Lumps of coal for everyone

Your daily briefing for Sunday, January 7, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.


While lawmaker Omar Barboza starts his period as speaker of the National Assembly tweeting about the need to determine “the root cause” which has turned our country into a poverty factory —where has this guy been all these years?— the government, through Sundde, continues with its controlled lootings in supermarket chains, imposing absurd prices, taking no responsibility for each bankrupt company. They want to take over whatever Fama de América, Lácteos Los Andes or La Gaviota can’t produce anymore -regardless of dwindling inventories or the companies’ resupply capacity-, and they want it without explaining that the State is set to reduce imports by 40%. The epic story behind the “Dakazo” may not work this time.

There’s no food, but also no medicines, cash, electrical power, transport, water or cooking gas. We lack solid guarantees to live with normality, but Nicolás would rather celebrate Guaicaipuro’s campaign, while hundreds of people try to take advantage of the fake low prices.

The order

A memo signed by the supervisor for the protection of socio-economic rights (ha!), establishes the guidelines for the operation “Supermarket Chains“ -which is also called “All against the war” in the same document-, starting with the request for the full list of prices up to December 15, 2017, of the full inventory of products in each branch supermarket, the inspection of all warehouses and in case the chains are storing merchandise without selling, they had to put it for sale. After this, inspectors would verify if the chains had been hoarding products.

The order includes finding out what supermarkets are doing with the cash they receive and review their bank transactions, as well as the coordination with the respective ZODI. It was inspiring that the supervisor specified that the officials who don’t comply with each of the described steps, would face administrative penalties, as well as the ban of stock resupply “until further notice.” The government wants shortages to be far worse so that they can make people more dependant on their resources, while they destroy the whole productive chain and collapses the supply of food as malnutrition is on the rise, with hunger setting the pace.

Ridiculous and stupid

This Saturday, Defense minister Vladimir Padrino López expressed his “great shock” for the new sanctions imposed by the U.S. State Department on four of his comrades in arms, calling them an infamous, vulgar and obscene blackmail against the Armed Forces, calling them ridiculous and stupid; key adjectives in the military language. The minister asked for information on the investigations that justify the accusations for corruption and crimes against humanity weighing on his comrades -because you know, each accusation made by the government is always undeniably backed by an investigation- and remarked that the sanctions are part of “a strategy of hybrid war whose purpose is undermining the government’s pillars” to cause ungovernability and carry out domination plans.

Curaçao speaks

“This decision is regrettable. There was no previous diplomatic approach. We’re assessing the risks and consequences of this measure,” said Curazao prime minister Eugene Rhuggenaath, regarding Nicolás’ decision to shut down communication with Aruba, Curazao and Bonaire and order the takeover of ports and airports. Rhuggenaath emphasized that there’s a relationship of neighbouring countries between the nations that they value greatly and that his government will always be open to cooperated in the fight against illegal trafficking. He added that he’ll meet the general Consul to review the details and the concrete policy of the measure and fulfill the steps to restore communications. The government is yet to explain why a measure against trafficking will only last 72 hours.

Fierce media campaign

While people discuss the consequences of Sundde’s controlled lootings, chavismo flooded social networks with messages regarding the alleged discussions -in the 335 municipalities across the country!- about the next plan de la patria which surely must be printed already with a giant picture of Nicolás’ mustache. Minister Jorge Rodríguez took the opportunity to denounce the dissemination of negative news on Venezuela and cited Reuters as an example, because according to him, 60% of the news this agency reports show negativity, disregarding the joy that defines Venezuelans, starting for defining the carnet de la patria as the “digital government’s most powerful tool,” following with the seven million people who allegedly registered to get their Bono de Reyes and finishing up with the suggestion that the elegant minister Rodríguez made to the opposition delegation that will travel to the Dominican Republic: “We’ll be waiting for you there with a bottle of Hirudoid or with a stronger anti-inflammatory cream.”


Lawmaker Timoteo Zambrano resigned to his post in the opposition’s negotiation team after being accused several times of allegedly collaborating with the government. He claims that he’s always defended dialogue as a viable solution to the crisis and as a route to restore the accord of political and social cohabitation, saying that progress is impossible without that accord. Zambrano assumes that various actors within MUD (including his own peers in the dialogue delegation) argued against his candidacy as National Assembly Speaker because he defended these ideas. Therefore, if he was barred from leading the AN, he also feels that he’s barred from negotiations, so he’s resigning out of coherence. Zambrano finishes his letting appealing to the sincerity of the political leadership, wishing them good fortune in talks and the crystallization of the necessary agreement.

Another potential absence

Mexican Foreign minister Luis Videgaray Caso sent a letter to Dominican President Danilo Medina, expressing his concern for the Venezuelan government’s behaviour in recent days, which could put his mediation in doubt and binding it to the possibility of achieving the necessary conditions, because he believes that political negotiation is the only route to ”reach a peaceful solution to the Venezuelan crisis.” Videgaray is one of the five mediators for negotiations between the government and the opposition.

The newspaper La Nación in Táchira stopped circulating for lack of newsprint, a new “accomplishment” of the censorship policy that the Executive developed through the Alfredo Maneiro Corporation and its control on newsprint. As you can read, my friends, the Reyes Magos brought us nothing but coal this year.

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  1. From the latest Rafael Ramirez screed (translation by Google):

    “The factor that has been a recurrent failure in all these years, is that we have no control, nor ability to control the financial aspects of our economy. The control of change, had its reason at a certain time, but from 2012 it was already an exhausted mechanism, we were consuming many currencies, to sustain it. We noticed, they did not listen to us. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been transferred from the State in this way to the private interest. Whether through fictitious, over-invoiced imports, manipulation of the parallel market, overvalued contracts. Fortunes have been made by taking advantage of the exchange rate, the exchange differential.”

    You need to wade through a whole bunch of Commander Chavez this and that to get to the nuggets, but there are some good ones ….

    • After leaving, I didn’t pay much attention to Venezuela. I heard about the Caracazo, and just concluded in disappointment, that the place was going socialist (communist). I vaguely recall reading something about Chavez getting “elected – that was in conjunction with the massive mudslides along the coast east of Maiquetia. Later I read something about “expropriations”, but wasn’t really interested in details of the communist progression.

      When Chavez dying made the news, I started following again (hoping for a complete regime change). Then I found CC and started following more closely, reading various sites in Spanish. The very first thing that struck me was the ridiculous “divisas” scheme, and the multiple “exchange controls”. I have no knowledge of actual accounts nor “projects”, and no real understanding of it all better than what someone posted here over a year ago: ~~ Buy dollars with bolivares at BF10 to the dollar. Sell those dollars on the street for BF 10,000 [whatever the rate was back then]. Rinse, repeat. ~~

      The thing that makes no sense economically, is preventing anyone from buying raw materials (anything) on the open international market, without first getting approval from the Venezuelan government, being forced to buy dollars only through them. That’s the most effective trade embargo going. But that’s socialism for you: you cannot do anything unless we say it’s OK. You cannot do anything without official permission. We will tell you what to do, and how to do it. We will even tell you what to think.

      The whole socialism process began well prior to 1976. It has been a slow progression for decades. Now it is a horrifying reality, a catastrophe everyone can see. The problem now, apparently is that it progressed to become entrenched in the minds of those who hold the money and guns in Venezuela, and so it has become entrenched in government. And probably also entrenched in the minds of lower echelon functionaries, as well. Apparently, a lot of the population also accepted it, as a logical carry-through of the fallacy that because of oil, the government owes everyone adequate food, shelter, education, medical care – even free toys for the kiddies.

      I have to stop there, because I really cannot get a picture of the moods and sentiments of the population, but I would hope that the massive continuing street protests indicate that the population is now well aware of the fallacy, but is faced with the major problem of how to root socialism out of power, and reestablish a functioning free market capitalism – and rescue the population from extinction.

      • —–but I would hope that the massive continuing street protests indicate that the population is now well aware of the fallacy—–

        Of course not.

        The protests were mostly a result of NOT getting their free stuff.

        For God’s sake! The country went into revolutionary anarchy during the Caracoza because of Peres’ logical price increases to develop a sustainable economic model!

        Do you think the people have actually learned anything since?

        • I thought you had two distinguishable sets of protesters. The ones who filled up the city freeways and main avenues are not the same people who riot and loot a la Caracazo stlye. That’s my take on it, but like I say, I really don’t know, and I don’t know much at all about Valencia, Maracaibo, Ciudad Guyana, and all. I read that about 50% of the population is Mestizo, and about half is from Europe originally and “identifies” as such. I also read that a lot of people from poorer LatAm countries immigrated to Venezuela during the “prosperous years” looking for better jobs and higher standards of living, and that many settled on the hillsides.

          • No. To me. The protestors are mostly the same.

            I have intelligent, reasonable, moderately successful relatives who voted for Hugo. I couldn’t fucking believe it:

            I was just a dumb Gringo, they’re Venezuelans, but they voted for a guy who defied all rules of Democracy by trying to overthrew Peres. I mean;

            Is there something that seriously wrong with you that you would simply “ignore” this little tidbit of history?

            When I went to protests against Chavez in Miami in the early 2000s, I looked at many of these protestors as ex-pats who had their opportunities to steal stolen from them, and passed on to others. I can’t determine the percentages of those who felt and acted this way or the other. Just a gut feeling.

            But when I went to Weston this summer so my wife could vote no to the ANC, I saw 10 thousand times the number of people showing up. Where were they in 2000 and 2001 in Miami? But more important:

            How did this multitude vote in the first place? Answer–overwhelming for Chavez.

            The protests grow exponentially based on what they’re not “getting.” Democracy? Liberty for all? Freedom?

            This means nothing to them. It’s all me, me, me.

            Very much like the average German under the Nazis.

            Not until we bombed the roof over their heads did they even START to question Hitler’s policies.

    • The multi-tier exchange rate as license for insiders to steal has been known for years. Here is a recent example. St. Louis prosecutors seize assets in Venezuela money scheme.
      ST. LOUIS

      Federal prosecutors in St. Louis have seized a plane, two multimillion dollar yachts and more than $1.8 million from two men connected to allegations of money laundering in Venezuela.

      Hjalmar Gibelli-Gomez and Fabrizio Della Polla De-Simone have consented to the seizure and admitted to the money laundering, according to a Dec. 22 filing in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. The filing said the men bought the assets with profits from an illegal scheme to swap Venezuelan currency for U.S. dollars on the black market, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported .

      Prosecutors said Della Polla, a majority owner of a poultry farm, submitted false and inflated invoices worth more than $11 million through the insurance company Gibelli is president of in order to obtain U.S. dollars at a preferred rate.

      The Venezuelan government enacted currency controls to prevent capital flight by people seeking to avoid economic, political and social instability, according to the federal court filing…
      The filing said more than $170 million was wired between October 2011 and April 2015 into an account at Wells Fargo Advisors, which is based in St. Louis.

      I am reminded of the policeman in Casablanca who is “shocked” at what has been going on.

  2. The recent actions against the island neighbors isn’t hard to understand.

    It’s simply an example of the paranoia Maduro is feeling. With a touch of bullying thrown in.

    Ironically and hysterically, I wouldn’t doubt these nation’s leaders are scared to death of the really massive VZ emigration coming their way. Up until now, it’s been kids’ stuff. But think rubber inner tubes, Havana, and Florida. All of the elements are right there.

    Chavismo takeover of these ports? Why?

    All that’s gonna happen is the GN is gonna charge a few thousand Bs to any Venezuelan dragging a canoe behind them who wants to launch from these ports.

    No one on either side of the waters, let alone Maduro, knows how to handle this.

    • And when these island “nations” suffer from this massive influx of poor people without a pot to piss in (because the more “affluent” Venezuelans will fly out of the country), who are they going to cry to for help ($$$)?

      The U.S., using some convoluted logic that it’s an AMERICAN responsibility. These scumbags who took cheap VZ oil, and vote against the U.S. at every turn.

      I’m not a religious man, but thank GOD we have Trump in office who can see through all this bullshit.

      • When the exodus from Venezuela overwhelms the neighboring countries, the regional “leaders” that condemned Trump when he spoke of US intervention, will be begging for US assistance.
        It will be interesting to see how they present their case to the OAS after voting with Maduro as long as they got cheap oil.
        The problem is that we still have to go bail their asses out.
        The Venezuela crisis has the potential to destabilize neighboring countries.
        Russia and China are only interested in getting what they are owed.
        Europe will consider this a US problem. Even if the EU decided to do something, which I doubt, they will move very slowly.
        No other country has the ability to act as quickly and the depth of resources that this upcoming mass migration will require. Giving money to the little tyrants that run their little islands and have opposed the US, may not be very popular with the Trump administration though.
        It will be interesting. Trump isn’t business as usual.

          • Hey, Trump ended TPS for Salvadorans, Haitians and Hondurans. (Did I get that last country right?)

            Because when they CAME to the U.S., they signed and understood fully that this was a TEMPORARY status.

            I’m so fucking sick and tired of Latinos crying discrimination and “pity me” to break the rules of the land.

        • Santos and Colombia can go fuck themselves with this problem. It’s THEIR problem because he was such a pussy with Hugo from day one.

          Let them enjoy their problem.


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