Photo: El Periódico de Monagas

World Cancer Day is observed the same day Hugo Chávez led a failed coup d’état 26 years ago. Adopted by chavistas as a foundational date — sums up their understanding of power— they’ve tried to institutionalize February 4 as the day of national dignity, forgetting the people murdered, the soldiers who were deceived into participating in the coup, parroting like fools that el finado changed the course of history, without explaining that he did it only to make it all worse.

There’s no dignity in multiplying poverty, hunger or malnutrition deaths. There’s no honor in depending on the State nor in the checkpoint of a membership carnet to have access to social benefits; there’s no pride without public services, as we’re unable to buy the medicines we need. Chavismo is a malign tumor that has destroyed the tissues of all Venezuelans, that has metastasized in our institutionality, spreading corruption, inefficacy and its huge disdain for life.

Right away!

For Nicolás, the conditions are set in Venezuela for presidential elections, so he requested the ANC and the CNE to establish the date, emphasizing that it should be today, Monday, February 5.

The bold Delcy Rodríguez replied that he has the ANC’s support, while Nicolás announced that minister Jorge Rodríguez will be his campaign chief once more.

The anxious candidate wants to run against Henry Ramos Allup “because he’s the past.”

Meanwhile, minister Iris Varela wants Nicolás as president because “he plays the guitar, the bongo, the drums, cuatro and piano, because he likes salsa and gaitas” and he also loves llanero music; mandatory skills to rule a country.

Without arguments, she repeated that he’s the future and he’s the only one who can guarantee economic prosperity.

Journalist Eugenio Martínez said:

“If CNE calls for elections tomorrow (…) it wouldn’t be strange for them to also order candidates to ‘pre-register’ this same week; the ‘campaign’ would take approximately thirty days.”

Doing Tarek’s work for him

Newspaper El País continues its investigations on the accounts that officials and people close to PDVSA opened in Banca D’Andorra for money-laundering purposes, and now they reveal the names of Luis Carlos de León (head of the Finance and Electricity department in Caracas,) Eudomario Carruyo (member of Deltaveny’s board of directors) and Francisco Jiménez (former Bariven chairman.)

Between 2008 and 2014, these chavista officials moved $60 million.

De León deposited $22 million in Andorra and was handed money by former vice-minister Nervis Villalobos; both were arrested in Madrid last year for money-laundering. Carruyo was also part of Villalobos’ connections, and moved over $30 million; while Francisco Jiménez handled three accounts in Andorra through which he moved over $9 million and received $8.2 million from Diego Salazar, Rafael Ramírez’ cousin.

Read El País’ investigation, they have lots of details about the payments made by Diego Salazar.

Chavismo’s end

Despite this information, Rafael Ramírez claimed in his most recent opinion piece that presidential elections are already decided, that they have an agreement made “with backs turned on most of the country’s chavistas,” and based on the incompetence of Nicolás and his team to handle the economic crisis. Ramírez foresees “the end of chavismo,” as he criticizes the imposition of “a wildly neoliberal pack, in a mix of incapacity, improvisation and lack of ethics to exercise politics and power,” taking the chance to deem government members as hypocrites, cowards and plain irresponsible. It was genius of him to ask why the corruption accusations in PDVSA weren’t made before — when Chávez was alive, he remarked — and mentioned several more examples of chavista embezzlement; describing the spiral that destroyed productivity, as if the Chávez he’s trying to channel to give weight to his words, wasn’t responsible for destroying it himself.

Community ambassadors

Once the arbitrary detention of lawyer and historian Enrique Aristeguieta Gramcko was in the past, SEBIN makes a couple more arrests: Gregory Hinds and Geraldine Chacón, heads of the Community Ambassadors Foundation (FEC), an NGO dedicated to training young people in poor communities for Models of United Nations. The foundation’s statement explains that Hinds and Chacón were arrested on January 31, that Hinds voluntarily accepted an interview in SEBIN headquarters and was isolated all the same; while Chacón was arrested early in the morning, without an arrest warrant. Court 22 of control declined its authority in favor of court 31 of control, by request of the prosecutor sent by the Prosecutor’s Office. Technically, Hinds and Chacón should be taken before court today.

As SEBIN arrests innocents, there was a shootout between rival gangs yesterday (“El viejo Frank” vs. “Los Monchis”) over the control of the Mata de Coco sector of Los Valles del Tuy, in Miranda state. CICPC confirms 11 fatalities.

Abroad

  • The U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson and Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie announced that they’re studying the implementation of oil sanctions against Venezuela to pressure Nicolás and so guarantee the return to a constitutional regime: “One of the matters of considering sanctioning oil is the effect it would have on the Venezuelan people. Because not doing anything to bring this to an end is also asking the Venezuelan people suffer for a much longer time,” said Tillerson, who addied: “Our disagreement is not with the Venezuelan people, but with Maduro’s regime.” Nicolás reacted last night on Facebook Live: “Imperialism is threatening us, we’re prepared to be free and nothing and no one will stop us.”
  • With a 74.80% turnout, Ecuatorians voted “Yes” in the referendum that modifies the 2008 Constitution, putting an end to indefinite presidential election in favor of the democratic principle of alternability, according to a quick recount of Ecuador’s CNE. President Lenín Moreno also expects “Yes” for the reforms that will allow punishments for corrupt officials; restructuring the Citizen Participation and Accountability Council; limiting metal mining and the area of oil exploitation in protected areas, and to derogate the “Capital Law.” Right in the ego, Rafael Correa!
  • Costa Ricans also voted yesterday to replace president Luis Guillermo Solís and renew Parliament. There are still no official results, but several polls put evangelical activist Fabricio Alvarado on the lead, in a country moved to action by corruption scandals, the drug-trafficking boon, a considerable fiscal deficit and discussions regarding equal marriage rights. Waiting is all that’s left.
  • Ah, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza is in Nicaragua at the moment.

Four kidney patients died this weekend due to lack of supplies for their dialysis: Arlenis Chaurant, Nermis Bolaños, Aura Fernández and Reina García.

Indifference as a State policy, another aspect of this severe metastasis.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.

16 COMMENTS

  1. A few price updates from the east of Venezuela.

    Chimo, which we sold for 28,000 bs last week is 85,000 bs today.

    Chinata has gone from 20,000 bs to 50,000 bs

    Belmont cigarettes have gone from 30,000 bs to 45,000 bs though the distributor told us today they’ll be 85,000 bs next week.

    A kilo of salt has gone from 15,000 bs last week to 35,000 bs this week. I knew something was up when Friday morning I had purchased 2 full packs of salt, 48 kilos in total and by Saturday afternoon it had all vanished.

    Economic activity overall is way down, partly due to the CLAP boxes that arrived last week and had to be paid for with cash, and the fact that generally there’s not enough cash even without the CLAP purchases to keep up with inflation. Every merchant I’ve spoken to over the last few days says the same, a significant drop off in economic activity over the last 2 weeks.

    I wasn’t able to make it to our local market this morning but have seen a number of people walking past with purchases in-hand…….or actually, in-arms as it’s obvious there are now no platic bags available. This alone limits a buyer to what he can purchase and carry.

    With inflation raging and economic activity dropping off from already dismal levels, this should bode well for Nicolas in the upcoming “election”.

    • Many businesses in Caracas are still closed from last year, for lack of inventory/fear of sacking by mobs or Govt.-ordered selling at prices below costs (a typical pre-Election move). Quinta Crespo wholesalers have little if any food for sale, and the little available is for cash only via Colectivo bachaqueros–but, not to worry, NM has the election in the bag….

      • Net, as I commented in a story here a few days ago, I was triggered into a rage the other night when my woman showed me a number of photos of a CADA grocery store that was absolutely full, top-to-bottom, wall-to-wall with merchandise of every type imaginable.

        Of course, the photo was from 30 years ago. What were oil prices back then, south of $20 per barrel?

        It’s just an outrage how this country has been looted.

        Yeah, Maduro should win in a cake-walk.

    • The Dolar Today exchange rate dropped early last week and has stayed steady at around 225000 bs. That must reflect the shortage of cash. Which would make it the cash exchange rate; not for e-transfers?

      • I’m pretty sure that’s for the promise of the new exchange mechanism. It’ll be back up soon enough, it seems the first auction has already been delayed at least once and I don’t know if the results of it have been given.

        • I’ve read that a few places, but none of the articles offer a very lucid and logical explanation as to how this is supposed to work. Wait and see …

          • The only logical reason for this that I can figure out is the cash shortage. It can not be the 7th,8th or whatever foreign exchange program the regime just came up with, who could possibly have that kind of faith in Chavismo economic policy, not a chance in my opinion. Somehow they failed to implement rational policies for the past 10 yrs but all of a sudden they figured out how to tame hyperinflation in 2 months?

            MRubio tells us that hard currency can get from 50-100% return when exchanged for electronic transfer. The Casas de Cambio (CdC) in Cucuta are aware of this. They do not hang onto the BF’s, who would Venezuela in officially in hyperinflation. So they are either selling the notes off to counterfeiters or it is being “reinvested”. How would this work? The CdC’s sell the cash on to the illegal armed actors involved in contraband trade for a premium. The illegal armed actors use the hard currency back in Venezuela for price fixed items to bring back more contraband to Colombia. This is effectively halving the value of the BF’s without even showing up in the (un)official exchange rate. Which seems more likely, the regimes policies being effective or that people take advantage of just another arbitrage opportunity.

          • Do not be lulled by the lack of change. Nothing the regime has done instills any confidence in the Bolivar. Actually, what we have been hearing of the freebies being handed out to the elderly, the pregnant, and others, are more indicators that the printing presses are running on high. The new forex exchange, is still a joke that does not represent reality, and anyone getting that piece of the pie are still insiders.

            As well, MRubio reports clearly show that the prices of staples are doubling by the hour.

            Got Salt?

        • The weird thing is that dollars – or any other major currency – is “auctioned” off, by the regime. There are fully developed instantly liquid currency exchanges all over the world – 24/6 (closed on Sundays). The daily ** daily ** volume measured in dollars is $1,500,000,000,000. https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/05/forex24hoursaday.asp for more summary. Liquidity is actually better than instant – literally nanoseconds – like hitting a “click” on your computer and having it go around the world before your finger is off the little spring underneath the plastic key cap.

          Now why would a country wish to close its doors and monopolize or “centralize command and control” over currency exchanges? There’s the “guerra economica”.

          Oh, wait … DolarToday controls the forex markets from their website! Silly of me to forget that!

          You may be right that it is the free market response to the regime. It could also be a correction in a bolivar devaluation that has been horrible to watch. Or a combination of reasons.

  2. Another key requirement for effective Ven. President–bus driver labor union leader usually on sick leave so as not to work. Ramirez ($60 bill. “savings” from his tenure at PDVSA?-second only to DC) criticizing the Govt.–the pot calling the kettle black….

  3. My sense is that Tillerson, probably by way of Trump and team, HAVE decided to stop selling oil products AND buy Venny oil, but he wants another few SA jefes to get on board with him. This probably won’t fly without regional support, so who does next hit up next? Or is Argentina enough? I expect him to do a little more touring. Everyone knows if US petrobucks were immediately halted, the country would instantly go into full crisis it seems doubtful Maduro could survive. Thing is, relief would have to come quickly to avert disaster and whoever backs Tillerman will effectively be on the hook for it. This could get tricky because nobody wants to pay to save a country from a self-inflicted wound, but leaving Maduro to deepen the problem is also untenable. Wouldn’t wanna be Rex…

    Most people figure the US would eventually make a move – anything less would make the country seem indifferent and impotent – so perhaps this is “the move” we’ve been expecting since Obama.

    Maybe not in this rabbit hole.

    • He has definitely thrown out a big feeler and is waiting for reaction, from allied countries and, (imho) from public opinion, and that would include Quico and CC.

      This is big-time and deserves serious discussion and advice from the folks close to the issue.

    • Yeah, I like to call it the Macron-Macri-Tillerson Axis of Economic Suffocation. Plus the Peru 12.

      And, to placate all concerns, it could be quick. Especially right after the monumental elections fraud to come.
      There is unprecedented int’l consensus that Chavismo has to go. Unheard of in France or Argentina.

      The conditions will be ripe for the Perfect Storm in April: Detested Maduro re-elected in Ultra-Scandalous Mega Fraud; Abominable economic crisis, even worse than today’s debacle; Oil/Gas and other supplies final economic choke, plus perhaps a couple of surgical, covert CIA/FBI intelligence operations to support a few local mid-level military. Hungry military, finally really arrechos and pissed off, backed by hundreds of thousands thousands of pissed-off and hungry pueblo-people.

      Chavismo doesn’t last 3 weeks under those conditions. Tillerman-Macron’s EU and Macri Latam should act.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here