Photo: Efecto Cocuyo
This Tuesday started with the dissemination of a communiqué in which Alimentos Kellogg’s announced the shutdown of its operations; a decision that caused dozens of employees in Maracay to protest, demanding to know the reasons behind the shutdown. The statement notifies that salaries and social benefits have been deposited in full in all payroll accounts. Later, the brilliant Nicolás said that the shutdown was unconstitutional and illegal and announced that once the economic cabinet took over the company and expropriated it, it was reopened and given “to the employees so that they keep producing for all the people.”
He announced judicial actions against Kellogg’s executives “for damages caused” and claimed that this action was meant to cause panic in employees. There are flavors we’ve known for all our lives; flavors we’re going to miss.
Over 100 million!
During April, the basic food basket reached Bs. 100,174,981, a 92.5% increase, equal to Bs. 48,131,757.70, compared to March, while the yearly gap was 11,443.9%. 100 minimum wages of Bs. 1,000,000.00 are needed in order to acquire the basket for a five-member family, over three million bolivars per day. According to Cendas, all products in the food basket increased in price and since regulated prices haven’t been published, there’s no way to compare official prices with market prices.
On press freedom
For a sixth time, National Guard officers prevented press workers from accessing the Federal Legislative Palace, where the National Assembly held an ordinary session. Several lawmakers decided to walk out of the Hemiciclo to facilitate the access of the media and by order of repressor-laureate Col. Bladimir Lugo, the National Guard assaulted both journalists and lawmakers.
Diputados salen a buscar a la prensa fuera de la AN. El resultado: una trifulca pic.twitter.com/cmfv7J1c65
— Gabriela Gonzalez (@GabyGabyGG) May 15, 2018
Media workers were beaten, so the National Union of Press Workers (SNTP) condemned the incident which included the beating of Venevisión cameraman José Rivas and his camera’s destruction; demanding that the Prosecutor’s Office open an investigation to determine responsibilities in this case, and that the Guard’s General Command impose sanctions “against those who abused individual and collective rights in an action that violates the right to information and puts the lives of press workers at risk.”
#AHORA | Desde el #SNTP consignamos comunicación a la Junta Directiva de la @AsambleaVE sobre la prohibición de ingreso a la prensa al Palacio Federal Legislativo.
Se intentó entregar otra carta al Comando de la GNB en el sitio, pero no fue recibida. #15May pic.twitter.com/vxQFoCc3J8
— SNTP (@sntpvenezuela) May 15, 2018
Oil for Cuba
While Health Minister Luis López blamed the shortage of medicines and medical supplies on economic blockades, Reuters revealed an investigation saying that PDVSA bought almost $400 million in crude from Chinese, Russian and Swiss firms to send it straight to Cuba in friendly credit conditions, thus putting aside the import of food and medicines amidst this general scarcity, since non-oil imports dropped by almost $46 billion in 2011 and $6 billion in 2017, according to BCV data. The purchases were made after Venezuela’s crude output sank to a 33-year minimum in the first quarter of this year, a 28% drop in 12 months. Additionally, according to economist Luis Oliveros, oil exports to the United States suffered a historic 52% drop in the first four months of 2018, compared with the same period in 2017, registering an average flow of 394,000 barrels per day. This is serious because the barrels exported to the U.S. generate a stable cash flow for PDVSA. Oliveros adds that the country has stopped receiving $8,9 billion in revenues so far this year and the cumulative drop since 2015 is $28 billion. Meanwhile, ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance said yesterday that they’re trying to find the locations of all PDVSA assets to recover their $2 billion.
No, man, I said no
The National Assembly approved an agreement demanding the CNE to definitively suspend the “spurious process to claim legitimacy” on May 20, also demanding candidates to drop out from the race to avoid lending the election any legitimacy, adding a request for the international community to expand sanctions against Nicolás and his cronies. The government of Costa Rica backed the statement issued by the Lima Group calling the regime to suspend next Sunday’s elections. Fedecámaras urged candidates to reconsider their participation because the process isn’t impartial, transparent, balanced or auditable and consequently, they think it will only intensify the crisis.
— FEDECAMARAS (@fedecamaras) May 15, 2018
NGO Provea submitted before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice a legal measure for the annulment of the May 20 process.
Provea introduce ante el TSJ solicitud de anulación convocatoria elecciones 20-M pic.twitter.com/a04Hv4KRo2
— PROVEA (@_Provea) May 15, 2018
Meanwhile, the TSJ in exile declared the elections null due to their lack of legitimacy and also ordered the nullification of all the acts carried out by the CNE.
15/5 @TSJ_Legitimo anula CONVOCATORIA a ELECCIONES 20/5, ordenadas por la IRRITA AN Constituyente, la cual no debe ser reconocida por autoridades Nacionales e Internacionales. Se notifica a la @AsambleaVE @CNEesVenezuela. #TSJdecide. pic.twitter.com/dhhg93F6ST
— TSJ_Legítimo (@TSJ_Legitimo) May 15, 2018
Yes, and I mean yes
Far from these rulings, CNE chairwoman Tibisay Lucena announced: “We’ve maximized the measures and guarantees so that this Sunday the people can decide their future and the fate of the country in peace,” restating that the calls for abstention constitute an “anti-democratic act.”
— VIVOplay (@vivoplaynet) May 15, 2018
By the way, in addition to extra guard duty for the electrical system, the sale of alcoholic beverages and firearm carry will be suspended between May 18 until May 21 and Minister Néstor Reverol announced the militarization of Caracas’ water reservoirs. Henri Falcón wants to talk with MUD and the Broad Front to know their action plans after May 20. He should’ve deduced them with the same accuracy with which he deduced the pertinence of his candidacy outside the coalition.
- EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, hopes that Cuba might play a role in Venezuela “trying to reopen the negotiation of a political solution,” admitting that the signals coming from Venezuela “aren’t encouraging at all” and restating her call for a credible, transparent and democratic process.
- Todd Robinson, U.S. chargé d’affaires in Venezuela, insisted that the May 20 process isn’t an election “and sadly, they’re not transparent or open.” He dealt with the chavista “protest” before the embassy’s headquarters, regretting that not all Venezuelans can protest openly.
- U.S. senators Dick Durbin (D) and Bob Menéndez (D) demanded a six-month delay for coming elections, so that they can be “free and fair,” adding the need to release all political prisoners, including Joshua Holt, and to allow everyone to participate. Durbin and Menéndez will sponsor a bipartisan bill with an integral focus “to face the political, economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.”
- Florida governor Rick Scott sent a letter to his counterparts in the rest of the United States to ask them to take measures similar to those applied by him: “If our states united against Maduro’s brutality, we can mark the beginning of peace and democracy for families in Venezuela,” says Scott.
Despite the poor wages for their interns, el Chigüire Bipolar is responsible for my best laughs in the country’s current version. Its ability to denounce and tell what’s happening, with satire and good humor, is admirable. It’s been ten years with the joint talents of its founders Juan Andrés Ravell, Elio Casale and Oswaldo Graziani, with lots of talented people who have worked with them and counting, among other achievements, the Havel Prize for Creative Dissent for its contribution in the defense of free speech. Happy birthday, cracks!