From breastfeeding to rifling

Your briefing for Thursday, March 9, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

“Llegaron las heroínas 

a acompañar al Panteón 

a nuestro padre Bolívar”


That was the chanting in the National Pantheon during the ceremony to lay the symbolic mortal remains of two of Simón Bolívar’s slaves as well as a chief from the Quiriquire tribe. All fine, except for the fact that Bolívar is in the Mausoleum, not in the Pantheon. And that was just the simplest of many errors at yesterday’s event, because the women tasked with representing the slaves attributed all kinds of made-up merits to them.

The most remarkable: not only did Hipólita breastfeed Bolívar, she also used rifles during the Independence war. Women minister Blanca Eekhout blurted something about the great progress of feminist socialism, those el finado and Nicolás claimed were models of integrity. Each speaker reshaped history like clay and of course, populist announcements were reserved for Nicolás: a million families will allegedly benefit from Misión Hogares de la Patria; he created the micromisión (?) Paula Correa (who was Ezequiel Zamora’s mother) to provide attention to women in extreme poverty. Supposedly, women will enjoy 45% of the total credits available.


Freedom for political prisoners

This Wednesday, during the presentation of his annual accountability report before the Human Rights Council, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein, demanded that all political prisoners in Venezuela be released and respect for essential rights. He also expressed his concern for the lack of independence in the law, the diaspora, the shortage of food and medicine, emphasizing that despite their insistence, his office remains barred from Venezuela, reiterating his request so that his experts can come to the country. On a related note, José Ángel Ferreira, administrative vice-rector of the University of Carabobo, announced that the general prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz promised to appoint an official to investigate professor Santiago Guevara’s case.

What are the lawmakers up to?

During yesterday’s plenary, the AN’s Finance Committee presented a report showing the inflation rate for February, estimated at 20.1%; cumulative inflation for January and February, which is 42.5% and yearly inflation, calculated at 741%. As lawmaker José Guerra explains, the loss of purchasing power has been brutal.

Meanwhile, lawmaker José Trujillo (Social Development Committee) requested the Ombudsman to intercede before the Health ministry regarding the diphtheria epidemic that has already claimed 50 lives in the country, urging him to declare a national health emergency. Lawmaker Carlos Paparoni protested before the Food ministry, due to the agro-food crisis and the deaths caused by hunger and malnutrition, denouncing minister Marco Torres for refusing to take action to solve the crisis. To conclude, Luis Florido said that Brazil’s Foreign minister, Aloysio Nunes, received a letter from the National Assembly requesting his support for the invocation of the Democratic Charter.

Alliances and splits

Mercosur’s Foreign ministers will meet today to discuss the free trade agreement with the European Union, as well as the situation of Venezuela, whose rights in the bloc have been suspended since December. We have yet another astonishing figure to think about: Transparencia Venezuela published the result of their monitoring on State-owned companies (511), estimating that 70% of them, put together, lost about Bs. 1.29 trillion, much more than last year’s public expenditure. And just this Wednesday, oil barrel prices dropped by 6% and also, PDVSA has made cuts to its deliveries to refineries in India, due to a mixture of output reduction and the obligations of financial agreements with China and Russia, political allies that have lent Venezuela over $50 billion in exchange for oil and gas. Todo bello.

By the way, Nicolás said that he won’t even bother insulting Peru’s president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski anymore, and ordered Delcy to issue a protest note “on behalf of the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean,” in addition to promoting protest in UNASU, CELAC and all other international institutions. Where is Delcy going to get the oil to pay for that kind of support? Mind you, the Foreign minister had already spewed her share of insults against PPK, and also against her new counterpart in Brazil, Aloysio Nunes, can you guess why? Meddling, of course!

It’s not enough

While the National Bureau for the Defense of Socio-economic Rights inspected the pricing in food production and packaging companies, the Federation of Associations of Agricultural Producers (Fedeagro) said that domestic output of white and yellow corn, rice, sugar and coffee can only cover the demand for the next four months, indicating that the sector depends on imports that the government is restricting in order to pay its foreign purveyors.

Just a few years ago, Venezuelan producers contributed 65% of national demand of goods, that’s currently down to 33%. Three weeks ago, Fedeagro gave the Agriculture ministry the sowing projections of their member farmers and their supply/equipment demands. They’ve yet to receive any response. That’s why forecasts are so disheartening, because the shortage of agricultural chemical compounds, seeds, raw materials and replacement parts for agricultural equipment severely compromises May’s crop, which requires supplies that used to be collected starting November, under normal circumstances.

Do you remember Carietón?

Colgate-Palmolive is shutting down its toothpaste production lines, even though they cover 90% of that product’s demand, because they no longer have imported raw materials, thanks to currency exchange restrictions, meaning that they won’t produce their usual 100,000 monthly units. They say that they need between 1,200 and 1,400 tonnes of raw materials to guarantee ongoing operations. Our love to Cencoex, especially on behalf of the employees that are now facing imposed holidays or suspension from their jobs on minimum wage.

The Simadi FX rate is up again this Wednesday: Bs. 701.92 per dollar.

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.