Photo: Correo del Orinoco
Violating article 237 of the Constitution, Nicolás presented on Monday his alleged Accountability Speech for 2017 before the National Cnstituent Assembly (ANC) and not before the National Assembly, the true legislative representation of all Venezuelans. But Nicolás started off saying that such event was a unique opportunity “before this miraculous and pacifist ANC,” deeming it a privilege for the country for being “the contributor (sic) that can transform this reality.” He summed up 2017 as a heroic year, because they managed to overcome “120 days of communicational terrorism, of international blockades”; he also called it a year of social progress, a year of the CLAP and the year of the birth of hope for the people, thanks to the carnet de la patria. He emphasized last year’s six wage hikes as an achievement, he accused the parties Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular of being “fascist, terrorist, outlaw groups,” claiming that the opposition is preparing a move to back off from presidential elections.He also said that on January 18, they’ll give the opposition one last chance in the Dominican Republic. He said that 2018 is for defending the future.
Whatever the cost
He didn’t offer figures for the GDP or rising prices. Despite the collective failure of Indepabis, Sundecop and Sundde, Nicolás once again plays his bet on price controls, demanding the enforcement of the Law of Agreed Prices and any other action that forces businessmen to lower their prices, placing the center of his fake economic war in price increases that seek to create an “explosive situation”. According to Nicolás, people’s income becomes salt and water because shop owners are raising their prices: “Sons of bitches, you’ll witness God’s fury,” was one of his phrases, cautioning them about his plans so that they won’t say this is political persecution later on. His audience shouted: “Maduro, dale duro.” He announced a meeting with industry businessmen to “scold them”; he promised that the prices of all products will be immediately regularized, emphasizing that any price raise from now on will only have a political justification and closed the matter saying: “Whatever the cost, we’ll overcome the price war.”
Black gold, remittances
With that exercise of denial regarding the hyperinflation that he seeks to control with more regulations, we shouldn’t be surprised that he talked about politics concerning PDVSA and its output (remembering the 2002 oil strike and the conspiracy that allegedly explains recent corruption), instead of presenting any information explaining the destruction of the State’s main industry. That’s why he was more willing to thank the 50,000 miners who attended the call to produce the cryptocurrency that’s actually a debt bond, to repeat that each Petro will be backed by an oil barrel and finally, to announce the activation of the new DICOM – offering guarantees for people who send remittances to their families – only to later demand his team to work hard on collecting those remittances.
“We lowered unemployment by 6 points, we’re close to full employment,” he said, right before claiming that it’s a world record, although he’d later report “a slight drop in formal employment.” He spoke of 74.1% of social investment, claiming that Venezuela is the only country in the world that has accomplished true wealth distribution; estimating poverty at 18.1% and extreme poverty at 4%. That must be why he found it so coherent to talk about the four million homes “protected” by a system of bonuses. “We can’t abandon the goal,” he said, repeating the formula of 70%-30% amidst low production, ordering that most of the items produced by food companies and hygiene products are taken over by CLAP’s food distribution system.
What about the Hate Law?
If we were to take its precepts into account, Nicolás violated the “law” several times, while his audience worryingly cheered and applauded. He demanded the entire Citizen Branch (Prosecutor’s Office, Comptroller’s Office and Ombudsman’s Office) to assess whether bishops Antonio López Castillo and Víctor Hugo Basabe committed hate crimes during the mass they offered on the day of the Divina Pastora, denouncing the “defamation and perversity of Catholic church bishops.” Mgr. Basabe said in his mass: “It’s not you, the young, who should be leaving, if anyone has to leave Venezuela, it’s those responsible for this disaster we’ve been dragged into (…) If anyone has to leave, it’s those responsible for the thousands of children who have crossed the limit of severe malnutrition due to the persistence of a political model that denies God and human dignity.” For Nicolás, “nobody believes in devils in a robe” and yet, he dedicated the apex of his speech to them.
He approved Bs. 482 billion for uniforms for teachers and administrative staff, as well as signing a healthcare plan for teachers which he failed to explain. After Niño Jesús, Reyes and Pregnancy bonuses, yesterday Nicolás offered the so-called “bonuses for family protection” – for two members up to ten –, which starts at Bs. 320,000 up to Bs. 1.6 million. Instead of speaking of resources to restock drugstores with contraceptives or creating plans of sexual education in schools and communities; instead of improving the salary for doctors who tend to prenatal consultations and childbirths, Nicolás explained that the pregnancy bonus will cover Bs. 700,000 monthly during the entire pregnancy and a million when the child is born. His sense of humor was enough to associate the bellies of Darío Vivas, Pedro Carreño and Mario Silva with the humanized childbirth plan. Pregnant women will get more money from the State just because of their pregnancies than the doctors who will provide prenatal control and tend to childbirths. He also promised bonuses for people with disabilities and financial support for university students, as long as they have the carnet de la patria.
All of these bonuses, which aren’t based on the redistribution of any revenue, but are instead created by the BCV without support, only cause more inflation.
Nicolás was bold enough to denounce “a fearsome humanitarian crisis” in Colombia, to call president Juan Manuel Santos a bandit and threaten him with the historic bill he’ll have to pay for the “ten million Colombian citizens who live abroad.” He repeated that Santos blocked the shipment of dialysis medication to Venezuela. This wasn’t an accountability speech.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.