They Won’t Play This Time

National Electoral Council directora Tania D’Amelio said yesterday that the electoral committees of the country’s 335 municipalities are active for the mayoral nomination process, pointing out that they’ll use the electoral registry used for regional elections and claiming that the timetable for elections will be published this week.

Throughout the day, opposition parties Primero Justicia (PJ), Voluntad Popular (VP), Causa R, Alianza Bravo Pueblo (ABP) and Acción Democrática (AD) announced that they won’t run on mayoral elections because there are no fair conditions. VP forbade its members  from participating, threatening to expel anyone who doesn’t comply with the measure; while AD used the weird term “self-exclusion” and Causa R proposed focusing all efforts on choosing a candidate for presidential elections through primaries.

Prison for the critics

The plenary of the Federal Government Council (CFG) held in Miraflores included the obedient governors Laidy Gómez, Antonio Barreto, Ramón Guevara and Alfredo Díaz. After declaring himself at war and boasting about his determination, Nicolás claimed that he’ll insist on the “draconian” application of justice against dissidents who attack the Venezuelan electoral system, because criticism about its transparency is inadmissible and there’s room enough in prisons for anyone who attacks the CNE. That’s a pretty arrogant way of demonstrating the low cost of his long list of political prisoners.

He demanded that the opposition acknowledge chavismo’s strength and power and said that failing to recognize the fake chavista institutionality marks the end of the road for the opposition’s “self-disappearance”, linking any criticism with subordination to Washington, Madrid and Bogotá.

Finally, he cautioned the governors about the convenience of keeping him as president because he helps them, and promised “surprises” for Wednesday in his sinister merry christmas plan.

Pay up, Nicolás

PDVSA said last Friday that they’d paid $841.8 million to holders of one of its bonds, defending its full financial solvency, but this payment has yet to reach investors and it could actually take two more days. PDVSA bond prices, which rose after the announcement, fell on Monday, showing that the market seems to be at ease with the transaction’s delay. And on Friday, the oil company must make a $1.1 billion payment that won’t admit any delays, for the expiration of another bond. There were also reports yesterday that, due to lack of financial resources, PDVSA’s renting the Paraguaná refining facility (Falcón state) to Chinese and Russian companies, although this kind of service contract isn’t established in the Hydrocarbons Law, according to warnings from labor union sources.

Repression

Amnesty International (AI) denounced yesterday how the government’s repressive policy has expanded its control with illegal home searches and attacks on residential areas. Erika Guevara Rosas, head of AI for the Americas, presented the report Nights of terror: attacks and illegal home searches in Venezuela, explaining that human rights violations intensified with the searches in the context of protests in April and July, which also violated international standards with arbitrary detentions, non-compliance with the country’s current legislation and violence (beatings, use of firearms, tear-gas, destruction and robberies).

According to Amnesty International, there’s no doubt that Venezuela experiences an unconstitutional crisis – closely tied to the high levels of impunity – and it’s imperative that the State immediately and urgently cease home searches, as well as the excessive use of force on the part of State security bodies. AI also demands that the government “efficiently and impartially investigate and punish through civilian courts the actions of armed civilian groups” and of officers who carried out those searches.

Another perspective of the crisis

The most recent report of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates that Venezuelan imports will drop by 21.8% in 2017 after receding 35.7% in 2016.

Carlos Albornoz, head of the National Federation of Livestock Breeders (Fedenaga), said that, in order to hold the economic crisis in check, it’s necessary to take macroeconomic measures and the first one should be opening a humanitarian channel, since there’s no way of avoiding collapse. He explained that setting meat’s price at Bs. 41,000 per kilo is an insufficient measure that won’t solve the long-term crisis, because the hyperinflationary economy will continue unabated.

Fedecámaras chair Carlos Larrazábal also explained that the policy of price controls is negative and is destroying national production, because “you can’t force anyone to produce at a loss,” and ratified Albornoz’s opinion regarding inflation. He said that the policy of controls is really far from a solution to our situation.

But don’t worry, Delcy Rodríguez said that the ANC will review economic laws proposed by Nicolás to solve the “induced” crisis.

Brief and serious

  • Teenage pregnancy: “A child is born to a teenage mother every three minutes” in Venezuela, explained UNFPA assistant representative Jorge González Caro, who said that our teenage pregnancy rate is way above the Latin American average, which produces a situation of exclusion from the educative and labor system, continues the cycles of poverty and violence, and reduces the possibilities for the country’s development.
  • Scabies outbreak: Doctors in Anzoátegui state issued warnings about a scabies outbreak that impacts 20% of the population, saying that the problem is made worse by shortages of medicines and drinking water. Specialists from the UCV’s Tropical Medicine Institute explained that four out of every ten individuals exhibit this disease, and that, in desperation, people use medicines meant for animals, as well as home-made medicines.
  • Political disqualification: Rosa Scarano, mayor of San Diego municipality in Carabobo state, was politically disqualified for 15 years by the Comptroller’s Office.
  • Admitting failure: President Juan Manuel Santos said: “We sought to find a peaceful and democratic solution to Venezuela’s crisis. Unfortunately we’ve failed.”

Nicolás spoke yesterday with the winner’s conviction, or rather with the certainty that the opposition already lost.

Meanwhile, the country keeps demanding an elaborate strategy, transcending the decision to sit these elections out and explaining how to rebuild an opposition platform that shares more than just an electoral agenda against a dictatorship that has demolished the value of votes.

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