The National Assembly estimated the inflation rate for 2017 at 2616%, an unprecedented record in the country. In December, prices rose by 85%, surpassing the cumulative inflation of Latin America as a whole. Hyperinflation is growing due to the severe distortions in our economy, including the plummeting production due to FX controls and the BCV printing bolívares on demand for the Administration (in December, monetary liquidity rose by 38%.) Lawmaker José Guerra, head of the Finance Committee, said that the BCV must stop issuing money and suggested a series of measures to correct distortions, including: lifting FX controls; refinancing the foreign debt (which demands trust in the country and an economic plan for bondholders,) and request international financial assistance, because there are no reserves and we need growth in foreign currency.

Empty promises

As an actor in a commercial, Nicolás met with doctors to start the “military offensive on the white coats.” He spoke of the resources to incorporate 16,500 youths from the plan Chamba Juvenil to the health sector; of activating a Humanized Childbirth bonus next week through the carnet de la patria; he approved Bs. 1.8 billion for the National Surgical plan; Bs. 111,980 million for works in the JM de los Ríos Children’s Hospitals, and another five billion to make repairs in 18 Integral Diagnostic Centers (CDI) in Caracas.

After the U.S. Treasury Dept. sanctions, governor Rodolfo Marco Torres (pictured above) opened a CDI in Aragua, taking the opportunity to talk of the Cuban term, Caumatología (Burn therapy.) He’s already campaigning: Nicolás said that in the next elections, “the people will punish the traitors” and he also claimed that he’ll redistribute the country’s wealth “in the form of health, education and protection.” He called the public health movement to start house-by-house visits on January 13, all over the national territory, “guaranteeing” medicines for everyone through the 0800-salud-ya. He also took the chance to ask the people to reject the National Assembly (through the hate law) because “they’re moving against the Petro, the carnet de la patria and social programs.”

Drop in oil production

PDVSA’s output dropped by 100,000 barrels per day in December, and is down to 1.7 million barrels per day, the lowest record since 1989, according to data from the energy market analysis agency S&P Global Platts. So PDVSA is strapped for cash, with dwindling staff and equipment, in default and affected by United States sanctions; circumstances that won’t be corrected with the anti-corruption show starring the imposed prosecutor general and much less under the leadership of a soldier with no experience in the sector.

By the way, while former PDVSA president Rafael Ramírez threatened to reveal the origin of the money used to buy Últimas Noticias and El Universal, the head of PDVSA’s Vienna Office, Bernard Mommer, sent an open letter addressing Tarek William Saab: “You’re abusing your authority to turn a political confrontation into a fight against corruption,” adding that his accusations are false, vicious, absurd and contradictory.

Nicolás’ destruction

Former Spanish president Felipe González said in an interview that he’s never seen a faster and deeper process of institutional, economic, social and security decay as the one caused by Nicolás, finishing off branch autonomy, overtaking the Judiciary, nullifying the democratic opposition –which he describes as an undeniable majority– controlling the CNE and eliminating all guarantees for electoral processes. According to González, while Nicolás uses justice to arrest and imprison dissidents, the situation continues to decline dramatically. González made an impeccable explanation of how the National Assembly’s authority was usurped and how the ANC has been the final stage of a continued coup, and later stated that dialogue has only helped the government tighten its tyrannical grip, so he urges all involved to comply with the demands presented by the opposition from the start.

CLAP and petros

The Food Ministry reported that the price of the CLAP box rose from Bs. 10,000 to Bs. 25,000, the current price of a Toronto (a chocolate bonbon with a nut inside) in any street vendor, the best summary of the dimension of the subsidy represented by the box. Meanwhile, Economic Vice-President Wilmar Castro Soteldo urged people to trust in the new system of complementary exchange (Dicom), because it’ll be “completely believable” and the private sector will be able to participate openly, allowing natural and legal persons to access foreign currency. Additionally, in order to improve this access, they’ll use various financial methods, including the Petro. The funny thing is that, despite the relevant percentage of Venezuelans who don’t have a bank account, they claim that the Petro “could replace cash in 2018” and urge everyone to save in cryptocurrencies, protecting the huge amount of bolívares that we have under hyperinflation!

Portugal and Venezuela

Representatives of the Portuguese community in the country met in the Portuguese Center with their country’s Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva, asking for help after the government’s recent crackdown on their supermarkets, explaining that they were forced to sell everything at a 50% discount, that they were threatened and mistreated, and that some business owners have even been imprisoned during operations against their stores. This Monday, in a meeting with his counterpart Jorge Arreaza, Santos Silva said that his country would appreciate any improvements on the conditions for businesses and distribution networks; he spoke of his willingness to support new projects of cooperation in areas such as food, medicines and other essential goods, and expressed his respect and support for the results of the political negotiation in the Dominican Republic. Santos Silva later met with the National Assembly’s Board, and restated that Portugal and the rest of the countries of the European Union recognize Parliament as the legitimate representation of the Venezuelan people.

Abroad

  • During his New Year address, pope Francis said that Venezuela “is going through an increasingly dramatic and unprecedented political and humanitarian crisis,” he urged that the conditions be established so that presidential elections “become the start of a solution to the current conflicts” and called for answers to the essential needs of the people.
  • Delcy Rodríguez met with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to hand him a letter from Nicolás “regarding the bilateral links of cooperation,” according to her Twitter account. Luisa Ortega Díaz also met, but with Chilean president-elect Sebastián Piñera, to talk about our crisis and assess how Chile could help restore democracy. Later, she spoke of her meeting with Foreign Affairs undersecretary Edgardo Riveros. Sadly, none of them told her about the case of Braulio Jatar, the journalist she accused without evidence and with fake witnesses, only for tweeting that he had more videos of the protests Nicolás suffered in Santa Rosa, Nueva Esparta state.
  • Actor Edgar Ramírez used the red carpet for the Golden Globes and summed up Venezuela’s situation as a country that has been the victim of an institutional takeover, “by criminal organizations that don’t want to understand that their time is up.” Notably, he clarified that Venezuelan democracy has been dismantled and how our circumstance is a warning for the world; alerting about the humanitarian crisis we’re experiencing.

The black market dollar keeps rising.

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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.