“This Isn’t A Package”

For Friday, July 27, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: AVN

This Thursday, Economy Vice-President Tareck El Aissami tried to clarify the measures announced this Wednesday by Nicolás. He didn’t succeed. He spoke of a program of economic prosperity claiming that this isn’t “a package meant to enrich a few in detriment of the majority,” but a program to consolidate socialism and to “establish the foundations for the decisive birth of independence and economic sovereignty.” In other words, the measures don’t seek to boost productivity or prosperity, but merely “empower the people and their purchasing capacity,” consolidate protection (control) mechanism on low-income sector through the carnet de la patria and stabilize prices. That’s why he announced that on August 20, “all forms and expression of price re-labeling, boycott and overpricing will be buried.” Regarding the modifications to the Law on Foreign Exchange Crimes, El Aissami spoke of proposing new policies for exchange operators and foreign investors, that would allow them to circulate foreign currency in the country and repatriate their capitals. It was funny to see him talk about the reorganization of the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana, ruined by chavismo, which now proposes a “rigorous centralized planning.” El Aissami announced they’ve requested banks to increase the cap for digital transactions and promised more announcements for coming weeks.

Between the BCV and Parliament

The Central Bank (BCV) and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) will study how the BCV will use the Orinoco Oil Strip’s Ayacucho II Block, according to its chairman Calixto Ortega Sánchez: “We’ll study and present options that allow us to monetize this asset on the country’s benefit, acting always in according to our constitutional and legal functions,” said Ortega. Lawmaker José Guerra remarked that according to the Constitution, underground hydrocarbons can’t be used to back any currency nor as guarantee for a financial instrument: “To do that, we’d need to reform the Constitution and the Hydrocarbons Law,” said Guerra. Meanwhile, Rafael Guzmán, head of the National Assembly’s (AN) Finance Committee, cautioned that the only power with the authority to derogate or modify the Law on Foreign Exchange Crimes is Parliament itself. Guzmán said that the measures announced by Nicolás were “supremely irresponsible,” emphasizing the absurdity of tying the bolivar to the petro, “a non-existence and sanctioned cryptoasset.” He insisted that carrying out the exchange reform without stopping the issuance of inorganic money and without a fiscal adjustment “would send the dollar through the roof and continue the tragedy of hyperinflation for Venezuelans.”

Amazing chavismo

Carlos Erick Malpica Flores, nephew of Cilia Flores, was PDVSA’s finance vice-president when the operation to extend a Bs. 7.2 billion loan to Bs. 14 billion, for which the State paid $1.2 billion, was carried out. He was also National Treasurer. While Brazilian government authorities keep denouncing the increase of confirmed measles cases “imported” from Venezuela, María Yánez, director of the Native Peoples Ministry, spoke about an anti-malaria vaccination campaign that took place in Aripao parish, Bolívar state; sadly, that vaccine doesn’t exist! VTV host Miguel Pérez Pirela told Nicolás that criticism wasn’t a fashion and that “the pretenders are those who steal while holding public office.”

Freddy Bernal represented the flip side of the coin, saying that he’s always been loyal to the process, to el finado and to Nicolás, so he blamed “the crooked right” for the possibility of being understood as disloyal. The BCV announced that the new currency auction through DICOM will take place this Friday.

The fictional trial

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice in exile set the oral and public hearing of the trial against Nicolás for August 2, and it will take place in Bogota, Colombia. On July 19, the justices appointed by the National Assembly who had to flee the country, admitted the holding of the hearing, after Luisa Ortega Díaz filed an Appeal for Revocation against Nicolás for alleged crimes of corruption and money laundering. The TSJ in exile suspended Nicolás from his post as President in May and barred him from running for any political office, a ruling that has been ignored. Likewise, they declared the President’s vacancy because there’s sufficient merit to try him. Later, Ortega Díaz announced on Twitter that she’ll send a letter to the National Assembly to ask them to urged other countries to take measures against Nicolás’s decision “to illegally mortgage Venezuela’s international reserves,” because in her view, “that action materializes the looting of the nation and prolongs the genocide.”

A detail: the looting materialized when she was Prosecutor General and she justified the genocide several times before international instances. We currently have $8.8 billion in international reserves, 90% of which are monetary gold and the rest is foreign currency in cash.

Brief and serious

  • As if it worked regularly, Hidrocapital announced that it’ll suspend water supply service for 18 hours (starting this Friday 27) in sectors of the Capital District, Vargas and Miranda, all dependant on the Tuy III System, to carry out maintenance work.
  • According to Reporters Without Borders, Venezuela dropped six places in the global press freedom index and now ranks 143rd out of 180 countries studied. This is explained by all the journalists who have been arbitrarily detained, the expelled foreign reporters, trials for slander, the Alfredo Maneiro Corporation’s grip on newsprint, the blocks against digital media outlets and Conatel’s unyielding quest for censorship.
  • National Assembly lawmakers marched to Corpoelec headquarters in Maracaibo to demand a better electric service. They demanded Minister Luis Motta Domínguez’s resignation “for his incompetence in trying to solve electric issues in Zulia and the rest of affected states.”
  • Tracked down for the kidnapping of a shop owner a few months ago, Hernán López Ortuño (Hernancito) died early yesterday in Artigas. Infamous since 1995 for being involved in the murder of former bigleaguer Gustavo Polidor, a crime for which he was sentenced, but escaped the Catia Prison before that. In 1996, he participated in the Monagas sisters’ kidnapping that ended with two police officers injured and two people dead: one of the hostages and Hernancito’s accomplice. He spent his sentence in the General Penitentiary of Venezuela, where he became a leader (pran) and even studied.

Most economists interviewed yesterday by the media agreed that none of the announcements made by Nicolás and ratified by El Aissami solve the causes of hyperinflation, that the Executive wants to impose this reconversion without a monetary or fiscal policy. Similarly, they agreed that the petro is worthless as backing for anything, that the ANC lacks judicial authority to modify the Law on Foreign Exchange Crimes and that the reconversion can’t be applied in 15 days.

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  1. “Most economists interviewed yesterday by the media agreed that none of the announcements made by Nicolás and ratified by El Aissami solve the causes of hyperinflation, that the Executive wants to impose this reconversion without a monetary or fiscal policy. Similarly, they agreed that the petro is worthless as backing for anything, that the ANC lacks judicial authority to modify the Law on Foreign Exchange Crimes and that the reconversion can’t be applied in 15 days.”

    Pfft! Details, details. Mere details.

    It doesn’t matter that The Plan doesn’t make sense to sensible people. What matters is that The Plan is seen being planned (see pictures of very nice table and draperies from yesterdays update) and that The Plan is being implemented. The excuses for failure are ready to roll out within a week of The Plan being foisted upon the adoring public.

    Fear not. Another Plan to replace this plan is in the works.

    • Years back I remember reading extracts of Chavez’s speeches and thinking “this guy does not understand the concept of grammatical tenses”. He would triumphantly announce some new plan, project or idea as if it the act of pronouncement meant that the accomplishment had already happened. Then, months or years later one would see in “The Devil’s Excrement” the results of some of these projects embodied in pictures of deserted structures in overgrown fields, or rusting vehicle bodies awaiting engines that never arrived – and, of course, some projects left behind no physical traces whatsoever. So Maduro and his buddies are faithfully continuing a pathetic tradition.

      • I saw that kind of rationale years ago, when I was in Nicaragua. The new local alcalde (Communist Party hack) was busy making pronouncements about how HE had planned this (water) and how HE was planning that (electricity)… and wanted all sorts of gratitude from his adoring town folk. Cue the polite applause. He spoke it, thus it was certainty!

        We return two years later and the town is in meltdown. HEAVILY armed “enforcers” (non-uniformed) patrolling the main plaza. Businesses are closed all over, the ones that are open are only open because they don’t have competition and can now cover the extortion or are the alcalde’s business. All of his promises? NOTHING. Even less running water and only the party faithful got reliable electricity. (this was a very rural town). Last I heard, he ran for reelection and got 70% of the votes from a town that hated him.

        We ended up fleeing Nicaragua in the middle of the night (another story). It was the last time I will ever step foot in that Hell-hole until Ortega is gone.

  2. Castro died in his bed,
    Chavez died in his bed,
    Raul Castro will die in his bed,
    Maduro will probably die in his bed without some armed force pushing him out of power.
    The goals of a socialist government are to gain power, keep power and remain in power.

  3. I just had something of a scare.

    A truckload of GNB showed up here at the house armed to the teeth, accompanied by a young guy in civilian clothes. I’m sitting in the office which has a view of the client-side of the bodega watching this unfold. The local GNB shows from time to time to ask for freebies or buy condoms, but these guys weren’t local. They lingered at the counter for what seemed like an eternity talking to my woman. I figured the guy in civilian clothing was a civilian witness and that they were going to execute a search warrant or possibly haul me off.

    I knew she’d not let them in the house without a warrant, and saw no paperwork in motion, but still, it was a bit unnerving. And I wasn’t about to walk to the counter to see what was up because I had no idea why they were here or what she might have told them if they had asked for me.

    She finally called me up front and introduced me to the jefe. Chit chat a few minutes and they leave.

    Seems someone had filed a denunciation of one of the local shops selling merchandise distributed by Polar for prices way above the government-stipulated price. Though we handle some Polar products, we don’t buy directly from them so as long as we can present a valid invoice for the price we paid, we’re allowed to sell above that level at a reasonable mark-up.

    On another note, John, if you read this, you’d be proud of Crystal’s mom. Your efforts to help her daughter have inspried her to help others. She’s now formed, The Crystal Foundation, and among other things, is working to put those in need of life-saving medicines for their children together with those who have them. She’s also distributing birthing kits for new moms……medicines, formula, diapers etc. We’ve given out a number of them here in the pueblo to expecting moms.

    And this coming Monday, The Crystal Foundation will host an event for 150 children in the poorest part of our humble town. She’s worked with two local churches to organize it. Plans are to feed the kids a good breakfast, followed by all sorts of fun and games, and then feed them lunch, something most of those kids rarely have, two square meals in a single day sandwiched around some fun. My woman and some church volunteers be doing the cooking here at the house. I’ve been designated the “chofer” to move the goodies from the house to the event. Tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

    • MRubio
      So very glad to hear that you are safe. I can’t imagine the paranoia of living where the authorities are free to create their own laws as they see fit.
      Crystal’s mom sounds like an incredible woman to do so much for others while she has so many demands on her own time. The joy that she will bring to so many kids is fantastic! Just to escape the misery for a little while will be good memory that these kids will cherish the rest of their lives.
      Did she get a chance to get your shipment yet?
      I am having a few issues with Bank of America and the deposits that I make. There is only one branch still open in my area. Since the first of the year they have required checks instead of cash. This week when I went to make a deposit, the clerk questioned why I was putting money in an account other than my own. I explained to her that it was a way to get money to people in Venezuela. She said that she didn’t think she could accept it. She acted like I was laundering money.
      The lady that has been handling things at the bank is a friend of mine. She is on vacation and I expect that when she returns that I will be able to continue as before. If not, I can have a friend in Florida handle it for me or do an ACH transfer.
      This branch is small with just a few employees. I hope the clerk is wrong.
      I am assembling another shipment from here. I picked up antibiotics and a refill for Crystal this week and I will be getting a few other things to go with it. My friend that was in the hospital in Rochester has passed away. He had substantial real estate holdings with both retail and residential tenants. I am the executor and have been trying to get up to speed on everything. The last couple weeks have been hectic. As soon as I can, I will get more things going your way.
      My very best to you and all of your family.

    • MR, the coming Bs. reconfiguration (-5 zeroes) and increased gasoline price (at least 30x probably–cheap, but expensive for dirt-poor Venezuela) means greater hunger/scarcity/crime/discrimination (against foreigner “saboteurs”), but, you know this, and, hey, it isn’t everyone who gets the chance to experience record hyper-inflation/homicide rates in his lifetime (imagine the tales to be told around a crawfish etoufee feast in Evangeline Parish in later years).

      • Acadia and Lafayette Parishes actually, but hey, some good folks in Evangeline Parish….Vidrines, Fontenots, and Soileaus just to name a few. Later years? I’m already there Net! Wish me a happy birthday…..born the day the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed if anyone wants to figure out how old I am.

        Living here’s a trip to be sure. Don’t know why I was so paranoid today, I haven’t done anything wrong……other than helping a few families here, posting on this site, and andando gringo…….that latter probably enough for a severe jail sentence.

        John, a fellow on another site where I post to wants to help. I told him I’d put you two together and see what fits.

        • MR
          Happy belated birthday.
          I have no problem with you giving my contact details. I guard your contact info. Anyone that wants to help can do it through me without knowing your info. Waltz has been trying to get CC to exchange our info. I have also e-mailed CC. No response yet.
          Your earlier post brought my daughters to tears. Trying to wrap their heads around Crystal’s mother’s concern for others while at the same time being faced with what seems like overwhelming challenges is truly remarkable.
          Please let me know if there is anything specific you or your family need. I’ll try my best.

          • MR
            By my calculations, you are eligible for US Social Security.
            At the current exchange rate that would be 70 gazillion billion per month of the new Bolivars. I removed the 5 zeroes due to laziness.
            With this income you should be able to buy at least 3 GNB generals, a couple of local politicians and one government minister per month.
            By your next birthday, you may own this shithole.

    • “she wouldn’t let them in without a warrant”?

      I don’t mean to make light of the situation, but aren’t those guns all the warrant they need? And how hard can it be to get a warrant? And how did you get them to go away without greasing palms?

      • You’d have to know her, Change of Pants Gringo. They could aim a weapon at her and she’d say, “if today’s my day to die, so be it. No warrant, no enter”.

        And in answer to your question, no, a warrant would not be difficult to obtain. SEBIN has me on file, this I know for a fact as I was extensively investigated when I bought my ranch here many years ago.

        The average Venezuelan seems to believe that anyone who invests (or invested) money here had to have obtained it illegally. You wouldn’t believe the stories I heard about what I was supposedly doing with that ranch.

        In truth, I was busy making a small fortune out of a large one.

  4. @MRubio….Wow! That is some scary stuff! You were probably wondering if you were about to be dragged away never to be seen again. Did they visit other shops in town?

    Sounds like the Crystal Foundation is off to a great start! John’s selfless acts have inspired more selfless acts! Maybe they could set up a pay pal account or something similar for people that might like to contribute.

  5. MRubio….just read that it is your birthday. Cumpleanos Feliz! Nice to know I am still a couple years younger than SOMEONE! Lol. Hope you enjoy your day!

    • Thanks Tom! Just finished opening some coconuts from the neighbor’s trees, drained them, and then removed the flesh and into the blender it all went. My woman’s going to prepare some adult beverages to go with our steaks tonight. Sure would like a baked potato with my steak, but a man can’t be greedy in this country, afterall, it is the land of “no hay”.

      • MRubio, your diary will be priceless in the future.

        CC staff/readers…is there a way to collect all of MRubio’s posts? There is a screenplay waiting to be written.

  6. MRubio, sounds like a very nice birthday dinner! Heck, with it being your birthday and all you may even get lucky later tonight!! Buen suerte!


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