Babblings and blunders
While COPEI announced that they’d wait for the “reparos” phase of the re-registration drive, set for May, and Acción Democrática celebrated the 234,000 signatures they managed to collect nationwide for their own re-registration, the Venezuelan government requested the suspension of the OAS Permanent Council meeting called for today (by 18 countries) to discuss the severe crisis in the country. They didn’t succeed.
Later, the head of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, Maikel Moreno, rejected Luis Almagro’s “meddling” and asked the Executive Branch to consider the possibility of removing him as OAS secretary general “due to his constant attacks against Venezuela and its institutions,” thus confirming one of the points on Almagro’s report: the judiciary’s lack of autonomy in Venezuela.
“It’s the hour of jackals and hyenas”
Those were the words Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez used to refer to the OAS Permanent Council’s actions. She insulted Luis Almagro, calling him “a liar, dishonest, crooked, mercenary and traitor,” claiming that his time as head of the OAS has been marked by arbitrary, deviant and proselytized actions against the Venezuelan government, adding that he’s an “agent of American decisions” that seek to destroy the revolution with a Washington-led scheme that will conclude with an invasion.
She denied the crisis, lied and presented outdated figures to boast of PSUV’s alleged successes; she claimed that the Bolivarian project is a menace to the OAS —without explaining if that was an invitation or an actual threat— and rubbed the money that Petrocaribe has paid Caribbean countries for their loyalty in their faces. She said that the OAS “comes from a dark past and is building the destruction of its future.” Switch OAS for PSUV and the phrase might make a lot more sense. She remarked that in case they persist with their attacks against Venezuela, Nicolás will proceed with severe and definitive actions —what those might be, she didn’t say— and announced that she’ll promote further Permanent Council meetings to evaluate Almagro’s honesty. Cuban accent included, Delcy’s antics were beyond shameful.
Elisa Ruíz Díaz, representative of Paraguay, was a model of spokesmanship, mixing sarcasm with very serious data about Venezuela’s weak posture, reminding Delcy Eloina about the outstanding debt of $8,764,000 that Venezuela owes the OAS, and pointing out the incoherence of complaining about the alleged shame of the institution while still being a member State. Bolivia and Nicaragua sang Venezuela’s praises, but they couldn’t compensate for the elegant blow dealt by Paraguay. In any case, according to Diosdado Cabello, if the OAS suspends Venezuela they would be doing the country a favor, because “the OAS should have disappeared many years ago,” adding that “there’s not a single more vigorous democracy in the whole continent” than Venezuela’s. It would be good to tell him that the 22 former heads of State belonging to the Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA) expressed their support for Luis Almagro and that nobody cares about the opinion of former presidents Rodríguez Zapatero, Fernández and Torrijos, in their attempt to promote the dialogue that hasn’t happened.
The price of the Basic Food Basket reached Bs. 922,625 in February, a hike of Bs. 90,365 compared to January, which is an annual variation of 421.3% or Bs. 745,649.94. Venezuela’s once again releasing monetary liquidity data, after inexplicably interrupting it for an month. This Monday, there were reports of operational difficulties in the country’s refineries, which are forcing PDVSA to buy 150,000 gasoline barrels per day in international markets for internal consumption, which represents an expense of $15million daily, according to Iván Freites, former head of the Oil Workers Federation; but there were also reports that crude shipments in the country’s main oil port are delayed due to a problem in one of its harbors (The western area of the José Antonio Anzoátegui Shipment Terminal) and that these delays are yet to be resolved in full.
The Argentine government decided to use the nearly $800,000 confiscated in 2007 during the political and judicial scandal of Venezuelan Guido Antonini Wilson’s suitcase to build assistance centers for children. That money was meant to finance the former president Cristina Fernández’s electoral campaign, although the governments of Argentina and Venezuela denied it at the time. Meanwhile, the District Court of Columbia in Washington confirmed the ruling issued by the ICSID, ordering Venezuela to repay $1.4 billion to Canadian mining company Crystallex for the 2008 confiscation of Las Cristinas mine, whose exploitation rights the PSUV would eventually give to China.
Yesterday, Nicolás closed the Expo Venezuela Potencia in the Poliedro, claiming that the years of the oil rentist model are finished and that a new economic era has begun because Venezuela is better prepared to rise as a power. Claiming that our economy ranks sixth in Latin America, he once again complained about external debt payments that they’ve had to assume, without mentioning that it was Chávez who indebted the country in the midst of the oil boom. According to Maduro, we’re one of the least indebted countries -just 25% of the GDP- and we’re just as productive as Chile, Mexico and Panama. “We must study our economy, know our economy,” he asked, a near-impossible challenge considering that the BCV and the INE haven’t released official figures for years.
There will be a new DICOM FX rate system in place starting next week —yes, another— which will follow a mode of two weekly auctions (just like SICAD). He didn’t explain that it’s impossible to increase foreign currency grants because the BCV has no reserves and PDVSA —with dropping output— is indebted. He exonerated a company from paying Income Tax because its owner asked him too, as if he country wasn’t experiencing a crisis and the money was his to do with as he pleased. He created the National Productive Center of Innovation, Technology and Import Substitution, in charge of Banco Bicentenario head Miguel Pérez Abad. All of the agreements he signed and the credits he granted reinforce the system of controls, through the carnet de la patria.
FX controls are still in place, so nothing has changed. The economic war boiled down to admitting that there are no foreign currency reserves or supplies. With his black liquiliqui and the colorful background, he looked like a whale at Sea World, spouting babblings and blunders.