HAVANA TIMES — The day closed with a new announcement by the president of Venezuela.
The president announced that, in the evening, he would offer statements regarding a new coup attempt in the country. In his two years in office, Nicolas Maduro has warned us about more coup attempts than Fidel Castro has skirted in his lifetime.
When it was time to expose the details of the alleged plot, the president offered us a tangled web of stories about a young military officer, or a high-ranking officer, who was paid in “dollars” (the word was emphasized, to remind people it is the currency of the enemy) by a national media corporation (as though the government hadn’t bought most of the major broadcasters) and given a Tucano plane (an aircraft with a bird’s name), that would fly to the presidential palace, where it would kill the president. Oh, and, folks, this plane would have born the insignia of its country of origin.
It’s hard to follow his train of thought when he goes on this way. It’s almost as though he did it on purpose, to make us weave the yarn he doesn’t want to himself.
Of course, as in all previous occasions, he offered no names and no photographs of anything. He merely leveled accusations at the Empire and the Opposition, saying measures would be implemented against them. Then came more announcements, a foretaste of the upcoming episodes of this soap opera, promising us a thorough explanation of this whole affair by another member of the government – as though he were a physics genius who reveals his groundbreaking discovery and, exhausted by the long research he has conducted, delegates a secretary who will offer a clear explanation of the facts.
“Sure, man,” one is almost tempted to say to him, “the cursed Empire is attacking with a little Tucan plane.” The question is: what lies behind this new act of buffoonery? (I ask the gods, constellations and spirits that surround us to forgive the kind of language that comes out of me whenever I hear dear old Nicolas speak).
First, after he’d assured us there would be no devaluation in the country, the recently created Sistema Marginal de Divisas (Marginal Hard Currency System, or SIMADI), a State-run, legalized form of managing the black-market or parallel hard currency economy, began operations with a Bolivar – US dollar exchange rate of 170 to 1.
The price of sugar rose by more than 60 %. We can also expect the price of other basic products to go up, and without much of a fuss, as has become usual.
Today, the Minister of Transportation announced the new, “fair” prices for urban and suburban streets – a 40% rise in prices. At the close of last year, State public transportation rates (the metro and metrobus systems) had gone up from 1.5 to 4 and 6 Bolivars, respectively.
The price of fuel has not yet gone up. What “fair” price for public transportation will be established when it does, I wonder.
In the meantime, the long lines of people everywhere continue to enjoy excellent health.
On Venezuelan Youth Day, following a rally led by the opposition, a group of young people took to the streets in downtown Caracas. A number of SEBIN officials opened fire on them, killing Bassil da Costa.
It’s been one year since his murder and, even though the 7 or 8 culprits have been identified through photos and videos, only one of them is in prison and awaiting trial. The rest all enjoy good health and have even received the occasional medal. I found this out doing an Internet search, as the Venezuelan press doesn’t make a habit of informing citizens about how justice is carried out in the country.
Less than two weeks ago, a government resolution authorized the use of fire arms on protesters – as a last resort.
I may be missing one or two of the many reasons why the president resorted to the same old story about a coup or assassination attempt. One of them could be to have a pretext to put the army on the street permanently, with everything that entails.
Maybe not, maybe I’m only being paranoid and overly suspicious. I’m sick and tired of hearing the government announce it will not do something that it ends up doing, or vice-versa. Perhaps Maduro is right this time and there’s a killer toucan flying around the presidential palace, but, like the boy who cried wolf…