An Authoritarian Streak

For Saturday, January 27, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

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Photo: El Venezolano News

CNE rectora Tania D’Amelio said yesterday that the National Electoral Council (CNE) will comply with the TSJ ruling that partially nullifies the call for the revalidation of political parties, planned for this weekend, and that includes an order to exclude the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) from the process.

Rector Luis Emilio Rondón rejected the Constitutional Chamber’s ruling, calling an absurdity that shows “a profound ignorance of the Law of Political Parties, the valid law for matters of political organizations, which the tribunal has been reiteratively disregarding.”

Primero Justicia general secretary Tomás Guanipa said that they’ll take part in the revalidation drive convened by the CNE and, since it’s no impossible to validate MUD’s ballot, they’ll offer PJ’s ballot for the coalition.

Lawmaker Juan Andrés Mejía, from Voluntad Popular, claimed that when they announced their decision not to validate their political status, they did it in full awareness of the implicit risks of an “unconstitutional and illegal” process, emphasizing that collective interest is above individual intentions: “We must consolidate a national coalition that goes beyond all political parties.”

Child malnutrition in Venezuela

Christophe Boulierac, spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), denounced clear signs of considerable levels of malnutrition among Venezuelan children due to the economic crisis, as well as the lack of reliable data showing children’s nutritional situation in the country. Boulierac didn’t specify which signs he meant, and about the study carried out by Caritas, he said: “it’s not a representative study, but it’s an indication of the ongoing decline of Venezuelan children’s nutritional levels.” He criticized the lack of a coordinated policy and emphasized that more must be done, like obtaining reliable data to paint a picture of actual malnutrition levels in the country.

Planning minister Ricardo Menéndez claimed that Unicef’s report has no credibility because it doesn’t show “figures” regarding the complaints of considerable malnutrition in Venezuelan children and also, it undermines the “seriousness and prestige of this institution.” It’s unacceptable that Unicef doesn’t use all that data published by the government…! Oh, wait!

For the petty cash box!

Due to a joint resolution issued by the Planning and Economy ministries (Official Gazette N” 6.360,) the government created the Unit of Arithmetic Calculation of the Minimum and Maximum Threshold (UCAU).

The name suggests a wink to the phrase Gustavo González López used when he was Interior minister.

The UCAU will be used for public contracts, travel expenses and petty cash boxes of government entities and its value was established at Bs 10,850, but it may be periodically revised to adapt it to the economy’s circumstances (meaning: hyperinflation).

The decision to implement this new unit is based on the ANC-approved Law against the Economic War. The UCAU doesn’t replace the Tax Unit (UT) for the rest of the operations of the public administration or the national economy and with it, Venezuela now has three calculation units, since the ANC also approved the Sanctioning Tax Unit, which has no established value yet but will replace the UT in cases of fines and penalties.

Mining is the future

While thousands of people reported power outages in Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Carabobo, Cojedes, Guárico and Yaracuy, without an explanation from Corpoelec about the reason for malfunction of such proportions; Nicolás promised young citizens that he’ll create mining farms for all existing cryptocurrencies, especially the Petro, requesting in exchange for such an electoral offer: “to defend the right to Venezuela’s definitive future.” Sadly, he chose not to say that Nicaragua will no longer export products to Venezuela: “there were transactions until last October, but that changed late this month. Exports are currently shut down, there’s no intention of selling to Venezuela this year,” said the manager of the Nicaraguan Association of Producers and Exporters, Mario Arana. Nicaragua, eh.

Throwing pearls to the pigs

The National Assembly said it was an outrage for the government to declare Spanish ambassador Jesús Silva Fernández persona non grata, and deplored that the Administration had ordered him expelled from the country. Similarly, the European Union condemned the decision, calling to reverse it because it goes against “the need to keep diplomatic channels open.”

Meanwhile, the Spanish government decided to declare ambassador Mario Isea persona non grata, thus reacting to the measure adopted by the Venezuelan government “in strict reciprocity.”

The editorial of El País regarding the docility with which their government has handled Nicolás’ insults and abuses was tough and necessary:

We must show Maduro that he’s wrong and that the attacks against Spain will multiply the efforts from the side of the Atlantic to ensure that Venezuelans live once again in freedom and democracy. This appeal extends to former president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero who, despite his initially laudable intentions, is only contributing now to offering an alibi for the regime to continue repression.

Increasing sanctions

France condemned the expulsion of the Spanish ambassador in Caracas and deplored MUD’s exclusion from presidential elections because it’s “a new coup against electoral fairness,” already damaged by the decision to change the electoral timetable without a consensus with the opposition.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of increasing sanctions against government officials in coordination with the rest of the EU and not limiting them to individuals: “we’re witnessing a new unacceptable authoritarian streak. Things are going the wrong way and recent decisions make them worse,” he said after meeting Argentine president Mauricio Macri in Paris. Macron said that, beyond European sanctions, “there are other countries with more economic ties with Venezuela that could adopt more effective sanctions.” Macri took the opportunity to accuse Nicolás of “increasingly violating the system,” restating that he doesn’t see a solution to the Venezuelan situation.

U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson will go on a tour in the first week of February with visits to Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica to request, among other points in the agenda, “greater regional attention to the Venezuelan crisis.” The second-to-last country in his tour will be Colombia, where he’ll meet with president Juan Manuel Santos, who restated yesterday his request not to recognize elections in Venezuela without transparent conditions. Meanwhile, Dominican president Danilo Medina said upon returning to his country, that the opposition may not attend the dialogue he convened for this weekend: “their commitment with us is that there will be dialogue this 29th, if they choose not come, that’s up to them.”

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21 COMMENTS

  1. Sanctions: Is there anyone else who believes that compared to the sanction imposed on the ambassador from Spain in Caracas, Jesús Silva Fernández, of having to return to Madrid, that the ambassador from Venezuela in Madrid, Mario Isea, has then to return to Caracas, seems a bit unfair?

  2. “there are other countries with more economic ties with Venezuela that could adopt more effective sanctions.”

    Is Macron actually hinting at and condoning a U.S. embargo on VZ oil? What else could he mean?

    • I hate replying to myself, but we don’t have an edit feature!

      Anyway, an embargo on VZ oil makes total sense, especially that we now have a real president:

      Trump is gung ho on American energy independence. Hell, we’re there already, but we still import.

      Taking VZ oil of our market further jump-kicks U.S. production. Not just fracking/shale, but offshore rigs, which are already in the works. He’s killing the regulations and going drill baby, drill.

      A VZ embargo would kill two birds with one stone, taking action against this criminal regime and supporting domestic U.S. production.

      And let’s not forget that the way things are going, PDVSA IS going to lose their U.S. refineries.

  3. Ira, I’m not clear on whether you’re suggesting the US simply stop buying Venezuelan crude, or place an actual embargo on oil leaving the country.

    While oil is fungible, a presidential order stopping US pruchases of Venezuela oil would definitely be a blow to the regime, at least in the short term. As most here are aware, Venezeuelan crude is generally very heavy and not all refineries are tooled to process it. Finding new clients for its oil is not impossible, but it would certainly complicate things further at an already immensly complicated time for the regime.

    Obviously an actual embargo of oil leaving the country would be the most severe blow, and as others have pointed out, basically represent an act of war to the regime and to those watching.

    • You can’t stop VZ oil leaving the country to elsewhere. It has to be an embargo on all companies doing business in the U.S. from buying or speculating in it.

      And a ban of U.S. exports of light crude to VZ.

      The $ loss of U.S. distilled light crude exports to VZ is offset many times by increased U.S. crude production.

      More important:

      We all keep forgetting…or don’t bring it into the equation…that PDVSA is going to collapse this year, and that supply to the U.S. is going to have to be replaced anyway.

      Instituting an embargo now puts the U.S. in a better position to weather this collapse.

      • “You can’t stop VZ oil leaving the country to elsewhere.”

        Of course, you can, with a military blockade. And that’s the word I was actually looking for…..not embargo. My bad.

        • Oh, that would never happen.

          A physical embargo on oil leaving VZ makes no sense. An invasion makes a LOT more sense compared to THAT.

          Because we’re talking about saving lives.

          I’m just saying that a ban on VZ imports into the U.S. is a two-swords, not a double edged sword.

          Nothing the U.S. does to hurt PDVSA hurts the people anyway. It’s just a corrupt shithole beyond redemption.

          It’s the fact that people actually think that VZ oil matters to the U.S. nowadays, and it just doesn’t. And I recall fondly of Maduro’s hollow threats several years ago that he might stop selling to the U.S.!

          Too late, scumbag. We’re not going to need or want it in 2018.

        • In addition to picking a fight with Maduro y corruptonarcos (which provides bonus points to the rabid chavistas) we’ll pick a fight with China and Russia, etc…. for what? It’s collapsing already.

          • Ira, I was replying before your clarification to MRubio that you were sugesting an embargo of US purchasing crude, not a complete country embargo.. lost in delayed posts. True it is a fungible product, someone will buy it, but at a severe discount. Crippling, but not a death blow.

        • Unless China and Russia agree to reduce the oil they are receiving for debt repayment, oil available for sale won’t exist.
          All of the commitments and oil available for domestic consumption require around 1.1 or 1.2 million barrels per day. The last numbers that OPEC released had Venezuelan production below 1.7 million barrels per day.
          There isn’t much money coming in to the regime right now after costs. The deteriorating production coupled with the fixed overhead costs are rapidly wiping out any free cash flow.
          There is a limit to how long maintenance can be deferred and no new holes spudded before production seriously collapses.
          A 25% reduction in production is very likely. At that point all of the production is already accounted for and there is no cash flow to cover expenses. PDVSA is in fact bankrupt.

      • Respectfully disagree Ira. As you wrote, pdvsa will likely collapse this year (following when/if any regime change it will take up to a decade under constrained oil price, and resolution of Venezuelan oil policy, for the industry to fully recover. No embargo is needed as pdvsa is applying an embargo in slow motion train wreck style..

        Additionally, it is likely the regime can see the sunset to its power regardless of elections. People frustrated by lack of international recognition of the disaster and action, including myself, can see things are finally ramping up.

        My days in Venezuela and since were/are full of the imperialist BS. When things finally flip it would not be helpful for US to be seen as the boogeyman who brought down Maduro y combo. This is extremely painful to watch, but when el pueblo decides they want change, I’d prefer the US is not still seen as the enemy.

        • We talk politics often with the locals and rarely hear a negative word spoken about the US. Most just laugh at Maduro, even the chavistas. Perhaps they throttle their words a bit because it’s obvious I’m not a native. Most, for some odd reason, seem to think I’m German.

          The only anti-American thing I’ve seen locally was last year when I passed a car in town with “yanqui go hom” painted on the rear window.

          I suspect if the truth was known, if they had the chance, 99% of the population here would head for Miami quicker than the young girls lift their skirts.

        • “When things finally flip it would not be helpful for US to be seen as the boogeyman who brought down Maduro y combo.”

          Are you fucking joking? Or smoking something?

          Seriously, dude.

          • Well seriously Dude, I guess you missed the “respectully disagree” part.. No not smoking, gave it up years ago, but thanks for asking.

            I started a longer multi paragraph response, but realized it would be useless. I rely on original comment, that an internal flip with increasing international and regional pressure is best outcome. IMO the tallest obstacle to overcome is lack of a real opposition leadership. Anytime a leader rises the regimen, with full support of the “MUD” leadership, jails or exiles. Find a real leader.

            External intervention by the gringos, expecting to be received as heroes, could result in another Iraq, with insurgency by the chavistas and collectivos, farc, etc. for decades.

            Not until el bravo pueblo decides the 21st century socialism project is a failed project, and to abajó cadenas of their present overlords themselves will there be a successful longterm change.

        • “When things finally flip it would not be helpful for US to be seen as the boogeyman”

          I concur 100%. The United States needs to do NOTHING. Venezuela is collapsing on its own. Every time Trump says anything about a “military option”, it plays right into Maduro’s filthy little hands. It allows him to howl endlessly about the “vast conspiracy of the vile Yanqui!” and adds another few more months to the regime.

          Uncle Sam needs to do nothing more than keep his pocketbook closed and his (Trump’s) yap shut. While I think Trump is doing a bang up job as President, his mouth is his own worst enemy.

          ~~~~

          FWIW, Mrs. Guapo and I just came back from a week in Aruba, where we disconnected from the electronic world and reconnected with some of her childhood friends. From what we are hearing, things in the military are getting very ugly (insubordination, desertions) and the only thing keeping things from exploding are the troops are confined to the barracks and are getting “promised” all sorts of goodies. The “professional” police feel no love for Maduro, but they are being kept out of the loop, as his goons (GN, PNB) are now enforcing Maduro’s vision of Chavismo.

          Oh, and everyone is on the take because nobody can make a living by making an honest go of it. (Venezuela “on the street” economy in one sentence)

  4. Maduros regime has become so deeply unpopular that they may be making Trump everytime he blasts the regime more popular than any past US president in Venezuela ……there is no need for an embargo on Venezuelan exports to the US because the embargo will happen when the unpaid creditors of Pdvsa start asking US courts to seize the payments made by US sited customers once acceleration happens sometime in the following months …..or when the light crude and products sold from the US to Venezuela (to be able to blend with faja heavy crudes or produce gazoline for local consumption ) or to Venezuelan govt entities in the Caribbean is also seized by their many international creditors, I suspect the reason why connections with the antilles has been put on hold has nothing to do with smuggling and all to do with the fact that Bonaire authorities were closing Pdvsa deep water terminal in Bonaire because safety rule violations had not been rectified , which would affect Venezuelas capacity to make the blends of Ven heavy crudes and mostly US imported light crudes and products that allow that oil to be trahshiped to russia and china .

    The sanctions and Venezuelas own mismanagement are already making Venezuela lack the resources with which to buy essential imports , note the govt announcement that it would be reducing imports by 40% this year and the Nicaraguan announcement that no further food shipments would be made to Venezuela because of lack of payments on past shipments , they further state that such exports ceased as of october of last year ……has any one had a look at our empty food store markets recently ……or noted the fact that presidential elections are being brought forward by the regime by more than 6 months from their customary date ….which points to the fact that come the end of the year the crisis will be of such magnitude that even with all their fraudulent manipulations they risk losing them to a corraled opposition.

  5. This is all good. The TSJ, the CNE, the ANC, the PSUV… they own it all.

    Marx said it best. (And which lapdog in Chavismo wouldn’t agree with Him?) Heighten the Contradiction.

    They own all of this. ALL OF IT. Let a couple thousand Chavista true believers die of starvation for their beliefs. Let about 10 thousand more die in the streets fighting Maduro’s “Bolivarian” police and national guard. Let colectivo fight colectivo. Let the bodies pile up.

    Some lessens cannot be learned the easy way.

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