- On Sunday, Tareck El Aissami, Nicolás’s Oil minister, tried to explain the gas rationing system. He didn’t quite succeed, but said the plan will allow them to evade sanctions and attack the gas mafias. As you know, Nicolás said on Saturday that starting today, June 1st, gas will be sold in two kinds of gas stations: subsidized, at 5,000 bolivars per litre, 120 litres per month per car and 60 litres per month per motorcycle, and 200 “premium” gas stations, which will sell the litre of gas at 0.5 dollars and no limit of litres sold. You’ll be able to pay in dollars in these gas stations. A 40-litre tank will cost 20 dollars. The minimum wage is still 2 dollars a month.
- The direct subsidy for public transportation for 90 days was El Aissami’s mantra, the only thing that was clear because he repeated it so much.
- The other two things that were clear: there are 1,368 stations which will be selling subsidized gas from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m: “They’ll have electronic gadgets that will guarantee the monthly quota of fuel,” depending on the last number of your car plate. They have already sent texts to phones registered in the Patria system reporting when they can get subsidized gas. There are 200 privately-owned gas stations that “requested and were approved for licenses to import gas.” Those are the true mystery. It wasn’t a public tender and we don’t know the businessmen. They’ll work from 6:00 a.m. til midnight, no limits on what they can sell. You’ll be able to pay in petros (?) or dollars but we don’t know where those are.
- To have access to gas supply, as with any other social benefit, you have to be registered in the PSUV’s database with the carnet de la patria. The Patria system is the carnet’s digital platform, a mechanism for segregation and political control based on people’s basic needs. The regime says there are 19 million Venezuelans with the carnet, and amid the pandemic, they invented surveys to support their methods: providing medical attention for patients with symptoms described on the website, a survey on a website, which means you need to have a computer or smartphone, electricity and an internet connection, in addition to the carnet.
- El Aissami said there’d be public workers in each gas station to help you (!). Every gas station will have a “biopayment gadget” to accept electronic or cash payments. On it, the user puts their fingerprint, confirms the transaction and prints out a ticket that the gas station worker will keep. When it’s all done, the user will receive an SMS to confirm. You’ll be able to see your Patria Credit and if the quota of 120 litres per month has been covered.
- Tareck El Aissami didn’t explain the method of these bold businessmen who were granted permission to import gas. They should, you know, read up on privatizing gas sales, the reach of this business endeavor, the conditions to work with PDVSA and how much control will the state exert over them. They didn’t say if they’ll be selling Iranian gas, (and if they are, how much they paid for it) or if they bought it from other suppliers. Or if they’re going to, we don’t know what the conditions are. He didn’t say what criteria will be used to determine the variation of the price they announced (0.5 dollars per litre), if every owner will be allowed to vary the announced price or if that will be controlled by the state, too. El Aissami didn’t say anything about border states, which have been hit with different control methods for over a decade, to allegedly stop illegal smuggling, which didn’t work. It’s serious, the fact that today this new method will start working, when there’s no information about it, mostly because it’s unlikely that the regime can afford the subsidies. As we say in Venezuelan Spanish: la masa no está pa’ bollo.
- The National Assembly approved on Sunday an agreement rejecting the increase of gas prices, and called the citizens to raise their voice and hold peaceful protests that the deputies will join. The agreement includes Juan Guaidó coming up with a plan for rescuing the oil industry, developing public policy for economic development. The plan will be developed with the permanent Oil and Energy commission, advisors and experts. Guaidó said that imposing the price in dollars is unconstitutional, that with this measure Nicolás wants to mock Venezuelans (again): “They’re mobsters, accomplices, trying to hijack power for one more day, hurting an entire nation,” he said. Deputies agree that this increase summarizes chavismo’s destruction of PDVSA. They insisted on the increase not being in any way proportional to minimum wage and will only cause more corruption and inequality.
- In the last 24 hours, Venezuela confirmed 51 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 1,510. Delcy Rodríguez said that 21 are local cases (Bolívar and Delta Amacuro) and 30 are “imported” cases, blaming Colombia for 629 and Brazil for 157. She said that they’ve done 975,825 tests. In addition, Delcy said they met with representatives from ten sectors of the economy that will reactivate on Monday, highlighting that the Chamber of Food said that production tripled during the quarantine, even though she didn’t say how that happened or where all that food is.
- Jorge Rodríguez talked about the measures for lifting the lockdown, starting on June 1sr. He emphasized the prohibition on cultural, political or sporting events (just in case someone is thinking about protesting the increase of the price of gas) and said that movie theaters, malls, stadiums and educational institutions will remain closed. According to him, they’re working on a plan to reactivate tourism but traveling to other states is still restricted, unless you have a letter of safe passage. SUDEBAN reported that banks have been divided in two groups: banks that will be working on Mondays and Wednesdays and banks that will be working on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Clients will be divided by the last number on their ID. All banks will open on Fridays, but for legal entities.
- Armando.info reported about the Alba Forestal, a project led by Elías Jaua, that got 19 million from Hugo Chávez to clean up the trees torn by hurricane Félix in Nicaragua. It became a lucrative business, and it destroyed land after privatization. The money never made it back to Venezuela, making Daniel Ortega, a dictator close to Chávez, very happy.
- Mexican company Libre Abordo, who exchanged millions of barrels of Venezuelan oil in an agreement over food, announced they’re bankrupt after losing 90 million dollars. The U.S. State Department and the Treasury Department are investigating the company to know if they have violated sanctions on PDVSA.
- Economist Ricardo Hausmann estimates that after the COVID-19 pandemic, Venezuela can be a victim of “the most severe humanitarian crisis of 2020” in the world, because the regime lacks the capacity to impede it. He reiterated that all solutions begin with Nicolás’s exit, who can increase repression, but that won’t bring back electricity, water or cooking gas. He insisted Juan Guaidó needs a cabinet and become a government, “to be able to make decisions.”
- There have been over 6.1 million COVID-19 cases and 371,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The protests in the U.S. over the weekend, have caused fear in the authorities of a country with 1.7 million cases and 104,356 deaths. Brazil has had over 500,000 cases and is the fourth country with more deaths in the world, 29,314. Chile is approaching 100,000 cases and has had 1,054 deaths. Colombia has had 27,219 cases and 916 deaths.
Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported.
Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.Donate