With an extraordinary military deployment, buses and food in plastic containers (in the best tradition of chavista marches of old), Nicolás held an assembly with employees yesterday in PDVSA La Campiña headquarters, taking the chance to say that chavismo “is the antithesis of the authoritarian State,” that they’re the guarantee of rights and democracy.

He later admitted his outrage for corruption cases (which have been denounced in the oil industry for years) and said that, starting today, vice president Tareck El Aissami will reveal evidence incriminating executive staff in illegal activities.

Nicolás emphasized that the economic crisis is caused by the oil dependency imposed by the Fourth Republic and that chavismo didn’t correct this in 18 years. He spoke of oil as “the vital core of [the country’s] economic and socio-political life” and even said that Cipriano Castro had been a “historic victim of the Empire’s great interests on the Venezuelan oil.” Ambassador Alí Rodríguez Araque will be honorary chairman of PDVSA.

Lastly, Nicolás asked employees to bump output to a million daily barrels.

Let’s talk economy

Torino Capital’s imports index for September reported the worst inter-annual contraction on foreign purchases: imports dropped by 45.4%, compared to last year, and 24.5% compared to August. Due to this downturn and the low expectations of recovery, the agency estimated a consolidated drop of 31.9% in 2017.

Humberto García Larralde, head of the National Academy of Economic Sciences, said that Venezuelan per capita income contracted to an unseen level since 1954: just in the last four years, Venezuelans’ income contracted by 27%. The odds for economic recovery, he stated, are low, and 2018 will be far worse, as international reserves are at their lowest level in 21 years, and the foreign debt increased fivefold while the government keeps imposing new price controls.

Additionally, the black market dollar surpassed the lowest official exchange rate (Bs. 10) by 8,000 times yesterday, and the rate used for the auctions system (Bs. 3,345) by 25 times.

In the National Assembly

After intense ruckus, with some lawmakers shouting their refusal to negotiate with the Administration, lawmaker Mariela Magallanes, who said on Monday that she wouldn’t travel, but still presented the agreement before Parliament, requested a nominal vote to approve the agreement regarding the negotiation in the Dominican Republic. The majority of lawmakers expressed their support for “the negotiation process to recover the guarantee of a prosperous Venezuela,” Magallanes read.

They also discussed the food crisis and proposals to solve it.

They unanimously approved a report that contains the bill of the budget for the Legislative Branch’s 2018 tax year.

Against

Lawmaker Richard Blanco said that “this dialogue is absurd (…) there’s nothing to talk about with this regime if there are no clear, true demonstrations of good will and compliance with people’s will which demands an immediate political change, the dismantling of the ANC, the release of political prisoners, an end to repression and profound corrections,” he said. He disdained the nominal vote as a legislative scheme, claiming that there was no quorum when the vote took place.

Lawmaker Biaggio Pilieri added that they’re not satanizing the negotiation, but that its effectiveness depends on requirements such as the parties’ credibility, social endorsement and the capacity to demand results.

Mediators

Paraguay’s Foreign Ministry reported that minister Eladio Loizaga won’t attend negotiations in the Dominican Republic due to internal elections in the Paraguayan parties that will run in presidential elections in 2018.

The Venezuelan government had a hard time finding its third mediator and yesterday, it finally made it: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will be the sixth country to act as a mediator in the negotiation.

Ledezma and Almagro

Antonio Ledezma requested help from the international community, stating that Venezuela is being held captive: “I come to raise my voice for the 30 million citizens held hostage of a regime that has violated their freedom of expression.”

Meanwhile, OAS chief Luis Almagro said: “Some sectors within MUD may represent Venezuelan opposition, we know that there are sectors of MUD that don’t represent Venezuelan opposition, that are not a direct part of the Venezuelan opposition,” also regretting the schedule proposed for the negotiation in the Dominican Republic, because it wasn’t sufficiently inclusive. “The opposition will have to separate the wheat from the chaff and discuss the political, social and economic elements that truly create a challenge for the government and could lead to [Venezuela’s] democratization,” he emphasized.

Abroad

  • Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos said that he’s offered the Venezuelan government humanitarian support in food and medicine for a long time and they have refused: “President Maduro, allow the international community to help the Venezuelan people in this moment of severe crisis, a crisis caused by the regime and not by Colombia or foreign elements, as has been implied so many times.” Santos said that Colombians will always lend a hand to Venezuelans.
  • Salvador Nasralla said yesterday (in an interview with TeleSUR!) that he’ll seek to recover institutionality in Honduras: “This is a dictatorship, a totalitarian government where the President controls the Supreme Court, Congress, the Electoral Tribunal, the Prosecutor’s Office (…) and that’s why we want to take power, to recover institutionality.”
  • Mocking the will of Bolivians who overwhelmingly voted “No,” Bolivia’s Constitutional Court authorized Evo Morales to run for presidential re-election.

Desorden Público and C4 Trío were nominated to the Grammy awards for their record “Pa’ Fuera” and Los Amigos Invisibles with “El Paradise”! Sadly, they’re both in the same category. We’ll have to wait until January 28, 2018.

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