The speech of Maduro last Tuesday left my numbed. All observers, even the regime, agree that Venezuela is today facing a deep, devastating economic crisis. And once again no serious action, not even serious punctual initiatives are taken. The regime is adrift, mined by internal struggles, bereft of the faintest clue as to what to do. And to top it all, after announcing crisis, economic war, sabotage, Maduro flies off, AGAIN, for the burial of the Saudi king when he could have dispatched there his useless vice president. The more so that the Saudi regime did not lend him any money a few days ago.
In recent posts I had mentioned some partial measures that would have improved somewhat the current situation. Not solved it, but improved it enough so as to give the regime more leverage to negotiate the real stuff. Of course these observations may or may not be worthy and other people advance as many. But the point was to stress that even this late in game there were things the regime could o and should do. And did not once again. I could see it, anyone with half a brain could see it. But the regime refuses to see it.
Instead the regime clung desperately to:
- price of gas that will be discussed and increased in accordance to public transport proposal (in Venezuela "public" transport is in fact private subjected to all sorts of regulations which have resulted in a dangerous system for customers; but I digress). In short, the increase of gas will be left for better political times that will never come and the adjustment will be more painful than it would already be today (international cost of gas is around 75 cents of USD per liter, in Venezuela it is sold at less than one penny, SICAD 2 exchange rate).
- a multitier exchange system that preserve the starting point of the current 6.3 "for food and medicine only" which was already the objective when SICAD 1 and 2 were announced (an admission that it was used for something else in spite of its objectives?). In short the regime has been unable to give up on its major source of graft and corruption, the arbitration process that allows military/bureaucrats to get dollars at 6.3 to resell them at 170. Except that this corruption will become worse as there is not enough currency coming in.
- to satisfy people's deteriorating living standards the regime decrees an increase of 15% of the minimal wage for February first. The inflation of the last three months is already above 15% and the one of February may be by itself of 10%, even without the wage increase. In short, not only this 15% is, well, useless, but it will feed inflation as the regime has no money to pay for that 15%. Banknotes will happily be printed. What next? A 20% increase in April 1?
- the other items of Maduro's speech do not deserve comment besides underlying their vulgarity and uselessness.
When I see the disaster looming and Maduro flying off to Saudi Arabia I can only think of the French expression la fuite en avant, fleeing forward senselessly. Maybe he is looking for the mythical Maduristan where all of his problems will be solved? Maybe he wants to create Maduristan? Maybe he just wants someone, anyone, make a coup against him while he is away and so leave the disaster for others to solve while he claims victimhood from exile?