Chávez’s Birthday Present

Photo: La Nación retrieved 

Canadian mining company Crystallex will be able to collect the equivalent of $1.4 billion in PDVSA assets as compensation for the regime’s debt, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled this Monday, rejecting PDVSA’s appeal request. In 2008, Chávez confiscated Crystallex’s properties and the company started an arbitration process before Ciadi where they won an award for $1.2 billion plus interests. In 2018, the company said that they had recovered the debt through CITGO assets, and now, the Appeals Court authorized Crystallex’s request to receive the payment in PDV Holding shares. The ruling is crucial because it opens the way for other companies to seek compensation for the debts with shareholding involvement in CITGO. The Appeals Court established that any embargo or execution of PDVSA’s shares would have to be authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department. PDVSA’s Ad Hoc Administrative Board emphasized in a statement that they’ll continue defending Venezuela’s assets.

Abuse, lie, sabotage

The 25th edition of the Sao Paulo Forum was irrelevant, neither good nor bad, just insignificant. Perhaps that explains the huge contradiction in the statements offered this Monday by Diosdado Cabello, who began with the idea that “the world’s left was strengthened,” but was soon denouncing the U.S. government’s “persecution” against the attendees: “They’re telling them that they’re waiting for them in airports (…) They issue orders so that these events can’t take place,” he said, adding a series of questions that chavistas should answer everyday: “Why do they have to abuse, lie and sabotage?” Although he spoke on behalf of PSUV, he used his ANC cap to condemn the country’s re-entry to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), and also recommend the U.S. “to use that plane that’s watching us, to surveil and stop huge drug trafficking flow from Colombia.”

What’s that about?

Nicolás confirmed yesterday that he welcomed former FARC members Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich. During his visit to China, Colombian President Iván Duque accused Nicolás of protesting and harboring Colombian terrorists for many years, both from the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia: “I think that once again, [Nicolás] yields to his trademark foolishness of protecting terrorism and before the eyes of the world this is yet another motivation to keep intensifying the diplomatic blockade so that he can quickly stop lashing at the Venezuelan people,” said Duque yesterday morning. His Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo did the same. So Cabello decided to say that “Colombia is ruled by narco-terrorists and narco-paramilitaries who want to expand their violence all over the continent,” saying that Duque’s government is a narco-state, adding that the UN should meet to solve this problem. Also: “Colombia is pushing for regime change here so that they can transport their drug freely. They need a safe route, they’d wish for it to be Venezuela.”

This economy

Our inflationary estimates for this year dropped, but the economy will keep suffering from hyperinflation, said Alejandro Werner, chief of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere: “We’re likely seeing an annual inflation below 1,000,000%.” Regarding the 35% estimated economic contraction, he said that they hadn’t seen such a thing in the region’s recent history. The IMF expects our migration to intensify. Meanwhile, UCAB’s Economic and Social Research Institute estimates that by the end of 2019, “the GDP will represent only 39% of what it was in 2013,” emphasizing that such a prolonged decline of economic activity has affected the economy’s potential capacity. They estimate a 22% GDP drop compared to 2018 (more contraction); that exports this year will generate $21.8 billion, compared to the almost $98 billion of 2012 (a 77% drop); and that imports will reach $10.9 billion (83% less than in 2012). Just like the IMF, they think that even with the reduced inflation rate, prices will end up increasing by 9,416%, the highest rate in Latin America and the world.

A masterclass in cynicism

Former Ombudswoman Gabriela del Mar Ramírez (2007-2014) wrote a thread in Twitter about the reasons why she fled Venezuela and the jobs she has in Spain. She did that after a video of her working at a kitchen went viral. Despite her post and the crimes she should’ve processed in the seven years of management, Ramírez said that she never imagined the persecution against “dissident chavistas would turn so violent,” but she’s proud of her new life, saying that she never failed “the people” because she never took a penny. Omission, complicity and inaction are other forms of corruption, especially regarding human rights, where victims confront the state. The woman who’s now shocked by inappropriate practices that “invite hatred, division and easy insults,” keeps praising el finado, a true paragon in those three aspects. Trying to establish differences between him and Nicolás doesn’t exempt Ramírez, and it’s not a reparation for each victim of the crimes that were left unpunished during her tender.

The non-country

  • PDVSA announced as an achievement that Petropiar’s extra-heavy crude improver started operations as an oil-mixing plant, a product that will allow the company to enter the Asian market.
  • Former SEBIN director Manuel Cristopher Figuera continues his press tour and, in an interview with Bloomberg, he now links sanctioned individuals Alex Saab and Eduardo Rivas with Nicolás’s son in the gold business and that Tareck El Aissami coordinates gold sales.
  • He also said that Venezuelan intelligence services have infiltrated Colombia’s security apparatus. Just like the former Ombudswoman, Figuera claims that the abuse, corruption and authoritarianism “shocked him.”
  • Luisa Ortega Díaz announced that criminal actions are coming for the CLAP corruption case after the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned ten individuals and 13 companies.
  • In February, 2017, Colombia established the Border Mobility Card (TMF) for Venezuelans, and yesterday, SAIME chief Gustavo Vizcaíno said that Colombians crossing the border through Tachira will require the Border Mobility Card as well. The measure will be effective starting August 1st.

For the fourteenth year in a row, international magazine photo editors chose the winner of the City of Perpignan Rémi Ochlik Award, voting for whom they consider produced the best work in 2018-2019. Yesterday they announced that the winner was Venezuelan Adriana Fernández, whose work will be exhibited in Visa for the Image – Perpignan 2019. Adriana wrote on her Twitter account (@Adriaventuras): “An incredible and overwhelming honor. I just want to tell you to keep working hard, the effort’s worth it.” Bravo, Adriana!

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