We have to face up to the challenges of the situation we are living through at the moment in Venezuela. No longer are we are passing through a mere difficult and complex situation or an emergency. We are facing a war situation, a multidimensional war which, while by no means new, has escalated to a new level, becoming steadily clearer and clearer.
On that score, everyone who until now has denied the economic war’s existence should think again and accept the evidence. But also forced to rethink are those who, while accepting the existence of this war in theory, have, in practice, limited their actions to implementing conventional measures.
Wartime demands war measures. Experience shows that giving in to economic power has never ensured stability or protected democracy. Diverse but parallel experiences, like those of Syriza in Greece, Muammar Gaddafi's Libya or Dilma Rousseff’s Brazil all serve as precedents.
The case of Venezuela in 2002-2003 with the coup d’etat and the business-oil boycott and of Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and, again, that of our country between April and July this year, all demonstrate the contrary. Namely, only active mobilization and never losing the initiative will ensure victory.
It is worth bearing in mind, as President Nicolas Maduro himself has correctly noted, that the U.S. government sanctions are not aimed at the Venezuelan government, but at the country itself and its people regardless of their political affiliation. Consequently, it is necessary to take special measures to safeguard national sovereignty while also protecting the citizenry and people.
To repeat, we are not facing an economic crisis. We face a declaration of war by the world’s economic and political leaders, a trade, financial and economic war seeking to “heat up the domestic climate” so as to create conditions leading to the country’s collapse, which ultimately would justify a military intervention.
But at the same time, we are aware that what now looks like aggression, may also be considered as an opportunity. So, just as the events in 2002-2003 made it possible to achieve sovereignty in the management of oil resources and sealed the civic-military alliance, so the current situation can become the right moment to achieve monetary and external trade sovereignty. However, that is out of reach using conventional methods or by making concessions to extortion.
Defining concrete steps to recommend to the government and the National Constituent Assembly under current circumstances is complex, for various reasons. Above all, up to date and precise information is lacking on the national accounts and relevant indicators and, also, we know there is no magic spell. Even so, based on our experience and analysis, which are public and well known, and with the best intentions of contributing to Venezuela’s national defense, we think it necessary to take the following steps:
Exchange rates and foreign trade
1. Reinforce exchange rate controls, suspending assignment of foreign currency to private businesses and individuals and assigning available foreign currency instead to direct state imports of essential goods from allied countries.
2. With regard to exceptions that should be made to the previous point, these, once duly and publicly justified, should be made via financial means not via foreign currency transactions. That is to say, rather than sell foreign currency to international businesses, lend it to them at interest with sufficient real guarantees of getting the money back in foreign currency
3. In every case of assigning foreign currency, whether to private, public or state entities, verify exhaustively how the foreign currency is used before and after each transaction.
4. Subject foreign currency assignment to a scale of reference foreign currencies so as to prevent inflated invoicing of imports and tax evasion by means of transfer pricing and, likewise, the subsequent passing on of inflated prices in relation to the chain of production, distribution and marketing costs.
5. Make foreign currency administration transparent both so as to avoid corruption and also to facilitate social audit by means of detailed publication of all the assignments made by the National Center of Foreign Trade, cross-referenced against customs import data recorded by the Integrated National Service of Customs and Tax Administration and the Automated Customs System.
6. Create an operational body with punitive powers perhaps improving on the concept of the proposed but as yet unimplemented Interoperational Body controlled directly from the presidency in Miraflores. This would create an obligatory, real time link between the databases of all state bodies and organizations processing data using information and communications technology to provide intelligence reports on that analysis.
7. Divert oil currently sold to the United States towards our Eurasian allies possibly including the modality of barter for essential goods.
8. Start a process of renegotiation and restructuring of external debt with allied investors and countries.
Prices and supply
9. Constitute an Integrated Command to defend the socio-economic rights of the population, incorporating the National Superintendent of the Defense of Socio-Economic Rights, the Anti-Monopoly Superintendent, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Office for the Defense of the People, the Superintendent of Banking Sector Institutions, the National Bolivarian Armed Forces, and other competent organizations and bodies.
10. Disqualify and reject price setting based on the parallel market exchange rate as a reference mark to determine costs.
11. Decree the state as the obligatory sole buyer of essential goods so as to give the state the power to negotiate the prices of those goods with the monopoly vendors who control their importation, production, distribution and marketing.
12. Strengthen direct or programmed distribution mechanisms for food and other essential items.
13. Begin a process of import substitution based on public enterprises, the communal economy, small and medium sized businesses, prioritizing goods and inputs essential for the population.
14. Close the frontier with Colombia indefinitely.
15. Refer Colombia to the World Trade Organization for unfair international trade practices, money laundering and terrorist financing through that country’s system of Foreign Exchange Offices on its frontier with Venezuela.
16. Report Colombia to the Union of South American States for violating the territory of another member state, with specific reference to promoting and encouraging contraband of national goods and attacks on the national currency.
17. Sign immediately a Reciprocal Military Assistance Treaty with allied powers, authorized by the plenipotentiary National Constituent Assembly.
First published in 15 y Último on Aug. 31, 2017.
Translation by Tortilla con Sal.