The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised its inflation forecast for Venezuela today, and predicted that the rate would hit one million percent by the end of this year. If met, the grim milestone would be yet another marker on Venezuela’s continuing road towards complete economic collapse.
According to Bloomberg, the IMF’s Alejandro Werner compared the current inflationary crisis in Venezuela to that in 1920s Weimar Germany and 2000s Zimbabwe. Werner also said that the country’s economy would collapse by 18% this year as the country’s oil industry continues to decay.
Werner also commented on the effect that the economic crisis is likely to have on the region:
The collapse in economic activity, hyperinflation, and increasing deterioration in the provision of public goods as well as shortages of food at subsidized prices have resulted in large migration flows, which will lead to intensifying spillover effects on neighboring countries.
SEBIN Issue Arrest Warrant for Opposition Politician’s Wife
The Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional [National Bolivarian Intelligence Service] (SEBIN), the Maduro regime’s political police, issued an arrest warrant today for the Jofreny Gonzalez, the spouse of National Assembly deputy Jose Manuel Olivares. Gonzalez’s whereabouts are currently unknown.
According to El Nacional, SEBIN agents appeared at Olivares’ home “many times” several weeks ago looking for Gonzalez. It is not clear whether the officer had a warrant for her arrest during those earlier visits, or if they were looking for Gonzalez for an unrelated matter.
The warrant alleges that Gonzalez has or has attempted to “acquire vehicles that are presumed to have illegal origins” through an insurance company at which she works. The wording of the warrants suggests that Gonzalez is suspected of attempting to purchase or otherwise acquire stolen vehicles.
A source familiar with the case told El Nacional that the allegations in the warrant are fictitious, and that Olivares is currently working to place both his wife and his mother in hiding.
According to El Pitazo, a “high ranking SEBIN official” called Olivares on July 12 and threatened that his brother, mother and husband would “go to prison” unless Olivares stopped his work organizing and participating in protests.
Olivares’ Family Previously Targeted by the Regime
Olivares is a high-profile opposition politician who represents Vargas state at the legislature with the Primero Justicia (PF) party. An outspoken critic of the Maduro regime, Olivares’ entry into politics was born out of his participation in the 2007 student protests in which he participated alongside other youths who would also enter politics, including Freddy Guevara, Yon Goicoechea, Stalin Gonzalez and Miguel Pizarro.
Olivares is the president of the National Assembly’s Sub-Commission for Health, and often appears in the media speaking about the healthcare crisis affecting the country.
Last year, while Olivares was running for governor of Vargas state, SEBIN officers arrested his brother during a campaign event in the city of Catia la Mar. The officers were accompanied by agents from the Direccion General de Contrainteligencia Militar [General Directorate for Military Counterintelligence] (DGCIM) when they arrested Juan Carlos, who was subsequently sent to the SEBIN prison in El Helicoide, Caracas.
At the time that Juan Carlos was arrested, none of the officers at the scene presented a warrant for his arrest. He was accused of committing irregularities relating to some legal documents that he signed back in 2012.
Olivares maintains that the regime arrested his brother on fictitious charges in an attempt to force him to drop out of the governorship race. Olivares eventually lost the election.
Juan Carlos was released from El Helicoide on June 2 of this year.
Bernal Swims Against PSUV in Recorded Statement
Freddy Bernal, a longtime fixture inside the ruling PSUV party and current head of the CLAP distribution system, appeared on a video published by NTN24 going against established regime dogma on the root cause of the crisis affecting the country.
The clip is short, but in it Bernal appears to be speaking at an event in front of a small audience. Bernal says that neither the Fourth Republic–the political era before Chavez–nor former president Carlos Andres Perez “are responsible”, though he does not specify in the video for what. Since the Maduro regime routinely blames both the Fourth Republic and its politicians for the ills affecting Venezuela, it is evident from that context that Bernal was referring to the crisis in the country today.
NTN24 did not explain where the video came from, or when it was recorded.
Below, the video along with my translation:
Bernal: …. including governance. We have to say it. We’re responsible for this. The Fourth Republic isn’t responsible. No. Carlos Andres Perez isn’t responsible. No, he’s not. We are responsible, because we have been in revolution for 19 years, and we are responsible for the good and the bad that is happening in this country. Therefore…
Efecto Cocuyo points out that Bernal would not be the first PSUV official to openly speak out against the Maduro regime and its line in recent months. In early July, Minister of Education Elias Jaua called for the PSUV to usher in a new “democratic era” inside the party, arguably suggesting that a change in the party’s leadership was overdue.
Similarly, Constituent Assembly deputy Jesus Faria has appeared in a number of televised and radio interview since the start of the month criticizing the regime’s economic policy as “capitalist”, and suggesting a wide range of dramatic changes, including an end to currency exchange controls.
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