The Opposition Tries Again

For Friday, July 20, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: NTN24

Henrique Capriles, Manuel Rosales, Henry Ramos Allup, Henri Falcón, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, Vicente Díaz, as well as Julio Borges and a Voluntad Popular representative through videoconference, held a private meeting that Falcón’s team chose to publicize, operating with the same logic of his campaign against Nicolás.

The idea of the meeting was to evaluate and create strategies to reactivate the opposition political movement. According to journalist Víctor Amaya, the meeting’s results were: an agreement to seek the unification of agendas based on common goals and to keep communicating in order to continue discussions and approaches. About the possibility of participating in municipal council elections, there was no single opinion. The statement of Falcón’s platform has lots of self-help and not much information, especially if compared with everything Eduardo Semtei tweeted while the meeting was being held.

It’s not a coincidence that Falcón offered the Avanzada Progresista ballot so that all party councilmen who don’t have one, are able to present their candidacies. Meanwhile, Antonio Ledezma keeps uploading videos demanding more sanctions, calling for humanitarian intervention and a national strike.

The meeting was poorly received on social media. Too many people are disappointed, with low expectations and notable despair.

Rector of lies

As if it wasn’t ironic enough that a university dedicated to Health science is called after el finado, Nicolás used the Poliedro de Caracas to hand over academic diplomas to 6,300 integral doctors, a career that the Venezuelan Medical Federation accuses of being more ideological than scientific and whose graduates have been poorly reviewed abroad. Nicolás said that the Venezuelan healthcare system is quite advanced and in a serious exercise of projection, he spoke of Colombia as a country “with a gigantic healthcare humanitarian crisis, where thousands of people die per year from preventable or treatable diseases.” Closer to an insult than an accomplishment, for celebrating it while public hospital staffers keep protesting for their terrible working conditions and low salaries, Nicolás announced his wish to hold a meeting to “review the integral plan of job positions, salaries, housing and support” for community doctors; as well as a campaign of national consultation to reform the Venezuelan healthcare system, calling nurses, doctors and all sector employees to participate and then approve a Plan to transform the public health system. If it’s so good, why does it need any transformation?

Indicators of a “powerhouse” country

Lawmaker José Guerra cautioned that only 14 days are left for the new monetary cone to come into force and new banknotes still haven’t reached the banks, which will make them difficult to distribute and in the meantime, the current cone’s banknotes are still scarce. In addition to the abrupt drop in oil revenues, the government faces a massive lack of internal tax revenue, according to an analysis by Econoanalítica, because due to the effect of inflation, domestic tax collection has been dropping for 13 trimesters straight: the values of income and added value taxes, have sank by 87.3% and 73% respectively so far this year. Meanwhile, the investment bank Torino Capital estimates in its most recent report that our oil production will drop to 1.07 million barrels per day by the end of 2018, a drop of 270,000 barrels per day for the next six months, emphasizing that the Oil Ministry’s lack of methodological consistency “suggests that they’re no longer a reliable source to monitor the evolution of oil production.” Former minister Gerver Torres shared Venezuela’s position in the World Bank’s 2018 Business Environment Ranking: the country fell to the 188th place in a list of 190 countries, only surpassing Eritrea and Somalia.

Finally, the Walk Free foundation said that according to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, Venezuela and Haiti are the countries with the greatest incidence of contemporary slavery in Latin America, followed by the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Honduras.

2020 after Citgo

The U.S. issued an exception to the sanctions on Venezuelan bonds to allow PDVSA 2020 bondholders to collect payment for their guarantee (half of Citgo’s shares) in case the Venezuelan government defaults on payments. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published the “license number 5” authorizing holders to demand that instrument’s collateral (50.1% of Citgo shares) in case of default, an action that was barred by the terms of the executive order signed by President Donald Trump in May. So far, the PDVSA 2020 is the only PDVSA bond that hasn’t defaulted. The other part of Citgo shares are committed as guarantee for a loan from Russian State-owned oil company Rosneft. The OFAC also authorizes lawsuits against Venezuela containing claims or establishing measures against assets (ships, properties or financial assets,) as long as they don’t involve a new debt and with shareholding participation in any entity in which the government owns 50% of shares. This year, Venezuela must pay about nine billion dollars in foreign debt.

Amazing chavismo

Believe it or not, Electric Energy Minister Luis Motta Domínguez and officials of the National Electric Corporation promoted the changing of 1,500 light bulbs carried out in a community in Zulia State. In a similar tone, Communes Minister Aristóbulo Istúriz announced the opening of another food house in Vargas State, which allegedly gives free food to people that “are victims of the economic war imposed by the opposition and foreign governments, and which holds the country under a profound crisis.” Since the mockery can’t stop, Freddy Bernal participated in the “launch of the Clap Vegetable Bag,” which costs Bs. 3,200,000 and contains eight kilos of vegetables and greens, surpassing the monthly minimum wage. And amidst the water supply crisis, Diosdado Cabello’s wife, Marleny Contreras along with governor Rodolfo Marco Torres promoted an aquatic park in Aragua, “thanks to the resources approved” by Nicolás.

Protests continue

In addition to the protests of pensioners, communities demanding water and electricity and pedestrians demanding transport, healthcare workers agreed to continue on a partial strike and organize new protests to keep demanding their claims. Sugar cane producers protested before the Finance Ministry to demand that the government avoid regulating the price of sugar. CANTV and Movilnet employees demanded fair salaries before Higher Education Ministry headquarters, a demonstration that was supported by employees of the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research.

Political prisoners “are hostages for Nicolás Maduro’s government,” their relatives and lawyers denounced yesterday, including PoliChacao officers Reggi Andrade and Fred Mavares who, despite having been issued release warrants in 2016, are still detained and were recently transferred to the 26 de Julio common prison.

We go on.

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