The Congress of Thugs

Your daily briefing for Monday, July 30, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: El Universal

The 4th PSUV Congress has been an ode to impudence, arrogance and spite for Venezuelans. During his speech, Nicolás developed content for those three spheres and while he kept all private media outlets out of the room, he claimed that the event had its doors open for all society, except that he also demanded that society had to be revolutionary and progressive. Perhaps that’s why he believes it’s necessary to reunify the late Gran Polo Patriótico and although he’d like to talk with the opposition, he says it no longer exists. That didn’t keep him from mentioning his wish to talk to Henry Ramos Allup, and also deem Julio Borges as “a thousandfold coward” shortly afterwards. The segment for the “great economic change” that will start on August 20 was extremely boring, saying that they have ten times as many banknotes as the country requires and that new rules are coming. And just like he mocked the former ministers who criticize him, he had the nerve to claim: “If you ratify me as the party’s chairman, I promise to assembly a team that will have a more effective leadership than the one I’ve had.”

Energy apartheid

The only relevant aspect of Nicolás’s presentation was the announcement of the vehicle census they will allegedly carry out between August 3 and 5: “Everyone who owns a motorcycle, a car, a bus, taxi, or truck” must register to allow for a “rational and fair use” of gasoline, which this time they’ll accomplish through the carnet de la patria, leaving ships in the recent past of imposed schemes to prevent fuel trafficking. Profesor Francisco Monaldi said on Twitter: “Maduro seems to announce that there will gas rationing using the carnet de la patria. They’ll possibly increase gas prices substantially and people will get a ration at a lower price with the carnet. The wise move would be to increase prices and grant a compensatory direct subsidy,” adding that gas rationing is an inevitable consequence “of the collapse of production and refining, combined with the policy of giving away gasoline” and that the government desperately needs to keep a surplus to export.

The usual suspects

Despite the demands for democratization, the party congress’ speakers and appointees were the usual suspects, a power group that’s probably made up of no more than a hundred people. Diosdado Cabello claimed that this exercise will allow further consolidation, that the “revolution’s future” is in the youth and he restated that the acute shortages of medicines and food that we suffer are caused by the United States’ alleged economic blockade. Aristóbulo Istúriz urged the building of a political hegemony that prevents losing the “revolution” in an election, in the risk of freedom, fairness and equality, in the danger of democracy. Adán Chávez promised to review the party’s structure with self-criticism and without sectarianism (being a Chávez himself). It was yesterday that Elías Jaua claimed that currency exchange controls were “pulverized”, which allows them to advance to a position where they can recover the governability on the exchange system and that the government must create a system to preserve foreign currency (hahaha!) and regularize exchange controls for business owners.

The former allies

In a late bout of memory, Walter Martínez said that el finado told him that former Minister Andrés Izarra had taken all the money from TV station Telesur and the Simón Bolívar satellite project (in his words, “Walter’s satellite,” the self-esteem issues these guys have are beyond fixing); it’s worth noting that Martínez kept this secret for five or six years.

The mistreated Andrés Izarra demanded on Twitter “an immediate change of government,” in order to save el finado’s legacy and the country, linking to an article of former Minister Jorge Giordani, called “Chávez’s curse and immolation,” where Giordani details his close ties to el finado (in search for “revolutionary” auctoritas), all to end up saying that appointing Nicolás as successor was a mistake, proposing the need for a change of government “as soon as possible.” Former Minister Héctor Navarro, expelled from PSUV for defending Giordani’s criticism, said the congress was a charade, claiming that the grassroots are disenchanted. Navarro restated that the ANC allows Nicolás to rule de facto and reduced the list of power players to six people: Diosdado, Nicolás, Elías Jaua; the Rodríguez siblings (Delcy and Jorge) and Tareck El Aissami. Meanwhile, former Minister Rodrigo Cabezas told Reuters that there wouldn’t be any debate in the PSUV Congress and that they’ll only back whatever Nicolás says, adding that the government forbade ministers to mention the word hyperinflation and that we’ll only solve it with a stabilization plan, but “there’s no professional leadership in economic policy.”


Rafael Ramírez completes the circus above, claiming on a video that Nicolás’s economic measures aren’t backed by a plan and they’re based on lies and excuses.

Ramírez says that Nicolás hasn’t suffered “the lowest oil prices in history”; that PDVSA’s collapse is Nicolás’s responsibility; that it was PDVSA that guaranteed the revenue for social development and not foreign exchange controls (a matter for which he accuses Nicolás of being ignorant and a liar) and that he cautioned about this crisis in the PSUV Congress of 2014. Ramírez restated that slashing five zeroes from the currency without a plan “is putting makeup on the corpse” because money is being printed without any backing; he also cautions that the petro is yet another lie to privatize the Orinoco Oil Strip, which is both unconstitutional and “a fraud because the currency is unusable.” He challenged Nicolás to compare his administration with Chávez’s, telling him that the greatest difference between the two is that with el finado, they didn’t improvise or evade responsibilities. Lastly, Ramírez says that as a PSUV founder, he has the authority to demand a grassroots discussion about the current situation.

A lesson on ignorance

No content in the PSUV congress went so viral as a piece of the interview that Gloria Carvalho, chairwoman of the National Center for Telecommunications Development and Research, offered to VTV on June 22.

Carvalho claims that the origin of this domination (AKA the complex humanitarian emergency we’re suffering) are scientific labs that design products for such an ignoble purpose. But don’t worry, there’s a solution: supplying ourselves and using only the necessary technology (renouncing state-of-the-art tech) as native tribes have done, although those tribes are now ravaged by epidemics such as measles, malaria and HIV, among others. Carvalho forgets that the concentrated food for chickens contains soy, a product that’s hardly available now ever since it came under military control. With food less rich in proteins, chicken production also declines. But understanding this requires respect for science. In chavismo, ignorance doesn’t need to be bold.

We go on.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.