Photo: El Nacional retrieved
From Anointed to Usurper
Yesterday, the English weekly outlet The Economist dedicated a long article to proving with facts why Nicolás is the world’s least successful president, saying that his only talent has been remaining in power through dictatorial methods. Perhaps inspired by these words, Nicolás said in his monologue that it’s an honor that the UN and the U.S. Congress had given him the title of dictator, only to say minutes later that “there’s an impeccable democracy in Venezuela,” that he’s not a magnate but a simple worker; that he’s called for a national dialogue 300 times and that, in order to achieve economic stability this year, he’ll announce measures to defeat the “induced” hyperinflation. Once more (yes, again) he denounced a conspiracy, another coup d’état, accusing Colombian President Iván Duque of being the devil, while dreaming that Donald Trump will open his heart. He added that he’s not discarding the possibility of taking radical measures against the National Assembly and that he’ll say “amen” if the ANC decides holding early legislative elections.
“The world is crazy, crazy, crazy”
Said Nicolás, before he spent a long time (unsuccessfully) trying to explain why it’s pertinent to condemn the Lima Group’s opinion about his usurpation of power and with it, considering anyone who supports it as a traitor. According to Nicolás, the Lima Group statement is an order to oust him (?) and that’s why “a coup d’état is in the making.” He then spoke of facing any treacherous fifth column (are there loyal ones?), but in truth, he wasn’t talking about any internal conspiracy in his ranks but about the National Assembly. Nicolás cautioned that, with the diplomatic notice delivered yesterday by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza to Lima Group’s member countries, he’s giving them 48 hours to rectify or the government will take the toughest diplomatic measures. By the way, lawmaker Juan Miguel Matheus, head of the Committee in Defense of the Constitution, responded to the ANC’s threat of dissolving the AN, calling the ANC a sham and reaffirming that the road to transition will continue on.
Our hyperinflation in 2018 set a record of 1,798,000%, according to the National Assembly’s estimates. We’ve been in economic recession for five years, the GDP has dropped almost by half since Nicolás was anointed by Chávez; the “sovereign” bolivar has lost 95% of its value to the dollar and we currently produce less oil than in 1950. Still, Nicolás was bold enough to speak of an induced hyperinflation. In December, we suffered a daily inflation rate of 3% and the monthly rate was 141.75% and the government keeps increasing public spending to cover wages and bonuses, while its price control scheme remains in place. And if that’s not shocking enough, remember that the IMF estimated that Venezuela’s hyperinflation will reach 10,000,000% in 2019.
Failure is a sin
Archbishops and bishops said from the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference that: “The intention of starting a new presidential term on January 10 is illegitimate in origin and opens the door to disregard it (…) The attempt to prolong the failure of the past few decades is a sin and it’s morally unacceptable.” Cardinal Baltazar Porras said that there are no conditions to say that we’re under a democratic regime, so they demand respect for citizens and that expressing our dissent must not involve repression and prison, cautioning that the country requires “accepting the popular demand for change, a consensus for a much-awaited transition sought by the immense majority,” understanding the National Assembly as the only legitimate institution to sovereignly exercise its functions.
The Washington Post dedicated an article to Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López because, according to a U.S. intelligence official, Padrino told Nicolás in December to resign or to take his resignation. Meanwhile, the expert on military issues, Rocío San Miguel, posted a tweet saying that there are rumors that Padrino might be replaced as minister and appointed ambassador in Cuba, adding that Padrino is “the most influential actor in the Armed Forces.”
Se especula en fuentes militares, cambio de @vladimirpadrino Ministro de la Defensa y su posible designación como Embajador de Venezuela en Cuba. Amanecerá y veremos… Actualmente Padrino es el actor con mayor influencia en la FANB, de allí su inamovilidad del cargo en el tiempo
— Rocío San Miguel (@rociosanmiguel) January 9, 2019
But a report published yesterday by NGO Human Rights Watch vilifies influential Padrino’s performance, saying that intelligence services have arrested and brutally tortured soldiers and relatives of people accused of conspiracy, adding that they suffer aberrant abuses to extract information from them by force. This sector’s desertions and requests for leave are a constant, non-televised declaration about its state and level of loyalty; in other words, the soldiers are preparing to leave the country, not to set up conspiracies.
That was the title of the editorial in Uruguayan newspaper El País, saying that “only criminals of the worst ilk could defend the concentration camp that 21st century socialism has turned Venezuela into” and calling Nicolás a “bloody dictator.” In brief, official outlets have tried to give some relevance to the attendance of second-level delegates to Nicolás’s self-proclamation, while expecting that the presidents of Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bolivia and South Ossetia (Black Panther’s Wakanda has more legitimacy) will boost the event’s relevance. European Parliament Speaker Antonio Tajani restated that they’ll only recognize the National Assembly, adding: “Maduro’s tender is illegitimate. We’ll continue fighting for the release of political prisoners and for Venezuela’s democracy.” Peru already activated the list of Venezuelan authorities and relatives that won’t be allowed to enter its territory.
Acabo de hablar con el presidente @jguaido de la Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela 🇻🇪, la única que reconocemos. El mandato de Maduro es ilegítimo. Seguiremos luchando para la liberación de los presos políticos y la democracia en Venezuela. pic.twitter.com/lDmjjelng7
— Antonio Tajani (@EP_President) January 9, 2019
The clash between state security forces and hawkers from Las Pulgas market (Maracaibo, Zulia State) after the latter group’s merchandise was stolen, left several people wounded, destroyed vehicles and three detainees. The pellets and tear-gas canisters were met with stones and bottles thrown by the informal retailers. But the violence reached the press: Zulia policemen threatened journalists from outlets La Verdad and El Pitazo for recording the protest and a GN armored vehicle tried to run down journalist Madelyn Palmar.
#Jan09 #Zulia This morning, intense protests were reported in downtown Maracaibo because of the eviction of an outdoor market. Informal vendors protested against extortion and violence by the government. pic.twitter.com/3qA5vvgQbn
— Caracas Chronicles (@CaracasChron) January 9, 2019
Meanwhile, a video went viral on social media, showing hosts of VTV, an official channel, explaining that they couldn’t buy anything on Amazon due to U.S.-imposed individual sanctions against them. Even though that’s a fallacy, it had far more reach that the official effort with the hashtag “Yo juro con Maduro” and the posters they printed so Maduro can give out autographs today, which read: “I am President.”
The price of the dollar hasn’t stopped increasing, by the way.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.