A Useless State

For Thursday, August 16, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Globovisión

The Venezuelan State isn’t only failed and absent in many critical areas, it has no problem showing how useless it is just five days before the hasty monetary reconversion. Throughout this Wednesday, several state institutions have announced that they won’t work for four days, applicable to taxes just as well as the collapsed electric system.

In the street, people don’t even know the new banknotes and it’s obvious that removing five zeroes off the currency will only make common calculations harder. With so much information missing, the lawmakers of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee once again requested the Executive to postpone the monetary reconversion as it lacks other adjustments that would allow them to fully tackle hyperinflation. Lawmaker Rafael Guzmán criticized the lack of information about the reconversion, about the new monetary cone that will enter circulation next Monday and disregarded the success promised by Nicolás, not just due to the lack of trust in the government as an economic actor, but also the lack of policies to hold hyperinflation in check. By the way: while the government keeps regulating prices and creating more monetary mass to cover the fiscal deficit, whether tethered to the petro or to Nicolás’s mustache (they have the same value) the sovereign bolivar will fail.

Nicolás’s sentence

The trial against Nicolás for his alleged involvement in the Odebrecht case which started on August 2 after the evidence submitted by removed Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz, concluded yesterday. Venezuelan justices in exile determined Nicolás’s culpability and sentenced him to 18 years and three months in prison in Ramo Verde, as well as setting a $25 million fine for his own corruption, while he’ll have to pay the State $35 billion for the crime of money laundering. The justices barred him from running for office and announced an arrest warrant to Interpol.

Earlier, lawmakers of the 16 de julio caucus ratified their support for this action and stated that they expect international justice to act against Nicolás, demanding that the National Assembly immediately appoint a new president. After the decision, Luisa Ortega Díaz claimed that the importance of this sentence “is that once the tyranny breaks, we already have a clear path to make justice,” a sensible conclusion about the exercise of some justices who have no jurisdiction for their decisions to be effective, as explained by NGO Acceso a la Justicia.

Requesens’s case

Lawmaker Juan Requesens’s lawyer explained that during the hearing, he was questioned about the videos circulated through social media and he denied having made them: “Requesens doesn’t remember having made that video when the defense asked him (…) Requesens says that he was never examined by a doctor and that a SEBIN officer forced him to wear that clothing for the video,” said Joel García. Lawmaker Delsa Solórzano ratified this information.

In any case, Requesens’s lawyer said that the judge said nothing about the videos and added: “The videos aren’t part of the investigation, it’s a media show that the Executive puts up with Venezuelans, because otherwise, those videos should be included in the process.” García thinks that this material won’t be considered part of the evidence because they’re a flagrant violation against the right to freedom and defense and announce that they will appeal Requesens’s arbitrary arrest, because there was no flagrancy as claimed by imposed Prosecutor General Saab. “What we’re seeing is an alternative law or justice that isn’t established in our regulations or our Constitution.”

Briefs and serious

  • Pediatrician Huníades Urbina cautioned that 15% of Venezuelan children suffer from malnutrition, which severely compromises their cognitive capacities. Epidemiologist Alejandro Rísquez restated that the government must urgently declare a humanitarian crisis to allow access to food and medicines through humanitarian aid. In Venezuela, there are no vaccines because the companies certified to bring them shut down due to debts the government never paid.
  • After more than 120 hours of electrical malfunctions, Maracaibo citizens protested again, descending on Prosecutor’s Office headquarters where they demanded a better service. The images of the thousands of kilos of perishable food rotten for lack of refrigeration are nightmarish. State media says nothing about this issue: Zulia doesn’t exist in the official script.
  • Journalist Pableysa Ostos reported the Orinoco river’s flooding levels: in Caicara del Orinoco, it already surpassed the historic level of 1976 and in Ciudad Bolívar, it’s just one centimeter away from reaching it. So far, 11,768 people are affected by the flooding rivers in Bolívar State alone. National Assembly speaker Omar Barboza asked the Interior Policy Committee to request aid from the Red Cross to assist all the people affected.

  • Yesterday, the amazing chavismo came up with the “Operación Caín,” detected by military intelligence bodies, which had the goal of selectively assassinating chavista leaders: in the first phase, Freddy Bernal, Iris Varela and two military officers; and in the second phase, Diosdado Cabello, Jorge Rodríguez and Héctor Rodríguez. The relevant part is that they already implicated Táchira Legislative Council lawmaker John Luna, after detainee José Luis Daza Cepeda testified.


  • Mario Abdo Benítez took office as President of Paraguay. During his first speech—in the ceremony where Nicolás wasn’t invited—he said: “We express our solidarity with the people of Venezuela and Nicaragua in view of the abuses of power. Our libertarian voices won’t be silenced. Paraguay won’t remain indifferent to the suffering of sisterly nations.”
  • The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry gave Peruvian authorities the names of two people involved in the drone flight, so that they’re extradited: Gregorio José Yaguas and Yilber Alberto Escalona, allegedly linked to the assault on Fuerte Paramacay in 2017.

  • The Foreign Ministry also delivered a note of protest to Japanese ambassador Kenji Okada, after the statements issued by that nation’s Foreign Minister Taro Kano, advocating for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.

We, migrants

Ecuador has skillfully managed the impact of Venezuelan diaspora. After the Ecuadorian government declared the state of migration emergency and proposed the humanitarian corridor to ease up the movement of Venezuelans in their territory to reach other borders, Peru announced a new historic record after receiving 5,100 Venezuelans in one day, according to information published by the Binational Border Attention Center (Cebaf).

Peru’s National Superintendency of Migrations estimated last week that some 385,000 Venezuelans have been established in a year, making it the second country after Colombia with more Venezuelans in its territory. For a second day in a row, the UN spokesman talked about Venezuela’s migration crisis, saying that secretary general Antonio Guterres is concerned and emphasizing that “the lack of a political agreement is taking an immediate humanitarian toll on Venezuelans.”

The march of nurses that will take place today to the Miraflores Palace will have the support of various union organizations from the electric and oil sectors, as well as the Venezuelan Medical Federation. All the sectors that support this cause have emphasized the healthcare system’s collapse and the government’s inexcusable indifference to demands for better working conditions and better salaries.

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        • What’s tiresome is chucklehead’s constant sniping at the U.S. , President Trump, older people (especially white people), people with Venezuelan wives, .
          He is a racist, bigoted, fool who delights in taking potshots at all the targets mention above.

          • Some bloggers here appear to have pleasure at insulting and calling names other contributors without even say why. That tells you why this country will never ever recover from being a miserable place.

            This is clearly a liberal behavior too.

          • Where in his comment above is there any reference to Trump?

            Attacking someone off topic is just stupid and immature.

    • Got to agree with Cnuckles on this one. Broken clocks ….

      After abusing her power to unfairly prosecute and destroy people lives out of her ideological spite, she now wants to relieve her conscious by acting like she was one of the good guys all along. Yagoda, Yezhov, Beria all met their fates through the same system they lorded over. I wonder if in their final days when they knew their fate if they appreciated this. We’ll never know. She deserves the same fate as the others, but it wont happen.

  1. Operation Cain needs a “Go Fund Me Page’
    News reports claim that weapons are being smuggled out of Venezuela. Buying them already in the country would save time.
    Seriously, Venezuela is reported to possess thousands of “MANPADS”. If these weapons are being sold on the black market, it creates a worldwide threat. The regime’s ties to Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, coupled with their known involvement with international drug smuggling should be of great concern.

  2. After following this blog for several years, along with Aporrea, Venny today, and various news sources, I think I finally understand Venezuela. At least for the last 20 years. It goes something like this:

    [1] Glorious Chavismo comes to power. Viva the revolution.

    [2] Glorious Chavismo runs the economy into the ground through extortion, expropriation and other dumb ass actions, resulting in extreme scarcity of affordable food, clean water, cooking gas, electricity, medicine, telecommunications, spare parts, tires, batteries. Hyper inflation and corruption rule. Zoo animals fed to other zoo animals. The people complain, but put up with it. Economic War by El Imperio is to blame, after all.

    [3] Under Chavismo, there is rampant crime and corruption, including by government employees, police, national guard, military and, of course, Chavismo. No one is safe, especially at night. The people complain, but put up with it. Viva Chavez.

    [4] Chavismo ruins the currency by electronically printing their way to hyper inflation. 8 zeros gone in less than 12 years. More to follow. The people complain, but put up with it. Dolar Today at fault. The Petro will solve everything and ruin the US dollar. Revenge will be theirs. Wear red shirts, caps and shake their fists.

    [5] Chavismo ruins the golden goose oil industry by stealing everything possible, not investing in anything, and setting into motion what will become one ecological disaster after another. Lake Maricabo will be polluted worse than the Ohio river in the 1960s, and probably catch fire here and there. The people complain, but put up with it. Imperialist gringos at fault because they want Venezuela’s oil.

    [6] Roads, bridges and infrastructure in general not maintained and falls apart under Chavismo. Construction projects not finished and crumble. Public transportation decimated. The metro, buses, no mas. The people complain, but put up with it. These cow kennels aren’t so bad. Colombian sabotage to blame.

    [7] Chavismo undertakes to ecological destroy an area of the country the size of Cuba for surface mining operations to give a cut of the loot to top Chavismo and military so that Chavismo stays in power. Country ecologically fucked. Some people complain, but most don’t give a fuck because they have more pressing problems.

    [8] Public hospitals, healthcare destroyed, disease pandemics put in motion (just wait). Public schools and universities also abandoned. The people complain, but understand that Trump’s white supremacist family separation policy at Mexico border is to blame.

    [9] Chavismo invites a defacto Cuban invasion of the Venezuelan military. Cuba gets billions of barrels of free oil. Venezuela gets thousands of Cuban doctors that flee to Colombia and Ecuador on their way to the US as soon as they can.

    [10] Chavismo blames any and everyone except their own monumental ignorance and thievery for all the failings of the country. The people agree that capitalist imperialist gringos, Colombians, right wing opposition and Zionist bankers are completely to blame. They want our stuff. We have so much stuff. We are the stuff capital of the world, and they are all jealous and want to destroy us. But, we will defend the fatherland.

    [11] Chavismo fails to supply enough pork legs at Christmas. El Pueblo says “What the Fuck!? Gimmie my leg!” Chavismo says “Portuguese pig farmers stole your legs. But, we are powerful and we will destroy them!” The people accept this answer. The Economic war stole their Christmas legs. Revenge will be theirs.

    [12] Chavismo drives millions out of the country, especially youths seeking a place they can live a decent life. Elders complain, but put up with it as long as they get remittances. Chavismo also good with this, as long as they get a cut of the remittances. Those that leave are losers, anyway. Let them wash the toilets of the bourgeoisie.

    [13] Chavismo destroys Venezuelan agriculture and food production right at the same time they ran out of money to import Clap crap from Mexico. The people complain. But, again, the real perpetrator was Julio Borges flying drones that sprayed poison on Venezuelan farm land.

    [14] Chavismo announces that they will no longer give away free gasoline. El Pueblo finally gets pissed off. Without free gas, how can they make money smuggling gas to Colombia and other places?? But the emperor’s wallet is empty, and buying gasoline from El Imperio is expensive. What to do? Stay tuned for more exciting and depressing adventures of Chavismo.

    • AAG, thanks for your comment. As you know, many of the points you listed existed long before Chavez started scheming. On a more fundamental level I would argue that since 1999 we witnessed the wholesale replacement of a somewhat-rule-based system by a system of caudillismo rentista. The study of the importance of the rule of law to economic growth has been in vogue in academic circles: https://www.economist.com/briefing/2008/03/13/order-in-the-jungle

      • Pilkunnussija,

        I am not at all an expert on what life was like in pre-Chavez Venezuela. And, unfortunately, I cannot read the article you linked because is behind a paywall. But, certainly the “rule of law” and respect for private property rights are fundamental, IMO, to a functioning economy. Are you telling me that it used to be same in 1950s-1990s Venezuela as it is now after nearly 20 years of Chavismo? Didn’t they used to have a functioning oil company, even post nationalization in the 1970s? Sure, there was corruption and stealing, but wasn’t there also investment in public infrastructure. Didn’t they once have functioning water, electricity, telecom, roads, public transportation like the Metro? Didn’t they used to grow a lot of their own food, even export food, beef, etc to other countries? Didn’t they used to export cement and aluminum? And maybe its always been dangerous to be in the wrong neighborhood, which is true all over the world, but now you have entire cities and states that are the wrong neighborhood.

        You know that well-worn slogan for US presidents: Are you better off today than you were 4/8 years ago? Well, are Venezuelans better off now than they were before Chavez? Because if they are, then what’s the problem?

        • AJWG: Chávez is a well-orchestrated social experiment. Venezuela after last ”dictator” Marcos Perez Jimenez (MPJ) was a socialist country with lots of money. The military junta that followed MPJ and ensuing short-time social democracy ruling started such an experiment and the subsidy of everything. And despite corruption at the top, it had a hard time trickling down to society.

          The far left supported by USSR via Cuba tried hard at removing that middle way socialism including a guerrilla war a one or two ”invasions” on the eastern side of Venezuela.

          Most of the infrastructure you still see today, from highways to large public hospitals, the UCV, etc. were built during the 8 years of MPJ.

          Further governments build a little, only the completion of projects designed during MPJ.

          Subsidies increased over time supported by a massive foreign debt. The subsidies including the never changing of the ROE at 4.30 BS/USD. Money for all. Carlos Andres Perez, I (CAP) received so much money that he initiated one if not the largest educational programs ever ”Fundacion Ayacucho”, sending around 100,000 students to the most prestigious universities in the USA and Europe excluding Easter Europe/USSR. Each student, mostly in MBA and Doctorate, received a full ride scholarship (Tuition & Board, Housing, and full medical, public transportation if available, and some other perks). Approximately 3,500 USD/student, adjusted for inflation since 1977.

          Then came August 1982, the infamous Mexico default and six months later the infamous ”Viernes Negro” when same financial the crisis hit Venezuela. The end of the dollar ROE 4.30 Bs/USD. A tragedy for a middle class that lived well above its financial capabilities.

          Then CAP II was elected and on 27-Feb-1989 he attempted to increase the gasoline price by 10 cents of a Bolivar (still the same Bolivar). and the Caracaso (you can Google all if it). A severe drop in oil prices; a general economic crisis due to the misfired political engine and massive corruption at higher level took Venezuela into a never-ending spiral downfall.

          In 1992 Comandante Chavez tried to take the government of CAP II by force leaving a big trail of blood but not as bad as the Caracaso.

          Rafael Caldera who had been reelected in 1993, issued a presidential pardon to Chavez in 1994!!!

          By 1997 the stew was ready and Chavez was elected president in 1998. He had a sinister plan, essentially to move the social-democrat government to a far-left government like many wanted in 1958. There is a big difference though: Chavez institutionalized stealing and robbery from your neighbors or whomever, corruption then trickled down to the lowest level of society, even children knew how to make money illicitly in front of their patents. The tissue holding society together was destroyed forever

          I think you know the story of the last 20 years.

          Each one is free to have the government they are entitled to.

          If you want to go further back, the first Venezuela Republic under Simon Bolivar had made almost the same: ”why did freedom fail in Venezuela? We had bosses who were philosophers, philanthropic legislation, dialectics instead of tactics and sophists by soldiers. Especially the paper currency finished off the dissatisfaction of the stolid inhabitants. They wanted the commander of the troops of the empire to come and free them from a coin that they saw with more horror than the servitude. In addition, the partisan spirit decided everything and consequently disorganized us more than circumstances did; our division, and not the bourgeoisie, brought us back to slavery”The Year: 1811.

  3. The trial and its decision is important not because it can be inmediately enforced against whoever is condemned by it , but because it shows that institutions are operating , and underscores the illegitimacy of the regime ….., its one of several legal attacks which are on going ……from various fronts …….., it erodes the credibility of the regimes speeches and propaganda and when at any one time its leaders can be held accountable for their misdeeds, the work is already done to make them pay…….

    In US judicial practice its very common to use the testimony of former accomplices of those on trial to get at them , it takes the form of plea bargaining, some 80% of criminal cases are resolved throught the testimony of people who accompanied the criminal in the perpetration of their crimes.

    Luisa Ortega although a former member of the regimes ruling cliques has now turned coats and is effectively collaborating in the cause that seeks the regimes toppling , such help cannot be scorned , same as in the US the testimony of former accomplices is not scorned but welcome and used to advance the common goal …….the discrediting and unseating of the regime leaders .

    • Bill Bass,

      I get your point, but a few important differences. Sammy the Bull had not turned into a state’s witness to avoid prosecution. But, he was a murdering thug. His becoming state witness against others did not redeem him or make him “an authority on what constitutes justice,” to quote Nuckles. He just preferred to snitch than to suffer his fate. Ortega is no different. Just trying to save her own skin.

      • The other thing is, to use the analogy, Sammy the Bull didn’t get to play the role of Prosecutor. Which I think any observer would agree, would render the trial, no matter how well intentioned, a farce.

    • This is part of the sausage making that no one likes to see, yet without it there is no hoagie.

      Canucklehead has a point. LOD is certainly no saint and her involvement does bring a whiff of smelly odor to the process. Pero es lo que hay, por ahora.

      Señor Bass points out what is both necessary, and irritatingly slow, in regards to legalities which one day will be seen as absolutely indispensable in trying to recover from the nightmare of Chavismo.

      The deal here is who bells the cat (apologies to the feline world for equating Maduro with a cat)

    • There are some typos in my last comment, the stupid iPhone spell check modifies words without you noticing: I wanted to write ”parents” somehow it becomes ”patents”. I guess you get the idea without insulting or calling names. Please ref my response to AGWG.

      Suggestion to all: couldn’t you use your Christian names or are you so afraid of being caught? Thanks

      • You really don’t understand Venezuela. Last week, a family had their house confiscated and were kicked out on the street because of some thing that one of them said. So, yes, the people who live in Venezuela and critisize the government here need to protect their identities.

  4. Surprise surprise…

    A list of things that will be free from taxes should it be imported…. including everything that was confiscated from my uncles when Chavez “nationalized” their business in 2003

    “Among the priority products are diapers for children and adults, corn and turmeric seeds, evaporated and condensed milk, fish roe, chickens, oats, industrial wheat flour, oil, chemicals, cement, leaded gasoline sludge, various minerals , uranium, knives, parts of nuclear reactors, inputs for cable cars (even if they are used), machines for the sugar industry, brewing and preparing fruit, ink cartridges, domestic sewing machines, solar calculators, supplies for computers, chemicals for medicine , fire trucks and concrete mixers, road tractors, clinical beds, dentist chairs, pears, cans of tuna, medicines and vaccines, antiretrovirals, high cost medicines, toothpaste, locks, padlocks, erasers, shoes, toilet paper ,Ski shoes and shoes for snowboarding, tricycles, electric trains, toys, pens, pencils, pencils, sanitary napkins.”

    Ski shoes, and shoes for snowboarding?


    • Coño Guapo, of course skis and snowboards and such.

      You know, for the Venezuelan Olympic Ski team of course!

      Then there’s uranium, for the reactors and the must have solar calculators.

      Get a grip, mano.


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