The Mommer show

Your daily briefing for Saturday, December 30, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

This Friday, perhaps inspired by the New York Times article about PDVSA’s collapse, perhaps encouraged by the raids SEBIN carried out on Rafael Ramírez’s houses-imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab spoke about the PDVSA office in Vienna and claimed that it was used to sign shady contracts defrauding the nation for $4,8 billion. The Office of Marketing Intelligence and Oil Policy was created in 2006 and according to Saab, the fraudulent operations began in 2009, signing contracts with the company JBC Energy, which deliberately tampered with the information for oil commercialization, favoring individuals and companies that were involved in oil buy/sell transactions with PDVSA.

Saab claims this was done with the approval of the head of the Vienna office, Dr. Bernard Mommer, his wife Irama Zulene Quiroz and also Mariana Zerpa Morloy; the list of accused grew longer with Nélida Izarra, general director of the Office for Crude Export Assessment, who was arrested already, as well as Rafael Ramírez himself, whom Saab deemed the mastermind behind these crimes, so he urged him to return to Venezuela to face justice: the show must go on!

Ramírez’s reaction

For former minister and former PDVSA chairman, Saab’s accusations are not only false, but the evidence of his profound ignorance on oil matters. In three tweets, he explained that the Vienna office was establish to verify sale prices for Venezuelan oil, emphasizing that the Vienna office doesn’t sell oil. It was curious, however, how he defended professor Bernard Mommer by citing oil nationalization, as if Ramírez was a minister of Carlos Andrés Pérez’s cabinet, as if he had coordinated the operations that came the fruition on January 1st, 1976. Every oil expert out there was caught off guard by the accusation against Mommer, because he was one of Chávez’s main ideological pillars on oil matters and moreover, he’s just published an article alongside honorary PDVSA chairman Alí Rodríguez Araque, who should say something (for or against) after such accusation.

The lost pernil

After Portuguese Foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva had denied his country’s responsibility regarding this issue, and the company Raporal explained that the requested shipments weren’t sent because the government owes them 40 million euros for previous shipments; after Bolipuertos denied the finding of tons of rotten pernil, and pernil itself opened a Twitter account, following the impact of the hashtag #PernilMovie, Freddy Bernal claimed that 2,200 tons of pernil were retained in the border of Paraguachón by Colombian authorities, elevating pernil sabotage to a multicultural scene: from Portugal to North America to Colombia. Sadly, he failed to explain that according a National Guard report, the last CLAP shipment arrived in the country in November and since there, there have been no other shipments with CLAP products.

Pernil en salsa time

Rosales has as much sense of opportunity as his plastic surgeon has aesthetic judgement, and Nicolás is an assertive genius. After promising “the iron hand of the law” against any protest, yesterday he used the Poliedro of Caracas to broadcast a show with little salsa and a lot of paja, happy because in his view, the fact that Canada and Brazil applied the principle of diplomatic reciprocity is a recognition of the ANC’s decision. Right after claiming that talks will resume on January 11 and 12, he accused Parliament Speaker Julio Borges of sabotaging imports “conspiring so that we can’t buy a single product abroad, so that not a single ship arrives”; calling him a “common, petty, vile crook,” and demanding justice (?) to act against him.

Economy talk

Diosdado Cabello suggested the possibility of nationalizing Banesco and Economic Area vice-minister Wilmar Castro Soteldo presented before the ANC the Bill of Productive Foreign Investment to regulate the huge investment that’s just waiting for this law to gain access to the country; while the Petro (the bond disguised as a cryptocurrency) already lost interest due to its questionable support, the non-existent trust in a defaulted government, without dollars and with a Central Bank guilty of causing hyperinflation (have a seat): between December 15 to 22, the BCV increased the monetary base by 24.15%; monetary financing by 22.2% and monetary liquidity by 16.65% (the highest of the entire year!, after all they increased them in November.) Do you see now why we’re the first oil exporting nation in history to have descended into hyperinflation? The only thing that’s missing is for PDVSA chairman Manuel Quevedo to explain that the drop in Venezuelan oil exports to the United States in October have taken us to the levels we had during the 80s, and that the shipping records allow us to predict an even steeper drop in November.

Of lights and shadows

While Luisa Ortega Díaz uploaded a video urging Venezuelans to organize to demand our rights and defend the Constitution that she herself violated while she was a part of the government, MUD issued a statement with this year’s balance and apologizes for the serious mistakes and omissions they made during 2017, starting with failing to accompany the citizens in their suffering for the declining living standards we’re experiencing. MUD also acknowledges that they failed to establish the relationship between the electoral fight and the protests, the mandates of the popular consultation held on July 16 and what came afterwards. They assert their commitment to recovering and maintaining internal unity and standing with the country, as well as to choose a unitary presidential candidate for coming elections and keep exploring the negotiation track -with international support- to find solutions to overcome the regime, in the certainty that 2018 will be marked by economic and social crisis, and also government repression.

Protests continue and there are new reports of lootings and assaults of shops in several cities across the country. A fire broke out in the Amuay refinery (yes, another in less than three days) confirming the risks the place faces due to lack of maintenance and failure to comply with security parameters. The two-litre milk bottle reappeared in supermarket shelves at Bs. 165,000 (93% of the minimum wage.) Lastly, while the country demands food, the Libertador mayor’s office is promoting a concert in the Plaza Bolívar of Caracas for this December 31. Yesterday, Nicolás was fixated on the word “peace”: I guess denial helps him govern.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.