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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  1. “Since the (insane) mockery can’t stop”: Aquatic Park in Aragua while people generally don’t have nearly enough water to drink/bathe/wash; Aristobulo recently dressed in army camouflage fatigues in the Interior near a jungle area, surrounded by real army soldiers dressed similarly, addressing a handful of clueless civilian youth, dressed in newly-minted bright-red shirts, on how to defend the Fatherland; and the even-more-clueless Oppo principal figures, who sold any chance of an effective anti-Govt. response down the river at the end of last year, video-meeting to try to find a way out of the mess they created, agreeing basically on “communicating” more, and Heaven forbid, not using violence, especially from the outside. The problem with Venezuela?–The (vast majority) of Venezuelans themselves, whatever their socio-economic class, and, in particular, the political class….

  2. No amount eye-rolling can really express my contempt for these losers. The reality of the Venezuelan landscape is that 70 percent of the electorate is leaderless. These washed up political hacks do not really represent the vast majority.

  3. Wage and price controls, currency and forex controls, hyperinflation all create Marx’s “wage slavery” in which peoples’ productive lives are liquidated at a discount. But true slavery (chattel slavery) is always a feature of communism. Every person is merely a possession of the state and will be used (& used up) for the glory of the revolution.

    • You know what pisses the fucking shit out of me?

      How everyone…including those opposed to Chavismo…blame today’s VZ disaster mostly on the fall in oil prices. The fucking JOURNALISTS, mind you.

      The price fall is MAYBE 10% to blame, but Chavismo did the other 90% all on its own.

      • When you ask them why lower prices didn’t collapse any other producer, or why Vz hasn’t benefited from the current run-up they have no answer (or they change the subject and blame the BigBadBully). But they grimly cling to their holy establishment talking points.

      • “The price fall is MAYBE 10% to blame, but Chavismo did the other 90% all on its own.”

        Hush! Dude, you CAN’T blame ANYTHING on the good old poor shiabbe! That’ll annoy the potential shiabbizta voters and scare them away because you hurt their little snowflake feelings! D:

      • Chavismo is 100% responsible for the economic collapse. Venezuela’s debt was increasing when oil was over $100.
        The destruction of national production brought about by Chavez seizing productive capacity, corruption and favorable foreign exchange that allowed the connected to loot the treasury are all policies of Chavez and Maduro.
        One of the first signs that an economy is headed for trouble is when you see a drop in foreign investment. This shows that investors have lost confidence for any multitude of reasons. Chavez ran international investment out of the country.
        The writing was on the wall from the moment the government went against the markets with an artificial exchange and price controls. The only thing that high oil prices did was delay the inevitable.

    • Davy Jones,

      Chattel slavery was historically a feature of capitalism, in which human beings were traded as property. You can call communism “slavery”, but it’s not that particular kind of slavery.

      You’ve also got the Marxist idea of surplus value of labour confused with a mixed bag of (failed) policies and indicators that historically appear at many times, under many systems.

      • @Canucklehead “Chattel slavery was historically a feature of capitalism, in which human beings were traded as property. ”

        No, Chattel slavery was historically a feature of settled societies period.

        And I might be being overly generous there since that excludes nomadic societies like the Steppe Khanates which also featured an old tendency to grab what or who you could and then run for it.

        That included featuring in capitalist societies like the Dutch Republic, Venice, and so on. But it was not in any way unique or a feature of their economics when if you just crossed the border you would also see it in places like Habsburg Hungary, the Crimean Khanate, the Rus states, the Ottoman Empire, Ming China, or the like.

        “You can call communism “slavery”, but it’s not that particular kind of slavery.”

        I’m not so generous. Particularly when we look at the term itself. “Chattel Slavery” itself emerged as a term of comparison, in which people were maintained as personal property (which is what “Chattel” is, with its distant etymological term for “Head of Cattle”.). The problem is that plenty of different societies even within the Medieval West defined and managed property very differently, let alone across cultures.

        So “Chattel Slavery” like what the English or French understood would not be comparable to Communism, and since they were the ones who defined it that is the strongest case for arguing Chattel slavery is not comparable to Communism.

        But it would fit *exceedingly* well for what 16th century Lombards, Portuguese, Germans, and so on called “Chattel.” Particularly in the more Francophone areas (or else they’d use the equivalent Latin term, hence “Servile” and its cousins). Particularly because Italy and Iberia had *much* weaker feudal bonds than England, France, and Germany and so there was not this concept of a slave being bound to the land or to a specific person/family like in Russia or Anglo-Saxon England.

        Which is why you can read through massive ledgers of Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian investors buying slaves- often by intermediaries- and then sending their newfound property around to work in West African sugar fields or bringing them back to Europe for personal service . And why a lot of times the buyer wasn’t an individual lord or dynasty but a corporate or even national entity. (Not necessarily what we’d define as “Capitalist” ones either; since you also saw these entities pop up where Capitalism was weakest like in Hungary and Eastern Germany).

        It’d be an exaggeration to say this is just like Communism. But what it *is* very close to is the Communist management of the labor market. The difference is that organizations like the CCP in China and the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua basically declared themselves the corporate overlord or “manager”, and reduced pretty much the entire population to the level of those “servile” people that people like Da Gama or Henry the Navigator or George Washington ordered around.

        There are much better comparisons, especially if you get out of Europe (for instance, the government of the Sapa Incas). But this was one of the direct ancestors to the kind of “scientific factory management” that popped up in both capitalist and anti-capitalist regions of Europe during the industrial revolution, and which Marx drew direct inspiration from.

        Hence why I’m not inclined to draw the hard and fast distinction you do. Even

        “You’ve also got the Marxist idea of surplus value of labour confused with a mixed bag of (failed) policies and indicators that historically appear at many times, under many systems.”

        Which isn’t that surprising, since Marx openly admitted he took inspiration from the past, or at least his studies and (often hilariously bad) understandings of said past. Ditto Engels. So it isn’t surprising that he incorporated many of these ideas (not all, but many) into his “labour theory of value.”

        And while I don’t claim an expert knowledge of their writings like those who have read them more do, I’m skeptical if they ever really understood the evolution of medieval corporations. Or the implications of much of what they advocated for.

        However, by advocating for the collectivization of “capital” and the liquidation of currency, Marx and Engels said they were hoping to pave the way for a naturally emerging non-exploitative utopia as value became about labor and people supposedly became free to use their labor as they saw fit.

        Yeah, it makes human labor the only real benchmark of value or what economists would call “real wealth. It also triggers a stampede to control as much of it as possible. Which is why the Marxist State goes from managing the economy in trust before it dissolves (like IG Farben today) to being a permanent institution that views every aspect of the economy like Tom Thistlewood viewed his slaves.

        Marx and Engels may not have predicted or intended this, but “Play stupid games, Win Stupid Prizes.”

        • I didn’t get through the whole effort there, but to be clear, I was commenting on Davy Jones, not covering the history of slavery and the collected works of Marx and Engels.

          • You choke on gnats while swallowing camels whole. You can’t refute the results: communism liquidates millions of proletariat lives for the profit of the elite.

          • @Canucklehead “I didn’t get through the whole effort there,”

            *Sigh.* again?

            I am not going to say there’s no issue, I know my comments are too long and wordy. But people can get through them.

            ” but to be clear, I was commenting on Davy Jones, not covering the history of slavery and the collected works of Marx and Engels.”

            The problem is that you argued that Chattel slavery was not a characteristic of Communism. The issue with that is that it’s dubious, especially when we

            A: Observe the idea of “Chattel Slavery” as it developed in Southern and Central Europe

            B: See how it was imported to the colonies (first by the Iberians and their Italian backers, and then by Dutch middlemen and ltimately independent colonials to everybody else).

            C: Realize that the idea of managing “servile” people like the Genoese and Portuguese pioneered on the West African coast was a direct ancestor to industrial HR management.

            D: Realize that M and E idealizes “scientific management” from the factories as a way to plan society in order to reach Communism.

            Basically, chattel slavery wasn’t really a characteristic of Capitalism, though it did co-exist in it. If anything Capitalism’s remarkable for helping to make chattel slavery as extinct as it is.

            And the sort of human management Marx and Engels romanticized ultimately wound up treating the entire population as if they were chattel and the “Revolutionary Vanguard” was a corporation that owned them.

          • @Davy Jones While I agree with your overall thrust, a few points of order.

            Firstly: I’m not sure how true it is that Communism liquidates millions of lives *for the profit of the elites.*

            Because really, how much profit did the likes of Pol Pot *REALLY* get from Tuol Sleng? Was Comrade Duch getting paid per the head of people killed?

            Sure. Communism does allow the *possibility* for profit in certain circumstances. But the killing isn’t limited to them. And while I have very little good to say about Chattel Slavery, at least it was primarily about making a profit and was relatively good at it (though not always as bankrupt slavers like Tom Jefferson showed).

            But on the converse a lot of times Chattel Slavery doesn’t encourage the kind of remorseless hate and desire to increase the carnage that Communism provided, though it can help spark it. Untold millions went to their deaths in charnel houses like Saint-Domingue with little concern, but the French planters weren’t interested in exterminating Blacks until after the Haitians revolted.

            In contrast to killing “Undesireables.”

            I do think Communism doesn’t really make sense if we view it as only looking for profit. And I think that’s terrifying.

          • Consider how the ruling marxist elite count profit. Consider the other side of the ledger. They don’t pick semantic nits nor debate definitions nor spare their countrymen, they just enslave and kill for their results.

            Don’t hate history because it’s politically incorrect.

      • They went to Maracaibo to see what was going on “outside” of Caracas.

        But do you know what I’m interested in knowing about?

        What’s going on in Colonia Tovar, which to me, was paradise on earth when I went there in the late 80s.

    • “but the fall in oil prices led to the collapse of the economy “

      Seriously, what the fuck?

      I was there.. I saw it and fought it, it doesn’t matter what anyone nonchavista tried to do.. the revolution was hellbent on destroying and corrupting everything.. even if oil had stayed at $100 production would have fallen. Maybe would have taken longer, there would have been more missiones and freebes, eventually would be where they are now.

      Please stay on topic.. it is their policies, not oil price.

      • “but the fall in oil prices led to the collapse of the economy “
        yeah those were a few words in the link….
        But the video report of Maracaibo is very good
        It is shocking to see the deterioration, the pollution of the lake and of the seafood caught.
        And they are eating it. Seriously? I would not eat a thing out of that lake.
        Yes if I was desperate, but I’d be figuring a way out of that place in no time.
        Guess like the millions are doing.
        And it shows smuggling it to Columbia. Easy peeze. Just grease the militarys hand
        It was worth my 16 minutes.

  4. The corrupt, enchufado Boys Club “opposition “ wants to talk some more? But this time they’ll stick to the script as a unified plasta de mierda and not just mierda? They just take turns selling the country down the rio guire

    As usual no MCM, Ledezma, LL.. only every asswipe who has already lost elections… question is was it intentional?

    What does it take to retire these losers? Plomo?

    As for your young politicians series.. assume they are just waiting for their chance at a long life of public $…


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