Fragmented and Lost

For Friday, June 22, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

50
Photo: Efecto Cocuyo

While Causa R leader Andrés Velásquez proposed a national strike to protest the crisis, Henri Falcón launched “Commitment for Change” (without Copei, the party that gave him the most votes,) another opposition coalition that ratifies his split from the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), which he hasn’t stop criticizing for their refusal to go to elections. His indignation towards the chavista opportunism, his challenge against the results and his accusations on Twitter against Supreme Tribunal justices are all history; he’s returned to the pointless exercise of holding abstention as the true reason for Nicolás’s “re-election” and announced, just like Nicolás, that a dialogue is the solution and therefore, he’s willing to talk “with whoever necessary.”

Meanwhile, lawmaker Timoteo Zambrano said that he met with former president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to discuss about the political prisoner release process: “I’d say Zapatero is the one insisting on the matter of releases. There’s going to be more releases in the next few hours, that’s going to be good for the country,” said Zambrano at the event for the launch of “Commitment for Change,” emphasizing that he thinks it’s foolish for MUD to bar Rodríguez Zapatero from visiting the country.

He should read what Diosdado Cabello has to say about the releases: “The release of those Venezuelans has nothing to do with the bourgeois National Assembly or with any NGO,” giving Nicolás all the credit.

Dialogue, protests and arrests

Vice-president Delcy Rodríguez met with the governors of Mérida, Anzoátegui and Nueva Esparta, glad for receiving projects from these authorities “talking in an institutional, convenient language (…) for the good of each region’s citizens and the rest of the country.” After four days of labor strike, doctors form the government’s Communal Healthcare program (Venezuelans and Cubans) rallied in Plaza Caracas to protest against their meagre salaries and the lack of supplies to care for patients.

They wanted to go to Miraflores to explain their demands to the Executive. The National Guard stopped them three blocks from the Palace, but they made it a bit further and then it was paramilitaries (colectivos) who blocked their march, a fact that wasn’t reported by official media outlets and much less by imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab who, after days of silence that include the tragedy at El Paraíso, came up to announce the arrest of 16 farmers for failing to comply with economic agreements with the Agricultural Development Corporation, who will be indicted for boycott, destabilization, smuggling and criminal association. Saab also spoke of the “Metal Hands” operation and the arrest of Minerven vice-president Doarwin Evans, who allegedly cooperated with the smuggling of 2.5 tons of gold. Sadly, he forgot to mention that Evans is a PSUV militant and he toured through five offices within Minerven. It’s still chilling that he mentions the number of arrests, arrest warrants and red alerts requested to Interpol as achievements.

Bound for bankruptcy

Japanese investment bank Nomura says in a report that the drastic drop of oil production that Venezuela’s experiencing is increasingly affecting the country’s cash flow and has began a countdown towards bankruptcy: “It’s been years of poor management and lack of investment; however, the recent acceleration towards output collapse shows the acute phase of lack of maintenance, lack of parts, refining capacity and technical staff, among other reasons, with a multiplier effect on future production,” adding that the cash flow is even more limited due to increasing liabilities with a priority to oil exports for strategic partners such as Russia and China to pay for loans in kind.

Working hard?

Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo denounced in Vienna how the sanctions imposed by the United States are an “attack on the oil market’s stability.” Quevedo also explained that the Venezuelan government condemns “any interference from any power in the world to try and influence the oil market,” because going against the oil industry is going “against the peoples of the world, because oil is an instrument for development and peace, not for political attacks.” Sadly, he didn’t explain how chavismo’s incompetence destroyed PDVSA’s productive capacity and consequently undermined the oil market’s stability, but he did speak about non-conventional warfare, restating that Venezuela will always defend the OPEC as a space for integration and, regarding PDVSA’s declining output, he merely said that they’re “working hard” to recover it. Today, OPEC will hold its 174th ordinary meeting, where producers will review their offer levels. By the way, ExxonMobil announced that they’ve found oil in a deposit in the Guyanese coast, located in the exploration well called Longtail-1.

Abroad

  • Brazilian president Michel Temer travelled to her country’s border with Venezuela to get a report on the Operation Shelter. From there he restated that he’ll “continue to support the families of immigrants” and announced that he talked “with local authorities to tackle the demands and improve the living conditions of Roraima’s inhabitants,” whose basic services have been overstretched.
  • Lawmaker Adriana Pichardo denounced that a group of Venezuelan immigrants detained in Trinidad and Tobago started a hunger strike in protest for the mistreatment they’ve suffered. They demand freedom and respect for their human rights.

  • In Nicaragua, there are reports that dictator Daniel Ortega’s massacre surpasses Somoza’s (1978-79) because they’re not amidst a civil war and they’re murdering unarmed civilians. The hope is that today they’ll get from OAS a bit more than a mere diplomatic condemnation, that greater efforts are made to isolate Ortega.
  • Beatriz Becerra, vice-president of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, accompanied Irwin Cotler, one of the OAS experts that made the report that proves that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela and asked European Union’s member States and especially Spain, to present a report before the International Criminal Court as signatories of the Rome Statute so that the investigation can be started.

https://twitter.com/beatrizbecerrab/status/1009791684228669442

I fear for these recurrent news that sum up a country, where people keep suffering atrocities that are denounced but never answered; that far from being solved, they intensify, displacing what we already knew with more devastation. Chavismo, as the strongest minority, has radicalized this week amidst a humanitarian crisis, with the huge advantage of a fragmented, lost and persecuted opposition, with the cruel circumstance of citizens trying to survive to so many ways of simultaneous violence, including a crumbling social fabric due to crime, frustration and uncertainty. Take care of the people around you, we go on.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.

50 COMMENTS

  1. Andrés Velásquez

    FINALLY SOMEBODY WITH SOME BALLS!

    It will be interesting to see if anyone follows through. BUT KNOW THIS. It cannot be a one and done. It has to be kept up, even if incrementally.

    • Didn’t work the last time. As a matter of fact, all it did was making the opposition look like a bunch of whiny fools and legitimize the Chavistas internationally Here’s what The Economist (hardly a bastion of Communism) had to say about it at the time: https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2003/01/02/pyrrhus-of-caracas

      it only helped Chavez take over PDVSA’s middle ranks and gave him a perfect excuse to impose CADIVI.

      Having said that, there’s little less to lose now. But if it actually happens, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      • The fact that a strike did not work in 2002 under completely different circumstances is irrelevant.

        Having said that, the circumstances ARE very different. The public cannot survive a prolonged strike. Their livelihood is just too precarious. If this were to be done, in order to work, it would have to be more than merely a passive strike. They would have to actively paralize the country including all transportation. And it would have to have results quickly.

        • Roy, as I’m sure you’re well-aware, those who would need to make a strike effective today are literally the chavistas themselves…..or at least those who now totally depend on the chavistas to put food in the mouths of their children via their government jobs.

          From a “marching to Mira Flores” standpoint, the days of caravans of concerned citizens leaving Maracaibo, Valencia, Maturin, Pto Ordaz, etc are long over. They no longer have the will nor the means to make the trip there, and if they did, the caravans would be stopped long before reaching the capitol. Forget about the small-town peeps renting a bus to make the trip, they’re no longer operational.

          A total public sector strike, including transportation might do it, but I just don’t see it happening at this point.

          A few weeks ago, late one evening, my dogs are were agitated so I went to see what was going on. I heard hushed adult voices coming from the schoolyard across the street from the house where normally it would be kids playing basketball, though certainly not this late in the night. Being the nosey gringo I am, I used my binoculars to see what was going on. I quickly recognized all the alta-chavista faces from here in town. They were unloading a truckload of goods that looked like packs of rice, pasta, harina pan, etc. They were even receiving vegetables, and then reloading them into two or three other vehicles.

          I have no idea where those goods ended up other than to say it wasn’t with the “common folk” here because we’re always well-aware of when the clap and other bribe offers arrive. I guess where I’m going with this is that chavismo is keenly aware of who needs to be well taken care of, versus those who just need to get by.

          And while food is obviously a strong motivating factor for anyone who’s hungry, I think there’s an element of satisfaction for many Venezuelans to feel that they’re somehow “plugged-in” to power while those around them are not, even if it doesn’t necessarily translate into a significant advantage materially.

          Probably haven’t expressed myself well, just attempting to explain why I believe this problem will ultimately be solved from outside, or from collapse within. The Venezuelan people, in my opinion, are not up to the task.

          That, and a sack of Venezuelan bills, will buy you a coffee con leche.

          • “Having said that, the circumstances ARE very different. The public cannot survive a prolonged strike. Their livelihood is just too precarious. If this were to be done, in order to work, it would have to be more than merely a passive strike. They would have to actively paralize the country including all transportation. And it would have to have results quickly.”

            The last strike lasted 4 months. And in the end, the opposition had to give it up because the public couldn’t tolerate it any further. Under the current circumstances it wouldn’t last a week.

          • MRubio,

            I am equally as sceptical as you of the success of any sort of strike at this point. I was only arguing that, “Because it didn’t work last time” is not a valid reason.

          • MRubio
            You are on the right track. There seems to be tolerance of corruption as long as someone thinks that they are getting a larger piece of the pie than other people are getting.
            It is crazy.
            If the people that think they are doing better than their neighbor would just stop for a moment and critically assess this “shit hole country” that is the result of 20 years of corrupt governance, they would realize that nobody is doing well. Some may be better off than others, but all will be better off without the regime.
            Except for the insiders that make up a small fraction of the population.
            The collectives have the guns. Soon the people will have nothing for the collectives to steal.
            Yet they tolerate the corruption as long as they get a little more than someone else.
            I e-mailed you last night. I am very worried about Crystal. She is in all of our prayers. Vicky has the supplements and has contacted Crystal’s mother. I obtained her Zemplar today. It will be in Miami early next week.

          • The 2002 “strike” was virtually all upper-level PDVSA execs and the major labor union leaders, not rank-and-file, for a few months; few private businesses closed, food was available, gasoline was tight, although Govt. gasoline imports at 2x/+ the international cost (corruption)/still sold at giveaway prices locally was spottily available. Few private businesses struck, as well might happen if tried now, since many would have to close their doors permanently, as more than half have already done since 2002, as all are living hand-to-mouth currently.

          • Well, all those few private businesses that closed must have been where I lived. I remember Caracas virtually shutting down. except for non-PDVSA government services. And gas was a lot scarcer that these days. I distinctly remember buying it in the black market and using the Metro because I didn’t want to spend whatever gas I had in my car. Banks had shutdown as well

          • Thanks John. When I can manage to open yahoo, I’ll read and respond to your message.

            I know you too are going through some rough times with loved ones who are ill so your concerns and all your help with Crystal are greatly appreciated.

      • “…The Economist (hardly a bastion of Communism)…” !?! Self labeled radical and progressive, they advocate a single world-wide command economy, call it what you will.

        • Last time I checked they specifically claimed to favor free markets. You can blame them all you want for being centrists. But they don’t sound like commies to me. And, considering I have to live with commies all around me. I think I’ve gotten good at spotting one when I see it.

          • Nothing centrist about their politics. Claims are cheap (and manipulative). “You will know them by their fruits.”

    • lmfao, good luck whit a paro nacional in a country where all industry is already dead and not producing shit.

      Nice excuse to expropiate whatever few bussinesses are left. Forget it. It i had a bodega or something i would not close my doors and loose the money i need to sustain my bussiness, i specially would not be paying employees for the days off while i am not earning shit, and then the Sundee comes…

  2. “While Causa R leader Andrés Velásquez proposed a national strike to protest the crisis, Henri Falcón launched “Commitment for Change” (without Copei, the party that gave him the most votes,) another opposition coalition that ratifies his split from the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), which he hasn’t stop criticizing for their refusal to go to elections.”

    If my dad were alive today, he’d call the Venezuelan opposition as useful as tits on a boar hog.

    Mientras tanto:

    Venezuela crisis: UN says security forces killed hundreds

    The UN’s human rights body says it has credible accounts of security forces raiding poor neighbourhoods and killing young men, often in their homes.

    The rule of law was “virtually absent” in the country, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.

    The UN says the alleged extra-judicial killings were carried out by officers involved with the Operations for the Liberation of the People, ostensibly a crime reduction initiative.

    These officers may have killed more than 500 people between July 2015 and March 2017 as a way to showcase crime reduction results, the UN says. They are alleged to have staged evidence to make it look like the victims died in an exchange of fire.

    The officers involved have immunity from prosecution and no one has been held accountable.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-44575599

    • Okay. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, where we didn’t have many farm animals.

      What the hell does “as useless as tits on a boar hog” mean?

      I’ve heard this expression before, but I never understood it.

        • Speaking of tits;
          Stormy Daniels and Queen Elizabeth went to the Pearly Gates on the same day. They both met with an angel to find out if they would be admitted to Heaven

          The angel said: “Unfortunately, there’s only one space available in Heaven today so I must decide which one of you will be admitted.”

          The angel asked Stormy if there was some particular reason why she should go to Heaven. Stormy took off her top and said: “Look at these, they’re the most perfect breasts God ever created and I’m sure it will please God to be able to see them every day, for eternity.”

          The angel thanked Stormy, and asked Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the same question.

          The Queen walked over to a toilet, pulled the lever and flushed it without saying a word.

          The Angel immediately said: “Okay, your Majesty, you may go into Heaven.”

          Stormy was outraged and asked, “What was that all about? I showed you two of God’s own perfect creations and you turned me down. She simply flushed a commode and she got admitted to Heaven! Would you explain that to me?”

          “Sorry, Stormy,” said the Angel, “but even in Heaven, a royal flush beats a pair, no matter how big they are.”

      • Further clarification: All hogs have tits (teats) but only sows tits can produce milk. Like all humans have nipples but only women’s nipples produce milk.

        Oh yes: a sow is a female hog.

          • Reminds me of the difference between beer nuts and deer nuts. Beer nuts cost $2.50 a pack, but deer nuts are under a buck.

  3. I’m a terrible person, but I have to say it.

    I F*CKING HATE MARADONNA, the rat commie, Chavez loving ass-hat Hand-of-God cheating prick.

    So it is with great pleasure that I announce that the look on that fat f*ckers face when Argentina went down in EPIC FLAMES yesterday is my new desktop. I just need my kid to find a way to make his meltdown antics my screensaver.

    I think Messi is fantastic, one of the all-time greats, but nothing delights me more than to see that prick Maradonna suffer.

    • Argentina still has a great chance to advance, believe it or not. Many possibilities to fail still, but if they beat Nigeria, and Croatia beats or ties Iceland they go thru.

      Messi is one of the greatest, but he was god-awful that last game.

  4. Great article Ms. Naky Soto. I had not seen any story in the world press (english version) regarding Andres Velasquez’s call for a national strike. We have not heard the last of or from Mr Falcon. He will be the centerpiece of a pretend national reconciliation between Chavistas and Chavista lights, the last gasp of the Bolivarian socialists.

  5. You people just Don’t get it, do you? If there are problems in Venezuela, these (and they are probably being exaggerated for effect) are in no way the result of government incompetence, or policy, which is unerringly aimed at improving citizens’ wellbeing.
    Any problems have been caused by a malign  campaign led by the United States and abetted by the private sector which is intended to impoverish the people and sabotage the rising living standards which would otherwise result from socialism. Is that clear?

    • @Andres…what’s clear to me is that you are part of the cancer that is killing Venezuela and infecting its neighbors as well. Hopefully you will get what’s coming to you when your beloved “Bolivarian Revolution” crashes down around you as it is doing now.

    • WooHOO! A true believer, or at the very least, someone with a sense of humor!

      The United States government can’t direct traffic before, during or after a Presidential visit to anywhere in the US.

      That they could plan the demise of a government on their own? Hows that working out in Cuba?

      • Right. A good Chavista would explain that there are plans which take time to implement, millions of people are being fed by CLAP, security on the streets is improving, and it is cruel to make fun of the Petro just because the chaotic situation in the world markets makes any kind of financial transaction difficult. Venezuela is being unfairly treated, and not helped. If the world really cared about the people of Venezuela they’d be sending delegations to dialogue with the regime to further the true goals of the glorious revolution instead of trying to drive the price of oil through the roof, practice religious exclusion against Iran, bully North Korea, all because Trump’s ego … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

        The real problem with Venezuela is that it’s almost all the most barren, infertile, baking desert in the world. You can’t grow crops or graze cattle on 50 Celsius sand, for crying out loud. Look at a world map before shooting your mouth off, for goodness’ sake! It’s that huge patch of yellow-orange at the top of the continent, under Spain and Italy, just south of the Caribbean … oh … wait …. Wow, look at all the pretty islands around Greece ….

        • Amazing. Steven King come alive. Makes me wonder if maybe the guys who say that hormones or pheromones of whatever determine thought are maybe right. Where did you find this site?? I mean, did you get referred to it, or come on it by accident, or did an evil spirit take possession of your computer, or what? The only place I’ve seen anything similar is one of those supermarket things that run headlines like “Lady Di Lives, Photographed Nude in St. Tropez” or “Siberian Surfer Bites Shark In Half”.

  6. Andres Velasquez must be a fucking idiot.

    Does he not hear the proclamations and read the “laws” on the books in todays VZ.
    Calling for a National Strike should land him in jail, and if not he has either fled the country, or NO-ONE actually heard the non-sense he spoke of today.
    But he has balls, that I grant. He just is 12 fucking months late.

    It is obvious the days of protests, and strikes, national or local are over as MRubio reasons above. The masses have neither the stocks of supplies to last out but a few days, nor the transportation, and for 12 months, the will.

    In regards to the FINAL OVERTHROW of this regime,
    I WAS of the opinion (too many times) on this board, to believe the common man was the answer.
    I thought blood was the answer (the deaths of protesters), but with 100+ last year, nada
    I thought a HERO would emerge, and then Oscar Perez flew on to the scene, guns ablazing, but he was roundly condemned as a Hollywood Rambo and false flag.
    I thought a respected VZ patron of some sort, in the arts, sport, etc would appear, but he/she not did.

    The reality is pretty simple in my opinion. The ONLY change now is
    1. Military Coup
    2. Outside Intervention

    Analyze it.
    The regime has effectively shut down the press, so that any opposition views, that actually are broadcasted are either shutdown, or drowned out.
    The regime has created numerous new “laws” that are so ambigious, that they make almost any opposition action potentially illegal, and lethal.
    The regime has massively increased its “intelligence”, so that we hear virtually no reports of violence toward the regime. No reports of shoot-outs, No blowing up of refineries, No militas holding towns, or controlling in areas, or even a fucking lone building. NOTHING.
    The regime as always controlled the purse strings, and has brilliantly (sorry to say), created the haves (supra-chavista), the haves “a loaf of bread” (card carrying Carnet de Patria), and the have nots.

    We all have hoped, and speculated that the regime would meet its END…
    1. As the price of a barrel of oil dropped – it has.
    2. Then when Bonds became into default – it has
    3. Then when the Petrocaribe give-away collapsed – it has
    4. Then when sanctions would be instituted – they have
    5. Then when the international outrage finally would materialize – it has.
    6. And, I guess finally, when the situation on the ground for the population got so bad and so starkly inhumane as to cause hunger, unnecessary medical deaths, and the educational, transportation, water, and electrical grid collapse. Check, check, Check.

    It is obvious, that no matter the revenue losses, they will always be billions and billions in oil revenue for the supra-chavistas, and most importantly enough for barely enough crumbs for those uneducated, those elderly, disabled and poor that remain. And for those with half a brain, are leaving in droves. Which as many have pointed out, is exactly what the regime wants. Less opposition, less to feed, more to approbiate. Win, win, win.

    As to the END Game, one has to be a naïve fool, to think for a minute that LATAM will come to there rescue . They have been conditioned over the last 50 years that any outside intervention is EVIL. Either a foreign play on their resources, or manipulation of their unique culture, or what have you. LATAM limits to carnage, death, and destruction of a fellow member of south of the US border is well limit-less. Yes, we may finally get a consensus of “things gone wrong”, and proclamations, and sanctions, and condemnation, but military action in ANY WAY OR FORM. NEVER, EVER.

    So, it seems obvious, that only ONE option remains.

    A Military coup, and that seems a long shot.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if the regime starts instituting forced expatriation as the penalty for nearly everything. Sure, it’s against international law… You think that will stop them?

  7. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence prepares an annual National Security Risk Assessment based on input from all the US’s intelligence services. Many academicians, historians, political scientists, etc. are involved in preparing the assessment. There’s also coordination with the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. At least that was the case prior to 2004 when the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created. I don’t know how today’s assessments are drafted but if you’re interested Google will guide you to them. In the mid 70’s I was living in Caracas and had the opportunity to attend a presentation of a risk assessment. Keep in mind that this was at the height of the cold-war. Russia was the nuclear enemy and drew the most attention, seemingly invulnerable. Communist China was another red-devil that was constantly getting their clumsy hands caught in many cookie jars. In the America’s only Cuba was trying to export socialism, but viewed as not particularly adept, more of a nuisance than a threat. Given this universal clear-cut view of threats to free societies I walked away from the 1970’s presentation disenchanted. They had the audacity to say: 1) The real threat to the U.S., over the next several decades, will come from our southern borders. Not from the east, west, north, seas or air but from the south. 2) The largest potential threat to our society will speak Spanish. Not Russian or Mandarin but Spanish (I recall this point being stressed as I was trying to learn Spanish). 3) The primary threat to our democracy will not be nuclear. It will be via infiltration and come slowly and inevitably if we allow. I was so disgusted after the briefing and how far they missed the mark that I was sorely tempted to write a harshly worded letter to the Times.

  8. The final stage of hyperinflation is when people stop accepting the currency and instead insist on being paid in some alternate medium of exchange. I got this from a freind today:

    “My mechanic/air conditioning expert and general fixit guy is very good at everything he has worked on and I do not want to lose him. He informed me today that from this point forward he will only work for dollars and not bolivars. To buy a good quality imported car battery, the store would only accept dollars as payment. I am seeing this more and more each day. The reasons are obvious.”

  9. About the clap bags , neighbors to the home of a recently installed enchufado at La Lagunita were surprised to see an unmarked white truck stop in front of his home and star unloading clap bags to his front door…..some of them came out of their homes to jeer at what was being done ……the driver came our running and closed the door to the back of the truck so people woundt see all the clap bags stored there ……., The enchufado was the latest in a number of regime connected people buying a large house in La Lagunita , spending zillions transtorming it into a veritable palace before moving in…..!! There are now whole blocks which have been deserted by their former owners and sold to super rich people who spend mountains on refurbishing them to the most luxuriant standards …….!!

  10. Heh heh heh….somebody blew up a bust of Che on Bolivar Avenue in Caracas! Blew it to smithereens. Lol. Somebody give that guy a cigar!

    • Gender and Theater Studies and Art History students all over America are weeping over the demise of The Bust of Che on Bolivar Avenue…

    • Can’t wait to read about this. This is the kind of shit that drove Adolph crazy:

      Anything that went against the dictatorship…ESPECIALLY the simply symbolic actions…exposed their lack of control and frightened them to death.

      These regimes survive on symbolism, not competent government.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here