The fabled meeting between bondholders and authorities to discuss debt restructuring/refinancing is set for today. As previously announced, Vice-President and drug trafficker Tareck El Aissami and Economy Minister Simón Zerpa, both sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, will head this meeting. This in itself is enough reason not to have great expectations, the talks are likely to fail either because bondholders won’t attend, or because they won’t be able to even shake hands, let alone discuss money issues with their interlocutors, pending heavy punishment.
Meanwhile, Maduro confirmed yesterday that talks between his government and the opposition will take place this coming Wednesday: “National dialogue starts this Wednesday. If we want democracy, we can’t have guarimbas, we must find peace through the path of peace.”
Although Mexico, Paraguay, Chile, The Vatican and the United Nations are all set to accompany the process, the guy in charge of this is newly-appointed Communications minister Jorge Rodríguez, who said they’ll attend, but they won’t accept conditions or international meddling. Translation: the opposition’s demands will be ignored once more, and the government won’t take credible international mediators, one of MUD’s express conditions to resume negotiations.
Maduro also announced that, starting this Sunday, 11,890 shops and businesses would be inspected to fight off bachaquerismo and speculation. With his natural charm and humor, he branded this operation Plan Navidades Felices contra la Especulación (Merry Christmas Plan Against Speculation), and ordered that all the products that are being “speculated with” should be taken out for social sale, meaning that soon, several other ítems may join beef and chicken in the mythical land of regulations, and vanish from the shelves for good.
By the way, the guy finally said “Hyperinflation”, but he claimed it was induced by a foreign campaign and promised to solve it through more wage increases and bonuses.
FARC in Venezuela
The FARC, originally Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and now rebranded Alternative Revolutionary Common Force as a political party, held a meeting this weekend in Maracay, Aragua, called “First National Preliminary Assembly,” with the goal of establishing their political organization in the country. According to the event’s invitation, the meeting was necessary in order to face the “complex scenario created by imperialism with the open cooperation of fascism and the far right that are assailing the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” So, FARC is going to create a political party in Venezuela ahead of mayoral elections, while well-established parties such as Voluntad Popular and Primero Justicia struggle to remain afloat amidst a heavy campaign of persecution.
The first round of anti-diphtheria vaccination organized by the Health Ministry in Caracas took place yesterday at the Sambil Mall. Víctor Sánchez, the official in charge of the operation, said that they’re applying not only tetanus toxoid and diphtheria vaccines, but also trivalent viral, anti-hepatitis B, oral anti-polio, pentavalent and BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin).
Meanwhile, two children died in Anzoátegui and Bolívar respectively, while a third child became a victim of the disease in Nueva Esparta and Germán Rodríguez, head of the Health bureau of Guárico, also confirmed the first possible diphtheria case in that state.
European Union foreign ministers approved economic sanctions against the Venezuelan regime, including an arms embargo on any kind of equipment used for repression of peaceful protests, and established the basis for sanctions targeted against individuals. “Everything we do is aimed at seeking dialogue between the government and the opposition to find a democratic and peaceful solution,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis.
Russia agreed with Venezuela on the restructuring of a three billion dollar debt, with gradually higher payments over a period of 10 years. The agreement will be signed next Wednesday and will require Venezuela to pay Russian exporters for already-delivered products.
Another assault against the press
Late last night, El Nuevo País reported that their offices in San Agustín, Libertador municipality, were attacked by a group of at least 50 government supporters ready to break down the main entrance and take over the place. The National Guard and the National Police managed to control the situation while the group of people claimed they were waiting for “orders from above” to proceed. Sadly, we should expect many more of these incidents, now that the ANC approved its long-promised law against hate.