Experts continued to weigh in today on Maduro’s surprise vehicle census announcement this past Saturday, with reaction to the measure continuing to be universally negative.
During a speech at a ruling party congress on Saturday, Maduro declared that every Venezuelan who owns a vehicle would have to participate in a census this August 4-5. Maduro said that the census was necessary to ensure the “just, rational use” of gasoline, but he did not make clear exactly what he meant by the phrase or how a vehicle census might accomplish that goal.
Ivan Freites, a director at the Federación Única de Trabajadores Petroleros de Venezuela [Venezuelan Oil Workers’ Federation], told El Nacional that the country’s oil refineries were paralyzed due to years of neglect and lack of investment. Freites said that as a result, Venezuela no longer produces its own gasoline, and is instead forced to trade it for crude oil.
Freites speculated that what the regime might be trying to do with the census is force a drop in motor vehicle use in Venezuela in order to decrease gas demand.
National Assembly deputy Jorge MIllian, who sits on the legislature’s Oil and Energy Committee, told the newspaper that because the regime is “bankrupt”, it cannot afford to pay for gasoline imports. As a result, Millan said, the regime has apparently decided to undertake the vehicle census to lower demand for gas.
Francisco Monaldi, a fellow in Latin American energy policy at the Center for Energy Studies, the Mexico Center and the Latin America Initiative at the Baker Institute, said that Maduro’s call for gas rationing are the result of both PDVSA’s collapse and longstanding policies that keep Venezuela’s gas prices the lowest on the planet. Monaldi explained:
As I’ve been saying, gasoline rationing in Venezuela is the inevitable consequence of the collapse of [oil] production and refining, combined with the policy of giving away gas in the internal market.
Monaldi also suggested that it may be possible that the regime will attempt to continue gas subsidies, but only to individuals who have registered with its carnet de la patria [Motherland I.D.]:
Maduro appears to be announcing gas rationing using the carnet de la patria. [The regime will] possible increase gasoline prices substantially, and with the carnet [you] could get it for a lower price. The sensible thing would be to increase the price and give a direct subsidy as compensation.
Public School Closures Set to Mark Start of 2018-2019 Year
El Nacional published an article today in which it reveals that Venezuelan schools are closing despite the population growth, another symptom of the chronic crisis affecting the country.
Citing Luis Bravo Jauregui, a researcher at the Universida Central de Venezuela whose focus is the field of education, said that there are fewer students registered in public schools today than there were in 2004-2005. Part of the reason, Jauregui said, has been a massive shift towards private education.
Jauregui said that in 2004-2005, there were 6,730,557 and 1,341,412 students registered in public and private schools, respectively. In June of this year, the number of students registered in public schools was 6,500,000, while the number of students in private school was 2,233,000.
According to Jauregui, the shift towards private education is evidence of the “accelerated decomposition” of the regime’s educational system.
Jauregui also said that the number of schools in Venezuela decreased between 2007 and 2017, even though the population grew during that same period of time.
NGO: 248 Political Prisoners Behind Bars, 7,300 Under Judicial Restrictions
The Foro Penal Venezolano (FPV), a Venezuelan NGO that provides legal support to politically persecuted individuals, offered one of its updates today via the Twitter account of one of its directors, Gonzalo Himiob.
According to Himiob, there are 248 political prisoners in Venezuela today. This figure includes individuals who are currently in prison for dissenting against the Maduro regime.
Himiob also said that there are 7,300 Venezuelans who are “subject to unjust judicial proceedings” and other restrictions. Some common kinds of judicial restrictions include orders to appear before a judge at regular intervals, as well as orders prohibiting an individual’s exit from the country or from speaking to the media.
These kinds of restrictions are routinely handed out to regime dissidents like protesters, journalists, politicians and other kinds of activities.
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