Excerpts of column "Runrunes" (Rumors) of Tuesday, January 29
THE PATIENT. There is the need to read between the lines in the reports furnished by the government. At the outset, they told us that the return was impending. Later on, they told us that the president was overcoming the respiratory distress. Shortly after, they told us that they "did not want to raise false expectations about his return." The economic instructions given to the economic cabinet have his signature, but no notice or postscript, as he had accustomed us. The long latter to Celac only bears a huge red signature. His usual one, but magnified. A good symptom of his slow recovery is the fact that he went from the small booth at the Intensive Care Unit to one of the suites in the so-called presidential bunker at CIMEQ. There, he welcomed for a little while both Vice-President Nicolás Maduro and Foreign Minister Elías Jaua before their travel to Chile. Others who would like to visit CIMEQ have met the refusal by security agents. They are telling us now that it will take at least a couple of weeks, provided that his recovery will run smoothly.
ACTIONS. They would rather have Minister of Planning Jorge Giordani announce the tough economic steps to be taken right away. The "Monk" is tired and very afflicted by the health condition of President Hugo Chávez, regarded as his son. Besides, the decisions were shifted in some areas away from some of his proposals. In the meantime, US dollar allocations under the Foreign Exchange Management Committee (Cadivi) will be more restricted. The new exchange rate is anticipated at USD 5.20 per bolivar. The Transaction System for Foreign Currency Denominated Securities (Sitme) would disappear and the Stock Exchange would open again to try to balance the exchange rate at USD 9-12, so as to push it down. State-run oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) will feed that market, as before. Several items will be removed from the preferential dollar, including that of foreign airfares. They are still pondering on it because of the political effect. Thus far, everything is speculation, as discussions continued. Oracle, the company hired by the government for the Central Bank of Venezuela, Cadivi and Sitme, would have prepared the new scheme based on piling onto businesspersons and the government. For the first time, they are considering an increase of the gasoline price. They have no other choice.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
Cristian Fonseca, a businessman in La Candelaria district downtown Caracas, was doing the accounts in his small shop office on Sunday December 21, 2008. The Christmas shopping season kept him working late hours into the night. It was around 11 p.m. and his phone rang. A friend broke the bad news to him over the telephone.