All protesters are private

Your briefing for Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

The same day that the 2017 Wealth Report reveals that Venezuela is one of the ten countries with the most private jets in the world (340 currently in operation) there was a transport strike spanning 17 states in the country, to protest the government’s delay in establishing a replacement for the ticket estudiantil suspended last November. Erick Zuleta, head of the National Transport Federation, called for a meeting with his colleague Nicolás to solve the problem created by Transport minister Ricardo Molina; saying that the government’s true intent is to scrub the subsidized student fare entirely, a benefit dating back to 1991.

Minister Molina, who promised to establish a new mechanism to replace the ticket estudiantil by January 1st, said that the strike was confusing, that it was called by sectors with dissident tendencies; that mass transport is both public and private —all protesters are private— but that he’s working on the management of resources to cover the student fare, although he’s delayed. He dismissed the possibility that bus fares reach Bs. 300.

The queen of hearts

“Off with their heads!” said the famous character from Alice in Wonderland. General Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz doesn’t go that far, but when her motorcade was stopped at a road checkpoint in Barquisimeto and the policeman requested the credentials of the people driving the vehicles, the Prosecutor lowered her window to say who she was and the officer allegedly replied: “That’s fine, mi reina, but pull over to the right,” infuriating the monarch, who ordered the military officers in the place to arrest the “disrespectful” policeman. Meanwhile, lawmaker Héctor Rodríguez said yesterday: “If we find evidence of corruption of anyone in the CLAP, they’ll go to prison, whoever they are.” They look the other way for certain things…

A study on absurdity?

Juan Barreto, the head of Redes political party, will request the nullification of article 26 of the Law of Political Parties before the Supreme Tribunal and request an injunction to suspend the party re-registration drive because it violates parties’ independence, according to him. The head of Fedecámaras, Francisco Martínez, said this Monday that economic operations in the country are distorted by the Central Bank’s refusal to release official figures, leaving the private sector to scramble for information in data released by multilateral institutions. We conclude with Delcy celebrating in the Casa Amarilla the ratification of relations with St. Kitts and Nevis, saying that there are now many more areas of bilateral cooperation without mentioning anything other than the name of the prime minister of the Caribbean island, Timothy Harris, which anyone can find on Google.

Here and there

When impunity becomes a feature of how an institution operates, they’ll probably face some risks at the border. Two officers from the regime’s secret police (SEBIN) were detained in the town of Paraguachón, at the border between Colombia and Venezuela, located in La Guajira. According to the authorities’ report, the officers entered Colombian territory violating national sovereignty while in pursuit of criminals in the neighboring country. The officers were taken to the Paraguachón police station and then to Colombian immigration headquarters by officers of the Colombian Army and the National Police.

Political prisoners

Zulia state councilman Jorge Luis González Villasmil was arrested on January 11th in Maracaibo, for alleged possession of incendiary material, illegal possession of weapons of war and smuggling ammunition, which prompted vice-president Tareck El Aissami to dub him a terrorist. He was released on bail and his party mates ratified that evidence was planted and that this isn’t an act of justice, because González should’ve never been in jail to begin with. The Prosecutor’s Office also intervened to allow mayor Delson Guarate to be transferred to a private clinic for medical examination, according to a post on their Twitter account @MPvenezolano: “The PO processed the transfer of Delson Guarate to a specialized clinic to receive an MRI scan, guaranteeing his Human Rights.”

The metallurgical power of the sunflower

Sidor takes one more step towards collapse since it was nationalized, although it’s unclear whether in iron or coal. Reuters says that with an output of less than a tenth of its installed capacity, Sidor head Justo Noguera announced a plan for his employees to plant sunflowers, sorghum and vegetables, to contribute to food supplies. Four months after the sowing, the yields are uneven, only the sunflowers are there. Sidor produced 4.3 million tons of liquid steel just ten years ago. Today, not even chavistas in their unions have an argument to explain the lack of policies to increase output or the activities that aren’t part of the company’s purpose. With some luck, Sidor might produce 135,000 tonnes of steel this year, its worst number since it was opened in 1963.

Go, Ekaré!

We have to celebrate the Special Mention of the Bologna Ragazzi New Horizons Award 2017 for “Cuéntame del 1 al 10” by Ana Palmero Cáceres, published by Ediciones Ekaré. The jury of the award granted by Bologna’s International Children’s and Youth’s Book Fair, the most important event of its kind, handed out the prize with this statement: “A book to tell, simple and short, where numbers are presented through traditional patterns of its culture. Attractive and fun to use, it is worth highlighting the great quality of the book’s graphic design.” What’s so special about it? That it invites children to count animals using a reinterpretation of the wajas or guapas, traditional ye’kuana baskets.

In the words of economist Asdrúbal Oliveros: the black market dollar doesn’t drop, it ducks just to leap higher.

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.