The Calm in Devastation

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For Tuesday, December 20, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Several PSUV authorities arrived to Ciudad Bolívar yesterday. Lawmaker, AN non-attendance leader and presidential candidate of a chavismo with a president, Diosdado Cabello headed the press conference, in lieu of governor Francisco Rangel Gómez or ornamental vice-president Aristóbulo Istúriz. Everything he said was a cynical jipe, bad enough for him to claim that Bolívar was completely and absolutely calm and that, if previous governments had faced these events, there would be far more people wounded and dead. We should be glad for the State’s inaction against criminals, then.

He blamed opposition parties and smuggling mafias for the lootings -he said they were a desperate reaction to Nicolás’s effective measure to withdraw Bs. 100 bills-; he called the lootings “terrorist attacks” and praised the people for their conscience, despite the fact that they stripped over 400 stores clean. His promises boil down to: installing the Vice-presidency for the social area in Bolívar (social program management); meeting with affected business owners and public banks; increasing the PSUV’s activism (partisanship) and distributing the CLAP bags. But who said anything about social control?

A standing ovation for journalist Marcos Valverde -Correo del Caroní- who asked the necessary questions. Diosdado couldn’t conceal his rage -he’s been used to militants posing as journalists for too many years- and accused private media of supporting violence. Nothing he said exempts Nicolás from his responsibility. There must be a reason for that.

More normality

A series of violent events erupted last Saturday and Sunday and we’re already investigating them (…) We’ve been following the situation in public order, caused by violent acts of vandalism and media violence (..) These are orchestrated by Venezuelan right-wing groups

Interior minister Néstor Reverol reported that 286 people have been arrested following the lootings and violent events in Bolívar, 30 of them with criminal records: “A series of violent events erupted last Saturday and Sunday and we’re already investigating them (…) We’ve been following the situation in public order, caused by violent acts of vandalism and media violence (..) These are orchestrated by Venezuelan right-wing groups,” he claimed, adding a strange list he wanted to share: 20 liquor stores, four hardware stores, eight lottery agencies and three burnt vehicles; he didn’t include the remaining affected businesses, he said nothing about lootings, let alone people wounded or killed.

With an 85% shortage

The Defense Ministry, via the Operational Strategic Command and the Strategic Region of Integral Defense (Redi,) issued an order to inspect all private labs and drugstores in all defense regions between December 19th and 23rd, to verify medicine inventories and “guarantee distribution for the first quarter of 2017.” With an 85% shortage in medicines, this is set to be a really quick inspection,

Humanitarian channel

The National Assembly unanimously approved an agreement exhorting the Executive Branch to open a humanitarian channel to aid the states affected by lootings and violence, especially Bolívar. The lawmakers explained that there are few bank offices in this state an cash is essential. Lawmaker Américo De Grazia remarked that withdrawing the Bs. 100 bill from circulation left eight cities destroyed. Closing the border with Brazil makes things worse in the area. The lawmakers also said that authorities took 72 hours to activate a security plan. Additionally, the parliamentarians unanimously approved the opening of an investigation to establish the responsibility of Nicolás, BCV chief Nélson Merentes and the rest of the economic cabinet regarding the violence that ensued following the hasty monetary reconversion.

Chinese at the bottom

China is concerned by the situation -for which a government they’ve financed for years is fully accountable- and their citizens could be attacked just for owning restaurants, supermarkets and shops, the first businesses to be looted

China, through their Foreign Affairs minister, demanded Venezuela to protect their citizens living in the country, in view of the riots and lootings that took place after the Bs. 100 bills were withdrawn. The Chinese embassy in Caracas activated an emergency mechanism and issued security warnings to Chinese citizens, after demanding the Venezuelan Foreign Affairs minister to take the safety of their citizens in the country “seriously.” China is concerned by the situation -for which a government they’ve financed for years is fully accountable- and their citizens could be attacked just for owning restaurants, supermarkets and shops, the first businesses to be looted.

Colombia unsatisfied

Colombia’s Foreign Affairs ministry summoned Venezuela’s ambassador in Bogota to express their disagreement in view of Nicolás’s accusations and all the responsibility he’s attributed in his pathetic script to “mafias operating in Cucuta,” to explain the bolívar’s collapse. The ministry issued a statement saying that Venezuela’s current economic situation doesn’t originate in Colombia and remarked that their government categorically condemns Venezuelan authorities’ vilification of Cucuta: “Business owners in Cucuta has been of great help to thousands of Venezuelans coming to the country in search for food and medicines in the recent months.” Silk gloves sometimes turn to steel, Delcy.

Alienated

CLAP will distribute 390,000 toys (out of the four million they confiscated

While Nicolás prepares for his tour through oil exporting nations to “try and stabilize the market,” there were reports this Monday that some banks were receiving deposits in Bs. 5 bills, enormous lines at ATMs (which keep giving Bs. 100 bills,) lootings in a Mercal warehouse in Villa de Cura (Aragua) and a truck in Ciudad Ojeda (Zulia); other reports include losses for informal vendors and sharp drops in sales due to cash shortages.

While superintendent William Contreras said that the CLAP will distribute 390,000 toys (out of the four million they confiscated,) other spokespeople cautioned that power rationing could resume in January. All of this the same day that Trump is ratified as president elect and attacks take place in Berlín, Zürich and Ankara.

Only five days left for Christmas.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, the National Assembly is “unanimously” approving agreements and investigations that are arguably against the government’s interests? Are the chavistas assembly members not attending sessions? Or am I missing something here..

    • I don’t even think all the opposition members are attending. At this point the National Assembly is a joke, and not a very funny one.

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