Lawmaker José Guerra, member of the National Assembly’s Finance and Economic Development Committee, reported that the country’s economy lost 25% of its productive capacity in the last four years, with a 13.2% drop in 2017, surpassing the 12% drop in 2016. The elements that explain this context of economic depression are the dwindling oil production, the reduction of consumption due to a decrease in purchasing power (thanks to hyperinflation), the intense depreciation of the bolívar and the decline in the construction industry. Only 3,800 industries remain operational and the AN estimates that some 1,000 will shut down in 2018 if the current economic policies continue. Guerra restated that the crisis could be corrected if BCV stops issuing artificial money to finance the fiscal deficit; if currency exchange controls are lifted and if the financial debt, which he estimates will surpass $150 billion by 2027, is renegotiated.
“Venezuela is producing 1.5 million oil barrels per day (bpd) less than its historical capacity, but that’s something the country must tackle on its own,” said Ecuadorian Hydrocarbons Minister Carlos Pérez; while according to Bloomberg, the forecasts of the International Energy Agency establish that oil extraction in Venezuela will continue to drop until 2023, reaching 1940s levels (when output was 700,000 bpd) which will impact production growth for OPEC countries, estimating that Iraq’s growth will compensate the sharp drop in extraction in Venezuela. Additionally, Fedecámaras chairman Carlos Larrazábal said: “Our private sector is shutting down,” and companies are operating at 30% their installed capacity. Larrazábal explained how the crossover between reduced working hours, crime, the lack of inventory and cash problems influence the decline in economic activity, while the government refuses to change the model that has destroyed the economy.
In the shadows
Out of ALBA’s 11 member nations, only 5 heads of state attended Nicolás’s summit, including him. A president for every year since Chávez’s death. After their arrival, on the World Day of Energy Efficiency, Caracas, Vargas and Miranda suffered another blackout. Darkness and inaction are the best summary of el finado’s legacy. Meanwhile, the event in the Military Museum on which Nicolás installed the summit, wasn’t attended by any member of Chávez’s family and everything that happened yesterday revolved around Nicolás, making the speeches of his few current allies even more boring. He was bold enough to announce a “Joint Economic Plan” for ALBA, proving the coherence of a group maintained with nation-draining incentives. If there’s something a country in economic ruin, amidst a humanitarian crisis, is an economic plan. The summit has only been covered by official media, an undisputed evidence of its notoriety.
A day after your passing, Marta
The lack of immunosuppressants keeps killing transplant patients in the country. This Sunday, 50-year old Marta Solórzano died in the Hospital Universitario of Caracas after her body started rejecting her kidney because she wasn’t taking the necessary medication to keep it. According to records from the Coalition of Organizations for the Right of Health and Life (Codevida), eight transplant patients have already died since October due to lack of medication and 3,500 are currently at risk of losing their organs, returning to dialysis (with less equipment and supplies available) or dying.
The lawyers of lawmaker and political prisoner Gilber Caro demanded a “proof of life” after he was arbitrarily transferred from the prison where he’d been held, saying that they don’t know where he is. Several lawmakers and relatives of Caro have requested information about the legislator’s current location. The office of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights also demanded information on the lawmaker’s whereabouts: “We demand (that) Gilber Caro’s family and defense be immediately informed of his whereabouts,” they wrote on Twitter, denouncing that “his transfer to an unknown location without informing his relatives constitutes (an) enforced disappearance according to international law.”
- In the context of the FAO America Conference, Julio Berdegué, FAO chief for Latin America and the Caribbean, said that he sees a “marked spread of hunger in Venezuela.” Susana Raffalli, nutritionist specialized in food security administration, ratified that Venezuela is the country with the worst food performance in the region and the worst levels of acute malnutrition in the hemisphere.
- Peruvian Foreign Minister Cayetana Aljovín restated that Nicolás’ invitation to the Summit of the Americas was removed because he’s preventing the holding of democratic elections in Venezuela. Nicolás replied: “Venezuela will fight for its right to be heard, to have a voice. Nobody will quiet Venezuela down,” adding that he’ll attend the summit with Bolívar’s sword.
- This Monday, Roraima’s government declared an outbreak of measles, a diseases considered eradicated in Brazil since 2015. After five confirmed and 23 suspect cases (most of them Venezuelans) the State Health Bureau concludes that it’s a virus imported from Venezuela, so they announced an early vaccination campaign against the disease for March 10.
Beautiful things happen too!
Yulimar Rojas retained her world title on indoors triple jump with a 14.63 meter-long jump, conquering the gold medal in the World Championship in Birmingham. Yulimar got the world’s best score in this season, becoming the first American two-time champion in triple jump and the second in accomplishing this feat, after Russian Tatyana Lebedeva. Violinist Rubén Rengel rose with the first place of the 21st Annual Competition of the Sphinx Organization in Detroit, becoming the first Venezuelan to receive it. But also, the Anthology of the 2nd Rafael Cadenas National Contest of Young Poetry was granted an honor certificate in the Contest “The most beautiful books of the world” that’s taking place in Leipzig, Germany; a well-deserved recognition for the awesome people behind Libros del Fuego and Team Poetero. Lastly, Fe y Alegría, the country’s most important movement of popular education, celebrates its 63rd anniversary maintaining 174 schools, five university institutes, 24 radio stations, a training and research center and 77 vocational training centers. Their yearly lottery takes place on May 23, please support this beautiful work by purchasing their tickets.
Today, the civil society will hold the event “Venezuela unida no se rinde,” in the Aula Magna, UCV at 10:00 a.m.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.