela, Janeth Márquez Soler, said that, so far they “have no information about the opening of a humanitarian channel, or about humanitarian aid. What we know is that there’s a request for international cooperation, which is different.” He added that there’s some confusion in the concepts used, which makes it impossible to speak about a humanitarian channel, and that the information she has is that there will be cooperation through the United Nations, handled directly by the State, remarking that Cáritas lacks the infrastructure to adequately distribute donations through the national territory.

ISIS retook Palmira and Al Assad recovered Aleppo. A terrible Monday.

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.