Lunch Break: The Worst We’ve Been in a Century

Photo: Gabriela Mesones Rojo
  • The Constitutional Chamber of Nicolás’s Tribunal Supreme of Justice (TSJ)  ordered deputies from the CLAP faction, who say they’re the new board of authorities of the National Assembly,  to present a report about the events of January 5th at the Federal Legislative Palace where they self-proclaimed as authorities without the necessary attendance but with support of the chavista fraction, while military officers blocked opposition deputies’ access to the building. Parra and the CLAP deputies have five days to send a report to the TSJ containing a list of everyone in attendance, the installation of the AN and the votes approving the board. Everything with a “copy of the official record,” the one Parra says was stolen. 
  • The TSJ also declared sustained the legal action by politician Enrique Ochoa Antich on January 9th against the National Assembly, “to assure the nominal vote for the Parliament’s board of authorities”, since having two boards is a threat to the institution’s very existence.” The official document of January 5th should have been requested to the incumbent board, since it’s responsible for its making it, and the TSJ won’t explain why it’s concerned about a National Assembly against which it has issued over 100 rulings because of its “contempt”. According to its rulings, this contempt could only be lifted with Henry Ramos Allup presiding the board, as in 2016, removing the Amazonas deputies, who are still in limbo after four years and then electing new authorities. 
  • As U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliot Abrams announced last week, the Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on Luis Parra and the CLAP fraction: José Brito, Franklyn Duarte, José Gregorio Noriega, Conrado Pérez and Adolfo Superlano, and also Negal Morales, for trying to take control of the National Assembly on January 5th. Parra called the sanctions “unacceptable” and said they don’t “contribute to generate contexts for understanding,” forgetting the extraordinary quotes he tweeted on Sunday favoring sanctions against government officials. But the most passionate defense for these deputies came from chavismo, including a memo by Jorge Arreaza, Nicolás’s Foreign minister, condemning “the interventionist action to undermine the proper functioning of democratic institutions.”  
  • Venezuela continues to have the world’s highest hyperinflation. We closed 2019 with 7,374.4% inflation, according to data by the National Assembly’s Finance Commission. Deputy Ángel Alvarado explained that the credit contraction policy applied by the BCV (to contain the price of the dollar and stop inflation) made the price variation in 2019 lower than in 2018, but still generated a larger contraction of our economy: “The legal reserve brought the economy close to a halt.” In 2019, the Venezuelan economy contracted by  43.1%. It’s the worst year “since the wars of the 19th century.” In total, our GDP has dropped 75% since Nicolás rules the country.
  • To evade U.S. sanctions, Nicolás’s regime is trying out a new strategy for delivering oil to the international market: Reuters says that Pdvsa would allocate shipments to some of its partners in mixed companies like Chevron Corp. Apparently, this method wouldn’t violate sanctions as long as the income is destined to pay existing debt. 
  • Caretaker President Juan Guaidó published a letter to Nicolás’s Defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López, to call him to a session of the National Assembly on February 15th. They’ll debate actions to alleviate the education crisis and the salary crisis amid the complex humanitarian emergency. 
  • The president of the Nurses Association of the Capital District, Ana Rosario Contreras, called the new minimum wage increase a mockery, so they aren’t ruling out a strike as a pressure tactic. 
  • Diosdado Cabello said that parliamentary elections will happen “any moment now” and advises chavista supporters to organize, issuing IDs for PSUV members in every municipality next January 18th and January 19th. Diosdado explains that the AN is still in contempt since “Luis Parra hasn’t been to the TSJ.” Nicolás presents his accountability speech at the ANC today, January 14th.
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