Swindled Pensioners

For Thursday, July 19, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo

In 2015, the Bureau of Banking Institutions (Sudeban) ordered banks to give pensioners and retirees the full sum of their pensions in cash. That measure was ratified in 2017 and 2018, but this Wednesday, and after the elderly protested in several cities in the country because banks were only giving them two million out of the Bs. 8,400,000 that the government announced this Tuesday as a huge incentive, a Sudeban official said that they won’t get their full pension because “there are no remittances,” adding that the measure also discourages pensioners from allegedly “selling cash” to “bachaqueros”.

After 25 days on strike and without any official response, the nurses continue their protests, while neighbors in several sectors took to the streets because of water service issues.

The National Guard and the National Bolivarian Police once more showed that they have license to threaten civilian demonstrators and, if their threats aren’t heard, dissolve protests with pepper spray, because human rights are irrelevant to Nicolás.

More people protested

Employees of the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research marched through the Carretera Panamericana demanding better salaries and a collective bargaining agreement, same as CANTV employees protested in the Libertador avenue, while Ángel Navas, head of the Venezuelan Federation of Electric Workers (Fetraelec), announced that the sector will start an indefinite strike on Monday, July 23, holding Minister Motta Domínguez and the failed negotiation roundtable responsible for the actions they’re taking. Navas cautioned Nicolás: “Pay attention, because the electric industry’s going down, and it can take your government with it.” In addition to the important demonstration that took place in Barquisimeto, this Wednesday there were also protests in Ciudad Bolívar, Lecherías, Cumaná, San Cristóbal, San Juan de los Morros, Ciudad Guayana, Valencia and Maracaibo. One of the slogans for the day: “Let’s bang our pots, people are hungry and they don’t give a damn.”

The world’s worst managed economy

The Andrés Bello Catholic University’s Institute of Economic and Social Research released a report with their dramatic economic projections, including a dollar exchange rate above Bs. 15.9 million by the end of 2018. If the average hyperinflation rate for the first half of the year holds, inflation could get close to 60,000% in 2018, with a 10.5% GDP drop. Consumption will drop by almost 11% and the investment volume will decrease by 14%, “reducing the likelihood of a quick recovery of income levels in the middle and long term,” they say. There’s no perspective for better incomes in Venezuela through oil exports. The report estimates a fiscal deficit that could reach 20%, as well as a 10% drop in imports, increasing shortages and accelerating inflation even more. The people behind the report call for the implementation of urgent measures to correct the unbalances, although they say it’s not viable “under the current political-ideological regime.” By the way, Reuters reported that two out of the four extra-heavy crude upgraders in the country will be under long overdue maintenance in coming weeks, which will reduce the exports of upgraded crude, but will help relieve the congestion of tankers at port.

Amazing chavismo

Imposed Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab announced that the companies Frigorífico Ordaz and Alimentos Frisa, expropriated during Chávez’s government in 2010 and now owned by the Grupo Empresarial García Armas, had embezzled some $49,000,000 through overbilling and simulated imports, so he issued arrest warrants against eight people for the crimes of fraudulently obtaining dollars, criminal association and overpricing the merchandise. While TSJ chief Maikel Moreno tweeted that he invited the head of the International Criminal Court to Venezuela at the start of judicial activities in 2019, U.S. immigration authorities revoked the working and tourism visa for Citgo chairman Asdrúbal Chávez. El finado’s cousin has 30 days to leave the U.S., following on the footsteps of Calixto Ortega Sánchez, whose visa was revoked in May for forging documents crediting him with the experience he didn’t have in PDVSA, even though he now heads the Central Bank. Ecological Mining Development Minister Víctor Cano explained that there’s an agreement between Turkey and the BCV to refine gold. Turkey replaced Switzerland in the refining process: “We do it in allied countries because imagine that we send the gold to Switzerland and due to sanctions they tell us it stays there,” Minister Cano explained without specifying how much gold has Turkey refined thus far.

Other voices of our crisis

Human Rights Watch urged Uruguay’s Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa “to adhere to the joint statement about the Venezuelan crisis issued by Peru on July 6” at the UN Human Rights Council, arguing that his current stance is contrary to the one Uruguay has historically held in the defense of human rights. The process to adhere to this statement is open starting this Friday, July 20. If Uruguay needs updated data, they can use that which was shared yesterday by Colombian Immigration Office director Christian Krüger, about the amount of illegal Venezuelans in his country, because in the next few days his government will use a decree to try and regularize more people, who have exceeded their stay permits or have entered the country through irregular channels. The Foreign ministers of Germany, Heiko Mass, and Chile, Roberto Ampuero, condemned the situation we live in Venezuela and Nicaragua, urging the governments of both countries to put and end to the waves of violence and start negotiations that pave the way to peace. “Nicaragua and Venezuela are two nations that are experiencing a tragedy,” said Ampuero. Regarding Venezuela, the ministers agreed to call ours “a humanitarian crisis” and called the regime to seek a negotiated solution to hold transparent and democratic elections and to allow the access of humanitarian aid at the border.

SOS Nicaragua!

Yesterday, Daniel Ortega’s government suffered a double political defeat at the Organization of American States: 21 countries approved a resolution condemning repression and violence, despite the attempts of Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada —and the representatives of Venezuela and Bolivia— to impose a different resolution. The OAS calls for identifying the culprits of the crimes committed thus far and demands the dismantling of paramilitary groups; they urge the government to participate in the national dialogue “in good will” to find peaceful and sustainable solutions and support the electoral timetable agreed in the dialogue, which proposes the holding of early elections for the first quarter of 2019. Lastly, the OAS restated its support to all the institutions that are collaborating with the Verification and Security Commission. The second defeat for Ortega was the voting result for the resolution proposal presented by his Foreign Minister, rejected by 20 countries: ouch!

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela.

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