The 100,000 CLAP boxes Nicolás ordered to be sent to Perú fulfilled their purpose: president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said that the help will be welcomed despite the recent diplomatic conflict. However, according to Christian Leffler, deputy director general of the European External Action Service, Venezuela must normalize its democratic credentials in order to contribute to both its own peace process and Colombia’s, saying before the European Parliament: “We’ve been expecting great efforts in the last few years to facilitate and promote dialogue in Venezuela.” Additionally, Uruguayan senator Luis Lacalle Pou said that Venezuela wasn’t a good partner for Mercosur, remarking that the false neutrality of president Tabaré Vázquez only make it a part “of that sad group of countries that still defend the Venezuelan regime.”
A message for those sad countries
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said this Tuesday: “today, Venezuela’s government is only efficient at repression. If they handled the economy the way they handle repression, the entire country would support Maduro.” His article “Keys to avoid Venezuela’s suspension” explains that the OAS isn’t against dialogue but against its failure (my love to Zapatero) and that suspension isn’t the goal, but rather the institution’s last legal resort so that the government, before international isolation and non-existent legitimacy -in addition to the people’s call for help- is forced to call elections to restore democracy, liberties and prosperity in the country, because that’s their genuine obligation as democrats.
The national government excels in its authoritarianism, that’s why Martin Chumgong, chief of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said that a commission sent by the institution to try to verify the situation of Venezuelan lawmakers was barred from entering the country. With their access as well as the visa of one of its members denied, as well as the impossibility of holding the formal interviews with both parties that they require to draft their report, the commission won’t insist on their visit, but they expect that a committee of Venezuelan lawmakers is able to participate in the next general meeting, to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, starting April, so they can denounce the situation of the Venezuelan Legislative Branch.
No money for home
The same day that Cendas-FMV reports that the Basic Food Basket’s price increased Bs. 44,575 in February, reaching Bs. 665,682, which a hike of 445.8% in a year and that 16 minimum wages are required to pay for it; Economy vice-president Ramón Lobo explained that Venezuela will pay $17 billion in international commitments this year, and claimed that one of the things that allows this payment is the hike in oil barrel prices. “It’s $10 more than last year’s average, a relevant income.” Sadly, he didn’t mention that in 2016, the amount of active oil drills in Venezuela dropped by 25%, that PDVSA’s output is only 2.2 million barrels per day -a drop of over a third- and that we’re the second OPEC member country to register such a drop without being at war.
Building the opposition they need
CNE rectora Socorro Hernández urgently needs some lessons on public speaking and also coherence. After attributing the delay on gubernatorial elections to the TSJ’s ruling ordering political parties to re-register, and announcing the zillion steps involved in the process, she said that the report on validations will be released on June or starting July. Regarding gubernatorial elections this year, she said: “The CNE guarantees elections according to all we’ve been saying (…) we must review everything concerning specific schedules where we’re probably going to have a context with less political organizations due to all that’s been happening. Three weeks have passed and only four parties have had greater presence.” My love to Henri Falcón.
One less indicator
Venezuela stopped releasing data on monetary liquidity, one of the few available tools to estimating inflation in the country. M2 liquidity, also know as broad money, increased by almost 180% in mid February, compared to last year. To put this in perspective, Colombia’s and the United States’ M2 increased by 7% and 6% in the same period, respectively. An increase in M2 means that there’s more money in the street, which can accelerate inflation when combined with diminishing production of goods and services, as is the case in Venezuela. But the economic crisis can’t be denied, even if they stop releasing every macroeconomic indicator.
The forum “Perspectivas 2017” organized by IESA should have handed out anti-depressant pills to the audience along with the the technical presentations of its panel. Experts there showed that Venezuela experiences the worst economic contraction in its history and it was the least developed economy in Latin America in the last 18 years. This is due to dropping oil prices, diminishing production of goods and services and regime-imposed price and foreign exchange restrictions and expropriations. According to economist Francisco Rodríguez, between 1998 and 2014, Venezuela could’ve saved $228 billion in the Macroeconomic Stabilization Fund managed by the Central Bank, but el finado decided to scrap that tool when he got to power. This will be the fourth year of economic recession and there’s a high probability that the trend will continue. The only way to recover from this collapse, to revert inflation and shortages, is through a program of policy reforms that we know PSUV will never set in motion.
Remember that last Monday, Defense minister Padrino López was evaluating threats to the country along with his peers? Well, yesterday, it was reported that hundreds of cocaine packs were confiscated, and two civilians and three Air Force officers were arrested. They’re the threat. Meanwhile, the government celebrated the success of a tsunami drill held in eight coastline and two andean states. Clear priorities.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.