If you can’t beat them, outlaw them

Your daily briefing for For Tuesday, February 8, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

This Tuesday, the same National Electoral Council that hasn’t said a word about gubernatorial elections —promised for the first half of the 2017 by Tibisay last year— announced that the process to renew political parties will start on Saturday, February 18th and end on April 3rd.

59 parties that either didn’t participate in the last two elections, or couldn’t secure 1% of the votes issued in those elections, are compelled to go through this process. The CNE decided that the procedures would be explained in detail on Thursday, February 9th, and that the timetable will be published on February 16th, remarking that the guidelines of this renewal will comply with the ruling issued by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s Constitutional Chamber.

This process is the most recent push of the Electoral Branch to alienate the opposition even more from the country’s scene; to destroy smaller parties (by setting the bar way above their capacities); to shatter unity (because allegiance to a party means that the Democratic Unity Roundtable will be left without membership). It will also put into diplay the inaction of citizens who lack incentives to participate, even though they have all the necessary information.

No incentives

I don’t know if this delay is caused by self-sabotage, an inability to understand the extent of the crisis we’re experiencing, or a passion for failure.

After three weeks of expectations, MUD’s secretary general Jesús Chúo Torrealba announced that a special board to restore the democratic alliance is now starting operations, coordinated and headed by him and also involving José Ignacio Guédez (La Causa R), Enrique Márquez ( Un Nuevo Tiempo) and Juan Carlos Caldera (Primero Justicia). The goal? “To build a series of agreements to inform the country, within a week, regarding the new government of the democratic alternative, in the face of the struggles we have ahead”, in Torrealba’s words. I admit I don’t know if this delay is caused by self-sabotage, an inability to understand the extent of the crisis we’re experiencing, or a passion for failure. Although Guédez spoke about closing an exhausted cycle, in truth, it’s us citizens who are exhausted.

Exhausted by so much mediocrity

In a seven-year study, the Institute of Tropical Medicine found 3551 kissing bugs (chipos) —five different species of them— in 32 parishes of Caracas. 75.2% were infected with the parasite trypanosoma cruzi, the vector for Chagas disease, making our city, which is already one of the most violent in the world, also the most vulnerable to the disease, since 48.7% of the insects studied had fed from human blood. 

Additionally, the National Assembly debated about the nutritional situation of Venezuelans. Lawmaker Ángel Medina says that Venezuelans are eating less than 14 kg of food monthly: “A humanitarian channel must be opened (…) this government has made people eat from the garbage and has imposed terrible conditions on our future generations,” he said. Lawmaker Karin Salanova remarked that signs of malnutrition are obvious even without official figures, that an alarming percentage of children are experiencing severe malnutrition and an even bigger number is dying of hunger, according to recent studies carried out by Cáritas de Venezuela.

Fortunately, the CLAP bags are a priority.

Exhausted from announcing future announcements

Erick Romero, SENIAT’s National Manager of Internal Taxes, claimed that the law establishes a new Tax Unit hike to be announced on February 15th. As usual, he presented Income Tax (ISLR) collection figures as an accomplishment, even though they simply justify inflation. He also ratified that citizens earning an income lower than 6,000 tax units are exempt from paying. The head of Fedecámaras, Francisco Martínez, explained that determining tax units with our inflation rates is difficult: “It musn’t be an easy decision for the government (…) since our current inflation rate stands between 500% and 800%, which is quite high, and it will have significant economic impact on all Venezuelans.”

Exhausted by the threat of default

This year, Venezuela must pay $193,000 million in both internal and external debt, which is 97% of the GDP for 2017 ($199,000 million), according to Torino Capital: “If we compare the debt with an estimate GDP based on a long-term link between exports and GDP in dollars, we calculate that the debt is 129% of the GDP”, they say, adding that, even though national authorities have shown willingness to honor these commitments on time, a government that holds such a debt “will eventually default on part of the payment”. The issue is that they’ll do so in a country experiencing post-war conditions.

Exhausted of so much empty goodwill

Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, sent a letter addressed to National Assembly Speaker, Julio Andrés Borges, expressing his concern for the political, economic and social situation that we’re going through and regretting that the humanitarian aid offered by his nation had been rejected by the government. Both Temer and Argentina’s Mauricio Macri also spoke about Venezuela after a meeting they held in Brasilia, presenting their stance in a joint statement, in which they ratify their support for “dialogue to find ways to overcome the difficult context the country faces.”


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.