Another Raise, Another Date

For Friday, March 2, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

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Photo: Despacho Presidencia

This Thursday on Facebook Live, Nicolás announced the second wage hike of the year — valid starting yesterday — taking the minimum wage to Bs. 392,546 ($1.78). The cestaticket rose to Bs. 915,000, because he also increased the Tax Unit from Bs. 300 to Bs. 500. Although the government insists on adding both numbers to show a more attractive figure (Bs. 1,307,646), the truth is that 70% of the income is represented by food stamps, which do not generate working liabilities and thus can’t be considered salary. Bs. 392,546 don’t buy a 30 eggs package, which costs Bs. 500,000 at the moment. This is another wage raise decreed without consulting the private sector, another raise that will become insignificant before an economic distortion for which Nicolás didn’t present any corrections.

Other announcements

“This raise is to defend the people from the brutal economic war the oligarchy has been waging on us,” said Nicolás, but that’s just another resource for his electoral campaign, adding the special bonus for women (allegedly for five million beneficiaries) and the Holy Week bonus (only with the carnet de la patria) both of Bs. 700,000. With oil output and sale cuts, Nicolás doesn’t have a way to pay either the wage raise or the bonuses, so the BCV will issue more artificial money —  gasoline to put out the fire of hyperinflation!

In this twisted chavista version, Venezuela is a country where the announcement of a wage hike only causes anxiety and the private sector’s fragility only worsens this dark map. Many companies have to lay off some employees in order to cover the raises. Others merely shut down, which further damages formal employment.

Postponing the fraud

National Electoral Council (CNE) chairwoman Tibisay Lucena announced yesterday morning that an “agreement of electoral guarantees” was signed between parties Avanzada Progresista, Copei and MAS — which are not part of Democratic Unity Roundtable, the main opposition coalition — and PSUV. The “agreement” includes the postponement of elections from April 22 to May 20, and presidential elections will be held alongside legislative and municipal council elections; although this violates the Framework Law of the Municipal Public Power and the Law of Regularization of Constitutional Periods.

Henri’s version

Avanzada Progresista (AP) national secretary Luis Augusto Romero said that even when the conditions are not optimal, “they fully guarantee the right of Venezuelans to exercise the vote.” Lacking the political platform to achieve it, Romero claimed that they’ll ensure that this agreement is fulfilled. Ignoring that a proper international observation must start with the inspections that were already performed, including candidate registrations, the AP representative spoke of guaranteeing a qualified observation for all stages of the process. Regarding AP’s expulsion from MUD, he remarked: “It’s difficult for them to expel us from something that stopped existing a while ago.”

AP’s discourse is quite far from a group that wants to lead a united government. Criticism to their decision was foreseeable, why choose such a toxic and arrogant line?

The chavista version

“Elections are the only option, there’s no other alternative,” said Jorge Rodríguez in his eternal role as CNE authority, although he plays so many parts. But Venezuelans have a myriad examples of why voting without guarantees isn’t an option: exiled mayors, Amazonas lawmakers, Juan Pablo Guanipa and Andrés Velásquez, are key examples of this point. Rodríguez denounced that American chargé d’affaires Todd Robinson is pressuring and threatening the opposition so that they don’t participate, and pointed out that the “agreement” doesn’t include the call to parliamentary elections. Without explaining the basis for his perspective, he claimed that international observation will be broad and as expected, he confirmed his meetings with opposition leaders, naming them one by one, only to say that with them, he discussed the document that was signed by those who support Falcón.

Deceit is his mission and division his goal, but he’s lost punch. Predictability is the end of villainy.

The NYT effect

The New York Times published an article yesterday that gathers various conversations that political leader Leopoldo López held under house arrest with one of their journalists. López muses about the country’s future and the scenarios on how we’ll overcome such a deep crisis.

Soon after the news went viral, López’s wife Lilian Tintori denounced that agents of the State Secret Police (SEBIN) entered her home without her consent, but SEBIN also arrested several journalists who were trying to cover Tintori’s complaint. They were later released, but not before causing the condemnation of the National Association of Journalists, the Union of Press Workers and the U.S. Embassy.

Later in the afternoon, Tintori said: “Leopoldo López will never leave Venezuela. After four years of unfair imprisonment he keeps fighting,” and even the NYT Twitter account narrated the effect produced by their article.

More from Tibisay

The ANC approved a decree backing the proposal. Delcy Rodríguez gave it to Tibisay Lucena as if it was transcendental. Later, Lucena reported that candidate registrations will remain open until today, that the Electoral Registry in and out of the country will be extended to March 10 and that the “agreement” was signed by representatives of the four candidates admitted so far: Nicolás, Falcón, Javier Bertucci and Reinaldo Quijada. Lucena didn’t explain how she managed to alter the entire set electoral schedule without holding a single working session with the rest of her colleagues. She promised new announcements, I hope she includes some sort of response to the “multiple irregularities presented by Electoral Registry figures,” denounced by Vicente Bello. For this Friday, Lucena convened the candidates and parties that participated in the “Dialogue of Electoral Guarantees,” so the speed to comply with the Administration’s orders would seem like another piece in her deliberate effort to confirm that branch independence is irrelevant for chavismo.

The international legitimation that the government needs won’t come with the postponement of the date nor with the participation of Henri Falcón, who is not perceived as a true opposition candidate. The strongest criticism about this election has to do with the illegitimacy of the call and the remaining official performance which prevents a free and fair election. With opposition leaders and parties out of the stage, with the CNE itself, without international guarantors for the agreements, the essential conditions haven’t changed and the general perception of the process won’t change either.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. “Nicolás doesn’t have a way to pay either the wage raise or the bonuses, so the BCV will issue more artificial money — gasoline to put out the fire of hyperinflation!”

    Perhaps he thinks his cunning and subtle plan (printing worthless money to fabulous unfunded social programs) will garner him the support he needs?

    Are simple economics taught in Venezuelan schools? What a checking account is, and how if you run out of money, your checks are worthless? I remember from my high school days, that we were taught about savings accounts, compounding interest and how credit works. Pretty rudimentary stuff, but we did gain the knowledge that wealth isn’t created out of thin air.

    It might seem an unfair question, because in the United States about 40% of the population thinks the same way Maduro does. I’m wondering if economic ignorance is a worldwide trend.

    • “I’m wondering if economic ignorance is a worldwide trend.”

      —————————————

      Of course, combined with something-for-nothing greed.

      It’s just a matter of degree.

  2. “El ticket de alimentación aumentó a 915.000 bolívares, porque también aumentó la Unidad Tributaria, de 300 a 500 bolívares. Aunque el Gobierno insista en sumar ambos rubros para presentar una cifra más atractiva (Bs. 1.307.646), la verdad es que 70% del ingreso lo representa el ticket de alimentación..”

    Here’s what no one dares to say about these laughable “aumentos de sueldo minimo.. bonos..” :

    To us, reasonably educated folks anywhere in the world, these raises are beyond ridiculous, for obvious multiple reasons. Things like “ticket de alimentacion” are even worse, revolting, denigrating.

    And it should also be humiliating, revolting and laughable for Millions and Millions of the average Pueblo-People who get all that crap, and live with the actual Hyperinflation, hunger, etc. But the Genocidal Tyrants keep using such laughable tools “salary raises, bonuses” and such big figures in empty bolivars (“Millones de bolivares fuertes”…) because the intended Audience is an incredibly IGNORANT and uneducated populace. That’s why. That’s what no one like to admit. That’s the root of all problems. Massive ignorance, Zero education. Average Kleptozuelans, still think that “millions of Bolivars feel like a lot in big packs in their pockets. They feel that “bonuses” for freaking food, from the government are normal, a gift. Because the government is supposed to feed them, house them.. They have ZERO clues about basic Economic principles, oferta y demanda, competencia, iniciativa, inflacion, deuda, produccion nacional, empty printed money paper, international trade, Zero clue.

    I bet Millions are happy today about their “aumentos de sueldo” and “bonos de alimentacion”. I bet many even believe the “guerra economica” crap. Others are just so clueless and under-educated -if educated at all- utterly brain washed with Castro-Chavista populism crap, all they care about is where their next meal comes from, and that’s for whom they might vote. THAT’s the fundamental problem. Pueblo Ignorante. “Y mi pernil poltugues impoltao??”

    • Poeta – Can you please explain for all us stupid capitalist free market people: i) what is the bono alimentario, how it is “paid”, ii) what is the unidad tributaria and how does that works? (I tried Googling, but just got more confused, and the articles don’t explain the differences between how it is supposed to be and how it actually is.)

      • Gringo, the “Unidad Tributaria” is a tax that the dictatorship collects for any type of administrative service it provides. For example if you apply for a passport (there aren’t any but that’s beside the point) you have to pay 4 “Unidades Tributarias”. Now this “Unidad Tributaria” also dictates directly the amout of the “bono alimentario” (better know as “cesta tickets”) because this “bono alimentaria” is calculated in “undidades tributarias” points.

        • Aha. Thank you (and for keeping it simple). That makes this article readable: http://talcualdigital.com/index.php/2018/03/02/nuevo-precio-de-la-unidad-tributaria-infla-el-costo-del-pasaporte/

          It’s not on my “must do” list, but I understand a bit better. Peter pays the UT and Paul gets the bono – only Peter and Paul are the same person. One thing I can say again, Venezuelans are going to get very good at doing math in their heads, keeping up with numbers consistently in the thousands. (E.g. from the article cited above, “Quien requiera el documento legal de manera express debe cancelar 780 Unidades Tributarias, lo que equivale a 390.000 y para la prórroga de este debe pagar 326 Unidades Tributarias correspondientes a 163.000 bolívares.” Easy … 390,000 divided by 780 is … gimme a minute …. I’ll guess 500.)

          Is the cesta ticket an actual coupon or 10-pack of tickets? Seems like it would easily become an alternate currency. Who prints and pays them?

      • the bono de alimentación used to be paid with a special credit card of sorts (business preferred it that way rather than using the paper “checks” variant). However I seem to recall the government wanted them to use paper ones again in the last price hike, which would be a huge logistic problem, I don’t think this has been enforced though.

        Now, the bono is called that because it can only be used in places where they sell food, so, without knowing specifics of how food stamps work, I think you can consider them analogous.

        • Got it. Thanks for the explanation. Just for talking … special credit card seems more secure – I don’t know if a personal ID is, or can be, embedded. Food stamps in the U.S., I have heard, are printed so that they cannot be easily counterfeited. I saw one once, and they look like currency, very fancy. I’ve also heard they are not traceable, and so they can be sold for cash, to buy items they won’t buy, like booze and probably drugs.

  3. Wait.. the SECOND wage hike of the year? Do you mean of 2018? We are only two months into the year! That is one hike a month at this rate!

  4. “Bs. 392,546 don’t buy a 30 eggs package, which costs Bs. 500,000 at the moment.”

    In Maturin this morning a carton of 30 eggs was quoted to my woman at 680,000 bs. We sold two cartons last week at 12,000 bs per egg. Run the numbers.

    • That’s the trouble with socialism. A government pay raise here, then another on there, and pretty soon, even the chickens want a pay raise!

  5. OT: “Venezuela’s output dropped by 30,000 bpd to 1.68 MMbbl. The Latin American nation is a big part of the reason for OPEC’s stellar implementation of promises to curb production. Its industry is suffering from a lack of investment and looming U.S. sanctions, sending output last year to the lowest since the 1980s.”

    So.. OPEC’s “stellar performance” is due to PDVSA’s collapse! OPEC countries don’t need to cut production because Vz is doing it for them to support oil prices.

    Consider OPEC was conceived and led by Venezuela to support oil prices in the late ‘70’s.. and now? Another revolutionary success, for everyone else, due to ignorance and corruption.

    http://www.worldoil.com/news/2018/3/1/opec-oil-production-drops-to-10-month-low-on-uae-venezuela

      • Guess that General Blowhard couldn’t get the wells to listen to his order to increase production. At least King Canute knew that there were limits to what he could command.

        • Hopefully, he wont start shooting people if production not increased …. Do the chavistas actually think they can just will the production numbers up without serious amounts of $$$ and talent (neither of which they have left) to make it happen? Maybe China/Russia will come in and do it for them, but I bet the cut left for VE is not so much. What goes first: free gas to the country or still selling some on open market for $$? Either way, free gas wont last, nor will the $$.

  6. MUD’s electons/electoral registry expert Vicente Bello’s objections to “multiple irregularities in electoral registry figures” doesn’t even scratch the surface, since he complained about the same great number supposedly of new 18 yr. old registrants in only a few weeks compared to the many months necessary for the same number of registrants during the last registration period–just more numbers’ fudging, and not even beginning to address the basic electoral registry fraud–the supposed VOLUNTARY registration of 20.4million (excluding supposedly 2 million unregistered/qualified 18/older)=100% (really more like 120%) of all Venezuelans 18/older, a number inflated by a probable 100% (i. e., double the real number). V. Bello has historically been considered by some a MUD mole….

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