Burping the Economy

Photo: Minci retrieved

Usurping functions outside his authority, before the illegal ANC, with five years in recession, an inflation of 1,700,000% in 2018, with more that 80% of the population in poverty, Nicolás read a summary of his promises, not to mention something that resembles an accountability report. He offered to produce 5 million oil barrels per day by 2025, to reach 5.5 million pensioners, 8,000 communes, 5 million housing units, zero poverty!, and 40 million tons of food production (the goal he should’ve fulfilled this year, by the way) with three key strategies: producing more hydrocarbons to achieve independence from hydrocarbons; taking personal responsibility for finishing off corruption and taking over the management of the oil industry starting this Monday.

Report on lies

According to him, there have been terrorist attacks against the economy, the salary and productivity; sadly, he didn’t mention that he’s the culprit. He also said that he’s fed up with corruption, with mafias or thieves, loudly announcing: “This is the end of cronyism!”. He said that the monetary reconversion and the petro managed to stabilize the economy; that inequality levels dropped in 2018 (the Survey on Living Conditions in Venezuela reveals the opposite); he admitted that between 2013 and 2018, foreign currency revenues dropped, but he messed up and said that there’d been a 944% drop (as if something could drop more than 100%) all of this to avoid talking about the collapse of oil production and its obvious reflection on international reserves. Nicolás said that in 2018, he managed to keep employment levels at 94% and unemployment at 6%; that 74% of the national budget was used for social investment (a percentage they’ve been parroting since Chávez’s days,) but there’s no way of verifying the veracity of his information. In fact, Nicolás explained that the Planning minister has “a suitcase with four locks containing the data” which should be public.

Recycling

He announced a new battled against “the criminal dollar,” a goal he set since 2013 and which justified the creation of SICAD I and II, SIMADI, DICOM, and in view of the low offer of official dollars and the scarce foreign currency revenues, the market is what it is. In any case, in August 2018 the ANC repealed the Law on Exchange Crimes, so the black market dollar isn’t violating any laws. As usual, this is the sixth year in a row that he announces economic stabilization and recovery, but this time, since 2018 was the year of economic counteroffensive, 2019 will be for the offensive. Perhaps that’s why he mentioned the partial sale of some state-run companies and explained it: “We won’t privatize. I’m not a traitor or a coward, I’m not a privatizer, but I’m not stupid either.” Sure he’s stupid, selling state companies is unlikely, considering the sanctions weighing on chavismo and the latent default.

Measures

Remember the fallacy that the petro was bound to the price of the oil barrel? Well, they’ve already ditched that formality and decided to increase it at leisure and that’s why yesterday, the petro went from Bs.S. 9,000 to Bs.S. 36,000 (300% more) so the minimum wage and the pensions increased to Bs.S. 18,000. The minimum wage has increased 26 times with Nicolás as president and now usurper, but the rhythm of hyperinflation is so devastating that that wage before the reconversion on August 20 was equal to $30, multiplied by 600 in less than five months and now, it’s scarcely $6.7 in the black market. The state doesn’t have a way to respond to the increase, so the Central Bank will keep fabricating bolivars, which will in turn impact the prices and on and on we’ll go. Additionally, Nicolás increased the legal reserve to 60%; he ordered state-run companies to sell 15% of their production in petros (and those who can’t must leave their posts, he said); he kept the plan of “agreed” prices in places; he asked the ANC for a tax on large capitals. You might not believe this, but Nicolás favored an aesthetic mission amidst a humanitarian crisis: the Venezuela Bella mission was born, to keep hacking trees and painting walls, while the people lack basic services, food and medicines.

Against Juan Guaidó

Wounded by the notoriety that the National Assembly Speaker has gained, regarding the path to transition proposed by Guaidó, he said: “They seek to take political power through ways of adventure, of improvisation, of a coup painted with a shade of the Constitution. Activate whatever you want (referring to constitutional articles) but I’ll keep commanding here! You go on with your immature kids, because the people stand here with Maduro, keep improvising.”

For some reason, he tied this idea with the sanctions and their inefficacy, calling them failed mechanisms and claiming that they’re going to defeat Parliament to tell the empire: “Keep your sanctions! Eat your sanctions, because nobody can stop Venezuela!”. He’s deeply hurt by Guaidó’s youth, just as he’s hurt by the international recognition of the National Assembly’s legitimacy, by the image it shows about his own isolation. Imagine the level of coherence of this guy that he also said: “My proposal for the serious sectors in the opposition is that we sit and talk, I want dialogue for an agreement of peace.”

With Juan Guaidó

Last night, journalist César Miguel Rondón interviewed the speaker on Instagram Live. Perhaps the censorship prevents him from doing it on the radio. In any case, Guaidó restated his free version of the reasons why he believes he was released on Sunday, including the possibility of moving SEBIN agents with offers of amnesty, serious work and true love for the nation. Guaidó’s expectations include “that the military family stands with the Constitution.

It’s true that there’s internal dissatisfaction. It’s true that there are over 150 soldiers in jail,” a topic that he tied with the possibility of uniting all sectors and all factors. He explained his resistance because he comes from the student movement, because he’s marched, he’s never stopped believing, he’s kept insisting. “We’ve been forged in sacrifice and dictatorship,” said Guaidó, before explaining that nobody’s ready to confront a dictatorship, with his friends in prison, exiled or murdered; but that they’re committed with this cause, that he’s afraid, but of seeing his daughter grow up in a country where she can’t roam the streets on her bike. “We’re not victims, we’re survivors,” said Guaidó.

“2018, thanks for having existed. We passed the test on our feet and with dignity,” said the usurper, ignoring all of our terrible indicators, from migration to each person killed by violence, hunger and lack of medicines. Nicolás has never had the capacity for this task, but now he also lacks legitimacy, assuring only our continued economic collapse. He didn’t mention the price of gas, he didn’t made changes in his ministerial cabinet or made any announcements on monetary policies. He just burped.

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