Paying off the rank and file

Your daily briefing for Friday, January 5th, 2018.

This Thursday, Nicolás was supposed to offer a recount of his government’s disastrous administration during 2017, but he chose to give a lecture on populism ahead of his presidential campaign, using public funds which all productive Venezuelans pay with our taxes. From the Military Historical Museum, he announced a Bono de Reyes for Bs. 500,000, to be paid through the carnet de la patria and accessible via a cell phone application called Ve QR, which validates transactions by reading the carnet’s QR code. He also announced a support plan for all pregnant women, without explaining what he meant (only that it would also be tied to the carnet) and then described the corruption of the plan “Mi casa bien equipada” as mere “inconsistencies in the distribution of home appliances.” But don’t worry, they’ll set it right with the carnet de la patria. He announced that the housing program hogares de la patria will increase its service capacity from 1.5 to 4 million families, but he didn’t say how!

Nothing without el carnet

If every social benefit fabricated by the government depends on the carnet, it’s stupid for Nicolás to announce the alleged sixteen million of people registered as an achievement. It’s not a tool of “redistribution of the national revenue and wealth” as he claimed, not does it work to “strengthen social investment,” it’s just the sum of his perverse political control, only possible because of the destruction he’s brought.

None of the figures he announced as administration accomplishments is supported by anything beyond propaganda, so he could say he employed 860,000 people with the plan Chamba Juvenil, that he helped 730,000 people in Barrio Adentro and that there are over 200,000 new pensioners, but the opacity of this Administration prevents any comparison between words and actions. He regularly cited love, faith and el finado, instead of encouraging work, respecting private property and life. If you have the carnet, you can aspire to have it all: hope lies on those militants who are forced to cooperate with the huge incentive of bonuses that don’t come from any productive action.

He’ll talk about the economy today

“We’ve sadly paid $74 billion in debt. Until we activated a restructuring,” he said, downcast, as if he inherited the debt from anyone else but Chávez. He urged everyone to read the article written by Ignacio Ramonet, because in his view, that’s the best possible report on his administration, disregarding hyperinflation, the fourth straight year in economic contraction, the drop in oil output and prices, the fourth straight year of economic contraction, the financial sanctions, the default on the foreign debt, the black market dollar, the cash shortage crisis, the gasoline and cooking gas shortage, the food protests, the transport crisis, the electrical grid crisis, PDVSA’s workplace accidents and even the utter failure of the Dicom FX rate.

So the most important thing is that he’ll hold the first Council of Ministers today and in it, he’ll make announcements about the Petro, because supposedly director Carlos Vargas and minister Hugbel Roa have been in contact with investors, so they’ll set up several cryptocurrency mining farms. He even suggested, with a wink to Iris Varela, setting up some mining farms inside the prisons: move over, Churchill!

Cabinet changes

Happy because Cilia and him had a tenth granddaughter on December 31 (unfortunately, the narcosobrinos weren’t there for the celebration,) he repeated the boring scheme of keeping the usual suspects in power, so: Aristóbulo Istúriz becomes the minister for Native Affairs; Iris Varela is back to the Prisons Ministry and Carolina Cestari is back as chief of the Capital District. Delcy Rodríguez said that the ANC will be installed this Friday, and during the session they’ll “discuss” -in the ANC, debating is essentially listening to the speaker and approving any proposal without arguments- the Law of the Local Committees of Supply and Production (CLAP).

Back to school

Venezuelan students will be back to school on Monday, January 8. Education minister Elías Jaua tweeted that this quincena, active teachers and pensioners of the Education Ministry will get the 40% wage hike decreed by Nicolás on Sunday, along with the 15% established in the collective bargaining agreement. He also said that active teachers will be paid a Bs. 500,000 contractual bonus for the start of the year. Perhaps they’ll also get the bono de reyes magos.


OAS chief Luis Almagro asked the international community to impose harsher sanctions against the government and the Venezuelan economic system to force Nicolás into serious negotiations and allow an electoral process with guarantees: “The diplomatic path that lies ahead is the path of sanctions and I think there must be increasingly harsher sanctions to forcé the Venezuelan regime to structure and allow a transparent electoral process, the construction of an electoral system of guarantees,” said Almagro, adding that there’s still space for a diplomatic track.

Now that the comparison between nuclear buttons is behind him, president Donald Trump spoke with Chilean president Sebastián Piñera about the decline of Venezuela’s situation and about his wish to see democracy restored in our country. Now that the pernil crisis is also behind us, Portuguese Foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva will visit Venezuela -Between January 6 and 9- to monitor the situation of Portuguese citizens in the country, estimated in almost half a million people. The minister will also participate in the meeting of the bilateral commission between Venezuela and Portugal. I’m thrilled to hear Jorge Arreza’s argument to turn the pork enemy of December, into the fraternal brother of January with a wave of his hand.

It was quite interesting to see the exercise of support on social networks for lawmaker Delsa Solórzano as the potential Speaker of the National Assembly. My expectations regarding Un Nuevo Tiempo’s decisions are the size of Manuel Rosales’ decorum, but I appreciate the effort of citizens to describe the virtues of a lawmaker committed with human rights. Yesterday, the black market dollar fluctuated between Bs. 128,000 and Bs. 155,000 pero dollar, and there are still 361 days ahead this year, eh.

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.