Andrés Velásquez Offers Details on 24 Hour National Strike

Photo provided by the author

In one of the most controversial policy speeches of his presidency last Friday, Nicolás Maduro announced a broad set of economic reforms with staggering and unprecedented implications that will add fuel to the economic fire and boost an already unsustainable hyperinflationary model. August 17 will probably be remembered as the blackest of Fridays in Venezuelan history.

The reaction from opposition parties, unions, economists, business guilds, activists and you name it, didn’t take long: An open call for a national strike set social media on fire under #UniónNacionalYHuelgaGeneral and #ParoNacionalYProtesta.

Today, Andrés Velásquez (legitimate Bolívar governor and directive member of La Causa R) offered some details from VP’s headquarters about the call for a national strike and civil protests that will take place on Tuesday, August 21.

“Maduro is the sole responsible for the national decline. His government only cares about their private political agenda. These measures do not respond to a plan of economic recovery, quite the opposite: These measures will mean pain, hunger, unemployment and misery.”

The press conference was backed by spokesmen and representatives from guilds affected by Maduro’s paquetazo: “Political parties and organizations won’t be solely responsible for this national strike. The time has come for civilians and guilds to take responsibility. This strike is for the workers whose salary was obliterated, the asphyxiated businessman, the students who no longer count on quality public education, the drivers who find themselves amidst a broken transport system; this strike is for every Venezuelan family who has already been affected by these measures. Tomorrow will be darker than today, and we cannot remain passive in the face of chaos. Let’s put pettiness aside, let’s unite to achieve what we desperately need.”

Jorge Millán and Iván Freites talked head-on about the governmental practices that lead the country to the utter collapse we see today: “The government squandered our money while stealing everything they could. They destroyed our most powerful enterprises, PDVSA and Guayana’s industries. (…) We cannot let them destroy the little we have left.”

During Velásquez’s round of questions, he repeated himself over and over, as journalists required specific information to understand the goals, methodology and agenda behind this national strike: “We’re calling for a 24 hour strike. On Tuesday, everybody who disagrees with these wild measures must stay home. Those who wish to take the opportunity to protest at their workplace, as nurses have been doing for a while now, are free to do it (…) This is a necessary first step that aims to unify our fight. It’s meant to set a clear path for the country, to establish a political route with the certainty to achieve the results Venezuelans need (…) We believe in an agenda that’ll include more strikes and more protests to help us set the ground for an indefinite national strike. We need a political direction for all the protests we’ve witnessed over the past weeks for services, salary and crime.”

Indeed, it’s worth noticing how protests from civil society have developed all around the nation, as a response to the absolute meltdown of different sectors. Velásquez also stated that Venezuelans have a constitutional right to reject these economic measures, and they’ll do it with Voluntad Popular, Primero Justicia, Vente Venezuela and La Causa R standing by them.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.



    Have you read Les Misserables?

    This is worse far worse

    Enchufados here in the USA, and including CC, which only report what they hear in Caracas and Miami are completely insensitive to the reality of the thousands that come across to Brazil. Fortunately Brazilian are good people, and they know the poverty from close, they are helping with whatever they have in hand.

    Who’s telling that history? No one.

    JM told me that the Venezuelan economy was “peculiar”. How’s that? Peculiar how?

    I’ve damned the people I’ve met through my life. God forgives me.

  2. If people show up to protest in the streets, that would be good. If every business shut down, that would be great. But it can’t be a one time thing. It’s like those symbolic strikes where the “outraged” dont patronize a gas station on a certain Friday… but gas up the day before.

  3. I believe it’ll take an extended strike by the chavistas employed by this regime to finally clean out Miraflores….communications, transport, PDVSA, banking, etc. They all just got a 6000% raise and, never underestimating the stupidity of the average chavista, a significant percentage of them believe they just got a huge gift.

    I don’t see a true national strike happening any time soon.

    • And neither Andrés, that’s what he explained this is just the start of an agenda of protests, you need to calibrate the support and make it grow before calling something bigger.

    • One day won’t make a difference. Is there any type of unemployment insurance in Venezuela?
      The government covering wages for 3 months is going multiply the Version 3.0 Bolivars in circulation anyway.
      Massive layoffs will demonstrate that the businesses don’t trust the government to cover wages.
      Is the monthly wage normally paid on the first of the month or twice monthly?
      People will be thinking that the one day strike will cost them the equivalent of 2 months pay before the raise. You can’t blame starving people for trying to get as much cash as possible.
      This entire thing is smoke and mirrors. The underlying causes of the hyperinflation are made worse by the new flood of money and a limited supply of goods. As more version 3.0 Bolivar is issued it continues to dilute the value of the money in circulation.

    • Bad timing. IMO, they would be better off waiting at least a week or two for the new prices/shortages/layoffs/business closings to kick in. Oh well.

      • Exactly, we need chaos in the lines at the banks and supermarkets. Let this explode in the faces of the Chavistas first, then go to a strike. In some sense your are doing the Chavistas a favor by giving another day off to get things in “order”.

  4. WOW, the response to Maduro by all the concerned groups gathered is weak.

    1. They are asking for people to stay HOME. Really? That is bold, especially with the rallying cry “we cannot remain passive”
    2. For one day? Yawn, though “24 Hours” sounds really long (lol)
    3. They clearly state it is MADURO and not Chavista policy that is the problem. Though, maybe they are saying tomatoe and I am hearing tomato? But then again, politically grouping the “Business community, AND the unions in one sentence, does require double speak.

    If 5 days of no electricity in 110 degrees Zulia can not stir the masses, it is hard to guess if anything will

  5. “One day won’t make a difference. Is there any type of unemployment insurance in Venezuela?”

    John, employing people in Venezuela is nothing like employing people in the US. In the US, you negotiate a salary with the individual, vacation, benefits, etc, and things like SS are basically fixed into the future. You basically know your costs. When you part ways with the individual, you write him a check for what’s owed, including accured vacation if he’s not used it, shake his hand and say good-luck.

    Here, when you negotiate a salary with someone, there are all sorts of costs that are not always easily calculated…..prestaciones sociales, utilidades, meal bonuses, etc. There are many many more goodies awarded by the government that I won’t try to list. Those benefits normally accrue to the employee over time, that’s to say, are not always paid out in real time throughout the year. This supposedly helps the employer reduce costs.

    The problem is that the government often comes along and changes the pay scales of those goodies, without warning, and often makes those changes RETROACTIVE to the beginning of the calendar year!!!! Think about how that affects the employer when someone quits or is fired.

    We handled the situation by first always officially paying the minimum wage and all the government goodies we were required to pay so as to avoid later conflict. We then did everything possible to pay out all of the goodies throughout the year so that we weren’t blindsided by retroactive goodie gifts on the part of the government. Our best performing employees were paid production bonuses, which are legal, but do not affect the value of prestaciones sociales, utilidades, etc.

    In the US, parting company with an employee is generally a relatively simple matter. Here, it’s usually more akin to going through a divorce.

    • It’s not very easy in the U.S. either. Every other week the taxes (federal, state, and local) on my company’s payroll vary for no apparent reason, and trying to estimate health care costs for the year is impossible. On top of that, every year there’s tons of changes. I doubt that there is any tax system as complicated as the U.S. one. UK taxes… those are really easy to calculate and predictable.

  6. Talking about labor laws, the saying here is that the labor laws are one of the few that actually work and are enforced.

    I was always a believer in a young man or woman finding a job they really liked, learning everything possible about the job, and making themselves so valuable to the employer that he would not want to do business without them. That’s literally how I was able to retire at age 47.

    Here, the laws are structured to encourage the exact opposite.

    As I mentioned previously, many businesses do not pay all the yearly government-mandated goodies at the end of the year, but actually carry them forward. This is allowed to an extent to help the business owner with expenses. The problem is that when an employee quits, he can demand payment in full for everything he’s owed and can cause all sorts of problems by going to the labor board if the employer balks.

    Now, think about this.

    A guy works a job for several years, all of his prestaciones and utilidades are carried forward. At the end of 3 years, with an annual rate of 120 days of pay owed per year, he’s basically owed a full year’s salary. MANY employees, at the 3 year mark or thereabouts, are tempted to quit their jobs, collect that fat check, goof around for 6 months or more, and then start all over again looking for employment.

    Of course, they’re not likely to be employed by that same employer, often not even in the same industry. No, they start from scratch every 3 or 4 years. I think we know how that turns out.

    • I am an employer here in the States. When I first got into business, it was an eye opener. The average Joe thinks that you walk in, get hired, do your job and you get a paycheck on Friday. The red-tape of creating a job is almost enough to make a person not want to get into business.

      A simple example. Say you want to have an employee break room. A table or two, a counter/cabinets with an electrical outlet or two, a microwave, a refrigerator and perhaps a coffee pot.

      No problem?

      NO WAY. Has the electrical outlets been tested this month? Who tested them? Are they GFI? What were the qualification of the person who tested the outlets? How about the refrigerator? Who checked the temp and documented it? The coffee pot temperature? The microwave? Have they been tested and found safe? Did you document it? Is there anything in the plumbing that could be hazardous? Was it tested? Who tested it? The counter tops, cabinets, tables and chairs… anything used in its construction that could be hazardous? OSHA certified? And GOD FORBID if I supply the coffee for my employees…

      And did we want a toilet for our employees to drop a dookie into?

      Now… that is just the beginning of the shitstorm… FOR AN EMPLOYEE BREAK ROOM. Imagine the entire set up, with lathes and planers and joiners and saws and drills and vacuums.

      The point being, it is a nightmare of governmental pettiness. And God forbid trying to explain to a new worker that the reason he isn’t getting paid $30/hr is because his benefits alone cost $10/hour, and the 6.2% that I pay into his Social Security comes against his wages…

      • I put 31 years in with the government. Injuries that continued to get worse after multiple surgeries forced me to retire.
        Since then I have been an entrepreneur. A complete renovation of an 1860’s era Italianate mansion and its conversion into offices was one of my larger projects.
        I’ve either used sub-contractors or run employees through an employee leasing service. New York’s worker’s comp. is one of the highest cost comp. plans in the nation. The employee leasing companies can put you in safety groups if you don’t have a claim. Compared to small business plans, that savings can be more than the entire fees charged by the employee leasing companies. Basically, you hire someone just like normal. They go on the leasing agency’s payroll. The agency debits your checking account and then they pay the employee. In reality the person is your employee except for the signature on their paycheck.
        A close friend of mine passed away last month. I am his executor. He owned mixed use buildings that included a restaurant that requires a renovation. On top of trying to settle his estate, I am hiring a few people to get quite a bit of construction work done. It is frustrating. Compared to my generation, the young people I meet don’t have the work ethic, expect ridiculous wages and bring very few skills with them. They don’t have the ability to work without supervision. My biggest problem is nerve damage in both of my arms. I can’t swing a hammer or do much else anymore. I still think that I can out do most of the people that work for me. Just getting them to show up, ready to work at 7 AM is a challenge.
        I’m paying laborers $18 to start. If you have tools and know how to use them, I’ll pay $40. It is still hard to find decent help. A carpenter and a helper, on the books is costing me about $85 per hour for 2 people. At the end of the week, sometimes you are hard pressed to believe that the work that was done was worth over 3 grand.

        • John, when I was operating in the oilfield, in the states in particular, I dabbled with the idea of employing contract workers (former employees of mine who had retired but knew how to do perform our services and were willing to work partime for extra money), but in the end, the insurance and IRS rules of what consitituted a contract worker proved to be too complicated. There was just too much risk in my case that an audit would cost me dearly.

          Now, outside the US, I leased both equipment and the crews to work all over the world not only for the major E&P companies, but even for service company competitors like Halliburton and Schlumberger. Those services were very profitable.

      • El Guapo, you would recoil in horror if you saw what the multitude of federal and state agencies put an oil and gas company through if they want to drill or produce an oil and gas well. Want to transport the oil via pipeline? More layers of regs. Want to process/refine the oil and gas? You don’t even want to go there….

        • I can only imagine. Mine is a pretty small business. I long for the days when i could keep track of the regulations and tax nuances. Now I pay to have that done.

  7. My girlfriend said to me last night: “this will not end soon. the chavistas are ‘comemierdas’ who have to eat more shit first.”

    Once they are living off of yuca amarga covered in shit, (because no more cheezwhiz), then we will start seeing changes. But we need a month or two so the economy is totally destroyed…and then and only then maybe your everyday chavista has eaten enough shit.


  8. The maid showed tonight wanting to know if my woman had “reconsidered” her employment. Nope.

    She told the young lady that there was no way she could afford to pay what the government was demanding as a base salary plus all the normal add-ons. The maid said, “well, we can make a deal that works for both of us”. My woman, never struggling to express herself clearly, said, “and when late December comes and you wish to get a huge “year-end bonus”, all you have to do is march down to the employment office and get them to threaten to shut down my business unless I pay you in full”.

    Of course, my woman knows that the labor laws here do not allow workers to negotiate their own pay packages at anything less than the government-mandated minimum wage. Many workers who can lure an employer into such a trap, have done so.

    Anyway, the conversation ended with an agreement that if she was willing to work on a per day basis, when called, she could do so and they’d reach an agreement on compensation. Even then, one must be careful how many days or weeks they work during a given period or they can legally claim they qualify as full-time employees.

    • MR
      To respond to your post about hiring subs. It is a fine line you walk. I can hire subs on jobs and I can sub out work without a problem. When you work subs regular hours, the IRS and NY consider them employees.
      When Obama Care came into effect, many companies fired people and hired them back as subs. This came back to bite them. The major thing was the regular hours or regular duties.
      That is why I use the employee leasing agencies. Every T is crossed and every I is dotted. I always require my subs to at least have a DBA and their own insurance. I still carry insurance, but having a copy of their certificate proves that they are an independent business.
      My daughter called this morning and said that one of her friends was going to visit her and she wanted him to stop and pick up vegetables from the garden on his way to hers. I thought of your people today and wondered how their gardens were doing. I bought some of Crosman’s seeds this year just so I would be more familiar with them. Overall their seeds seem to be good quality. I had high germination rates and heavy yields of most vegetables. It has been a hotter than usual summer which gave me a closer look at how the plants tolerated heat. The peppers and tomatoes are doing very well. I have picked the green beans at least 4 times and the plants are still producing flowers. The butternut squash appears to be producing uniform squash in the 4-5 pound range with a huge number of fruit. The watermelon is doing well. The cucumbers seemed to be slow starters but are now producing heavily. I use radishes to mark my carrot rows. The radishes have done great. I sent you open pollinated radish seed. If you like the variety you can let a couple go to seed. The eggplant is going strong. My daughter also picked up some eggplants that have the shape of cucumbers when they are ripe. I never saw this variety before. She said they are very tasty. It will be interesting to learn how long some of the plants produce fruit without a killing frost like we get here.

      • John, from what I recall at the time I was testing the idea, there were a bunch of means testing questions on the issue of the subcontractors. Stuff like….did they come and go as they pleased, working their own hours or did I tell them when to show up……did they have all their own tools…..assorted others as well. But those two were the most difficult to overcome because we were working offshore and had to be there when the client said so. Also, the work was quite technical and required specialized tools that were quite expensive. For the sub to provide his own tools, it just wasn’t cost-effective.

        I don’t recall if I ever even tried it before just giving up and hiring some extra help.

        Seeds: Here, the okra and green beans are doing great. I harvest every couple of days…..not a whole lot each time because I don’t have that many plants and I’m gardening for just the two of us. My plants are probably held back some because they’re getting only about 4 hours of direct sunlight a day……small area to garden…high concrete wall on one side…..a lot of roofing, trees, etc.

        I’ve got another smaller area that gets more sunlight, but I’ve had to protect it from the dogs who love to dig in the fresh dirt. In that area I’ve got lettuce, radish, broccoli, dill, swiss chard just to name a few. They’re all planted in plastic drums that were cut in half longways and then filled with rocks below, a level of rotted wood, and then topsoil.

        My woman now has the time to work back there since the bodega has slowed so much and really enjoys it. She wants to expand the gardening. We’ve got another area that gets plenty of sunlight, perhaps 5 or 6 hours a day, but it’s tiled over. Rather than remove all that, we’re considering using the same system of plastic drums cut in half and actually putting them on support legs both to keep them away from the dogs and so that this old man doesn’t have to bend over so much to tend to the plants. LOL

        The locals are asking again about seed packets but I haven’t made any promises. Some are saving seeds from their harvests and continuing to re-seed and continue with their gardens. If I can think of anything in particular we need here, I’ll let you know. Right now, there are egg plants everywhere here, but not much else. Oh, carrots. Eventually I’d love to plant carrots, including some of those cool off-color varieties. Venezuelans don’t generally like to try new stuff, but I’m not Venezuelan. 🙂

        • There are some carrot seeds in your shipment and it is possible that the multi-colored ones are also in there. All of the seed packets are open pollinated varieties. I am testing a variety called imperator. It is supposed to be good for juicing. My daughters juice all kinds of veggies. The best carrot for my clay soil seem to be the chantenay varieties.
          I like the barrel idea. That is a great way to make raised beds. Once I get caught up a little, I will get a shipment organized.
          I have 7 apartments. a laundromat and a restaurant that need to be renovated. All of these projects were in different states of disrepair / repair when my friend died. Once I get my feet under me with the estate and the buildings, I’ll be able to focus on getting more supplies to your pueblo. I will try to get the box with Crystal’s refills on the way soon. I’ve been assembling a few other things also. I just need to get it done.
          Speaking of Crystal, How is she doing? The last I heard her parents were making plans to go to Spain to facilitate her transplant.
          Crosman’s may have seeds available again. It is hit and miss with the unsold seeds but the selection seemed pretty good. I will e-mail them.
          I never did get an answer from the seed distributor about the carrot seed for Venezuela. I honestly forgot about it with everything going on. I’ll will make sure to look on Amazon for them.

    • If you can get her back in there for even a day or two per week she should be able to handle most of the heavy cleaning. Then all you have to do is just “keep it straightened up” til next visit! Lol

  9. Just saw la fea and Maburro on VTV announce they will be sending out the rojo rojitos (SUNDEE, consejo comunales, claperos, etc) out in the streets to fight for “precios justos” against businesses that raise their prices. I bet there will be many santamarias down for the coming weeks and it is much easier to just not be open for business. They are pretty much trying to eliminate private enterprise.

  10. Guachi: suppose you’re a business today with Bs.F 100,000,000 in the bank, and 1 monthly min. wage worker earning Bs.F 5,000,000 (not counting prestaciones/etc. add-ons), for a 20/1 ratio. Next Tues. you’ll have Bs.S 1000 in the bank, your employee will be earning Bs.S 1800, for approx. a 1/2 ratio. No business can stand this sort of de-capitalization, much less pay increased: amt./frequency corp. taxes; gas-related transport costs; utilities costs; etc., especially in the face of decreased demand due to skyrocketing hyper-inflation, and increasing enforcement of below-cost Govt. price controls. As I mentioned before, those living in Venezuela should stock up on non-perishable (canned/dry) foodstuffs, as well as items for personal security….

  11. It will probably be intollerable internal pressure that will force the Chavistas out. Strikes are helpful in this regards so long as they are no one-offs, and are sustained. But the real internal force might come from desperate and d,estitute refugees who can no longer flee to Brazil, Ecudor Peru, which are moving quickly to limit entrance to Venezuelans, and Columbia, which is rapicly getting overrun. Navy hospitol ships are en route to Colombia to give medical aid. A peace keeping force will probably shortly be called to help manage the border and keep Venezuelans INSIDE Venezuela. There’s also talk of not allowing American banks to credit Venezuela financial institutions with any dollars – meaning the Chavistas will be cut off from remittance dollars.

    At some pint the internal pressure will become totally unmanagable.

    • Juan,

      I do not personally send remittances, but a woman who works for me does. She has elderly parents stuck there. I believe she does an electronic transfer of USD to a US bank account (e.g., bank of america) that belong to someone located in Venezuela (perhaps also or occasionally “located” also in Miami, too, I’m not sure). That person then makes an electronic transfer of Bs from to her mom’s account in Venezuela. Her mom’s bank did freeze her account recently due to this supposed large transfer, but apparently a bank employee was able to restore the funds, less a suitable commission for having done so of course.

      Maybe you just get so used to corruption in that society you don’t even notice it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here