As Imports Seem To Rise In Venezuela, Everything Else Seems Negative

June 19, 2016

It has been difficult to write about what is going on in Venezuela. I wish I could be the bearer of good news, but most of the time, news coming out of Caracas is simply negative and may I say, simply depressing. Things get worse and the Government continues to pay little attention to what is going on, continuing its “economic war” cry to blame their incompetence, their negligence, their corruption and their indolence in the face of hunger, illness and insecurity. (This from a Government that lost 120,000 barrels per day in oil production only in May!)

About the only positive news is that, as measured by the PCNI (Puerto Cabello Non-Baltic Index) imports appear to have picked up in the last few weeks as shown below:

PCabelloAs you can see, the number of boats arriving daily to the main port in Venezuela for food imports, has increased significantly from the lows that I reported in April reaching levels between 8 and ten ships per day, something not seen since January.

This is welcome news, even if it is clearly insufficient. Recall that last year, the average number of ships in Puerto Cabello was typically 14 to 15 each day. Moreover, you have to understand that there is a new mindset in Venezuela: that of extreme scarcity. Even those that have little money for purchases are hoarding something at home. Everyone has something in life that you feel you need no matter what. Thus, whether it is soda, toothpaste, sanitary napkins or simply milk for your baby, the scarcity mindset drives people to hoard their favorite foods. The results is that the cabinets and closets of the people are full of many of these items and it will take over-importing, something we are not even close to, in order to make this mindset disappear.

The consequence is that as the scarcity levels have increased, higher imports are simply not felt by the population.Meanwhile, the Government remains in control of what may be or not imported, while at the same time increasing its power over distribution channels. Its latest invention, ironically called the CLAPs, are committees to distribute food to only Government sympathizers, thus creating an apartheid in which if you don’t sympathize with the Maduro administration, there will be no food for you.

It does not get more fascist than that!

Meanwhile, scarcity is so bad, that the Government now has to resort to accompanying food trucks with security, lest they be looted by hungry people when trucks stop. Sometimes they don’t even have to stop, they are ambushed by people at the entrance of towns as they head to supermarkets and quickly emptied from their goods. In places like Cumana, stores have been looted and many of them have no plans to re-open, aggravating the problem.

Meanwhile at the OAS, Venezuelans became hopeful that some international pressure could be applied on the Maduro Government, something that has not worked in the last seventeen years. The Maduro Government masterfully played the diplomatic game, proving once again that countries have no principles, only interests.

Even recently elected Mauricio Macri of Argentina, found his personal interest in having his Foreign Minister become Head of the OAS more important than the fate of Venezuelans, backing out of strong statements made in the exuberance of his Presidential victory. To say nothing of the US, which decided to push for the mediation route, a path that is only meant to delay the feasibility of a recall vote against Maduro in 2016, thus guaranteeing that Chavismo, even if it has to get rid of its current bus driver, will rule over Venezuela until 2019.

And the opposition was partially to blame. It really was not playing international diplomacy at the same level, but it also accepted some initial gambit for negotiations, led by a bunch of former Presidents, who are not only pro-Chavistas and which have little significance in their own countries, but whose role as mediators is financed, funded and toasted by Maduro.

Of course, the OAS’s task was difficult from the beginning given the large number of fairly wealthy Caribbean countries that receive cheap oil from the Maduro administration and have sold their soul to the Chavismo Devil (not related) for years.

As for the recall, the many manuevers by the Electoral Board are so incredibly biased that their pro-Chávez members should one day be tried for the wholesale violation of the people´s rights (and their pensions rescinded).  Not only have the timetables established in the law not been respected, but rules have been made up on the fly to make the recall even vote more difficult. From requiring 1% of the voters for each State, rather than 1% of the voters nationwide, as clearly stated by the law, to arbitrarily voiding 600,000 signatures for the recall, to allowing people to withdraw their signature (something that less than 6,000 people out of 2.1 million took advantage of), the whole process has been shameful and should be enough justification for the OAS to do something.

The latest ruse? After signing the petition for recall, people have five days to go to the Electoral Board and ratify that they signed the petition using their fingerprint. Now, in a country where all supermarkets are now armed with fingerprint machines to restrict the purchase of price – goods, the Electoral Board came up with three hundred machines to have the remaining 1.352 million people ratify their signatures.

Even more shameful, the distribution of machines is as efficient and biased as the Government’s food distribution network. For 241 municipalities with 600,000 people who signed the petition, there will be zero machines to ratify their signatures. At the same time, 64 municipalities with 21,000 signatures will have all of 100 machines for people to ratify their signatures. The most ridiculous case is the town of Ocumare de la Costa, where there will be all of four machines to service the 264 people who signed the petitions. Of course, municipalities like Chacao, Baruta and El Hatillo, with thousands of signatures will have none, zilch, zero.

Only around 200,000 people are needed to ratify the recall petition, but each state will need 1% of its voting population. Thus, the task is made quite difficult by restricting the number of fingerprint machines. Fascist hoodlums is what the four pro-Chavez ladies at the Electoral Board are!

And so it goes…as this happens, Venezuelans get distracted by stories about cemeteries where the tombs of former Presidents are desecrated, which has been happening since even before Chávez took power in 1998, but which creates and outcry and diverts attention from the rapid, vertigo-inducing deterioration of the quality of life in Venezuela. As the Minister for jails, released prisoners to protest in favor of Maduro, there were two kidnappings very close to my family, including one nephew. But the police is too occupied guarding food trucks and protesting prisoners.

And so it goes…

21 Responses to “As Imports Seem To Rise In Venezuela, Everything Else Seems Negative”

  1. Rafael Says:

    Ningún país puede funcionar si un camión con leche o harina tiene que ser protegido por el ejército. No se sabe por dónde se romperá todo pero esto no puede durar mucho más. La irracionalidad y el absurdo de este gobierno se supera por momentos.

  2. IslandCanuck Says:

    Just announced that in the last 1½ hours only 11 persons have been processed. In Pampatar the machine is paralyzed and only only 10 persons have been processed this afternoon.

    Really looks like Nueva Esparta is their target for failure.

    • Roy Says:

      A friend of mine has been waiting every day since 7:30am this Monday at Apostadero. She still has been validated as of this writing.

    • M Rubio Says:

      They won’t leave anything to chance. I bet more than one state is targeted for failure.

      • moctavio Says:

        Reportedly the oppo needed about 820 more validations yesterday. As of noon it had reduced it to 470 and there is a day and a half late. They even lost power in some of the Nueva Esparta poll stations.

  3. IslandCanuck Says:

    Here’s our story of trying to confirm 3 signatures with my family.

    After hearing horror stories about Juan Griego & La Asuncion we decided to try and go to El Maco which is almost in the exact middle of Isla Margarita. A very small pueblo where no one would expect a confirmation point.

    We arrived at around 10 AM and registered with the MUD table that was there. We were given wrist bands with a number and asked to join the line.

    It appeared fairly short so we were really surprised when someone indicated the the line went around the corner of the next block.

    After a check we discovered that there were hundreds of people ahead of us – maybe 400 / 500.

    After waiting almost an hour the line had only moved maybe 20 mts.

    We returned to the check-in counter to ask how many people an hour they were processing. The lady shrugged and said that ideally 60 persons per hour. There was only 1 finger print machine. She admitted that the number was much less.

    We decided that waiting further was a waste of time as we would never be processed and left with the idea to return another day much earlier. Even this idea is without much merit as they can’t possibly process the number of people that show up under current conditions.

    This is definitely a planned exercise by the CNE to prevent at least 1 state from getting their 1%. That’s all they need to destroy the whole process.

    As of 1.30 it was announced that the El Maco site had only processed 120 voters in 4½ hours – approx. 27 per hour.

    They are going to do everything in their power to block at least 1 state. Then for sure the revocatorio will not occur in 2016.

    I’m depressed as the MUD has no power to change anything.

  4. Lou Says:

    Miguel, the opposition is also the problem. I gave up. I understand why the poor hate. Venezuelans too self centered regardless of cause. The zifrinos at Caracas Chronicles are an example

    • moctavio Says:

      I know, many people still think the oppo won in December because its popular, in reality it was more a vote against Chavismo.

      • Charlie Says:

        I’d say instead, a vote against Madurismo

        • moctavio Says:

          I dont believe there is such things as Madurismo, he is an accident and a lot of what has happened was cooked by Chavez. Chavez may have managed it better, but the consequences would have been the same.

  5. Charlie Says:

    Rubio, unfortunately this is the way very many chavistas think. They may not want Maduro, but would not even dream of voting for someone in the opposition. They see us as pure evil. Chavistas want Maduro recalled so they can vote for another chavista hoping that the new guy will do a better job.

  6. M Rubio Says:

    Ah yes Miguel, you mention the looting and violence in Cumana. But don’t you know who the real culprits are? Here’s what my Chavista buddy in Margarita had to say about that when I asked him about all those “amoroso chavistas bailando y cantando en paz en la calle”:

    “Si, ya hay mas de 400 detenidos, y si están cantando, están cantando quienes le pagaron. Sr, parece que ud no se informa bien, utilice la internet, anoche pasaron los videos, son malandros pagados por la misma oposición fascista y asesina. Y ya van rumbo a San Juan de Los Morros, presos por gafos, por dejarse utilizar creyendo en cuentos de la oposición, el mismo plan del 11 y 12 de abril, contra Chavez.”

    Honestly, this guy will likely be one of the last rats to leave the sinking ship.

  7. The CLAP distribution method can be considered a crime against humanity. I believe a case can be filed in the Criminal Court in The Hague. The case really needs to be documented.

    There has t be a push for governor elections, which are due in 2016, this will allow the opposition a broader political power base, as they would likely win all large states including the key ones such as Zulia, Carabobo, Miranda, Monagas, etc.

    The National Assembly can continue legislation as well as issuing warnings to foreign investors that any deals have to be approved by the National Assembly.

    The outside initiatives should include having Venezuela forced out of Mercosur, as well as the ongoing efforts in the OAS.

    Finally, I think a much better offensive can be mounted to point out the relationship between Raúl Castro and his agents and the Maduro regime. I realize the pope, Obama, and the EU elites have already decided the Cuban people will remain in slavery so they can make slightly higher profits, but maybe putting pressure on the Castro monster will make them ease off on their attempt to colonize Venezuela. It’s hard to tell, many Venezuelans seem completely lost when it comes to dealing with the Castro issue.

    • Diocletian Says:

      Here is part of an article in the Financial Times about Venezuela and China. I can post the whole article if anybody is interested. The link won’t work unless you have a subscription.

      Financial Times
      China seeks to renegotiate Venezuela loans

      China is renegotiating billions of dollars of loans to Venezuela and has met with the country’s political opposition, marking a shift in its approach to a nation it once viewed as a US counterweight in the Americas.

      Beijing has also sent unofficial envoys to hold talks with Venezuela’s opposition, in the hope that if President Nicolás Maduro falls his successors will honour Chinese debts, sources on both sides of the negotiations told the Financial Times. Its recognition of Mr Maduro’s fragile position and the rising clout of the opposition, led by Henrique Capriles, is another sign that the diplomatic noose is tightening around Caracas’s socialist government.

  8. Diocletian Says:

    So what happens next? Obviously “the first article” is in full force, with no chance that the Assembly can do anything except meet and complain. The referendum would seem to be impossible.

    Rebellion? Coup? Continued dictatorship?

  9. Ira Says:

    The events of the past week, including the nullification of all assembly decisions…OAS (in)actions,, and this ridiculous mediation to occur on the 23rd (what’s to mediate?)…points more directly than ever that it’s all over.

    Chavismo wins, democracy loses, and all of the bullshit about the quantity of imports and value of the B don’t mean a fucking thing.

    Game over, and we’ve gotten to the point where it’s hardly worth discussing any more.

  10. FrankPintor Says:

    Miguel, any chance you could tie up some loose ends about the Guria dam? It seems the rains did arrive, I read nothing about levels falling or rising, but it seems that Friday is a working day in Caracas again? And power cuts are less common now than in March and April?

    • moctavio Says:

      My understanding is the water levels is up, away from the danger zone. However, it is below the level at a similar time last year. Yes, classes are back to normal, but I have not heard power outages have gone down.

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