HAVANA TIMES – It’s already a well-known saying: Maduro will get Venezuela back on track “by hook or by hook” and with “a baseball bat in hand”.
The Cuban/Venezuelan advisers haven’t had the creative flair to capture the image and make it into a slogan this time. They could have baptized the new blow the president and his close rulers will deliver to the economy (traditionally known as the “package”) “Plan BBB”… or, to be more frank, Plan Baseball Bat.
He warned that the baseball bat will be reserved for oligarchs who sabotage the recovery process, but he didn’t say it was “just for them” and he also didn’t clarify what kind of oligarch he was referring to. Aren’t he and those who rule this country oligarchs…?
Wait, Maduro, do you really know what this word means? Look here, my lad, an oligarch is a member of the oligarchy, and this is a form of government where a very select few hold all power… let’s see… ah, yes, Maduro, you and Cilita, Diosdado Cabello, the two Tareks, Jorge Rodriguez and his top model sister, and the two or three others that rule this country. If that isn’t called an oligarchy…
Ah, but I’m sure you were of course referring to those who flaunt economic power… in that case (Bakunin)… You, Maduro, are also an oligarch in this other sense of the word!
Bearing in mind the fact that you won’t beat yourself up with this baseball bat, and less your mates on your own team (as long as they always respect the rules of the game), it’s a beautiful metaphor for what they are about to do. Oil prices are about to be jacked up, and what would be a better time than now to do this? The answer is of course, at any other time! But, that doesn’t matter because the bat’s there, in his hand.
This isn’t the best time for this darned price hike because, before doing this, the government got rid of taxes on transnational oil corporations’ profits (while the Venezuelan people need to pay 12% VAT on everything they buy), because people who live off one income or, quite simply, don’t have a car or the one they have is broken (and it normally costs more to fix it than what it originally cost them to buy it) need to travel on public or private transport and both systems have collapsed.
People are paying to travel in trucks that aren’t fit to transport people. This increase in fuel prices would be the perfect excuse for private drivers to make their services even more expensive.
And they aren’t going to jack up fuel prices just like that. First, Maduro has warned us, kindly, that Venezuelan citizens who don’t have a homeland card must apply for one and take part in the census of everyone who owns a car because those who have a homeland card will be able to choose to buy gas at a regulated price, while those who don’t will have to pay international market prices.
This would mean that filling a 5-liter motorcycle tank would cost approximately 20 million bolivars if they don’t have a homeland card. However, this is just speculation because a currency revaluation is coming, it’s not just higher fuel and basic services prices.
Venezuela will sink into chaos in just a few days. You don’t need to be a pessimist to know what’s going to happen. They are going to take 5 zeros off the bolivar and other notes will come into effect, but both types of currency will be circulating for a short while. Banks won’t offer any services, at least for a day. Knowing how bad their websites are, I’m hoping I’m wrong, but I don’t believe they’ll be able to implement this in a day (although some people have been honest and talked about banks not offering any services for a few days).
On the other hand, price discrimination won’t only favor the dollar, but now fuel will also have two prices, one for “patriots” and the other for the “stateless”. If we bear in mind the fact that everything that is forbidden flourishes and that everything that is regulated creates more speculation, we can also guess that filling a tank of gas in the next few days will be the same as venerable Odysseus’ journey home.
Maduro is betting on the economy recovering (in the next two years, according to his economist’s assessment) with this simple measure of jacking up fuel prices and taking zeros off the strong Bolivar. Don’t forget that he told us he was doing this while holding a baseball bat and after eliminating taxes for those who exploit Venezuelan oil. Who is going to pay the price for this alleged recovery?