“This fifth dialogue meeting between the government and the opposition of Venezuela (…) they have been discussing for six hours, analyzing their demands and they’ve taken a three-hour break now (…)” said Dominican presidency spokesman Roberto Rodríguez Macherna yesterday afternoon. When asked about the meeting’s atmosphere, he replied: “cordial, as usual, quite cordial.” Another journalist asked whether all parties had turned up, and the spokesman said that everyone was present, except that he could easily name the government’s delegates, Jorge and Delcy Rodríguez, as well as Roy Chaderton, but for representatives of the Venezuelan opposition, he had to take a moment to read a text message: Julio Borges, Alejandro Hernández, Simón Calzadilla, Luis Carlos Padilla, Enrique Márquez, Manuel Rosales and Luis Moreno Ocampo. As mediating nations, the meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Chile sent a special envoy.
Last night, back from the break, Rodríguez Macherna said: “Apparently, they need to work more, a bit more and that’s why they’ve decided to meet again at nine in the morning (…) these things take time, we have to understand the situation.”
— PresidenciaRD (@PresidenciaRD) January 30, 2018
The government continues to use the strategy of exacerbating tensions by delaying the process; while the opposition remains silent.
141 minimum wages
The price for the Basic Food Basket (CAF) was Bs. 25,000,000 in December, over Bs. 11,000,000 (81%) more than in November, according to a Cendas’ report. Prices for every item rose, starting with food (129.5%); education rose by 113.9% and personal hygiene products and household cleaning rose by 33.6%. The most significant increase in basic public services is the hike in urban bus fares, same ones bus drivers want to hike again and which will probably cause a transport strike in Caracas today. The average lunch for a worker was Bs. 60,000, 34% of the minimum wage as of December 2017.
Exchange Agreement N° 39
Jesús Faría, who spoke of the need to lift exchange controls a few weeks ago, decided to explain DICOM’s potential yesterday, convinced that the country’s economic outlook will clear with early presidential elections which, in his view, will bring political stability and trust to attract investors. But it wasn’t a spontaneous comment – or a new demonstration of inconsistency – but rather it was motivated by the publication of Exchange Agreement N° 39 which will regulate BCV’s auction mechanism and whose most relevant aspect is that it derogates Agreement N° 35 and with it, DIPRO, suggesting that the government is preparing for a single exchange rate for all operations. Remember that the DIPRO rate, which was kept at Bs.10 so far, regulates 90% of public imports. But don’t worry because, according to Faría, Venezuelans understand hyperinflation, that’s why he claimed: “The situation is intolerable and it’s very difficult for the people, who understand the root of the problem: there’s a strategy afoot to destabilize with extremely high social costs, powerfully directing the economy’s inflation rate.” A genius.
Suffering and hunger
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López claimed that there’s no precedent in Venezuelan history “where so much evil has been done against the people (…) subjecting them to the hardest inclemency and denying them the right to health and food,” forgetting to mention that this is absolutely the regime’s responsibility.
But the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference does establish that responsibility in the organization’s most recent statement, where they deem the call for early presidential elections as an “overreach and a corruption of the ANC’s authority,” explaining that among other things, it’s an ethical and human absurdity “that amidst a situation of suffering, hunger, the shut down of public services, death and national collapse, the government focuses on a show of distraction and alienation, in unfair conditions.” That’s why they ask that the political leadership accepts that members of the international community have stated their conviction, that the government’s actions are unacceptable, denouncing that they’ve been insufficient and incoherent in many circumstances, so they demand a consensus to achieve political unity and transcend electoral alliances.
- Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said this Monday that he doubts early presidential elections will be “clean, fair and impartial,” due to the restrictions imposed on political parties; explaining that they’re notably skeptical and that these elections enable a solution to Venezuela’s political conflict. Dastis said that the embassies continue open and managed by chargés d’affaires, that he’s not seeking the collapse of mutual relations and he called for “multiplying diplomacy through cautious and prudent paths,” asking Nicolás to control his words.
- The United States believes that NIcolás will have to explain his “illegitimate” elections for the rest of the region’s nations if he attends the Summit of the Americas in April: “the theme of the summit, “Democratic governability in the face of corruption,” will allow us to tackle corrupt practices in Venezuela under Maduro’s regime,” said a high-ranking State Dept. official in a phone call, adding that Nicolás will have to answer before democratic nations why he’s held illegitimate elections in the last year.
- Antonio Ledezma met in Buenos Aires with president Mauricio Macri and requested him that Latin America takes effective actions in view of the Venezuelan crisis, citing the example of “individual sanctions against human rights violators.” Ledezma tweeted that he also asked for the temporary regularization of Venezuelan expatriates in Argentina.
The financiers behind the push for Empresas Polar president Lorenzo Mendoza to run as opposition candidate in presidential elections, released a song yesterday that went viral.
Reviving unforgettable pieces from Un Solo Pueblo, the song goes:
“There are things in life that can’t be avoided. If existence is at risk, consequently we must choose. That’s why, Lorenzo, I want to ask you to be the president that my country dreams of; that’s why, Lorenzo, I want to ask you to be the president that my country wants. Let’s go, Lorenzo, raise your flag! Do it, Lorenzo, do it for Venezuela. Let’s go, Lorenzo, raise your flag! Now is the time, history awaits us…”.
Although this campaign is unfortunate, it’s important to note that Nicolás’ team on social media is none too happy about it either.
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