The Variety Show

 Caracas Chronicles is fond of calling Nicolas Maduro’s addresses to the nation “Nicolas’s Variety Show” although the term “Variety Show” could apply to any time the Chavistas speak about almost anything. Government media outlet Telesur has dozens of articles posted online daily with basically nothing about Venezuela and it’s government and certainly nothing of substance. It’s pure distraction and obfuscation. Although Chavez was the king of extended airtime without saying anything (sometimes six to eight hours on TV broadcasts, federally mandated that they be shown) Maduro does his best to follow in Chavez’s footsteps.

 With all the issues afflicting Venezuela Maduro still manages to get on TV and talk about nothing of consequence. Regarding the talks in Mexico with the opposition Maduro’s take was “I won’t allow Duque in Colombia to sabotage the talks with criminals and sicarios (hit men).” Uhh…OK… And then he went on saying ” I won’t allow the opposition to kick the table.”  Huh? I’m pretty sure that all Maduro’s talk about sabotage of the talks is leading up to him sabotaging the talks. I was waiting for another big reveal from him on the latest attempt to assassinate him. We are well up into dozens of attempts,so far, and counting.

 Not to be outdone in the “much ado about nothing” category, the CNE (electoral council) issued a statement regarding candidacy in the upcoming elections saying that there are candidates that have leadership and candidates  waiting for negotiation. Uhh..OK. They went on to clarify the rules for candidacy by saying that there are rules for pre-campaigns versus campaigns. I read it three times and still had no idea what they were saying. It was one of those “the house is burning down and you want to talk about the drapes?” moments.

 Then, after Maduro’s variety show he issued a statement about the economy saying activity was up in all sectors. He provided no numbers about specific activity in any area of the economy and certainly no information about increasing production anywhere. Like the CNE statement, I read it three times and still didn’t know what he was talking about.

 Then we have the TSJ (supreme court) feeling the need to say that they reject the ICC’s statement about the Venezuela government’s inactivity in investigating human rights abuses in Venezuela made the need for the ICC (International Criminal Court) to investigate admissible. As if we didn’t know that all Chavistas categorically reject anyone having any reason to investigate anything…. like maybe where Chavez’s daughter got her $4 billion? Just saying….

 And in coronavirus news we have the Secretary of The National Academy Of Medicine saying the number of Venezuelans actually vaccinated stands at 7%. Maduro still insists they’ll reach 70% by September. Isn’t it almost September?

 And although jailed opposition leader Freddy Guevara has been released we still have no details regarding conditions associated with his release nor limitation regarding rearrest possibilities, just Maduro continues to say he would welcome Freddy’s participation in the next round of talks in Mexico. My advice to Freddy …. Run Freddy…Run! And what about the hundreds more political prisoners still jailed, their status still in limbo? This includes the three Fundaredes human rights activists.

 So with all of the “nothing” coming out of Chavismo we actually do have something substantial happening in the private sector. Fedecamaras (the business chamber)  has a new president. He sees himself as “a political actor but not in the traditional sense,more of a mediator between business and government.” He is “interested in economic solutions, not political credit.” This is a very positive,non-adversarial development. Talking about the dire situation Venezuela faces with electric power (or lack thereof) he said “it’s not important whether it’s government or private, it’s important that it works!” He said more of the same regarding the water situation which is equally dire.

 He had a lot of solid observations in a lot of areas. The de facto  dollarization worked when the government eased dollar controls so why not ease controls in other areas? Kind of a foreign concept to Chavismo. “The economic world needs trust.” Another foreign concept to the Chavistas.

 “The Labor Law of 2012 protects those that have a job but doesn’t help job creation.” For those in the US that don’t know about this Chavez law, among many other worker’s rights guarantees, it guarantees severance be paid to all workers even if their decision to leave is voluntary. In the real world severance is reserved for involuntary termination or at the end of one’s term of service to the employer. Employers in Venezuela are wary of new hires because regardless of how long an employee has worked for you should they choose to leave voluntarily you still have to pay them a guaranteed minimum.

 Regarding the currency situation he said “the new currency redenomination doesn’t address substantive issues.” While he’s absolutely correct I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for any substantive solution. Maduro is still talking about “el Petro”.

 He also shed some light on what happened to lead to the private sector offering to vaccinate themselves and their families (denied by the way). In order to “facilitate  the vaccination process” the government wanted private companies to turn their databases over to the Chavistas. Thankfully the businesses didn’t buy the “We won’t use the data for nefarious purposes ” line.

 Another item on his agenda was The Law Of Fair Prices. “All discretion is with the government and there is no relation between the infraction and the penalty.” In short, the government decides what prices are considered fair and isn’t interested in any justification anyone may have for the prices they may charge and the penalty for noncompliance will be whatever they want it to be.

 He also said that economic recovery needs cooperation, not force….it needs trust. As we’ve said before…’Who trusts these guys?” I approve of the new president’s non-confrontational attitude and wish him well in his efforts, but a word of caution… look out for that “Hate Law”. It means whatever they want it to mean and criticism of a high government official is punishable by up to twenty years in prison.

 In keeping with the new president of Fedecamaras positive outlook,how about this.. Lawyer Monthly reports “High Risk Investors Looking At Venezuela.” Now,as an investor, I can tell you that money guys are notoriously forward looking and are always on the lookout for an early entry in situations where,as the article says, “profits may be immensely high”. They reference the first phase of the economic recovery and possible changes of approach by both the US government and the Venezuelan government. For me personally I have to question..What recovery? …. What changes? That said, I wish them well.

 There is more news regarding the “Socialist Paradise” but since most of it isn’t exactly positive why don’t we end on a high note? We’ll be back Monday with more third world dispatches and our next Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment, “Blatant Disregard”.

 Have a great weekend everybody!

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