The Search Is On

Your daily briefing for Thursday, August 23, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Prensa Presidencial

The Official Gazette circulated this Wednesday with a list of 25 products with new imposed prices, which the State calls agreed prices. The list shows relevant increases in products like chicken and black beans, along with impossible discounts in most products, especially coffee. In any case, the highest denomination bill wouldn’t pay for 50% of these 25 price-controlled products, because when you add together the entire list, and assuming that a family only needs one product of each, it’s Bs.S 1,149 or Bs.F 114,900,000, consuming 63% of the new minimum wage. According to the government, these prices were agreed upon with several business owners of the private sector, 50 products that the productive sector blithely accepts to keep tied to controls. So many years of controls have left shortages as a lesson: the imposed prices are unsustainable, they don’t create incentives and are the denial of productivity. Now these products will disappear and the search is on.

Against economic logic

Imposed Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab announced that the number of people indicted and wanted for the drone flight reached 43 individuals, emphasizing that nine of them are “fugitives of justice,” claiming that they’re in Colombia, Peru and the United States, so he expects to process their extradition this week; including lawmaker Julio Borges.

Remember that lawmaker Juan Requesens is held in custody and isolated in SEBIN El Helicoide. He’s been unable to see his family for 15 days.

In addition to this case, Saab said that the Prosecutor’s Office installed a commission of 68 prosecutors specialized in economic crimes with the goal of “receiving complaints against store owners who break judicial regulations regarding the economy. Enough with price retagging,” he said. Last night, Nicolás held another mandatory broadcast to propose his plan. The most relevant part was the segment about punitive populism, cheering the arrest of the operations manager of supermarket Plan Suárez, carried out by the National Police’s Special Actions Forces. Nicolás accused him of being a speculator and used his example to say to militants: “You tell me who breaks the agreements (of price controls) to send SEBIN and imprison them.”

One mistake after another

Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez explained that the payment of pensions (Bs.S 1,800) will be split in three days just like salaries: September 1, 7 and 14, adding the announcement of the “reconversion bonus” (Bs.S 600) that will be deposited only for elderly carnet de la patria holders, so she urged the rest to register in the “patria” system.

Her brother, Minister Jorge Rodríguez said a bit later: “Work eight hours a day, during five days a week, if you work from Monday to Friday. Then you work 800 hours a month,” trying to explain that those who comply with this peculiar timetable (the result of multiplying 40 weekly hours by 20 business days instead of four weeks) will be paid Bs.S 1,800. The relevant part is that the minister checked his sheets, a detectable mistake that went undetected thanks to his huge spite for his audience. The first DICOM auction after the mega-depreciation was a failure: the petro didn’t change at all.

Parliamentary movements

Lawmaker Delsa Solórzano, head of the National Assembly’s Interior Policy Committee, demanded that the World Inter-Parliamentary Union be allowed into the country to verify lawmaker Juan Requesens’s situation.

Lawmaker Juan Guaidó urged SEBIN, CICPC and the Armed Forces to support the ruling issued by the TSJ in exile: “Nicolás Maduro should’ve spent the night in jail, he should be in prison already, for illegally appointing TSJ justices, for vacating office, for crimes against humanity and for participating in acts of corruption during his presidential campaign in the Odebrecht case,” said Guaidó. Meanwhile, lawmaker Ismael García spoke about the complaint he filed before the Prosecutor’s Office for the Southern District of Florida against Diosdado Cabello for “leading a criminal money laundering organization,” emphasizing the use of frontmen and Cabello’s corruption network (mentioning Luis Alfredo Campos Cabello, Jerson Pérez Cabello and Pedro Morejón), he said they should be located and requested that their assets be frozen. Lastly, lawmaker Carlos Paparoni apologized for his behavior during Tuesday’s debate. His closing message was: “Mathematics don’t lie. We can’t do it alone, but we’re unstoppable together. Nicolás Maduro is Venezuela’s enemy.”

Briefs and serious

  • This Wednesday there were a couple of earthquake replicas in Sucre state, according to FUNVISIS. The damage report made by state governor Edwin Rojas was shameful. Cheers for the new difference between official versions: what Minister Reverol reported as a 25% inclination in the Torre de David caused by the tremor, the head of Civil Defense explained yesterday as “a visual effect.”
  • As part of sealed agreement to reduce his sentence, Matthias Krull admitted his role in an international organization that laundered over a billion dollars using PDVSA funds, pleading guilty of the accusation of conspiring to launder money. He revealed that the conspiracy started in December, 2014, using the gap between the official exchange rate and the black market to launder some $600 million. His sentence will be revealed on October 29.
  • Pedro Jiménez, head of the Bus Drivers Bloc of Southwestern Caracas, told TalCual that the bus fare could be increased up to 3,000%, if the agreement is increasing it to Bs.F 300,000, or Bs.S 3. The fare must be approved by the Transport Ministry.

We, migrants

While SAIME studies increasing the extension for Venezuelan passports to five years, Ecuador called 13 Latin American governments to a meeting set for September 17 and 18 where they can discuss our migration flow, unifying policies and coordinating tasks. Aside from this initiative, the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry announced that they’ll install, along with Venezuela, a technical roundtable of Cooperation and Human Mobility, that will seek to solve the high flow of migrants. Also, Colombia will propose that the UN appoint a special envoy to coordinate the regional response to the crisis caused by our exodus, said Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who also expects progress in the creation of a multilateral emergency fund. Meanwhile, Peruvian Interior Minister Mauro Medina announced a series of complementary measures to assist Venezuelan citizens, such as opening a biometric identification system in the Binational Border Attention Center (Cebaf). Peruvian Foreign Minister Néstor Popolizio said that the in a period of two weeks, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will receive the request to investigate Nicolás and the ruling clique for human rights violations, explaining that with this measure, they hope to “intensify the pressure.” Of course, Venezuelan denied the incursion of its military units in Colombian territory, calling the complaint as a “new false positive.”

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.