The second highest

For Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Reuters

This Monday, the National Assembly’s Finance Committee reported the results of their Price Index: the inflation rate for April was 80.1%; the cumulative rate for 2018 reached 897.2% already and the yearly rate (2017-2018) is 13,779%, the second highest hyperinflation rate ever recorded thus far in America, surpassing Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia; only Nicaragua’s was higher.

Lawmaker Ángel Alvarado cautioned that if this pace continues, inflation could reach 94,743% by year’s end. The lawmakers insisted that part of this is due to the monetary expansion with which the Central Bank finances the Executive. Lawmaker Rafael Guzmán said that the monetary reconversion ordered by Nicolás was infeasible, because it would start losing value as soon as it comes into effect: “By year’s end, the new currency would’ve lost approximately 80% of its purchasing power,” said Guzmán.

Disregarding Nicolás

“We demand sanctions to end the dictatorship. Without indulgence, without pretence, without hesitation,” said OAS secretary general Luis Almagro in his speech in the special session, adding that the OAS offers the opportunity to prioritize democracy and human rights and that’s why “it can’t admit dictators.”

Almagro said that the General Secretariat disregards any action of expression of Nicolás after his investiture was suspended by the TSJ in exile, recognizing the request made by their plenary chamber to the AN to start a procedure to open the way for a constitutional transition, and to urge the Armed Forces and the CICPC to take the appropriate measures, as well as to notify Interpol for his capture. “I demand tough, strong, inflexible actions to recover the civil, political, economic and social rights of the Venezuelan people,” Almagro emphasized.

“Failed States know no borders”

In his speech before the OAS Permanent Council, U.S. Vice-president Mike Pence asked members to suspend Venezuela for being a dictatorship; to cut off the country’s authorities from “laundering money through your financial systems” and to enact visa restrictions, among other measures.

Pence also asked Maduro to suspend the May 20 process: “There will be no real election in Venezuela on May 20 and the world knows it. It will be a fake election with a fake outcome,” he said. Pence also urged members to hold Nicolás “accountable for destroying Venezuela’s democracy.”

New sanctions

Pence took the opportunity to announce sanctions against Venezuelan authorities, with the U.S. drug-trafficking “blacklist“ now including: Pedro Luis Martín Olivares, a former SEBIN agent accused of money laundering; Walter Alexander Del Nogal Márquez, known for the car-bomb case in 1993 and Mario Antonio Rodríguez Espinoza, former DISIP inspector and former assistant of Freddy Bernal, for providing financial and technological help to alleged drug traffickers. The measures also include sanctions against their companies, whose assets and accounts in the U.S. will be frozen. Samuel Moncada, Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS, criticized the fact that he wasn’t allowed to defend Venezuela’s position against Pence’s statement and claimed that the vice-president has committed “an international crime,” in order to “prevent May 20 elections,” adding that the OAS “has disqualified itself.”

Against the TSJ in exile

This Monday, agents of the Bolivarian Service of National Intelligence (SEBIN) carried out another wave of raids against the properties of the justices of the Supreme Tribunal appointed by the National Assembly and currently in exile: the residence of Gonzalo Álvarez Domínquez in Chacao, Caracas; the house of Antonio Marval in Valencia, Carabobo state, with the presence of a Prosecutor’s Office’s prosecutor; the residence of Pedro Troconis in Barquisimeto, Lara state. At the moment of this procedures, only the mother of justice Troconis was at home. The house of Ramón Pérez Linares was also raided, and his wife, the sole inhabitant, was arrested to be interrogated by the officers.

The candidates

The meeting at the National Electoral Council (CNE) between ministers, electoral authorities and the representatives of candidates was set for yesterday, but it was suspended by the CNE. Carlos Jiménez, campaign chief for Javier Bertucci, spoke of the CNE’s irresponsibility. Also yesterday, after creating the caucus “Cambiemos”, lawmakers Teodoro Campos, Adolfo Superlano, Meval Paredes, Maribel Guédez and Timoteo Zambrano announced their support for Henri Falcón’s candidacy, who denied the assertions indicating his potential role as Nicolás’ vice-president. Falcón once again urged MUD and the Broad Front to reconsider their stance and proposed a debate between opposition factions “about the basis of a plan.” Meanwhile, Nicolás used the Poliedro de Caracas as stage to call the opposition to “a national dialogue for peace” (yes, another) after he’s re-elected on May 20; claiming that he’s already talked about that possibility with Dominican president Danilo Medina. He also claimed that Henrique Capriles will support Falcón and that the U.S. “seeks to impose its domain” and prevent the May 20 process.


  • Vladimir Putin was sworn in for his fourth term as president of Russia after 18 years in power. Six more years amidst a costly confrontation with the West and a fragile economy. “Russia for the people (…) The goal of my life and my work is to serve the people and the country,” he said. Rings a bell?
  • After his meeting with Nicolás, Palestine’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, stated his interest to achieve serious negotiations with Israel. He said that he hopes Latin American countries won’t move their embassies to Jerusalem. Nicolás said that they signed agreements on tourism and mining and incorporated the pedro as an exchange currency. By the way, Trump won’t travel to Jerusalem for the opening of the American embassy. His daughter Ivanka will go in his stead.
  • More than 203,000 people signed up in the first month of the Administrative Registry of Venezuelan Migrants (RAMV) in Colombia, the census that started in April and will conclude in June. There are 48,164 minors thus far.
  • The bankrupt Banco Espírito Santo (BES) and its former president Ricardo Salgado are being investigated for the alleged embezzlement of 3,5 billion euros from PDVSA, in an investigation involving authorities from the U.S., Spain and Venezuela.
  • The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry reacted to the message of State Secretary Mike Pompeo, who accused Nicolás of being a dictator who “starves his people,” claiming that Pompeo shows a false concern for our circumstances “while he conceals the perverse effects of the application of his government’s unilateral, coercive measures.” Picture today’s statement.
  • In Nicaragua, the death toll of the protests against Daniel Ortega reaches 47 people. The first day of hearings of the Inter American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) focused on Mexico and Nicaragua.
  • The former manager of the company charged with building a factory of Russian rifles in Venezuela pleaded guilty of embezzlement; becoming the second sentence for the case of a plant that should’ve been read in 2015.
  • The National Assembly’s Foreign Policy Committee asked the Lima Group to “extend” the validity of the passports of Venezuelan migrants whose documents have expired, because “there are no consulates to help them,” said lawmaker Luis Florido, who hopes for a reply to his proposal in the meeting that will be held by the group on May 14 in Mexico.

We go on.

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  1. Reports coming in heavy now on large scale military, GN and other desertions and resignations.

    And they’re calling up retirees to help with the “election.”

    And some people actually think a U.S. invasion would take more than a day and a half?

    • When I say “plan” I do not mean a “government plan for the economy”. I mean a plan to institute policy and transition to a free market economy that runs itself (which is how an economy works). Is the Chavez constitution to be the constitution?

      The direction is towards a free-market capitalist economy. The discussion of a transition can be broken up into sectors:
      administrative changes (my suggestion, that the AN appoints)
      fiscal policy which includes currency, handling debt and foreign exchange
      oil sector
      emergency relief aid (already packaged and waiting to go)
      agricultural privatization
      internal order
      [What else?]

    • What invasion?

      A few planets would have to align and some very specific scenarios would would have to evolve (Russian/Chinese military bases) before any invasion was even considered. Nothing like that is on the horizon.

      No invasion takes a day and a half. Grenada was three days before we got full control of that little speck.

      • And nobody seems to want to discuss who will be responsible for establishing law and order once the regime falls.

        • The problem is not limited to Venezuelans in crisis, nor to this little blog here. It’s a definition of the way things go, apparently, to wait for leadership and keep nice and quiet until then. You see it with senior citizens, for example, who postpone moving into a retirement community because of … because of what? Is it lack of plans, or lack or reality, or what? Many do in fact move, but I suspect that is because the places have been marketed, so it becomes “the thing to do” (if one can afford it). Waiting for leadership is also, unfortunately, the reason bad leadership can emerge, seemingly out of nowhere. The day-to-day on it is a person-to-person thing. Some people will take a few steps out of their way to be useful to someone (a 30-something young lady went out of her way to help me lift a 25kg sack; but on the converse, a 40 year old man did the same another day, but wanted “money for a train ticket to get back home because … blah, blah).

          The people who are willing to take a step out of their way remind the rest of us of the way things work, the way we are supposed to be. And people do take a moment to read and post here. And many of them offer real insights. Why people seem reluctant to discuss plans is kind of like one of my favorite special effects thriller movies, “The Day After”, about a new ice age that comes over the planet, with super-cooled air that insta-freezes a human body in three seconds.

          It all gets pretty deep-ish when one starts to consider philosophical and religious questions such as, “Why are we here?”

        • “…who will be responsible for establishing law and order…”

          What’s to discuss? Whoever wins the small war over the land of Vz after el pueblo is eliminated will setup law and order (and ruthlessly a la after the fall of South Vietnam). Take your pick: the Castros, Putin, Xi.

          The present is just prelude.

          • Is there any “law and order” now? From what I read on this site (and other sites), there’s precious little personal safety in much of Venezuela.

            I bet a sizable portion of the population, especially the elderly, would be happy to have a ruthless leader come in and start cracking down on crime. Sure, tens of thousands Malandros along with a few thousand innocents will be disappeared, and they would still not have electricity or clean running water or functioning sewers or garbage collection or public transportation or food or medicine or uncensored (if any) internet, BUT at least they might feel safer walking down the street to stand in a bread line.

      • Okay. Three days. Not a day and a half.

        But I have an added point:

        About the points made here in the past on why military intervention isn’t feasible because of public opinion, or because of international relations.

        I’ve said it before (often) and I’ll say it again. Trump doesn’t give a shit about public/popular opinion, and sure doesn’t give half a shit about what our “allies” might think, let alone those countries that curse us anyway.

        Pulling out of the Iran deal was a kick in the balls to many…both regular folks and world leaders…who just never understood this guy.

        Our greatest president in modern times.

        • The prima facie reason that the US will NOT invade Venezuela is that 20-33% of Venezuelans adore Chavez and his blessed memory. Ergo, there isn’t a reasoned or logical reason on this planet why ONE US soldier ought to sacrifice so much as a splintered finger for such ingrates.

          I don’t care how far removed from reality Trump is when it comes to what he thinks of public opinion, he isn’t military and he couldn’t find his ass with both hands and a map when it comes time to make military decisions. He has (fortunately) surrounded himself with brilliant people who have military savvy, but if Trump decided today that he wanted to invade Venezuela regardless of their opinion, he wouldn’t have a general/admiral to do his bidding. And that isn’t hyperbole. How many military men and women in his inner circle have already abandoned him?

          Trump isn’t Nero or Caligula. He doesn’t have absolute power. He doesn’t command the legions.

          If the generals and admirals aren’t on board, not a single soldier/sailor so much as wipes their ass. I was an Army officer, and while Reagan/Bush I/Clinton/Bush II may have been my CIC, I didn’t follow their orders. My orders came down a chain of command that I believed in. I swore allegiance to the Constitution, not the President.

          • A soldier doesn’t question orders unless they constitute war crimes.

            That’s an oath every military person swears to.

            You don’t have the right to pick and choose based on your individual interpretation of the Constitution. And sorry…

            But an invasion is only a violation of the Constitution when it’s considered “war,” which has to be approved by Congress. Fortunately or unfortunately…depending on your point of view…this requirement has been extremely blurred over the past several decades.

  2. They just need to know where a dozen guys sleep. Don’t worry those guys are nice and secluded from civilian targets. Nice and clean, text book surgical strike, no need for any civilian to even see a ground troop. I guarantee nobody I know will complain! Be interesting to see if Venezuela could pick herself up at that point and get on with being reborn.

    • Those camps are already in place. Camp Colombia and Camp Brazil…but both are really struggling with the overwhelming numbers of refugees coming into their countries.

  3. the cumulative rate for 2018 reached 897.2% already and the yearly rate (2017-2018) is 13,779%, the second highest hyperinflation rate ever recorded thus far in America, surpassing Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia; only Nicaragua’s was higher.
    The good news is that it doesn’t take much time to stop the hyperinflation beast. The Sandinistas lost the election in early 1990. By 1992, inflation was down to 24%.

    World Bank: World Development Indicators

    • Does anyone know how the current level of inflation in Venezuela compares to the inflation in Germany at the end of the war? I know it was a completely different situation but it would be interesting to know how much deeper the abyss might possibly be. I remember seeing photos of German citizens using wheel barrows to carry enough money to go buy a little food.

  4. “only Nicaragua’s was higher.”

    Chavismo needs to try harder if they’re going to be No. 1 all time.

  5. “The bankrupt Banco Espírito Santo (BES) and its former president Ricardo Salgado are being investigated for the alleged embezzlement of 3,5 billion euros from PDVSA, in an investigation involving authorities from the U.S., Spain and Venezuela”

    I’d love to listen in on those conference calls ….

    OT – Maduro sure looks well fed in that picture. Wonder how the people who are going hungry feel about that?

  6. “Nicolás said that they signed agreements on tourism and mining and incorporated the pedro as an exchange currency.”

    I know probably just a typo, or did Maduro launch yet another currency? ‘Cause “the Pedro” has flair.

    Tourism??? Does this still exist in Venezuela??

    • Adrenaline tourism, like climbing K-2, or Annapurna the killer mountain (over 30% never return – mostly because it is avalanche-prone, but also of course the lovely weather …).

    • Would that be Venzuelan tourism to Palestine? Hmmm… that doesn’t sound right. He must be talking about Palestinian tourism to Venezuela. Ummm… somehow that doesn’t sound right either.

      • Which reminds me that when I was working in Venezuela I met some Venezuelans of Arab origin. Though I met many more in Argentina, where they were called Turcos- for their ancestors having emigrated from the Ottoman Empire. The town where I lived had a Syrian-Lebanese eating club- but all they served was regular Argentine food, like milanesas. Had to go 200 miles to get Arab food.

    • May I suggest “A Night at the Top of Kennels of Caracas” is my choice for romantic vacation or “A week in El Tigre”.

      • “Top of Kennels” could be sold as a great way to see the sights. Like a double-decker open top sightseeing bus in London, only less comfortable. They can have a tour guide with a speaker to narrate and add some color to the adventure.

        • We have put on our thinking (LOL) hat and try to permute our ideas (in Petro’s of course). Maybe we should offer a week fishing Lake Maracaibo (for bodies?) with Tarek and Mad Dog. I have several additional suggestions. I think that somebody ought to start national lottery that SEBIN approves. Mad Dog is looking for somebody to put al together l(Poeta maybe?)

  7. I can confirm that the only tourists I have seen in a very long time are mochilleros from somewhere else in South America. Oh and they don’t have any money to speak of, most are vegan and can survive on cheap things like plantains and tubers. If there are any real tourist sneaking past me they are obviously doing something right and staying really low profile during their visit.

  8. Law and order would be established by law enforcement and the military. I know but it’s what’s there. Of course it needs new leadership, purging a deweeding but it’s not Iraq. It can be saved and made to work.

    Triggers for U.S. military action are actually WMDs and Terrorism. BRV has none thus no military action. U.S. will not go to war with DPRK and Iran. DPRK regime stays and sanctions will be lifted in exchange for denuclearization. Iran will be sanctioned and pressed for regime change, just like BRV (and Cuba/Nicaragua if they dont get act together).

    Russia and China do not have force projection to meddle in America’s backyard. China plate full with Korean peninsula, India, U.S., Taiwan, neighbors, South China seas and Africa.

    Russia is tapped out. Between Nato and Syria, not much else Ruskies can do. BRV long ways from home.

    • There is little chance of Law and Order being restored by the local law enforcement or the military. Most of the current Law Enforcement Agencies are actually part of the problems in Venezuela. They participate in many of the kidnappings and other crimes. They have little if any professional training or ethics when compared to other world countries.

      The Military is just as bad. The current military is not the very professional Venezuelan military of 25-30 years ago. Chavez and Maduro have purged or imprisioned most of the “professionals” and replaced them with “thugs” loyal to Maduro. In addition, there are reports of thousands of Cuban Special Troops that act as watch dogs of loyalty over the military troops in support of Maduro. There are recent stories of more than 10,000 troops and officers of all ranks that have tried to resign or desert from the military. The response to those attempting to resign has been to accuse them of terrorism against the government and throw them in jail for 90+ days.

      Terrorism is actually a big concern. One of the concerns (among many) related to a U.S. Military action in Venezuela is the 3000+ surface to air shoulder fired missiles that Venezuela purchased from Russia. The concern is what happens to the control over these missile in the event that the U.S. Military invades. In addition, Venezuela’s connection to and support of Hezbola. As a result of that support there are purported to be middle east terrorist training facilities in Venezuela. One of Venezuela’s abundant natural resources is uranium. There have been numerous reports of secret uranium mines being operated by the Iran. There have also been documented instances of unscheduled special transport and passenger flights between Iran and Venezuela.

      So send the U.S. Military into Venezuela is not a short term adventure. There needs to be a period of nation building to rebuild the the local Law Enforcement and the Military.

  9. Ira, military action requires public support. Something Potus does not have. Furthemore, the situation does not warrant.

    Maduro has to fear his own military more IMO.

    • Trump could care less about public/Allies support, if he feels action is in the best interests of the U.S. (Iran,dixit)–in this he is similar to Reagan in countering international threats.

    • This is where I and Net. agree, and it’s what I originally posted.

      Trump doesn’t give a shit about public support, and rightfully so.

      Do you think the American people know shit about what’s going in Venezuela? Hell, after years and years, we still don’t know shit about our involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria. Yet the beat and involvement goes on. The only thing shutting up the stupid liberals is that this all went on under Obama too.

      We got mortgages and electric and credit card bills to pay and worry about.

  10. The U.S. is saving its trump card for senior leadership: narcotics indictments. Once you are indicted for cocaine, you are fucked.

    The U.S. had sealed indictments for cocaine trafficking against Latam-Caribbean presidents before. Only three of those indictments remained sealed: Aristide of Haiti; Fidel and Raul Castro.

    Aristede was told to shut the fuck up after his exile to Africa or he would be indicted. He complied but his lieutenants where extradicted and convicted in Miami court.

    Fidel and Raul, we know the story and General Ochoa.

    Will Nicolas and Cilia be indicted? It’s actually up to them right now.

  11. With Conoco seizing PDVSA’s assets in the Caribbean, the end may not be too far off

    Surprised CC has not covered this topic.

    • For those of us who’ve been following this forever, I will say that the most rational of us have come to the conclusion that there IS no end. Ever.

      The only way is outside military intervention.

      • Which won’t happen.Ever.Get over it.I know you are a war hawk and have a hard on for a war so you can watch on the tee vee but it’s just a fantasy.Won’t happen.Not even Orange Winston Churchill can pull that off in the current climate.Accept this and try to move on to serious topics.


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