Inexcusable

For Thursday, June 28, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

23
Photo: El Universal

Imposed Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab requested the arrest of another 11 PDVSA officials “for committing serious irregularities that affected the mixed ventures of the Orinoco Oil Strip,” making the nation lose $14 million, interpreted by Saab as “actions of deliberate sabotage.“ The fact that chavistas think it’s an achievement to have 90 PDVSA authorities prosecuted, including 23 high executives, and they’re incapable of apologizing for the terrible staff they picked and their share of responsibility in any corruption scheme (by action or omission) is inexcusable. But don’t worry, because the Armed Forces will support the development of Plan 50 (to establish prices for 50 essential products amidst hyperinflation) a project for which the representatives of the country’s main industries (Fedecámaras, Fedeagro, Fedenaga and Conindustria) haven’t been convened yet. The TSJ Political Administrative Chamber accepted a lawsuit filed by Metro de Caracas against Odebrecht and Seguros Caroní for breaching a contract to build 2,400 housing units. The lawsuit’s for $76,050,000 and Bs. 850,650,333.33. They can’t keep their trains and stations operational, but they still wanted to build houses, funny, isn’t it? Remarkably, former Spanish president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero speaks like an average chavista. In his interview for La Nación, he criticized the sanctions, asking for a political alternative to an inefficient and corrupt government and worried over accountability “if the catastrophe arrives.” Obviously, he doesn’t live here.

Protesting

The indefinite strike called by nurses to demand better salaries and working conditions goes on and they caution that in case they don’t manage to improve their conditions, they will resign en masse from hospitals, in addition to the notable diaspora the sector’s already been reporting.

The Venezuelan Federation of University Professors Associations (Fapuv), announced a new 48-hour strike between June 28 and 29, in protest for low salaries and terrible working conditions. University students protested yesterday before the Economy and Finance Ministry, demanding economic improvements to stop the diaspora of professors: “I don’t want CLAP, I don’t want bonuses, all we want is a future for us,” was one of the slogans. Freddy Ceballos, head of the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation (Fefarven), demanded that the new Health Ministry, Carlos Alvarado, offer solutions to the State’s failed policies on medicine production. “If you can’t offer answers, resources and there are no effective public policies regarding health, we won’t achieve anything,” said Ceballos and urged Nicolás to do his job.

Against Nicolás

Bloomberg published an article yesterday about an alleged conspiracy to arrest and prosecute Nicolás, a plan that failed in May which has caused dozens of secret arrests of high and mid-ranking military officers. The Operación Constitución involved dozens of military officers from the Armed Forces’ four components, people who would assault the Miraflores Palace and the main military base and would stop May 20 elections, and arrest Nicolás. The article says that part of the plan was carried out in Bogota, a key for Nicolás’s obsessive mentions. “The plotters believe they were betrayed, possibly by a double agent. This reconstruction of the conspiracy is based on interviews with one plot coordinator who escaped arrest, two who attended planning sessions, and lawyers and relatives of the accused,” said the journalists. Bloomberg’s informants were all anonymous. The article is also based on a report of a military court that presents the government’s version of the events which, according to those interviewed, mixes facts with fiction, including the involvement of María Corina Machado. I conclude with these lines: “Some members of the Venezuelan military say the only hope for a return to stability is to replace Maduro by force. That remains unlikely after the coup’s failure.”

We, migrants

Eurodeputy Francisco Assis said yesterday that the European Parliament will recommend that the European Union increase the amount of financial aid to help Venezuelan migrants in Brazil, after the mission he’s a part of visited Roraima, aware of the fact that the migration problem is overwhelming border states’ capacities. Assis also said that the solution for this crisis is a change of government, emphasizing that “Venezuelan themselves must solve this problem.” U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence visited a shelter for Venezuelan migrants in Manaos, after announcing additional aid for $10 million for migration flows. Alejandro Daneri, head of Argentina’s White Helmets, said yesterday that this organization is part of a system where tasks don’t overlap. White Helmets will focus on helping Venezuelan pregnant and breastfeeding women of up to 17 years old, as a first containment ring to relief the Colombian healthcare system, with a goal of 200 daily consultations in cardiology, ultrasound, pediatrics, gynecology and family clinic.

Abroad

  • Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero met with representative and ambassadors of the Lima Group’s member countries to monitor the crisis that we’re experiencing in Venezuela.

  • Trump’s travel ban, ratified by the Supreme Court of Justice, affects officials “from Venezuelan government bodies who were involved in investigation and selection procedures (for visas),” in other words, officials from the Interior and Foreign Ministries; from SAIME; CICPC and SEBIN, as well as their direct relatives. The remaining Venezuelans can enter U.S. soil with their visa. The ban is effective starting October 18, 2018.
  • Venezuelan exports to Colombia dropped by 31% during the first quarter of 2018, according to figures published by the Colombian National Administrative Department of Statistics and the estimates of the Venezuelan-Colombian Chamber of Economic Integration. Imports from Colombia have increased, however.

On Journalist Day, the phone companies CANTV, Movistar and Digitel didn’t attend the meeting scheduled by the National Assembly’s Media Committee, to explain the blockade against several news sites in the country, but they all issued congratulations for journalists. The official campaign raising Correo del Orinoco as the source of continental journalism is absurd; even knowing how much the government enjoys military proclamation. The numbers of the National Union of Press Workers are devastating: “On average, 20 whole classes of journalists have left the country since 2012,” over 1,300 people. When you can, read Marcelino Bisbal’s article “Contra la censura” and congratulations to all those who inconvenience the government despite censorship.

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23 COMMENTS

    • John, How are your shipments into Venezuela? We’ve sent a few to relatives over the last 9 months without issue but we’re very concerned as the agency we use is now only shipping twice a month. Prior to June they shipped one a week. They say that there are significant changes happening on the receiving end. I am wonder of the government will now start blocking or confiscating these care packages.

      • Pedro
        So far, so good. I am still able to get items into Caracas and then things are distributed within the country by individuals.
        Customs delays have become very bad for shipments traveling by sea. Miami to Caracas takes 3 days by ship. It may take 4-6 weeks to get through customs.
        I have been paying to send things by airfreight. The packages transit customs in about 1 week. Sometimes quicker and sometimes a little longer. So far, the packages going through that I have sent by air have been safely transiting customs.
        Obviously airfreight is more expensive. The shipper I use is owned by a Venezuelan. He only charges his costs for packages going to Venezuela. The shipper does deliver to other areas in the country but not all of the country. Probably the more populated areas. Caracas is the port of entry.
        Using Amazon and Walmart for delivery to the shipper also reduces costs. The 2 packages that I mailed from NY to Miami this week cost a little over $70. I needed to send prescriptions and I included a few other things.
        If items are available in the markets, most times it is cheaper to send the money and have them obtained locally. More and more items are not available at any price.
        Caracas Chronicles has my permission to provide you with my contact details. I will try to help you out.

        • John, Thanks for the advice.
          I have sent 3 packages this month with another 2 getting ready. The shipper in Orlando has been exceptionally reliable. Every box in the past arrived in perfect unopened condition. We send to a business not a home.

          On sending cash, what is the best way to get through customs? Hide the cash on a person, or keep it in a wallet?

          Are small denominator bills ($1 and $5) better than larger bills for use in Vzla?

          Gracias.

          • I use a bank to send cash. Fortunately, I have a helper that travels in and out of the country and carries Dollars into the country for me.
            I make deposits into their bank account and then the money is distributed in US Dollars. 20’s and 50’s are the most common for handling.
            The people that I help only exchange enough to cover immediate needs due to the collapsing value of the Bolivar.
            If the people you are assisting have a good relationship with the person that they use for money exchange, they should ask if the exchange person has an offshore account that you can make deposits into. They can check to see that the deposit was made and then for a small fee they give the money to your intended recipient.
            I hope that helps.

  1. Most hospital nurses don’t even earn enough to cover their transportation costs to/from work, let alone enough to eat/dress.

    • Back in the days of the USSR, I remember a quote attributed to a Soviet worker.
      “The government pretends to pay us and we pretend to work.”
      I have asked people that I help why they even bother to work. There is loyalty to private employers and people that have worked in the same company for many years that hope for better times ahead.
      The collapsing value of the Bolivar and the arbitrary wage increase decrees by the regime, have made it impossible for most businesses to turn any kind of profit.
      The latest decree that requires wholesalers and retailers to maintain fixed prices will result in more companies going under.
      The regime has caused the inflation. The wholesaler or retailer must be able to sell a product for at least as much as it will cost to replace the product and cover the overhead. Not what was paid for it.
      They are demanding that businesses do the exact same thing that put the country in this position to begin with.
      At least 10 years ago, I read an article written by an economist that predicted the very economic collapse that Venezuela is now experiencing. The gist of the article was that going against the market forces will end in disaster.
      Production costs that were higher than the allowable sale price resulted in bankrupt businesses (agriculture) and reduced production.
      Anything that allowed for a fixed profit to be made would result in over production.
      Supply and demand forces of free markets, solve this issue for the most part. Many western countries subsidize agriculture to some degree. Keeping food production stable is a national security issue.
      These morons (uh oh hate speech) refuse to recognize that they are the problem.

      • Some businesses (the few still operating) provide weekly/semi-weekly Bs. multi-million bonuses and/or provide free transportation for their workers in order to keep operating. A daily housework maid who cleans/cooks normally receives about Bs.1mm/da. plus 2 meals (worth Bs.2-3mm) = Bs.3-4 mm, approx. $1 total cost, but Bs. 3-4mm daily is only a little below the monthly min. wage, and is prohibitive for 99% of Venezuelans. The new Govt. intervention of the public large markets beginning in CCS, to be expanded to 90+ nationally, has already resulted in many wholesalers closing/hiding inventory, resulting in even more scarcity, and higher prices (the new 140gr. can of tuna price is to be Bs. 7mm each, or about 1.5x the monthly minimum wage, and about 3x current retail price).

  2. Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero met with representative and ambassadors of the Lima Group’s member countries to monitor the crisis that we’re experiencing in Venezuela.

    Roberto Ampuero has published a number of books of fiction and of memoirs. Nuestros años verde olivo deals with his experiences in East Germany and Cuba, where he found out that Real Existing Socialism wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Which is why he is Foreign Minister for Piñera, and not for Bachelet.

    For those not wedded to the Amazon universe, putting Roberto Ampuero epub into a search engine will be of assistance. Unfortunately, The Neruda Case is the only one of his works that has been translated into English.

  3. Mind-Boggling but probable

    On March 22, Maduro announced the Bolivar Soberano (BsS) would “Solve” all problems
    (including Baldness, I think)
    by chopping off 3 zeros from the Bolivar Fuerte (BsF).

    Dolartoday black market rate on March 22 was 231,000 to $1
    So, the Bolivar Soberano when converted would register as 231 to $1

    But inflation is now out of control. Literally doubling every 3 weeks (for the last 6 weeks)

    SO ON NOVEMBER 1 (if the rate continues)

    The BsF would be 211,200,000 to $1
    The New BsS would be 211,200 to $1

    The same rate as on March 22 !!

    • They’ll stop chopping off the zeroes and just make the new bills twice as big to fit them all in.

      Or they’ll invent a new digit,zero with Hugo’s face in the middle represent one million.

    • Does anyone really believe they can afford to actually have the necessary hard currency printed. They announced this six months ago and nothing happened. The only actual benefit would be lighter sacks of money, people burn less calories for a short period of time. This is clearly not not a change in monetary or fiscal policy.

      • Waltz, from what I understand, they’ve suspended the introduction of the new, new bills for a number of months. I’m sure they’ve figured out that the new new bill would be worthless on arrival. Fine with me at this point. They were also saying that the plan was to have the new new bills in circulation along with the old new bills, and even the old old bills.

        Okay, that’s fine for someone paying cash, except that there is no cash. How does one pay by transfer and how is that transfer registered in one’s account…..new new money, old new money, old old money?

        This place is fucked up beyond all reason.

        I stopped and asked a guy today for a price on cinderblocks as we’re trying to complete our cochinera (hog pen). A short low wall is all we have to complete and the guy we usually buy from can’t find cement. We need just 50 blocks. The guy tells me he wants 150,000 bs per block. Thanks, I head home.

        I tell the woman he wants 150,000 per block. She asks, “cash or transferencia”. I respond, “surely he means transferencia, nobody has cash today”. “You need to think like a Venzuelan”, she says, “go back and ask and get his transfer information while you’re at it”.

        So I head back over there. When I get there he tells me he wants half in cash and half in transferencia. He dreamed that up between the time I left and returned, I’m sure of it. Forget it I tell him. The local panadaria is actually producing bread most days and it’s a struggle for us to accumulate enough cash to buy friggin’ bread for the day. “But cash can be found”, he says.

        Can’t wait for the guy’s next visit to the bodega to buy a kilo of coffee. I’m going to tell him I want half in cash and half by transfer. Fucker.

        • MRubio—got home today and watched Colombia qualify in an ugly game. Will have to respond to most of your comment tomorrow (drinking), but I would say; stand your ground but do not cut off your nose to spite your face.

          • Good advice. Have another drink.

            Which reminds me, one Friday about a month or so ago I was driving back to the house and was planning on listening to a college baseball game on the radio, assuming we had electricity and internet when I got to the house.

            Anyway, the thought popped into my head to have a cold beer while listening to the game. Couldn’t recall the last time I had a beer, dug in my pocket and pulled out 12,000 bs. That should do it.

            Drove to the only liquor shop still open in town. At the window I was re-counting all that cash as the owner was watching me. He finally asked what I was looking for, “a cold beer”, I told him. He smiled and said,”that’ll be 120,000 bs”. Yikes!

            I went back to the car with my tail between my legs. LOL

        • @MRubio….maybe the lady would settle for a temporary pen made of plain old hog wire until cement blocks become attainable .

          • Tom, we actually have some old hurricane fencing and were thinking about using it but it was in such lousy shape I opted to go with Plan B that will be more secure and less of an eye-sore.

            Two walls of the pen are of an existing cinderblock structure with a roof. The third wall is welded tubing with the footings of the tubing cemented in. The door is heavy tubing with hurricane fencing which we removed from an existing fence to put in a much wider, sliding door. That left only a few feet in front where we’ll put a waist-high wall of cinderblocks. It’ll look better than the old hurricane fencing and will serve the purpose well.

            The entire floor is concreted as well, and slopes to a drain on the side. I’ll wash off only the liquid waste, solids will be hauled away. We’re in town so I really need to keep the animals clean. While fence post-hurricane fencing setup, especially if on the ground, is practicle, it would be a mess here, especially in rainy season.

            Back when I had my ranch, I had a traditional cinderblock cochinera next to the ranchhouse and another on the other side of the ranch that was 3 hectares in size, planted in bermuda, 6 strands of barbed wire, electric fencing powered by a solar panel, artifical ponds for the critters lay around in, and divided into 3 pastures.

            Thems were some happy hogs living in that place.

            That setup is impossible today as the hogs placed there today would be missing the next morning without someone there guarding them. They’re stealing everything that’s not nailed down, and some things that are.

            Thank god I no longer have that place and all those animals to worry about.

          • MR
            I just sent you an e-mail. The USPS tracking shows the packages in Opa Locka. They were scanned on Thursday at 2:24 PM.
            I sent the info to you and Vicky. I am hoping that they make it to Miami for Friday delivery. In time for the airfreight shipment to Caracas.
            I am leaving for Rochester in a few hours. I sent an e-mail to Maria asking her to keep them moving and telling her that I will pay the invoice when I get home. Normally she sends me an invoice immediately upon receipt of the packages. I don’t have access to a computer while I’m in the hospital.
            Once this shipment is safely in Vicky’s hands, I will get the next one on its way.

        • The old new money and the old old money have the same value just different denominations, correct? With the introduction of the Super Fuerte/Sovereign Fuerte (whatever these jackasses are going to call it) things will grind to a halt for awhile while people figure it out, assuming the new bills ever arrive other than the mining arc. Probably have to do two different transfers per transaction, just what the infrastructure of the country is asking for. Hope you have plenty of candles and 16 ga. shells. Logic dictates that the spiraling has to end but those in charge seem to be exceptionally good and creating new momentum.

          • “The old new money and the old old money have the same value just different denominations, correct?”

            That is correct waltz.

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