A Disastrous Plan

Your daily briefing for Tuesday, August 28, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: William Urdaneta for Correo del Caroní

Nicolás said that there’s 72% support for his economic recovery plan, evidenced this Monday in several cities of the country with citizen protests in front of bank offices complaining about the lack of cash. Additionally, Emilio Lozada, head of the Venezuelan Federation of Retirees and Pensioners, criticized the “virtual wallet” format for the payment of pensions, not just because of the political checkpoint of the carnet de la patria, but because it discriminates against elderly citizens who don’t use internet regularly, either for lack of technological knowledge or  resources. Lozada also demanded that the payment of pensions for September be published in Official Gazette and called for a protest this Wednesday, August 29 at the offices of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS) across the country. There were also protests for the increase in bus fares for the Caracas-La Guaira route to Bs.S 2 (Bs.F 200,000.) Users denounced that the bus fare hike should match the payment of the new wage hike, otherwise it’s impossible to cover an increase that surpasses 1,000,000%. Lastly, Pirelli’s Workers Union in Venezuela denounced the shutdown of the Guacara plant due to lack of raw materials to produce tires. Union leader Luis Álvarez explained that the shutdown hits some 5,000 employees and that they’d produced 51,953 tires until July 31, 7.4% of their regular production.

The justices explain

A group of justices in exile uploaded a video on YouTube ratifying the request to investigate former governor Henrique Capriles Radonski, not because Luisa Ortega Díaz had singled him out directly for the crimes committed by Nicolás or because he’s being tried in advance, but because the opposition leader is indeed mentioned in the evidence presented by Ortega. With an elegant chroma key background, justice Miguel Ángel Martín explained that such a mention “forces us to request the fiscal investigation in order to proceed appropriately.” He later said that, after the ruling, Nicolás’s signature doesn’t compromise the Venezuelan Republic and ordered the Armed Forces and the National Police to arrest Nicolás and present them before the Tribunal. Martín read that they’re working every day to recover freedom and that they won’t rest “until the rule of law returns and with it, democracy.”

Nicolás explains

“Gold is always worth the same or more, gold is never worth less,” the bold Nicolás said this Monday. The small gold ingots he offered just this Sunday for saving, became lingot certificates yesterday, in other words, your hands will never touch the gold, instead you’ll get a piece of paper saying that you own it and that BCV is taking care of it; the same BCV that set up some employees checking blocks of banknotes as a backdrop for Nicolás’s presentation, as if they were looking through a huge Panini album. This tenth aspect of his plan will start on September 11. It was even funny to see all the effort Nicolás and Tareck El Aissami were making to “sell savings in gold,” because all the arguments boil down to the fact that the sovereign bolivar isn’t reliable. Even more unreliable is the person chosen to head the recently created Interior Commerce Ministry, William Contreras, currently a BCV board member and superintendent of “fair” prices; it must be a reward for the show of inspections and arrests that’s keeping shop owners on edge, indisputable evidence of how Nicolás creates trust for his recovery plan! Nicolás was bold enough to offer gold certificates to pensioners and workers. He also announced the issuance of a Bs.S 0.25 coin, coherent with hyperinflation.

Briefs and serious

  • Pdvsa appealed before a U.S. court the decision authorizing the embargo of the shares of PDV Holding, Citgo’s head company in U.S. soil, in favor of Canadian company Crystallex.
  • The Venezuelan Federation of Associations of Rice Producers (Fevearroz) said that government policies threaten rice sowing, reaping and distribution, which causes a gradual decline in its production, currently at 40% of the rice needed by the country.
  • NGO Foro Penal said that there are 242 political prisoners in Venezuela, as well as 7,324 people with open criminal trials for dissenting. Lawmaker Juan Requesens has been isolated for 20 days.
  • El Nacional denounced that the access of foundations that wish to bring humanitarian aid to Amazonas inhabitants has been forbidden by government orders. Donations “must” remain in the military command.
  • The Bureau of Banking Sector Institutions (Sudeban) ordered banks to adopt the petro as an accounting unit in all their client acquisition instruments, the same way they’re expressed in sovereign bolívar on digital outlets or printed outlets; so they’ll have to adjust their web pages and promote the data issued daily by the BCV.

Even more serious!

Sudeban sent another document to banks (but hasn’t made it public yet)  forcing them to comply with new rules of the game: their clients must notify them when they travel abroad, how long they plan to stay and the places they’ve visited. Banks will have to separate the visits to their web platforms between those made within the country and abroad according to their IP address. They must block the possibility of managing bank accounts online when users attempt to do it from abroad without notifying where they are and for how long in detail. Banks must also send all that data to the government weekly. The argument? The “safety” of users and avoiding scams, but they’re actually after remittances and Venezuelan accounts abroad. Requesting that kind of information violates user privacy and increases technical difficulties for banks in the task of identifying IPs. It’s a blast for user rights and it discriminates Venezuelans browsing within the country through VPNs which, by default and for their own safety, virtually locates them abroad. All wrong.

Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru started a meeting this August 27 to find solutions to assist the Venezuelan exodus. They’ll reveal their joint strategy today.

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.