The following intervention was made by Perfecto Abreu Nieves, a spokesperson for the Venezuelan Communist Party, during a press conference held on January 8, analysing the current situation in Venezuela. It has been summarised by Venezuelanalysis for brevity.
The situation is characterised by uncertainty, desperation, and indignation among the people, given the worsening of the socio-economic situation in the country. Inflation, speculation, and hoarding have become problems for people’s subsistence, [translating into] long hours in the supermarkets and then high prices.
The government must react immediately with effective measures against the set of problems afflicting Venezuelan society. The worsening of this situation is leading to an accumulation of rage, indignation and desperation, and the country could be at the gates of big social explosions given these serious economic, social, political problems. Any spark could set the country on fire.
There is a transport problem in the case of the Caracas Metro, which by having no maintenance system in place, is now in continued decline: the escalators are destroyed and doors damaged, routes are affected and delayed. This aggravates the transport situation for people in the capital, who suffer the high costs of private transport providers. The local private bus providers and those that provide transport across the country will not accept payment via bank transfer. The problem of accessing cash has made the transport system impossible. The banks only give out a very minimal amount. Meanwhile, buses are out of action due to a lack of replacement parts, and there is a shortage of fuel.
There continues to be a shortage of key products in supermarkets, and when they are available, they can only be found at exorbitant prices.
The Communist Party of Venezuela is not opposed to salary increases for the workers or bonuses*, but we oppose bonuses which are not higher than the current minimum wage. Bonuses are welcome; they benefit the Venezuelan people, and we even hope for a King Momo Bonus in Carnaval or a Judas Bonus during Easter. However, this is not the solution to the problem.
We insist on the need to hit bachaqueros* hard through the creation of a Venezuelan state corporation responsible for the importation of key products and their distribution to the Venezuelan people.
There are cases in which the food parcels from the government’s Local Production and Provision Committees’ (CLAP) do not reach people more than once a month. In El Virgen community in Yaracuy state, they have had no gas, nor food parcels, for three months. The response of the state was to repress the community when, exhausted by the situation, they went out to protest. We reject this action by the state security forces against the people, and especially against the labour movement in its struggle for better conditions, a dignified salary, and the right to union representation.
No to a new Pact of Punto Fijo
The PCV ratifies its previous proposal that the Venezuelan people should know the details of the agreements [between the government and opposition] taken in the Dominican Republic, which many are already referring to as the “New York” agreement, which resulted in the Pact of Punto Fijo***. We are facing a new Punto Fijo pact in San Domingo, in the Dominican Republic.
We insist on the need for the government to take control over the management of foreign currency, and to nationalise the banks, which have been one of the greatest sources of enrichment [for the national bourgeoisie] throughout the [Bolivarian] process. We insist on the need to reform the tax system to regulate the enormous and profiteering earnings of the banking sector.
Industry and agriculture
The key industrial zones of the country should be rehabilitated. The government’s principal efforts must be aimed at increasing production and thus resolving the economic problems of the country. An agro-industrial programme to attack the problems with food must be a priority. As long as the country does not produce what we consume, we will always be dependent on other states.
We insist on the rehabilitation of principal health centres, with the provision of medicines, so that people with less economic resources have the possibility of medical attention in cases of illness and/or health emergencies. Many times, people are required to pay two million Bolivars [to access healthcare in the private sector] which they simply do not have.
Workers’ trade union movement
Workers in the Caracas Metro were fired, and the [Transport] Minister said that the movement was part of the opposition. These are trade union leaders that have emerged from the workers’ grassroots and that have adopted positions challenging the [pro-government] trade union bureaucracy that is not bothered about improving conditions for the workers and is unyielding in terms of the emergence of new leadership which is competing with corrupt, bureaucratic and enriched trade unionists.
*This paragraph is a response to the government’s policy of giving cash bonuses to citizens to mitigate the worst effects of the economic crisis. The latest examples are a Christmas bonus provided to four million households in December, and a Three Kings Day bonus of 500,000 Bolivars on January 6.
** Vendors who re-sell regulated products at much higher prices
*** The Pact of Punto Fijo was signed in 1958, and set the stage for a power-sharing agreement between two parties: the Christian Democrats (COPEI) and Democratic Action (AD), that would last until the early 1990s. The Communist Party was excluded from this pact, and was even made illegal in the 1960s.
Translated and edited by Rachael Boothroyd Rojas for Venezuelanalysis.com.