Swindled Pensioners

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

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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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23 COMMENTS

  1. Trying to understand the pension thing.
    Are they saying that the banks refuse to allow withdrawals because the social security never sent the bank the bonus money? In other words, the government just told the seniors they were giving them a bonus but didn’t actually do so?

    • Pretty much. Current monthly pensions are Bs. 4/+ mill. month, a little over $1 at the unmentionable rate. The Govt. did not pay a portion of each of the last 2 months’ pensions, so promised to pay Bs. 8/+ mill. this month. Pensions are supposed to be payed in cash, which favors pensioners, since street vendors give 50/+% discounts for cash on much-needed/scarce essential foodstuffs (to obtain scarce cash, which in quantity in Ven. is only a few % of the daily economic transaction needs, one must pay +330% over face value from private suppliers). The Govt. on payment day 2 days ago said that it would pay pensioners only Bs, 2 mill cash, the rest 6 mill/+ as a credit to the debit cards of pensioners, many of whom don’t have debit cards, can’t even get them since banks don’t issue new ones for lack of plastic materials, and even the Carnet De La Patria Govt. card is in short supply. As for non-cash Govt./private bank deposits, even inorganic Govt. credit creation cannot keep up due to hyperinflation/Govt. incompetency, with many private local currency bank-to-bank transfers being blocked for the last week….

    • Govt sent the bonuses to the banks, only electronically.
      Cash is hard to get and you get a better price on goods if you pay cash, not to mention people must have it to pay for public transportation perreras.
      Banks do not have enough cash to pay pensions and have to ration it, like everything else in the “country”.

  2. “The National Guard and the National Bolivarian Police once more showed that they have license to threaten civilian demonstrators…”

    And in response, El Pueblo held their breath until the became blue in the face. Later today, they plan to stomp their feet and cross their arms in disgust. Tomorrow, harsh words and pouting…

    • The day after that, a few handwritten protest placards, the day after that running from tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber truncheons….

      • 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…

        Demanding better salaries… and a collective bargaining agreement? From the people who don’t give the least shit about you? Why not just stick your dick in meat grinder and call it a circumcision! What a waste of time.

        These people LOVE Chavismo. They don’t want to see it go away… they want to see it improved. I find it hard to have any sympathy when I read this type of stuff.

        • This why all this protest are meaningless and people shrug off and walk away, protest in Venezuela is about a group of people wanting to be more equal than others just like Chavistas, I want light, I want water. I want swine, I want toys I want the same salary of corrupt military and on and on and on but not once about I want Chavistas out

    • Slogans like “Let’s bang our pots, people are hungry and they don’t give a damn.” will solve something?

      Who is leading this opposition to a better outcome?

      • Scenario #1: “Let’s bang our pots, people are hungry and they don’t give a damn.”

        Maduro picks up the phone and yells an order to an unseen military person, “Marco! Fuel up the jet and call the Central Bank… we are going to Plan Omega! YES! PLAN OMEGA! Empty the vaults! We are leaving for Havana within the hour! FUCK DELCY, ELIAS, VLAD AND DIOSDADO! We are not sharing the booty with them! Vamanos!”

        Scenario #2: “Let’s bang our pots, people are hungry and they don’t give a damn.”

        Maduro leans back into his leather chair and eats another empanada… lets out a monstrous fart… scratches belly… clicks on some streaming Mexican telenovelas…

      • Capriles says more dialogue/pacifism is the answer (he should know-it cost him the Presidency); Aveledo says the same (it gained him a place in the Pontificators of the Academy, after being a Copei Guanabana Congress member in the old days), allowing him to still wear custom-made suits/fancy ties; Henry says, “WTF, I got mine”; Borges says the cochinillo is a lot better in Madrid, than in Caracas; and LLJr. says playing with his children at home is a lot better than playing hide-and-seek with his GNB guard/cel phone in a Ramo Verde jail cell.

  3. “… 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.,…”.

    How do you run a large American corporation, headquartered in Houston, if you are barred from the U.S.?

    This will be fun to watch.

  4. In 5 months, the Doggie Toys for Tots benevolence! Bring your Carnet, get a nearly new Chinese rawhide chewie for the niños!

    Any wagers on whether the Chavistas promise the Chavista voters better pots to bang on this Christmas?

    I’m sorry if I am not empathetic, but how many indignant “protests” must the world watch as El Pueblo goes out into the streets demanding freebies instead of taking their freedom?

    • Would someone please explain to ElGuapo that not all Venezuelans are Chavista.

      With all due respect it’s hard to protest and rebel on an empty stomach. These people are spending all day trying to survive in conditions that are beyond miserable and you send post after post about how weak and stupid they are. Fighting people who will arrest and torture you and have all the guns and all the numbers is a fools errand. They can kill you with impunity. The leadership has left the country or been locked up and the dictatorship has effectively parsed the opposition to bits. But there are still good people who are willing to fight the regime. They just don’t want to be martyrs. Things will change. It just does not unfold the way we always want and on our timeline.

      • Kool Aid Drinker – For what it is worth, I am noticing more and more dismay/paranoia on the part of Aporrea writers about how the failed governance is leading people to vocally express their hatred towards Chavistas (“Kill Chavistas”). Maybe (maybe) they feel like the East German commies did once the wall started coming down? Maybe not yet, but I think at least some of them fear it is coming. Not because socialism/revolution was not a glorious idea, to the contrary, is just because Maduro regime fucked it up. We’ll find out.

      • “…it’s hard to protest and rebel on an empty stomach. These people are spending all day trying to survive in conditions that are beyond miserable…”

        Yes, that is by design — a design most Venezolanos coveted and begged for and voted for. Which chavismo policy does el pueblo disagree with? Answer: none, just the recent results. I grieve for the people of Venezuela, what they have sown, and what they reap. No amount of grief can stop the harvest.

      • “…it’s hard to protest and rebel on an empty stomach. These people are spending all day trying to survive in conditions that are beyond miserable and you send post after post about how weak and stupid they are. Fighting people who will arrest and torture you and have all the guns and all the numbers is a fools errand. They can kill you with impunity.”

        I will grant you that not all Venezuelans are Chavista. I would wager (from what I read and see) that approximately 70% or more are true believers.

        The rest is just excuses for doing NOTHING.

        A couple of weeks ago, I decided to dial it back. For the life of me, I don’t understand the culture. Chavismo has its heel across the throat of all Venezuelans, and all El Pueblo can do is bitch about how the boot is in need of a proper polishing.

        “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” (paraphrasing Lao Zi) If you want your freedom, then you have to be willing to sacrifice to get it. The process is quite simple, for those who are willing to take that first step. Oscar Perez took that step towards freedom, and he paid a price. Is the rest of Venezuela ready to step up? From what I have seen, NO.

        Oh, they will bang on pots and burn a tire and create a mild ruckus… quite honestly, Maduro could watch that shit all day on TV while he is getting a hand-job from Ms Lara 2014 (third runner up). He’ll let them get it out of their system for about an hour, and repress as much as needed. Because he knows that his minions aren’t afraid of El Pueblo. As soon as the the PNB/GNB show up, El Pueblo will scatter like birds.

        The GNB and PNB need to be afraid of El Pueblo.

        1. Get ONE gun. Then you use that ONE gun to get TWO guns. Two guns gets 4. Extrapolate from there.

        2. Quit playing by your rules and play by theirs.

        Do these GNB and PNB have homes? Families? The colectivos… where do they go at night? Hmmm… The PNB/GNB/colectivos have no qualms about coming to YOUR home and threatening YOUR family. They have no problem jailing YOUR innocent family members. They have no problem shooting YOU in the face…

        I can assure you that my military buddies who were in Fallujah/Al Anbar didn’t face disgruntled Venezuelans with slick slogans on cardboard placards and metal pots a-banging. These fighters were committed to their cause. Venezuelans could learn something from them.

  5. s’plain to me guys the following on the Nurses Strike for more wages. These are “intelligent” professionals right? Do they not read the newspapers, do they not go the store and see the prices double every few days Do they not understand the futility of what they are demanding – Higher Wages. BFD (Big Fucking Deal), if they succeed and get 5 times (or 10 or 20 or ….) their current wages and return to work. By the end of next month it will vanish in the hyperinflation!!!! I can only conclude that math and reality was not in their medical coursework.

      • Options?

        They could quit en masse. Every nurse and doctor, including the ER.
        Every store owner could let every employee go.
        Every person with any authority could not show up to work.
        Every electrician could quit. Every oil worker.
        Every non-Chavista could monkey wrench ONE THING each evening.

        That is unpleasant. For Chavismo.

        The problem being, that the vast majority don’t have a problem with Chavismo. They LOVE Chavismo. They only have a problem with its implementation.

        So, they are more than content to wait to be bought off by thieves.

  6. From Foreign Policy Magazine: How Venezuela Struck It Poor: The tragic — and totally avoidable — self-destruction of one of the world’s richest oil economies.

    At the end:

    The only way Venezuela, which is broke and stripped of talent, can possibly fix its oil industry today is by relying more on foreign companies. Even if they were given a free hand, however, it’s not clear that international firms could turn things around anytime soon; the lack of investment in recent years hasn’t helped the health of Venezuela’s oil fields. “If you messed up the reservoir by overproducing or underinvesting, then you just can’t pick up where you left off,” the international oil company executive said. “They’ve probably done some long-term damage to the reservoirs.”

    But Caracas seems unwilling to even test the proposition and continues doing everything it can to alienate the very businesses it needs so badly. In April, for example, government agents arrested two Chevron executives who reportedly refused to cooperate in overbilling for oil supplies. The two were held for months while facing possible treason charges, which carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

    Real reform would require a wholesale change in the country’s economic management: getting hyperinflation under control, establishing a stable and realistic exchange rate, and building an enforceable legal framework that could offer foreign investors some semblance of predictability and protection. Of course, it’s impossible to imagine Maduro doing any of those things, especially after recently winning (or stealing) another term. And his re-election carries additional short-term risks for the tottering Venezuelan oil sector. The United States is considering additional sanctions that could limit exports of U.S. crude and refined products to Venezuela or even ban the purchase of Venezuelan crude by U.S. refineries. Either move, or both, would deal yet another body blow to an industry already on its knees. What likely can’t be put back together again is the state oil company. “There is no money in the world that can bring that back,” Burelli said. “You might be able to rebuild an oil sector full of private players but not PDVSA.”

    Ultimately, Caracas’s bid to nationalize the oil industry and assert its sovereign rights to the country’s black gold has all but ensured that less and less of that wealth will be left for Venezuelans. With no other vibrant economic sector, the only way to fund the government is by increasing oil production — which would require investing up to $10 billion a year for a decade, Burelli suggested — and the only way to attract that kind of investment is by offering international companies favorable terms. That means a bigger cut for them and a smaller cut for the state.

    As Burelli put it, “To resurrect the oil sector, somebody will have to invest in it on their terms, not our terms, and that will not generate revenue. So, what will we live off?”

    If someone has already posted this link, my apologies.

  7. Why does Venezuela need Turkey, or any other country to refine their gold for them? Is it that desperate that they are forced to send it to Turkey? I’m sure the Turks are charging a small fortune for this fee. I know nothing about gold but I can’t imagine that this is a common practice.

    Turkey could simple spray paint lead bars and ship them back to these clowns would never figure it out. What a disaster masquerading as a government.

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