Excerpts of column "Runrunes" (Rumors) of Thursday, January 31
CELAC 1. All the presidents who met with Cuban President Raúl Castro, shortly after the greetings and discussions on bilateral matters, approached him with queries into the health condition of the patient who has been in the hands of the Cuban medicine since June 2011. They would rather trust in Castro's opinion than Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolás Maduro's or Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Elías Jaua's. Both of them insisted on saying that President Hugo Chávez clings on life and Christ. The presidents asked Castro multiple questions. Three of them –of Brazil, Argentina and Spain- asked in anguish for information. A female president queried into the air trip. There, the version came, subsequently denied in Cuba, that the travel would be made by sea to avoid pressure changes. The president's return date to Caracas is up to Cuban doctors. Spanish, Brazilian and Venezuelan physicians discouraged one more time any travel ahead of the time needed for basic stabilization and recovery. Ex Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva was not allowed to come in the room where the reelected, not sworn-in president stays. The obligatory nationwide broadcast on Tuesday, January 22, mistakenly showed how they did Chávez's electronic signature. A hand, after 50 days of rest, at least should divert a little the course of usual writing.
CELAC 2. The meeting held in Chile was attended by Heads of State and Government from the European Union in order to join efforts between Europe and the Americas to improve the economy of Member States. European leaders have referred to the Latin American potential to invest in their economies in crisis. For this reason, the visit of those leaders and their economic teams, including businesspersons, was coordinated for meetings with their counterparts of the Americas. We learned about the participation for Venezuela of businesspersons without the government involvement. No minister or director in the government economic area took part in the Venezuelan delegation. The meetings held both by Foreign Minister Jaua and Vice-President Maduro were rather at the political level. The organizing committee of the business meeting wrapped up the work in a document containing specific work proposals in four hubs: environment and sustainable development, small and medium-sized enterprises, human capital and commitment to democratic values. Perhaps the latter bothered Maduro and his gang. After three days of hard work –January 24-26, 2013- 10 proposals on sustainable economic development were agreed upon to be submitted to more than 40 Heads of State and Government through their foreign ministers.
STEPS. Re-pricing and low-impact devaluation will be announced after Carnival. Drugs and foodstuffs continued being preferential items. The sale of the surplus of gold was an urgent action to meet the demand of US dollars beforehand. The president of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), Nelson Merentes, and the president of state-run oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa), Rafael Ramírez, made the deal in Havana. The latter one is gaining clout in this interim period. He is the only one who knows the location of the cash abroad.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
President Nicolás Maduro is not only the heir to the throne, but also to an economic crisis which demanded urgent measures to rectify the course. The crisis showed up in two aspects: a 50% inflation estimate, and shortage of staples ranging between 70% and 98%. These issues might hit the President's poor popularity; considering his feeble electoral victory of 1% over his challenger.