Original art by Mario Dávila

This is trolling and self-flagellation as a form of government: the Maduro administration reshuffled its cabinet for the umpteenth time, and appointed economic czar and PDVSA CFO, Simón Zerpa, as Finance Minister. The previous Minister, Ramón Lobo, was designated as President of the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV).

If you didn’t know, the PDVSA CFO and the Finance Minister are the two government officials who negotiate most of the external debt-related documents, which is funny, because Zerpa is among the newly-minted OFAC sanctionées with whom American companies and individuals are forbidden from doing business with.

During the country’s worst economic crisis, the government is voluntarily making it harder for itself to secure new loans, or renegotiate existing ones, in a reckless dare against common sense.

But is it worth the trouble?

The PDVSA CFO and the Finance Minister are the two government officials who negotiate most of the external debt-related documents.

34 year old Zerpa is very close to Nicolás Maduro and Cilia Flores, first serving as Vice President for Bandes. He has held four top government positions: President of Bandes, President of Fonden, his PDVSA gig and now Finance Minister. His father, Iván, has been the Venezuelan ambassador in China since 2013. Zerpa’s tenure in PDVSA has been marked by his inability to bypass US sanctions to secure new financing, and his incapacity of making a wire transfer on time, putting the company in the brink of default.

Lobo is a former National Assembly deputy from Mérida state, an economist, a former college professor and, predictably, former member of the Venezuelan Communist Party, who joined Chavez in the mid-1990s. Lobo came up through the ranks thanks to his sempai, Vice President Tareck El Aissami. During his deputy tenure, he had several brushes with former speaker and current most-hated person in Venezuela, Henry Ramos Allup, who once told him not to worry of dying from intelligence. Apparently, he’s been more conciliatory with BCV staff than his predecessor, Ricardo Sanguino.

You probably arrived to the conclusion that these guys will not change anything in the system that’s killing our economy; Lobo won’t stop the crazy money-printing machine and Zerpa isn’t able to secure new financing, or lift any of the existing controls choking the economy.

What’s behind these appointments? No answers and a whole lot of questions.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Maduro is damning the Venezuelan economy in order to spite U.S. sanctions. Blaming the U.S. does not go far anymore.

    My gut reaction is that Zerpa and Lobo are sufficiently corrupt that Maduro can control and trust them to do his dirty work. Maybe the two of them can get another $200 million plus into Maduro’s personal bank accounts.

  2. One would not expect an austrian school economist to be apointed for the politburo in the soviet union or in Cuba so there`s simply no reason why Venezuela would be any different. The course was already set so hard when Chavez died that an internal reform and change of protocol in Venezuela is as likely as the Saudi family ending the monarchy , renouncing islam and collectively converting to Santeria.

    As long as chavismo lasts in power predicting its actions is just a lazy exercise of looking at what they already did because they will keep doing it in a very dinastic way until forever.

  3. Chavismo will go down and will take everybody they can down with them, as every criminal they know they criminal life will end someday so why not go down getting high, killing , raping and pillaging they way to hell

  4. “During the country’s worst economic crisis, the government is voluntarily making it harder for itself to secure new loans, or renegotiate existing ones, in a reckless dare against common sense.”

    A story here on these pages about the difficulties PDVSA and other government entities are having trying to secure funding to keep the scam, uh…”project”, running would be interesting. I realize that’s kind of risky though since someone could draw the conclusion that the Trump administration did something that actually helped the Venezuelan opposition.

  5. This type of incessant shuffling of people across cabinet posts is typical of collapsing regimes. Perez Jimenez named an Army General ( Nelson Prato) Minister of Education during his last days in power. Hitler dismissed and named people in rapid succession just before he floundered. Such decisions replaced effective moves that were no longer possible.
    In today’s Venezuela what should be done is to create a National Democratic Front that would call Maduro’s regime illegitimate, refusing its recognition. This Front, through the National Assembly, should name parallel authorities that could be recognized as legitimate by the outtside world and go into a national mood of resistance. This is possible, this is what the outside world has been waiting for.
    No more collaboration, no more dishonor, no more mediocrity, no more lack of imagination.

    • “This Front, through the National Assembly, should name parallel authorities that could be recognized as legitimate by the outtside world”

      They’d obviously have to reside outside the country or they’d all be hunted down like the parallel TSJ members. Remember, the ANC is now making whatever laws it wants and applying them retroactively to anyone who dares stand up to the regime.

    • Gustavo we can’t not even count with the AN when Julio Borges is calling to fight for clean Presidential elections in 2018. This is totally unacceptable !!!. That would be another year waiting for Godot.

      All our efforts should be in organizing a group from the exile focused exclusively on an International Military Intervention.
      That task can’t not be done in Vzla by the opposition in the government without being persecuted.
      We have to simply stop waiting and hoping for the AN or MUD to go this route.

  6. Suppose they are named and sent to prison. Resistance means having to go to prison if need be. An all out resistence, including a nation wide strike would bring the crisis to a boiling point. As it is now, the so-called oposition is playing the game together with the narco-regime. Resistance means resistance. Obly then we can hope to have effective outside intervention.

  7. This is copied and pasted from the investment discussion site Seeking Alpha.
    Every morning they send the highlights of financial news via e-mail.

    “Venezuela appeared to have made a crucial bond repayment on Wednesday, but the chaos surrounding the installment has stirred up worries about the crisis-ridden country. Given the lack of a grace period, investors can ask the International Swaps and Derivatives Association today to determine whether there has been a formal default that would trigger credit default swaps”

    I am not up to speed on the intricacies of defaults. Different debt instruments have different covenants attached. This appears that there may still be the risk of the dominoes all getting knocked over.

    Perhaps Venny Trader or someone else with more knowledge regarding this could weigh in.

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