Keeping Contact

Photo: RPP retrieved

On Tuesday, August 20th, on his variety show, Nicolás avoided commemorating the anniversary of the monetary reconversion. But there, inaugurating a bus terminal in La Guaira, he responded to Donald Trump’s message, who had assured earlier that he keeps contact with member of Nicolás cabinet: “I don’t want to name names, but we’re talking to the highest levels (…) We’re helping Venezuela as much as we can. We’re staying out of the country, but we’re helping,” said Trump. Nicolás said: 

” I confirm that there had been contacts with Trump’s officers and my government under my direct authorization. Several contacts, several ways to find a process for solving the conflict with the empire,” turning chavista spokesmen into messengers and not traitors, but without giving any explanation about the enormous contradiction that his official “No More Trump” campaign means. You read that right. Nicolás doesn’t utter a word about the conflict that his administration represents for the country,  but about “solving the conflict” like granting insult visas and temporary threat permits, and so on… The reality is that, this week, the “empire has been setting the agenda. 

Other guidelines

Caretaker President Juan Guaidó, after it was approved by the AN, appointed the  Corporación Venezolana de Guayana ad hoc board: “The board will now proceed to implement a plan to protect our assets, to do so they’ll have to be excluded from the list of international sanctions,” said deputy José Luis Cartaya. The AN also approved appointing a new board of directors for Monómeros Colombo Venezolanos (MCV) and Pequiven. They also approved appointed new ambassadors, Pynchas Brenner in Israel and Eduardo Massieu in Greece. Guaidó confirmed that his delegates will hold meetings with the U.S. government: “I’ll say this again. For us, any space where we can participate is a means, not an end (…) The regime sat down in a space thinking they’d mock us again and that’s not going to happen.” 

A little economy

Conindustria president, Adán Celis, presented the new Industrial Juncture survey (second quarter 2019) and warned about the drop in production, jobs and, as a consequence, companies’ performance. 49% of companies surveyed reduced the number of positions in the last year. Production dropped by 80%, low demand, the political uncertainty and the state of basic services were the factors that most impacted production. The companies’ worst problem is the drop in sales, (78% reported reduction) from the decrease of Venezuelans’ purchasing power and in consumption. If you add credit restriction to the mix, and the drop in income, companies have less budget, which decreases their investment (81% less), production and jobs, but it also restricts their capacity to keep their facilities running: the industry operates at 19% of its installed capacity today. 

The non-country

Since March, Venezuelans suffer from the frailty of our electric system. Chavismo hasn’t been able to stabilize the service, and today another blackout affected at least 11 states. Nicolás  ignored the blackout and announced as an achievement that he granted over “270 miilion bolivars” to activate communal production centers for textiles, shoe stores, bakery, agriculture, cattle, among others.” It’s barely $16.000, depending on the rate you use. Wow, a record. 

Luis Colmenares, president of the Eastern Caracas Transportation Block announced that they’ll start charging 1000 bolivars per ride, or $0.6 cents “because the math doesn’t add up, we can barely buy parts anymore.” He also warned that they plan on adjusting the fare every month. NGO Prepara Familia informed the public that Andrés Fernández, nephrology patient at J.M. de los Ríos Hospital, died. Andrés was 15 years old and was under the CIDH’s precautionary measures, widely ignored by Nicolás’s government, to protect and guarantee the health of their patients. 

Let’s talk human rights

On Tuesday, Unicef called for raising $70 million to provide help for 900 thousand children in Venezuela by the end of the year. That same day, several Venezuelan NGOs expressed their concern for the flaws in the Humanitarian Response Plan for Venezuela published by the UN on August 14th, including underestimating how many people have humanitarian needs, the lack of access to information that these projects rely on, lack of information about future plans to cover the postoned needs of millions of people and the uncertainty about the available resources and the procedure to raise the deficit the money that they still don’t have. Dylan Baddour reported from the Colombia – Ecuador border the long lines of Venezuelans trying to enter Ecuador before immigration authorities start demanding visas. 

Other movements on the board

Nicolás made his government’s and allies’ messages even more complicated. Russian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Serguéi Riabkov warned the U.S. that Russia would examine every situation created by increasing “illegal and illegitimate sanctions and attempts to impose a blockade,” revealing that this would be one of the topics that Foreign Minister Serguéi Lavrov and Delcy Rodríguez will be discussing; but what’s the real power of Russian monitoring if Nicolás himself “controls” the agenda? Mr. Aggressive Mustache left his Foreign minister Jorge Arreaza hanging, when he proudly tweeted his complaint against the U.S. to the UN Security Council and General Secretary for “the criminal blockade and threats of naval blockade and use of force against the Venezuelan people.” 

Jair Bolsonaro’s government banned “high officials” of Maduro’s regime from entering Brazil, because they consider that they threaten democracy and human rights. The list is confidential and can be updated at any moment. Nicolás will open a new embassy in Pyongyang on Wednesday afternoon. His ambassador might have the “honor” of presenting his credentials to Kim Jong-un, after changes in the diplomatic protocol in North Korea. The AN rejected the appointment of Francisco Arias Cárdenas as the Venezuelan ambassador  to Mexico, but we’re dealing with López Obrador, so… you know. 

A year ago, a million bolívares fuertes became 10 bolívares soberanos. Economists warned that hyperinflation would quickly pulverize the bolívar soberano’s real value, but Nicolás ignored the warning. Today, one dollar equals 15,000 soberanos (and climbing), our highest denomination banknote is only worth $3,22, while our cumulative inflation from August 2018 to July 2019, according to the AN’s calculations, is ​264.872 %. It’s our second year of hyperinflation, and sixth year in recession. Nicolás backed out of raising minimum wage in April, and public employees were sentenced to salaries of 40 thousand bolívares soberanos, the lowest in the continent and in our history. “The economy won’t change if there’s no political change. No other way, no other possibility to improve salaries if we don’t radically change the economy, that can only come from political change,” said deputy Ángel Alvarado on Tuesday in the National Assembly. 

 

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