Diplomatic Geniuses

Your daily briefing for Thursday, March 16th. Translated by Javier Liendo.

The government issued a statement expressing “their strongest condemnation for the illegitimate and illegal” report presented by OAS head Luis Almagro, whom they call a schemer, a villain and a enemy of the Venezuelan people. Claiming that Almagro’s sole purpose is to promote international intervention and escalate their fictional economic war, they promised further protests. This level-headed message was followed by Nicolás’ words, saying that:

“We’ve set up surprises for meddlers, I won’t keep quiet (…) in view of the attacks of this inept little traitor (…) nobody threatens Venezuela, especially trash like Luis Almagro. Trash, I say!”

Foreign Affairs minister Delcy Rodríguez added that it was Almagro who persuaded the opposition to abandon negotiations that never started, and cautioning Almagro that he’s already failed because most governments in the region back the regime (with what oil?) She thanked social movements —code for PSUV militants— that are collecting signatures against the document, while the government floods all spaces with insults. A fool-proof strategy.

The flip side

The head of the AN’s Foreign Policy Committee, lawmaker Luis Florido, reported that Parliament has unanimously approved the report presented by Luis Almagro before the Permanent Council and requested the immediate application of the Democratic Charter. He remarked that article 20 of the Democratic Charter was invoked on June 23rd, 2016, with the presentation of Almagro’s first report, starting collective review procedures.

By the way, former Mexican president Vicente Fox said that all American countries should show the same determination as Almagro before “Venezuela’s atrocious dictatorship,” urging leaders to stop pretending that democracy is a game, challenging Donald Trump specifically.

The virtue of taking notice

The government rejected 81 out of thr 274 recommendations it received during the Universal Periodic Review to improve the country’s situation on Human Rights. The State merely took notice of —but didn’t accept— any recommendations regarding the release of political prisoners, establishing an institutional communication channel with the National Assembly, allowing international cooperation to combat food and medicine shortages; all of this supported by dubious sources who offered information about these issues, and the constant economic war which has denied Venezuelans full access to the Human Rights.

Due to the rejection of the recommendations regarding health care, the Codevida coalition cautioned that it was a priority for the government to ensure the urgent supply of medicines, to face the shortage of services and develop and implement efficient policies to solve the crisis of food and health care. Remarking that shortages of medicines and medical supplies stand at 85% and 95% respectively, predicting that the shortage of medicines will soon reach catastrophic proportions.

Sacrifice something

Foreign Trade minister Jesús Faría said that eliminating FX restrictions isn’t viable because it would cause an even greater instability in national economy. But relax, the government will continue with its effective plan to weaken the black market dollar – and DolarToday- while they try to slip the stranglehold of having lost 85% of foreign currency: “the economy doesn’t work without foreign currency, so we must generate it. We must sacrifice something.” Regarding complaints for overpriced imports, Faría claimed that there’s only a colossal subsidy with low tax revenues and that the government is doing a great sacrifice to import the products the CLAP distribute, saying that reports that these imports are made with a rate of Bs. 10 per dollar are vile lies.

Crisis and solutions

Minister Faría should read what various representatives of the country’s productive sector are saying. “We have a food crisis, there’s no other way we can call this,” said Fredy Cova, director of Consecomercio, remarking that just in the first two months of the year, food production dropped by 18%, indicating that right now, companies lack the inventories to produce because there are no raw materials  —a result of the sacrifices mentioned by minister Faría— because if the government refuses to grant dollars so that companies can import raw materials, there’s no production; if you don’t pay your debts with foreign suppliers, which stands at $3 billion, credit lines will continue to be unavailable.

The head of Fedecámaras, Francisco Martínez, said this Wednesday that less than 20% of the population has access to the CLAP grocery bags, and urged the government to allow production with a simple insight: “Nobody speculates when products are abundant, the only way for speculation to take hold is by having empty shelves, so let’s fill them with products made in Venezuela, that’s easy, we simply stop importing, with each dollar spent abroad, we could produce three to five kilos of food in Venezuela.”

To conclude, according to Roberto León Parilli, head of Anauco, the government isn’t attacking the real causes of the economic situation: taking over bakeries or distributing food through the CLAP only worsen the crisis. In order to solve the chaos, national production must be reactivated: “the only problem we need to rein in is inflation,” he said; a perspective supported by the head of Consecomercio, Cipriana Ramos.

Political proselytism

Ecuador’s government denied having violated the Lilian Tintori’s Human Rights by barring her from the country, claiming she was intent on carrying out political activities, which they found out about upon asking her about her business and how long she would stay in the country. Tintori answered that she was invited by Guillermo Lasso, the opposition candidate to the presidency. The Interior minister, Diego Fuentes, said: “According to the Framework Law on Human Mobility, foreigners are barred from political proselytizing (…) Mrs. Tintori can’t proselytize on a tourist visa.” These governments are bound together not only by corruption and authoritarianism, but also by blatant cynicism.

The Simadi FX rate was up this Wednesday: Bs. 704.06 per dollar. The  Economic Emergency was also extended for 60 more days Decree. This is the sixth extension of a measure that allows Nicolás to rule in violation of the Constitution, a measure that has ravaged Venezuelans’ living conditions, without offering any solution to the crisis.

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.