Sovereign disaster

Your daily briefing for Friday, March 23, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: BCV

Last night, Nicolás announced the second monetary reconversion in 10 years: once again, they scrapped three zeros from the currency and the new banknotes, whose highest denomination will be Bs. 500 (Bs. 500,000 currently) which can’t pay for an egg carton, will start circulating on Monday, June 4.

The “economic war” is once more the justification for this monetary reform, but Nicolás didn’t forget to mention other “culprits” such as Dolar Today, the United States and president Juan Manuel Santos, who he blamed for the cash crisis, alongside lawmaker Julio Borges.

The fact that he said the measure had been ready since December 2017, makes the launch of the “safer” Bs. 100,000 banknote even more absurd; it barely circulated at all, another useless expense for the Central Bank. He was bold enough to say: “We’re going to defend the bolivar, the country’s monetary and financial sovereignty,” revealing another proof of his economic failure.

This “Sovereign Bolívar” will have more nominal than practical value. It’s a poorly designed monetary reform and Nicolás knows it: without an anti-inflation plan, without a stabilization plan, the fiscal and monetary mess will continue. A bolívar today is equal to a million bolívares in 2008, Zimbabwe style.

Armored petro

Nicolás also made a report on the petro because the sale process started yesterday. It was hard for him to get in character, but he repeated the exercise of announcing unverifiable figures for the pre-sale process, saying that the petro broke all records of offer, exchange, purchase and circulation in “the global crypto-economy,” claiming that “there’s no monetary space in the world where it isn’t talked about.”

That must have inspired him to set up a blockchain and cryptocurrency event in April. Superintendent Carlos Vargas said that even buses will take petros and Nicolás ordered the creation of four economic areas to promote the use of the petro: Margarita, Los Roques, Paraguaná and Ureña-San Antonio (Táchira state). Nicolás inadvertently said: “we’re depositing eight million votes, sorry, bonuses (…) my mind betrayed me,” and he even smiled.

Improvising, as always

Earlier, Vice-President Tareck El Aissami announced that Nicolás had decreed the period of March 26 to 28 as nonworking holiday for public servants, as a power-saving measure: “this decision comes from the impact caused by the recent summer, affecting water levels in hydrographic dams and, consequently, the instability of the national electrical power system,” wrote El Aissami on Twitter, excluding employees working in activities that can’t be interrupted from the decree. Chavismo has been in power for 20 years and they’ve been incapable of designing plans for rain or drought periods, they just improvise, restricting the rights of citizens, with a power crisis that translates into prolonged power-cut periods in at least six of the country’s states; with failures in water supply. Read “Living without Water”, an article published in Prodavinci.


The UN warned yesterday that 124 million people in 51 countries needed humanitarian aid in 2017 to stop the serious food crisis, predicting that the food problem will intensify throughout this year in conflict-torn nations. The Global Report on Food Crises, made with the cooperation of several United Nations agencies, emphasized that acute hunger in the world increased by 11% compared to 2016. For FAO General Director José Graziano da Silva, “two out of every three starving citizens come from countries experiencing prolonged crises,” adding that with all the information held by countries and international organizations, it’s possible to avoid this tragedy through more efficient and less costly aid.

Political prisoners

NGO Foro Penal denounced that over 12,000 people are currently imprisoned since 2014 and 157 political detentions have taken place in 2018 alone, emphasizing that there are five minors “with a release warrant who haven’t been released yet,” saying they’ve been kidnapped by SEBIN, because none of their relatives have seen them even though the period for a formal trial already expired (45 days). Foro Penal added 20 more soldiers to the list of political prisoners, not counting Miguel Rodríguez Torres or Víctor Cruz Weffer, expressing their concern “because there have been relevant cases of torture which, although they’ve been made public, are still severe.”


– Cuba and Venezuela are part of the black list of the Inter-American Commission on Human Right (IACHR), according to the annual report for 2017 they released yesterday. Regarding Venezuela, the report says: “the serious decline of democratic institutionality, the alarming increase in repression against social protest and freedom of expression, the violence and crime, and the severe political, economic and social crisis that the country’s experiencing, continue to systematically restrict human rights for Venezuelan citizens.”

– Donald Trump still plans to attend the Summit of the Americas despite president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s resignation, White House sources confirmed.

– In view of the possibility that the presidential election is held as planned by chavismo, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela cautioned about a new exodus of Venezuelans which Central American countries would find difficult to deal with. Varela said that he hopes Nicolás will “think this over and understand that an election without the opposition’s participation, advanced by an illegitimate ANC; would intensify the crisis.”

– Spain reported all asylum request records were broken in 2017, especially from Venezuelans, which tripled. Venezuela heads the requests and consequently ranked second in denial, right after Ukraine. Spain has almost 400,000 pending requests: one out of every three are from Venezuelans.

– Fernando García-Casas, State Secretary of Cooperation for Ibero-America, said yesterday that Spain doesn’t want to cause more trouble to Venezuela amidst this political crisis, but instead “helping it become a democratic, safe and peaceful country,” so they think it’s necessary to keep dialogue open in Venezuela and that’s why Spain’s stance hasn’t intensified tensions. García Casas hopes that the Spanish ambassador can return to Caracas, after being declared persona non grata by the government.

– Julio Borges and Carlos Vecchio met with American congressmen to thank them for the support they’ve given to the democratic cause and to ask for greater pressure against the May 20 electoral fraud.

– Lawmaker Luis Florido met in Bogotá with Luisa Ortega Díaz, lawmaker Germán Ferrer and César Gaviria, Colombian president, to join efforts in favor of restoring elections and democracy in Venezuela. Florido also met with senator Álvaro Uribe and Partido Liberal secretary Miguel Ángel Sánchez, to discuss the humanitarian attention for Venezuelan refugees and restate the need to establish a humanitarian corridor.

Ahora es soberano
el bolívar que era fuerte
otra condena de muerte
para ese veterano…
Igual durará muy poco
este cono monetario:
lo hiperinflacionario
¡vuelve todo un zaperoco!

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.