This Wednesday, taking advantage of December’s hunger games, with the country collapsed with shortages, hyperinflation and the failure of public services, the ANC decided to dissolve the Metropolitan Caracas and Alto Apure mayorships, taking up a proposal made by Juan Carlos Alemán, who claimed that these offices had become destabilizing nodes for governability. According to Delcy Rodríguez, the figure of the Metropolitan Mayor’s Office “became obsolete, overlapping authority (let’s talk about rope in the hanged man’s house) and was no longer fulfilling the political-territorial and administrative role it had been assigned by the law,” and thus, without consulting with the people that she doesn’t represent and violating the Constitution, she decided to scrap both mayorships. It would’ve been more honest if Delcy asked rhetorically: who’s going to protest for decentralization if everyone’s worried about what they’re going to eat?
According to metropolitan mayor in charge, Alí Mansour, this abuse is a coup against the Constitution, suffrage and the people: “the figure of metropolitan mayorships is enshrined in the Constitution, and modifying, dissolving or eliminating them means reforming the Constitution,” adding that his office’s employees (over 5,000) haven’t received the payments for the wage hikes decreed by Nicolás during 2017 and much less the Christmas bonus. The Administration’s debt with this office exceeds Bs. 25 billion, said Mansour. Lawmaker Stalin González said that Venezuela’s suffering a great blow to decentralization and municipal autonomy with this decision, adding that only the National Assembly has the authority to make that decision.
Against opposition parties
The ANC also approved the “Constituent Decree for Political Party Validation,” forcing parties that chose not to participate in municipal elections to renew their registration. The current law establishes that party revalidation must take place only if the party doesn’t participate in three elections in a row, but the ANC dictates that it must be done after not participating in the elections of the immediately previous period. The decree’s implementation will depend on the National Electoral Council, a body that already forced parties to revalidate in March and April this year, but since the goal is to make political parties illegal, Delcy didn’t hesitate to remark that with this decree, “the constituent time has come for the golpista agenda.” This decision goes well beyond the ANC’s purported authority and dismisses the legal principle of non-retroactivity; it’s another layer atop political disqualifications, which further cripples the opposition’s capacity to choose candidates for presidential elections. PSUV dreams of an outsider.
Additionally, without discussion, the ANC approved the Constitutional Law on the Punitive Tax Unit which, according to Delcy, “revitalizes the regulatory system which had been losing part of its penalizing power because fines were insignificant,” so they’ll create a special tax unit to determine the amount of fines and penalties, in the hope of guaranteeing their “dissuasive nature” and they’ll periodically update their real value to prevent non-compliance with the rules. Who will determine and update the value of this tax unit? Nicolás! And he’ll do it based on the variation of the Consumer Price Index for Caracas’ Metropolitan Area, the same one they just left without a mayor’s office: move aside, Churchill! Keep in mind that the ANC won’t take a recess, so they’ll hold session next week as well.
Lawmaker Rafael Guzmán gave a report on the economy for 2017, with figures that describe what he deemed the worst economic, social and political crisis in our history. The Gross Domestic Product dropped by 34%, the only country in the region with this performance. Cumulative inflation exceeds 2,000%, in addition to the Central Bank’s considerable opacity about economic indicators and the printing of unsupported money, only to satisfy the Executive Branch’s fiscal needs. Venezuela is producing half of what it was producing in the late 60s, which means most of what we consume is imported, but Guzmán said: “We import less and less every day, this year we imported 50% of what we imported in 2012.”
Aruba’s prime minister Evelyn Wever Croes said she was concerned about Nicolás’ proposal of severing all sort of communication and trade with Aruba, Bonaire and Curazao and remarked that they’re monitoring the seriousness of the situation “to avoid negative consequences for our community.” Additionally, yesterday we learned that PDVSA could lose its licence to operate an oil storage terminal in Bonaire (a key part of PDVSA’s logistics in the Caribbean) for failing to comply with the maintenance demands and the delay in the supply of the equipment required to meet international standards. If PDVSA doesn’t comply with the plan requested by Bonaire’s Environment and Transport Bureau (ILT), it will have to cease its operations and remove its operation licence, a risk that PDVSA doesn’t mention as it blames gasoline shortages in Zulia, Táchira and Barinas on the sanctions imposed on the company.
The special schedule for public servants between 8:00 am and 1:00 pm started yesterday, and it will remain in place until January 8.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.