Lunch Break: Euro-Taxes & Legislative Invaders
The takeover of the Legislative Palace is ongoing legally and phisically; Nicolás Maduro's regime means to charge taxes in foreing currency; Chavismo isn't satisfied with everything it has done to judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni, and the harassment continues.
- Second Vice-President of the National Assembly, Carlos Berrizbeitia, decried on Wednesday how the locks at the National Assembly’s admin offices are getting changed, so workers and deputies can’t enter. The AN National Workers’ Syndicate complained about their inability to enter the José María Vargas building, where permanent commissions work, because of an alleged technical inspection of infrastructure. Sinde January 7th, the day of the last session in the building, opposition deputies haven’t been able to enter the Federal Legislative Palace. Now, they can’t enter the offices.
- Nicolás needs more taxes and a reform of the Tax Law (COT) to charge taxes for euros. So, without a debate or deliberation, the ANC approved modifying the VAT law (regarding taxes on sales) and the customs law, and created the Exclusive Productive Wallet law. So, from now on, penalties and taxes will be calculated with the rate for euros the BCV mandates. Cherry on top: Diosdado Cabello celebrated approving (again, sans debate) the FANB law which incorporates militias to the Armed Forces.
- Judge María Lourdes Afiuni, Hugo Chávez’s political prisoner, condemned on Twitter how her family receives death threats from colectivos every day. “Persecution becomes death threats to your loved ones and the authorities don’t protect them. It’s been over ten years, that’s enough,” she said, meaning the decade of horror she has endured.
- The SNTP condemned how the GNB intimidated and kicked VPITv’s team out of the Araya salt mines (Sucre), who were reporting about the workers’ protest because of their terrible working conditions.
- Workers of the former Metropolitan Mayorship took over the Caracas’ Cathedral to protest their lack of pay. Baltazar Porras denied that they had kidnapped a seminary student and two nuns.
- The Autonomous Sanitary Service ordered a seizing of the salt brands Mina de Oro, La Perla, Sal Península and La Gema, because they’re not fit for human consumption. These brands are barred from the market.
- Nicolás used his variety show for Plan Z: making 20 million pairs of shoes with 80 private companies, to restart the productive apparatus. Plan Z producers won’t pay taxes. The product will be distributed by the companies without controls from the Commerce or Communes ministries and with help from missions. “Nothing for free,” he said to minister Eneida Laya, “people like paying for things. Let’s establish fair prices (…) people must learn to pay.” Meanwhile, the IMF presented their estimates and kept us an exception (because of our 65% GDP’s contraction), and foresaw a further 10% drop this year.
- Colombian President Iván Duque announced he’ll request Interpol the extradition of former congresswoman Aida Merlano, detained in Venezuela since Tuesday. During his variety show, Maduro said he’s willing to establish foreign relations with Colombia again and asked Duque to think about it, saying “he’s not a man of the state, he’s not up to the challenge of running a country.” He also threatened him: either Duque resumes ties with him or he’ll reveal what Merlano is declaring at Sebin about corruption in Colombian politics. Duque stood by his initial stance last night.
- The OPEC and nations that produce oil independently announced that they’re studying reducing the supply of oil, fearing the coronavirus epidemic affects demand for the recommended traveling restrictions.
- Chavismo installed the Venezuela-South Africa Forum 2020x to talk about “oil, mining, industry, commerce and financial services.” After too many compliments for the guest country, vice-minister Yuri Pimentel announced they signed nine contracts, without providing details, timeframes or amounts.
- Jorge Arreaza called president Duque “irresponsible” and said that from Colombia “they orchestrate attacks against Venezuela and they protect criminals and people who commit magnicide.”
- The IOM reported that 154 people died in the Caribbean in 2019. In 2018, there were 28 deaths and the number’s only growing and can be explained with just one word “starting with a V: Venezuela”. Most were Venezuelans trying to get to the islands in the region.
- Once again, Spain’s National Police declared that minister José Luis Ábalos stopped them from following protocol and detaining and deporting Delcy Rodríguez because of the sanctions imposed by the EU.
- New information has been revealed about Ábalos and Delcy’s meeting: it lasted 45 minutes and one of the mediators was Piedad Córdoba, who called Pablo Iglesias. He knew about the trip and so did officers from the Foreign Ministry. A source said to Spanish media outlet Periodista Digital that there was gold on the plane that would be stamped in Turkey for later sales.
- Coronavirus epidemic update: confirmed cases 7,711 (1,737 new cases); Deaths: 170 (38 new deaths); Recoveries: 126; Cases outside China: 95 in 19 countries; Patients under observation: 81,000.
- The WHO will meet on Tuesday to declare the emergency. The Chinese Education Ministry is evaluating having classes online. In Venezuela, doctor Julio Castro says that there’s no clear strategy in Maiquetía airport for flights or passengers with connections arriving from China. If there were any suspicions of coronavirus, it’s up to the National Hygiene Institute to confirm it.
- José Ignacio Hernández expressed his disposition to step down after the debate about the approval of a litigation fund at the National Assembly on Tuesday: “I can’t fulfill my obligations as Attorney General if I lack government support and, as we know, a government that doesn’t spend—with all the mandatory controls and the principles of transparency and accountability— isn’t a government.” Hernández said that this was expressed in a private letter and he rejected its leak. Almost at midnight, he set the record straight and said he doesn’t want to resign but the National Assembly and President Guaidó should rethink if he should be on the job. He reiterated that approving the litigation fund is within the law, and said that the AN must enforce adequate controls before they execute this fund “with the urgency that solving over 50 litigations and protecting Venezuelan assets demand”.