Lies Are No Cure

For Tuesday, June 12, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: @LuisLopezPSUV

Yesterday, Health Minister Luis López claimed that: “There’s no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, but a financial blockade for the purchase of medicines and medical supplies,” announcing that Nicolás signed agreements with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to acquire medicines, as if something had prevented him from doing so before this terrible humanitarian crisis, which he explained with a North American conspiracy. He blamed the owners of laboratories and drugstores for the shortages, demanding them to stop such delays because they could “take over” those that aren’t working; he criticized the opposition for insisting on the opening of a humanitarian channel and discredited the NGOs that focused on health issues for being “a farce,” specifically accusing the Coalition for the Defense of Health and Life (Codevida) of being a “cartel” and Francisco Valencia, human rights defender and Codevida director, of being a “wage-earning punk.”

He also threatened the Fetrasalud union leader Pablo Zambrano for leading protests: “Don’t complain when they put the cuffs on you.” All of this takes place before the arrival of Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, who’ll meet with government authorities. That’s why the useless Ombudsman issued statements all of a sudden and even a Health Ministry epidemiologist who works in Delta Amacuro disregarded the risk of poliomyelitis. López said nothing about the alarming epidemiological information but he did say that we should avoid spreading “negative news” about the health system during Carissa Etienne’s visit. If that’s not prior censorship…

Less reserves, more inflation

While Central Bank data establishes that international reserves are in their lowest level since June 1994: $8,8 billion, the National Assembly’s Finance Committee reported that the National Price Index for May reached the highest rate since calculations started: 110.1%, which translates to a 1.995.2% cumulative hike since January.

Lawmaker Rafael Guzmán explained that in April, 100 minimum wages were required to cover the food basket, now 200 are needed: “An increase in food prices of over 200% and this what the government has done by attacking national production.” Yearly inflation stand at 24,571%, an unprecedented amount for Venezuelan economy, as well as the highest hyperinflation rate in Latin American history.

According to professor Francisco Monaldi, “that yearly rate is almost 740,000%,” which would break historic inflation records in the region. By the way: Citgo Petroleum is reinforcing crude purchases in the open market to compensate for Venezuela’s declining supply, whose delays have opened the possibility of declaring force majeure. Additionally, financial services company European InterAmerican Finance LLC (Eurinam) is organizing groups of Venezuela and PDVSA debt holders to renegotiate the terms of payment for these liabilities with the government. The negotiation process will take place within the constraints imposed by U.S. financial sanctions.

Amazing chavismo

Econosocialism and Water Minister Ramón Velásquez said that 31 out of 62 water reservoirs have precarious storage readings, blaming “the intense drought affecting all the country’s reservoirs” for all the problems that his ineffective management is facing. As fair compensation, vice-minister Nelson Hernández said that the mining sector is expected to give BCV more than 24 tons of gold this year (282% more than in 2017,) which I assume is a complementary detail for El Aissami’s explanation about the effects of the Metal Hands Operation. We don’t know whether that excess will be used to pay the debt that PDVSA has with over 7,000 employees and retirees who protested yesterday, demanding labor benefits expired 20 years ago. Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab said that a third group of citizens will be released from prison, saying that Nicolás’s “gesture” was well received. He added that these measures are a “door that has opened in favor of cohabitation and national reconciliation” and that they show how good the country’s current political and institutional moment is. Shortly after, to prove the “moment” argument, Delcy Rodríguez celebrated Somos Venezuela’s first year urging its brigade members to remain “in the catacombs of the people, accompanying them and bringing them social happiness.” A cruelly tough admission of how the regime understands everything that doesn’t compare to it: underground galleries of death.

Diosdado Cabello expressed his solidarity for dictator Daniel Ortega and, about released political prisoners -politicized, according to him-, he said that despite internal criticism, Nicolás’s generosity triumphed.

Abroad

  • Lawmakers Stalin González and José Manuel Olivares met with The Vatican’s State Secretary, cardinal Pietro Parolin, to assess the Venezuelan crisis. We’ll see if that meeting translates into support for the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference and the National Assembly.
  • Peru’s Prosecutor’s Office opened a preliminary investigation for alleged money laundering against former presidents Alejandro Toledo, Alan García and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, based on the testimony of former Odebrecht chief in Peru, Jorge Barata.
  • The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry delivered a not of protests to the new U.S. chargé d’affaires, Christopher Lambert, for his country’s “serious disregard for [the country’s] legitimate and constitutional authorities.” Lambert met with the AN’s board but not with Nicolás.
  • Nicaragua’s Human Rights Center updated the list of people murdered by dictator Daniel Ortega’s repression: 146 people after the latests assaults carried out by paramilitaries with the support of the National Police. IACHR secretary Paulo Abrao said that the situation is alarming.
  • The first session for the summit between president Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, leader of one of the most repressive governments in the world, was held last night (already day in Singapore.) A lot of pictures were taken from this event because it’s the first time that an American president in office and a North Korean leader meet for an opening awaited for decades. Unthinkable just a few months ago, when they traded insults that sparked fears of nuclear war, now there they are, making history.

And Nicolás talking about peace-seaking diplomacy; bad joke, as usual.

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