Carlos Blanco's A Time To Talk, released on January 20
"She talks about a ‘serious' increase in gasoline price and Cadivi dollars just for food and medicines"
"I've had a passionate afternoon," Dolores says unashamedly when she came into her apartment that is filled with marble and mirrors. She keeps silence when I discretely ask her about her mood. She walks around the living room and the study where a picture of Chávez is being guarded. The picture presents Chávez in his best times, with his wicked smile; at the bottom you can read the dedication: "To the guardian of my secrets, with love;" below, the unmistakable signature, far from the electronic gadgets that turned Elías Jaua into a minister taken out from Raúl Castro's magic hat.
Dolores gets in between the last-generation lamps and my penetrating look. Underneath the salmon-colored robe, I can see the silhouette of the tropical mermaid that has made so many marshals knee down. My avid eyes look at her from the heights of her pair of protuberances that rhythmically move at the pace of her anxious breathing, down to the hills and valleys surrounding that untamable will. The image becomes more disturbing when the left opening of her robe reveals the origin of her thigh down to her bare foot; prudish administration of her anatomy that, against the light, bursts into golden sparkles like pulsars.
I dare say that I do not believe it is very useful for her to welcome me with such suggestive remarks, above all considering that since time immemorial her passions have been too tinged with ideology. She explains that the passionate afternoon she was talking about had nothing to do with instincts, but with an inflamed discussion with The Chemist, an explosive expert that now is aligned with Nicolás Maduro, and the Army General, TBP, ardent opponent of Maduro.
RELAX. She lies down like the Maja, but not nude or dressed, just exquisite. We clinked dry martini glasses carefully prepared by her butler; she pushes Sabroso, the black cat, and Delicia, her dog, away from her lap and confides her fears to me: "We had the choice of creating an environment of more unity, but the clash between Nicolás and Diosdado has made them more radical, almost exasperated." She continues: "They are competing to see who resembles more Hugo and they are only caricatures. With each threat, they do nothing but destroy the possibility of the governance they might have." I argue that this is pure rhetoric; but she suddenly stands up with her powerful legs and says: "They are crazy... They want to jail former governors César Pérez Vivas, Pablo Pérez, Henrique Salas Feo and Morel Rodríguez... If they do not watch out, they will open a military trial, lift the immunity of two or three representatives... they are putting more pressure on the media..."
When I argue that these figures lack the strength to do risky plays, she replies: "They do not do it because they feel strong, but because they feel weak and the Cubans want them to burn their bridges; they are terrified at the thought that without Hugo, Nicolás and, above all, Diosdado and Rafael Ramírez, rather prefer to understand with some opposition figures. For the first time, the Cubans are afraid of abandonment. It happened once, on April 13, 2002; when Hugo came back, he kicked Fidel out, for a few days. Nobody wants to remember that episode."
-The military situation is delicate. The reaction against Cuban intervention is now massive. But make no mistake about this; all officers adore Hugo, but they are against the Cubans because they (the Cubans) are rude, colonialist, the comrade says with proletarian and anti-imperialist fury.
-I do not think so...they are too many in the barracks, I answer.
Look pal, General TBP confirmed to me what I already knew: only that failure of the Minister and the Strategic Commander continue to be enthusiastic with the Cubans. I feel ashamed that Wilmer does not meet anybody, unless the two Cuban Generals are with him. But subordinates are going away. Only high-rank officers sent by Raúl are staying...
Dolores does not conceal her great love of military and command of this subject: "My friend, General TBP cried on my shoulder past Tuesday, although I had a feeling he was exaggerating his sadness just to touch my neck: He cried without tears. He painfully complained about the situation inside the Army. He tells me that only four units are complete and operative: two in Caracas, the Bolívar and Ayala battalions; the paratroopers in Maracay and the Armored Division in Valencia; with Cubans sharing command..."
RADICAL. The Chemist is Dolores' intimate friend, but he is an irrevocable extremist. His main argument has always been gunpowder, although he had been behaving moderately over the years of the (Chavista) process. Now, he has gone back to his old ways and is very close to Nicolás Maduro.
The Chemist assures that Nicolás has become radical now to displace "The Dwarf" as he calls Diosdado, but that later, once he has been elected President, he will make some changes in the economy.
-The Cubans will not let him do that, I reply.
-Darling, they are the most interested; the thing that most terrifies Raúl is a new "Special Period" in the Island, and the only way to avoid it is with the Venezuelan manna. Moreover, Nicolás, Diosdado, (Rafael) Ramírez and Adán (Chávez) all agree on the necessity of doing without Giordani to be able to take a certain turn in the economy; of course, provided it does not threaten victory, which should be overwhelming, even more than Hugo's on 10/7 election.
-Giordani has Chávez' support, I argue.
-Yes, but Hugo can no longer prevent him from being dismissed. New people are coming; Diosdado wants to control the economic, financial and military areas, whereas he would let Nicolás the ceremonial sash, protocol and the National Hymn. A protégée of Ramírez could leave Merentes jobless...
Looking at my concern over the upcoming measures, she talks about a "serious" increase in gasoline prices. Furthermore, Cadivi would allocate dollars only for food and medicines; the swap market would be reopened with the dollar fluctuating between Bs.12 and 14. Even Diosdado, now fatter thanks to his body armor, according to his bodyguards, has sent emissaries to meet with potential opposition investors.
SOLILOQUY. The comrade says: "You and we are like two powerful gladiators wandering around in a labyrinth and when we run into each other in the darkness, we run scared away from each other. The one that understands this situation will have the key of power. You are resistant, but you neither know nor understand, nor use psychological war; and in this area the Cubans are good and so are we. Luisa Estella (de Morales, the president of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice) has gotten us into a real mess and we do not know how to get out of it; and you are the only who believe that she solved us a problem. We have never been weaker, but you are paralyzed and presidential election will be on March 17 or 24. You cannot topple us, but shortages can. Today, the coup is walking around supermarkets looking for precooked corn flour and sugar..."
Translated by Álix Hernández
"Cocoa is to Venezuelans what wine is to the French," says Alejandro Prosperi, head of the Venezuelan Chamber of Cocoa, using this simile to express the paramount importance or the cocoa industry for the country. Often times heralded as "the best cocoa in the world," a passion for quality dating back to the sixteenth century has made Venezuelan cocoa growers to enjoy high prestige at international level and their product to be among the most sought-after in the world.