A Grotesque Farce Masquerading as a Memoria y Cuenta

A new day and a new violation to the Constitution. A typical Friday morning in Venezuela.

On Friday, Vice-president Tareck El Aissami, together with every single member of the 32 minister cabinet turned up at the Supreme Tribunal of Justice to take a dump on the Constitution. In direct, unambiguous and cara’e’tabla violation of the explicit mandate in Article 244 of the 1999 Constitution, they gave their 2017 Accountability speech not to the elected National Assembly, but to the the gaggle of crony pseudo-judges who make up the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, and to its new Chief Justice, Maikel Moreno.

Summing up, this Great Occassion of State consisted of a designated drug kingpin reading a speech to a convicted murderer.

This was not a surprise. Venezuela-watchers never for a moment dreamed Maduro would subject himself to critical scrutiny once more. This event, however, felt especially insulting. Punches to the face hurt, even if you know they’re coming.

For once, the event not broadcast on a national cadena. It lasted little more than hour, beggining at 11:30 am with El Aissami excusing himself for not presenting the whole thing at the Assembly; arguing that it had been impossible due to the lawmakers, whom he referred to as traitors, refusing to comply with the very same Constitution they were breaking in that act.

“The foundations of the Legislative Palace have been smirched” he said. Smirched by the democratic process known as elections, he ought to have clarified.

After a couple minutes of chavismo’s tropical take on Orwell’s newspeak (along with some anti-Almagro ranting,) the VP started showing some powerpoint slides.


“The foundations of the Legislative Palace have been smirched” he said. Smirched by the democratic process known as elections, he ought to have clarified.

He praised the efficiency of last year’s energy-saving drive, forgetting that the reduction in power demand was made possible by the wholesale destruction of the country’s economy. He then pivoted to a recognition of the “incredible” work Venezuela had done in last year’s Summer Olympic Games. Three medals: Two silvers, one bronze; the best result Venezuela’s ever achieved, yes, but not even half of what our “evil” neighbor Colombia got, after applying effective funding schemes.

Then things got real, as he brought the charts.

Not much is going up in Venezuela these days, other than prices. One such thing is the minimum wage, which rose some 500% last year. According to El Aissami, this shows how committed the government is to protecting the working class. Of course, inflation was around 600% (we don’t know exactly, because they won’t tell us) which poses the question: is it that he doesn’t get the difference between nominal and real values, or is he just pretending not to get it?

One way or another, the working class can buy much less today with its new minimum wage than a year ago; or 20 years ago, for that matter, before the 35 wage hikes chavismo is so proud to have decreed.

According to El Aissami, poverty also has been markedly reduced since Chávez was first elected 18 years ago; even after a recent ENCOVI study shows we are arguably now poorer than Haiti. Moments later, the Vice-President also assured us that life expectancy has increased to 75 years. I’d like to see him or our Health Minister explaining that to people dying at public hospitals due to the lack of antibiotics.

He also put in a word for our universities, claiming that since chavismo took power, over 2.8 million students have enrolled in higher education. What he did not mention is that autonomous universities have been forced to accept more people than they can take in order to do so; also working with extremely short budgets from years now. Similarly El Aissami remarked that school enrollment has doubled during the last two decades. It’s a shame most part of those kids will drop out to become bachaqueros or pranes. Some of them will simply be beaten to death by their classmates before that. Oh, the The New Man.

He also promised that CLAP grocery bags and Carnets de la Patria will empower the people and lead to the long-promised “supreme happiness”, even though both elements are an evident threat to the already mauled social rights of the Venezuelan people.

He closed by assuring all Venezuelans were represented in that TSJ auditorium full of unelected judges, because #FuckLogic.

Finally, he took the chance to thank the Armed Forces for granting an adequate food supply to the whole country while being the guardians of our food sovereignty. He’s right, in a way: the Armed Forces really do control pretty much every aspect of the food distribution process, from its arrival to La Guaira in some overbilled Mexican container, to its sale to people lining for hours at stores and abastos. They are directly responsible for rocketing hunger to levels never seen before in this half of the world.

The whole thing had a clearly militaristic tone. Flattery aimed at the FANB and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino as well as imaginary parallelisms between our current crisis and the Battle of Carabobo were recurrent in El Aissami’s speech. This also isn’t new: militarism is one of the key features of chavismo, but during the last few weeks the Men in Olive Green seem to have become particularly important for the government and its discourse.

Venezuelan ministers plainly don’t run the country.

El Aissami’s particular Memoria y Cuenta couldn’t end without a nod to drugs. The VP announced the new Misión Justicia Socialista; whose main target will be to guarantee the safety of the whole Venezuelan pueblo (not that we had heard that before or anything) and to fight a “relentless battle against drug trafficking.” It’s a bit like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a Domestic Violence Shelter.

Before finishing, El Aissami said the sanctions that the Treasury Department placed on him and his testaferro, Samark López, were a clear aggression to Venezuela as a whole, without really explaining why. He went on to say how satisfied he was to be in the “American Empire’s” spotlight. He closed by assuring all Venezuelans were represented in that TSJ auditorium full of unelected judges, because #FuckLogic.

After the speech, every single one of the 32 ministers of the Revolution paraded in front of a couple of funny-looking judges, giving them a pair of heavy books destined to become fancy paperweights, while a lively call and response of ¡Viva Chávez!, and ¡Que viva! took up the background.

It was a sad scene.

Venezuelan ministers plainly don’t run the country. They’re just pawns used and discarded by the chavista high sphere at will. Still, they share responsibility for destroying the country. The ceremony looked more like some sort of creepy Sunday mass rather than an official government act, with the judges shrouded in black and red robes like chavista high priests of some sort.

The whole dog and pony show ended with newly appointed head of the Supreme Court, convicted killer Maikel Moreno, wishing the ministers success, and congratulating himself loudly for how scrupulously he follows the Constitution.

If we weren’t so used to it, it would make us sick to our stomachs.