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.

Abroad

  • 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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