Depreciated

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo

The bolivar is almost dead. Nicolás destroyed it completely, and with a weekly depreciation, the next monetary reconversion shouldn’t take long. At the official dollar rate, the minimum wage in Venezuela is $3.5, while the Basic Food Basket (according to Cendas) was Bs. 2,491,159.29 in March (138.39 minimum wages). If we add the eight zeros removed in the reconversions of 2008 and 2018, the price of one dollar today is Bs. 520,000,000,000 (520 billion). But the Central Bank of Venezuela issued a statement justifying the DICOM rate increase with the sanctions imposed by the U.S. against the institution on April 17th, which supposedly restrict “the economy’s stabilization in the terms initially proposed” (sadly, they didn’t explain what those were,) but they caution that the Bs. 5,200 per dollar could increase, how bold! The BCV doesn’t talk about how it makes us poorer every week by multiplying the bolivars in circulation, and reserves any other indicator where it recognizes that we’re experiencing “the worst crisis in Latin American history,” according to the IMF and the World Bank.

Stampede in Zulia

This Wednesday, there were new protests in several sectors of Maracaibo that had spent over 40 hours without electricity. Citizens denounce that the power rationing plan isn’t properly applied.

Franco Cafoncelli, head of Fedecamaras Zulia, cautioned that 75% of the productive sector is not operating due to the electric crisis, while Ezio Angelini, head of Maracaibo’s Chamber of Commerce, denounced the shutdown of commercial activity. The results of the Business Tendency Survey made by the Chamber of Commerce are a rosary of negative figures and outlooks about the economy. In Cafoncelli’s words: “There’s a stampede in Zulia, because there’s no way to make a living here.”

Elections

The AN’s Special Committee for the Monitoring of Electoral Processes said that free elections could be held in Venezuela in seven or nine months after the end of usurpation.

Lawmaker Stalin González said that the value of voting as a mechanism to solve the crisis must be restored. Similarly, he proposed reforms to the Law of Electoral Processes so as to guarantee free and transparent elections and insisted in the value of an election without coercion. Yesterday, they met with technicians and electoral experts, professors and members of civil society that submitted their proposals, including reforming the law to allow international observation, which is currently prohibited; the update of electoral records in the country and abroad, prioritizing protocols and establishing bridges with chavismo so that all actors may participate.

Ongoing cynicism

Nicolás has been imposing mandatory broadcasts for three days in a row, promoting decisions that don’t solve or alleviate the complex humanitarian emergency. In his version of the country, he can approve a “law to protect Mother Earth” although there are thousands of Venezuelans contaminated with the mercury used in the Mining Arc; he can also embellish cities, although they have no electricity or drinking water, and yesterday he spoke about the 51,743 popular units of integral defense that will supply the national market by “producing”; and thus he suspended the warmongering version of these militia groups that were shown carrying out military exercises, climbing ropes after going through the mud. Nicolás also spoke of the start of the winter harvest, asking private producers and business owners to make a new alliance, because in his version of the country, we have “a powerful agricultural industry thanks to the investments made in the past 20 years (…) that could fully supply all of the national market,” ignoring any figure about ravaged production in the countryside. His cynicism was enough to criticize the rentier imports-based model, omitting the products in CLAP boxes.

Lonelier than Arreaza at the UN

Some 40 diplomats left the United Nations’ General Assembly when Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza began speaking, expressing their rejection to a government “that doesn’t represent its people.” He accused the U.S. of wanting to “impose a dictatorship“ at the UN and “brazenly seeking to expel or disregard the credentials of member States with full rights, such as Venezuela,” emphasizing that that’s “excluding and unacceptable.” Arreaza met with secretary general António Guterres, saying that it had been “successful”, but providing no details about it.

Let’s talk about human rights

  • This Wednesday, several homes in Rubio started the day marked by the initials of Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN). Lawmaker Franklyn Duarte denounced that his home was marked and moreover,they left a pamphlet mentioning opposition political leaders in the area who were declared political targets and enemies of the revolution. Duarte holds Nicolás, Freddy Bernal, mayor Ángel Márquez and colectivos boss Klinsman Paredes responsible for what could happen to him.
  • Provea denounced that the Special Actions Forces (FAES) in Lara State murdered a total of 69 people in three months, reflecting the high lethality of this National Police component.
  • In Aragua and Miranda, the  FAES murdered 12 people between Monday, April 22nd, and Tuesday 23rd during alleged clashes.
  • Chilean President Sebastián Piñera will travel in May to monitor the complaint filed before the International Criminal Court against Nicolás for crimes against humanity.

Other movements

  • According to Morgan Ortagus, spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, China has financed Nicolás with $60 billion, “propping up a corrupt despot. Every dollar for Maduro is a dollar taken away from the suffering Venezuelan people,” she said on Twitter.

  • Francisco Santos, Colombian ambassador to the U.S., said at the Simón Bolívar International Bridge: “You have only a few days left, Diosdado. These people only have very few days left, so that you can live in peace again and don’t have to suffer this horror,” adding that Colombia was overwhelmed by our forced migration, but that they’re preparing a plan for migrants.

  • North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia for his first summit with Vladimir Putin, seeking Russia’s support to unblock negotiations with the U.S. about his nuclear program.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said yesterday that the U.S. is breathing new life to the Monroe Doctrine to restrict the sovereignty of Latin American states, using Venezuela as the best example of how the U.S. allegedly exercises “unprecedented external pressure.”
  • At Rice University, Houston, Lima Group ambassador Julio Borges presented the Plan País, saying that: “The Cuban dictatorship is keeping Venezuela in shackles, that’s why all the pressure of the free world must be exercised so that Havana feels the consequences of blocking the change we all want.”
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