Give me that bank

For Friday, May 4, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Univision

The Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants against 11 Banesco executives for their alleged involvement in a foreign currency black market, according to imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab, who claimed that the executives “acted by omission,” even though the investigation’s just begun and consequently, he couldn’t produce evidence about the bank’s alleged bad practices, completely bypassing due process, presumption of innocence and the right to property.

In his tale, the existence of a parallel financial system undermines the country’s socio-economic development, not the controls, corruption or hyperinflation. In any case, we have the precedent of the intervention carried out by the government against exchange bureaus to “finish off” the black market dollar. Those people spent two years in prison without a trial and were released without charges against them. The black market dollar’s still here, increasing. VTV reported last night that Banesco has been intervened for 90 days and Yomana Koteich will head the Administrative Board to “redirect the bank’s administration, cleansing it and clearing it from any activity that might be illicit or favoring the commission of illegal financial operations,” according to the statement. Koteich has held several offices in the chavista administration, including her most recent role as Finance Vice-Minister (in charge); but her most important role is as shareholder of the State provider company (Equus Proyectos y Soluciones, C.A.), which proves the coherence of the intervention’s goals. The National Assembly stated its absolute condemnation for this action and Juan Carlos Escotet, chairman of Banesco Grupo Financiero, claimed that he’ll return to the country as soon as possible to negotiate the release of his executives.

Foregone results

The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) reappeared to restate that they won’t participate in the May 20 process and to urge citizens to leave the streets empty that Sunday, as a protest mechanism. MUD asked public employees —who are forced to vote— to do all they need so that their vote is null and the entire population to reveal the social crisis and to call for protests to intensify the political and social struggle.

“If they carry out the fraud it will be disregarded,” said lawmaker Delsa Solórzano, adding that new fighting mechanisms will be implemented through the Broad Front. Lawmaker Henry Ramos Allup said that May 20 results “are already forefone” and that each candidate will get “the votes that the CNE wants them get.” Ramos challenged the government to offer better conditions: a later date, new CNE authorities and lifting the political ban against opposition leaders so they can hold primaries, cautioning that after May 20, “political persecution’s coming.” The Broad Front for a Free Venezuela issued a statement insisting that Venezuela lacks the optimal conditions to hold real elections, so they restate that the May 20 event “is a farce” and that it people mustn’t valide it by attending the process.

The usual suspects

Yesterday, the Eurochamber’s plenary approved by a broad majority a resolution rejecting the early elections for May 20 and demanding their “immediate suspension.” According to CNE chairwoman Tibisay Lucena, the Eurochamber’s statement is gross meddling because “the CNE complies with the Constitution,” the same they’ve been violating at leisure changing the electoral timetable at the behest of PSUV. Her memorable phrase: “We’re the same people, the same machines, the same broadened guarantees, the same authorities,” the clearest discouragement you could read against voting. She also announced —after Nicolás and Diosdado did it— that on Sunday, May 6, they’ll hold an electoral drill. Lucena restated that they’ve called for over 20 million voters to participate, including those who have been registered abroad. She also ratified that the date for elections won’t change.

Abroad

  • The Supreme Tribunal of Justice in exile declared this Thursday the suspension of Nicolás as President of Venezuela, and barred him from holding any other future public office. OAS secretary general Luis Almagro tweeted: “We recognize the disqualification and suspension of Nicolás Maduro as President of Venezuela, issued by the TSJ (in exile).”

  • The National Assembly’s Finance Committee offered a balance of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first months of this year. Lawmaker José Guerra explained that with the 3% reduction in economic activity, 2018 could end with a GDP drop of about 15 to 17%: “This is an unprecedented case in modern economy, where the Venezuelan economy has contracted for five years in a row, dominated by the oil industry that’s not making any investments,” said Guerra.
  • The BCV released the regulations for the monetary reconversion process, including prices for basic products, the rounding and presentation of amounts. These regulations must’ve been written by VTV’s community manager. Additionally, they point out that liter of gasoline will be kept at Bs. 6, so the current currency will coexist with the new one.
  • From Aragua, Nicolás announced the creation of the Cryptocurrency Bank for youth and students, with a 20 million petro investment -some $1,2 billion, if he can collect them- to support economic activities.
  • Even though there are areas that have not recovered water supply services in days, Hidrocapital chairman Edison Torrealba that 70% of Caracas won’t have water supply due to an electrical malfunction in the feed line of the Taguaza System.

  • Lawmaker Freddy Guevara has been sheltered in the Chilean Embassy in Caracas for six months “to protect his physical integrity in view of the violation of all constitutional and procedure rights,” said his lawyer Omar Mora Tosta.
  • ProCiudadanos announced that Timoteo Zambrano will no longer be a part of their movement, which must be one of the most fleeting supports in recent political history, and he was even their Secretary General, eh.

A Contel committee along with the National Guard shut down the radio station Nuestra 100.7 FM, located in Vista Hermosa, Bolívar state. This is how the government commemorates the World Press Freedom Day, ratifying their policy of restricting information, censorship and persecution against the media. According to the National Union of Press Workers: “The press is destroyed in Venezuela, seven newspapers have stopped circulating in the last four months alone.”

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