Carlos Blanco's A Time To Talk, released on July 8
"Judges are changed, but you remain there, Jorge, with the scythe in your hand; taking revenge of what?"
I met Jorge Giordani for the first time when we were classmates at the Cendes 5th Postgraduate Course at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV). Back then, he was already an elder of sorts, because of his unhurried behavior and understanding veteran's smile. That course had its revolutionary fraction, to which I belonged, within the framework of the fights that were then recent due to the University Renewal movement. It was the time of the first Caldera's administration, which took over independent universities, raided the UCV twice and destroyed the then members of the University Council; I myself was in the council as a student representative, along with Rector Jesús María Bianco. Amidst that climate, in 1970, we started our postgraduate course. People of the other sector of our small course were more composed, more calm, and Giordani stood out among them. His preference pointed to the newly-formed MAS (socialist party), but with the same calm that characterized him. Two years after, the mutation occurred: the man became the most radical hothead, turned Cendes into his den and transmuted into a character that was better known as "The Albanian."
I did not know the details of the change by virtue of which the quiet Jorge turned into the furious Enver Hoxha. Later, I knew he had gone on a pilgrimage to Yare (prison) to meet the man who back then was shaping up as an odd incubus that the law enforcement bodies had apprehended one early morning of felonies at the Military Museum. The master-disciple relation that has so much upset the "region" appears to have been born at Yare. The man of the theoretical laboratory at Cendes finally found the Homeland Benefactor that was going to bring ideas, projects, hallucinations and ardors into fruition. It suffices to remember the Orinoco-Apure axis, which by now should be the Orinoco-Amazon-Danube-Volga-Yangtze Axis. The man had his very serious disagreements with members of Chávez' cabinet, to such an extent that one of them, yes, one member of the cabinet, confessed me that getting rid of Giordani was a priority to relaunch the economy. He left, came back, left, came back and stayed.
When I was editor of Primicia magazine, I interviewed Giordani at his ministerial office. He welcomed me with cordiality; and was mischievous enough to remind me of my times of revolutionary and told me -that I understood- "you sould have to be on our side." It was an extensive and so candid interview that we agreed to make a second part. We published it just as it was, without omitting or adding a bit; however, it provoked a sort of widespread jest due to certain, a bit delirious, attitudes by Giordani that were reflected in the text, and recorded, amidst an amicable talk. The second interview never happened; he no longer answered the phone when I called.
I knew from the newspapers of his theories: for example, that of the submarine that began to emerge from the depth. Later, I have seen him behave with terrible hatred, unimaginable in that calm friend of the 70s. He has described those who oppose the government as the dregs of the society. I have learnt that the four directors of Econoinvest are jailed purely because he wants it. Giordani has his prisoners and since they are his, nobody releases them.
THE MINISTER'S PRISONERS. Herman Sifontes, Ernesto Rangel, Miguel Osío Zamora and Juan Carlos Carvallo are these prisoners. They are not opposition leaders or politicians; they are citizens devoted to foster, create and develop what was a successful business until the government decided to seize it. I met them within the framework of the prestigious intellectual activities they developed, which were aimed at exploring structural problems in Venezuela and Latin America. They have friends in all spheres, including government, not only because a business like Econoinvest demands a permanent relation to the official world, but because they, in fact, have a broad spectrum of relations. They are people with whom you can agree or disagree, and I can tell it out of my own experience, but who do not believe that disagreements are insurmountable.
These directors developed the country's most successful stock exchange firm; thousands of Venezuelans knew about saving practices under the guidance of that firm; they negotiated papers authorized by the administration as instruments to trade bolivars for dollars at an alternative dollar price that was determined by a distorted market, but that was not controlled by those entrepreneurs but by circumstances derived from exchange controls.
As one can easily deduce, a business that developed these activities and reported them to the Central Bank's and financial authorities is not engaged in fraudulent plots; not only because that is not in the nature of the jailed directors, but because they were closely watched under a huge magnifying glass.
So, why are they jailed? Because of a serious internal conflict of the administration. The increase in dollar price and the subsequent surge in import value, key factors in inflation rise, were and are the result of economic policies promoted by Giordani. How can he get rid of that guilt? Blaming those who within the government promoted, approved, and legitimated the titles that allowed access to that "parallel" dollar, as well as the institutions: PDVSA, in the first place, which issued titles which had the same characteristics as those traded by Econoinvest. Of course, it was impossible for Jorge Giordani's clash with Rafael Ramírez to be settled by this latter leaving, because he is the one that controls the "petty cash" which Chávez uses to make Evo (Morales) and (Daniel) Ortega happy and as the source of gratifications with election purposes; that is why they looked for the classical escape goats and it was the turn, at a very bad time, of Econoinvest directors.
This firm's takeover will appear in the record of horrors. One day, the public opinion will know the true dimension of the disaster of inspectors that sacked an institution that never had any problem of liquidity or solvency whatsoever.
However, the heaviest burden in Jorge Giordani's consciousness is that there are four men jailed who are his prisoners; that have been jailed for two years without being tried; that now the judge decided to extend for another two years their time in prison, without even having the consideration of allowing them to stay at their homes while the process develops.
Judges are changed, but you remain there, Jorge, with your scythe in your hand, taking revenge of what? What intimate and indescribable satisfaction do you have by keeping them in jail? What do you want to prove?
I have also to regret in these lines that many who are aware that this case is nothing but a tall story have preferred to remain silent; not only those friends that Econoinvest directors have in the administration, but also some important opposition figures. What a silence!
Translated by Álix Hernández
The very early morning after the presidential election (April 15), both candidates requested the National Electoral Council (CNE) to conduct a full audit of the process: one, Henrique Capriles, because he asserts that the election results are different from the ones announced, and the other one, Nicolás Maduro, in order to clear any doubt regarding his victory, and to reinforce his political stance. Nevertheless, as it is already known, President Maduro changed his mind.