Photo: Noticia al Día

The former chairman of Fedecámaras, Jorge Roig, was the spokesman for the event that announced the delegation that will travel to the Dominican Republic to accompany opposition lawmakers in the start of the process of negotiation with the government. Representing civil society, the technicians and advisers will be: former electoral authority Vicente Díaz; Vale TV chairwoman Ma. Eugenia Mosquera; lawyers Juan Manuel Raffalli, León Arismendi and Daniel Sierra; human rights activists Feliciano Reyna and Francisco Valencia; economist Asdrúbal Oliveros; political consultant Colette Capriles; union leader Marcela Máspero and Jorge Roig himself.

The demands

The opposition’s demands are: free and transparent elections; a humanitarian channel for food and medicines; the release of all political prisoners and the full restitution of the National Assembly’s powers. Roig said they were aware that they were going to negotiate with a discredited government that has violated human rights conventions.

Later, Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas said that the six most important points of the agenda “have already been convened for discussion and we hope each matter can be dealt with productively” throughout December 1 and 2.

A noteworthy reaction to the announcement was Foro Penal’s statement criticizing the opposition’s lack of clarity of purpose and goals, particularly with regards to political prisoners, saying that this was the reason why they didn’t attend the consultation meetings with the AN’s committee. Sadly, they didn’t try to correct the mistakes they criticize with prompt information.

Citgo goes on

ANC-imposed “Prosecutor General” Tarek William Saab said in an interview that there could be new arrests for the Citgo case, because they’re merely in “a preliminary investigation phase” and the gradual investigation on companies that were involved in acts of corruption, could reveal other accomplices. He stated that suspicious activity in the Prosecutor’s Office has dropped since he took office and said that they’ve had significant findings of irregularities in corruption cases linked to Cadivi and Cencoex, in the Orinoco Oil Strip, PetroZamora, PDVSA Carabobo and joint venture Bariven.

Since botox is great for caretablismo, he said that “any Venezuelan with a release warrant signed and sealed by the court responsible of a case, must be released.”

Sadly, he didn’t mention SEBIN chief Gustavo González López in his statement.

As expected

While the National Assembly’s Finance Committee presented a proposal to dismantle FX exchange controls based on allowing Venezuelans to manage their dollars, as well as letting relatives abroad send money to Venezuela in transparent transactions and thus “sincerely adjust dollar prices,” Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said that the Armed Forces stand behind Nicolás in the fight against corruption in PDVSA, which supports the reasoning behind Reuter’s article stating that after general Manuel Quevedo’s appointment, more soldiers will take management positions in a company with severe operational issues and with the lowest output levels in almost three decades. “As a soldier, I’ll be at the front of the battle,” said Quevedo yesterday, and he should start working toward the goal established in the statement issued by OPEC chief Mohammad Barkindo, which aims at keeping output quotas, “for a sustainable stability of the market in a medium and long term.”

Human rights

While Erika Farías’ tweet showing a picture of a truck “modified” to transport people in Caracas went viral, San Cristóbal Mayor Patricia de Ceballos denounced that her husband Daniel Ceballos has been isolated for the past 50 days in El Helicoide. Ceballos is a political prisoner since March 2014, indicted for the crimes of rebellion and criminal association. In another, no less dramatic sphere, lawmaker José Manuel Olivares said that Venezuelan contributes 80% of all malaria cases in Latin America: “There’s been a 709% increase in malaria cases across 20 states,” the evidence of one of the toughest consequences of suspending vaccination campaigns in the country. The NGO Ciudadanía en Acción delivered a letter at the Food Minister cautioning the government about the serious crisis of protein and caloric malnutrition in the population. They said that 78% of Venezuelans aren’t taking the necessary proteins and 60% show caloric malnutrition. The NGO’s letter includes technical measures that could be implemented to solve the crisis,  as well as political measures.

Official selfies

From Minsk, Ricardo Menéndez reported on the negotiation table between Belarus and Venezuela to develop a roadmap to broaden bilateral cooperation, working on energy, agricultural, industrial, financial, commercial and military collaboration. Nicolás signed agreements with Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, to strengthen the agricultural and energy system and to finance economic development. It was only in September when UN  High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, criticized Venezuela for denying experts on essential rights access to the country. Perhaps that’s why Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza made all that racket after his meeting with independent UN expert Alfred de Zayas, who said he’d review “the joint efforts to promote social progress and better living standards,” and among other details, he’ll study how national budgets are spent and to what extent the demands of civil society are serviced by investment. I hope he has his linden tea ready when he gets to the issues of access to information, freedom of expression and the Rule of Law.

Unpayable

While Nicolás celebrated the 97th anniversary of the Military Aviation, speaking of peace among missiles, Venezuelans are trying to cope with the fact that the black market dollar rate increased by 71.7% and the bolívar depreciated by 41.7%. Amidst a cash shortage crisis, it was revealed yesterday that the highest denomination banknote can’t pay for an Euro, which reached Bs. 100,504.26 yesterday, while the dollar closed at Bs. 84,457.36.

A tiny little detail: the BCV hasn’t called for a DICOM auction in four months.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. “more soldiers will take management positions in a company with severe operational issues and with the lowest output levels in almost three decades.”

    For the love of sweet baby jesus, this is the end of PDVSA. Imagine managers who know nothing about the oil industry giving instructions to others who know nothing about producing oil,on how to produce oil. These guys will be as effective increasing oil production as the regime’s economic ministers are at managing the economy.

    Don’t recall which poster here yesterday said it, but I believe he was spot-on. Maduro is obviously running out of money to hand out to the military and this is the literally the bottom of the barrel they’re going to be allowed to scrap.

  2. “Imagine managers who know nothing about the oil industry giving instructions to others who know nothing about producing oil,on how to produce oil.”

    We have the same issues here with our US government. Only these elected morons, who for the most part haven’t managed a business venture more onerous than a lemonade stand, who in their entire lives haven’t created ONE JOB, love telling business people how they ought to run a successful business.

    Marxists love to do that.

    • If putting generals to manage a business as intricate as the oil business is a good idea, then equally good would be the appointment of business managers to command army units ……., Lincoln tried that once appointing a very succesful railroad manager as head of one of the Union armies , the man was arrogant in the extreme and failed miserably at his job !!

      • Lincoln tried that once appointing a very succesful railroad manager as head of one of the Union armies , the man was arrogant in the extreme and failed miserably at his job !!

        George B. McClellan was a railroad executive from 1857-1861. By late 1861 McClellan was general-in-chief of all the Union armies. Lincoln sacked him a year later for his repeated failures to engage the enemy. McClellan continually claimed he needed more troops. As Lincoln put it , he had a case of the slows. Not to mention his arrogance.

        However, McClellan was a West Point graduate with 10 years experience in the Army before he became a railroad executive.

        There are many examples of unsuccessful political generals. consider Nathaniel “Bobbin Boy ” Banks, once Governor of Massachusetts, who, absent his failures as a general, is a prime example of upward mobility.

  3. “the bottom”, I dont know. I have read so many predictions about the ” bottom” that I have become cynical because each “bottom” has been followed by a new “bottom”. Most seem to suggest that the “bottom” is the point at which there is no more money to steal but that thought might underestimate that there is an ideological component to the Chavistas just like there is to the communists in Cuba, which by my count has run out of money spectacularly at least twice in their reign and yet they remain in place. The combination of pervasive repression and the false promise of economic equality has proven to be a tough opponent that survives until its target audience realizes it is all a gigantic fraud. I am not convinced by what I have read here that the target audience of the Chavistas has quite reached that conclusion which means new bottoms may have to be endured.

    • Agreed about your observations of “the bottom” Mr. Crispin, but this latest move seems significant, at least to me.

      I’ve figured Saab’s rampage through PDVSA and Citgo was all part of a classic Venezuelan strategy of finding someone to blame for the upcoming failure sure to become obvious even to the true-believers.

      This country really has only one cash cow, and up until this latest announcement, Maduro had not handed it over to the military as he has with most of the rest of the country’s feeble ability to generate wealth for those in power to skim. The question is, why now?

      • I agree it is a significant step but to where. To these outsider eyes this move seems another piece of the puzzle toward the establishment of a complete dictatorship. The models for that are N Korea, Cuba Iran and, Egypt where the military is well taken care including outright ownership if businesses. If Maduro can glean enough oil miney to keep the mikitary happy he in the game.

    • Not just finding scapegoats, but also and perhaps moreso a knife fight between gangs.

      As to why now? I suspect this was the plan all along. These mf’ers have a master plan they have for the most part managed admirably. Like a slow Anaconda squeezing until suffocation.

    • ““bottom” is the point at which there is no more money to steal” …and that is still so far away. 1,9 million barrels at any price is still a decent size cake to slice up. You can even see that the are excluding more and more out of their inner circle bcuz the cake get smaller every day. Don’t get me wrong, it will be years before they’ll leave this party to the next group of enchufados. Deaths as a result of hunger, lack of medicine and/or are brutal oppression are part of their plan.

      • I agree. Venezuela is a long way from the “bottom”. Look around the globe, including right there in South/Central America and the Caribbean, and identify countries that are even worse places to live, such as Haiti or El Salvador. Is the average Cuban better off than the average Venezuelan? Zimbabwe finally had a leadership change sort of (not really) – did they hit bottom yet?

        You can still leave Venezuela without having border patrol shoot you. Try that in North Korea … Wait until the B hits 1M:1 (sometime next year).

  4. “As a soldier, I’ll be at the front of the battle,”
    How are the soldiers going to “battle” falling production and a collapsing oil infrastructure?
    Perhaps shooting the oilfield workers in the head with teargas canisters or jailing anyone associated with an oil well that has falling production will solve the problem.
    The reality is that Maduro and company have been forced to cede control of PDVSA to the military to allow them first dibs on skimming money from transactions.
    The military is not capable of stopping the decline, let alone increasing production, even if that is their intention.
    Venezuela is the only OPEC member that could actually increase production and remain under the OPEC production caps.

    • “The military is not capable of stopping the decline, let alone increasing production, even if that is their intention.”

      The infusion of military managers into operational positions will most surely increase the rate of decline in production, I see no other outcome possible.

      As a side note, I was trying to move my third set of plastic drums from the Morichal plant a few weeks ago and ran into a problem. The owner of the truck called me and told me his truck and the drums were both being held by the GNB “until the matter was cleared up”.

      I made some calls to Maturin and was making progress when the truck owner called again and said his vehicle had been released but the drums were still in detention.

      After a couple of days I finally made a decent contact with the GNB in Maturin and phoned the guy who had shipped the drums from inside the plant to give him the news. After explaining the process he said, “look, at this point I think it’s better to just leave the drums with the GNB there outside the plant because this place is a total coje culo (cluster fuck) right now and I don’t need the extra attention”. I knew exactly what he meant and left it at that.

      The drums were legally sold by the company inside the plant as they had sold many hundreds before this shipment was stopped. Sometimes though, it’s just not worth it to draw the extra attention

      • A “paperwork” problem? Something a bribe would resolve?

        Or is this something even more sinister and screwed up, that even a payoff can’t overcome? If that is the case, then things are closer to the end than previously thought.

  5. We know perfectly well that the Chavistas will attempt to compromise opposition “demands” going into negotiations. Restoring the ANC to full power is pointless if the Supreme Court still has the right to veto whatever it decrees. Yada yada. Chavista’s NEVER negotiate. It seems they are constitutionally incapable of doing anything but giving orders. TAKING orders, in the form of demands — I’m just not seeing that.

    Problem is, unless the demands are met, and are enforceable by way of a 3rd party, the opposition can simply walk away. Where do the Chavistas have to turn? They have no money to operate. Less than none by about 160 billion. Sure, Cuba survived long stretches with no or little funds but they have a functional agricultural sector and not the millions of people living in urban areas as we have in Venezuela.

    The crisis has brought the population to it’s knees, but if things get much worse, as they have to under Chavismo, I wouldn’t expect the gente to stay down indefinitely, nor yet the military.

    Goes without saying that having the military trying to manage the oil sector through “soldiering” is a pitiful strategy that nobody believes. Without funds to retool and update failing rigs and refineries, with actual petroengineers feeling like rats on a sinking ship, and with a general in charge who doesn’t know a derrick from an anteater, the last cash cow in Venezuela cannot possibly survive.

    But again, the Chavistas are cockroaches who refuse to die. So I wouldn’t expect them to roll over without taking the entire country with them, James Jones style.

    Tragic.

  6. I hate when I remember something but without enough detail to make it worth it. I remember a military figure that was later a defector of Chavismo saying clearly that when Chávez told him to manage something, I want to think it was a power company, and he answered that he didnt knew anything about the industry, he was basically bullied by El Comandante Galáctico with a remark about how if he was ready to die for the country in battle this should be easy.

    But again, the name of the guy eludes me at the moment. In any case, this is not a new rot, just the same rot but now deeper. The stupid cult of the Will, specially the Manly Military Macho Will. Knowledge, experience and wisdom are not important, things will happen because we have balls and we believe.

  7. Minor update on DolarToday– 88.325,61 Bolivar Fuertes to the dollar. I don’t see anyone using the word fuertes when talking about the Bolivar anymore.

    In 1983, 88.325 Bs would have been worth $24 million. Today it is worth One Dollar.

  8. Interesting bit. Venezuela and Russia Teamed Up to Push Pro-Catalan Fake News.
    MADRID—Europe is at war. Digital war. And it’s very much the same fight that’s taken place in the United States: facing an attack meant to sow distrust, heighten divisions, and undermine established democratic processes.

    Here’s a chilling fact: At the height of the Catalan separatist crisis, analysis of more than 5 million messages about Catalonia posted on social networks between Sept. 29 and Oct. 5, shows that only 3 percent come from real profiles outside the Russian and Venezuelan cybernetworks. These are the conclusions of a report prepared by Javier Lesaca, visiting scholar at the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University.

    And there’s more: 32 percent of the messages investigated came from Venezuela—accounts linked to the Chavista regime of Nicolás Maduro. Thirty percent were born from anonymous accounts exclusively dedicated to contents of the Russian state media RT and Sputnik; 25 percent came from bots; and 10 percent from the official accounts of the two Russian media mentioned.

    On the same dates, the geolocation data offered by social networks such as Twitter or Facebook show similar results: Excluding Spain, 13 percent of those who shared RT’s information about the illegal referendum in Catalonia were in Venezuela.

    • I had been reading some stories in El País in English about Russian interference in the Catalonia situation but no reference to Venezuela. Thanks for posting this.

      • Reading the article leads me to suspect that Putin has decided to bankroll Maduro beyond the $3 billion previously reported.

  9. Ramirez did whatever Chavez asked of him however insane until his death , he might have known better but he was intent on being totally loyal to Chavez , upon his death there was an attempt on his part to improve things and even the drafting of a plan to try and stem the coming financial disaster (including a financial restructuring) which Maduro shot down ……many inside the Psuv saw him as corrupt and wanted him out , specially Cilia who had her own candidate to succeed him ( the then president of Citgo) , someone from her own circle of acolytes ……, and others who wanted a chance at milking that prodigious money maker that was Pdvsa then.

    Now as Pdvsa faces a very public total breakdown, the firing of the two top men of Pdvsa of the last 2 years becomes necessary so that blame for the embarrasing event can be placed on people linked to the past management ……probably because there are too many factions still interested in taking over control of whats left of Pdvsa , the only way of avoiding an infight is to name an army general to appear as the new head of the company , some one not tied to the corruption scandals which are now very conveniently being made public.

    Because general Quevedo is a total ignoramus on oil matters Maduro floated today the idea of naming former Pdvsa president (now ambassador to Cuba) Ali Rodriguez Araque as honorary president of Pdvsa so they might form a ‘team’ (Llave) . Ali Rodriguez was never much of an oil man and is now 80 years old and a very very ill man……., not sure he can do much to make up for general Quevedos lack of oil expertize at this critical mind …still its a sign of how nutty Maduros thinking is on the subject , he understands the whole world is going to ask how the hell is a military man going to become the head of Pdvsa without any experience or knowledge of the oil world ,so he comes up with the crazy idea of having poor old Rodriguez Araque come out of his diplomatic retirement and become a ‘mentor’ to Gneral Quevedo ….

    The thing to remember is that Ramirez having been a Chavez intimate for so long probably has a lot of very embarrassing information and papers on Maduro and the rest of the ruling circle , so he cant be easily fired from his ambassador post without running the risk of all that information and papers coming out…!!

    • I’ve been reading some of the defenses Ramirez employs now that they are “attacking” him and for the love of God…

      CHÁVEZ, CHÁVEZ, I WAS WITH CHÁVEZ, I WAS ALWAYS WITH CHÁVEZ, I WAS THERE WHEN HE DIED, CHÄVEZ, CHÁVEZ

      Thats all this kind of idiots care about. There is no debate from ideas. There is no position and no reasoning for that position and no reasoning to change positions. Its all about who is a more faithful acolyte of the dead Hierophant. Its all about “loyalty, who has it and who doesnt. It is never about ideas, about chains of logic, about theories and hypothesis and experiment and confirmation, about accounting or engineering or economics.

      “I warned him but I obeyed” is not a defense, is an admision of guilt.

  10. The bottom?..
    Ha…..is not even close…..I love all the Rhetoric from chavistas…every quote from them gets more defensive..ridiculous….admit no fault….blame all others..
    Ramirez has always been a fool..now he gets what he always deserved…he helped chavez….now let him burn.
    I believe the banks shut their doors after Christmas…its cashless…nothing but transfer…..im sure the Cuban Trash that are everywhere in Caracas cant believe their good fortune….not a shot fired in anger at them….
    Sebin has scared the shit out of everyone… you wont see another march or protest…..but you will see the car of choice…Dark Toyota Camry ..tinted windows….everywhere..
    Maduro and Company continue on ..bla bla bla….is all to plan……no card…no vote…no food or medicine…money is only for those that can afford to leave….
    Its a pretty good job of social engineering….

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