Venezuelan economy: more complex than you think

first_imgInterview by Marco Teruggi with Venezuelan economic analyst Luis Salas Rodríguez published July 16 in Sputniknews.com. Translation by Michael Otto.“In order to understand the Venezuelan economic situation, it is necessary to get out of this black-and-white movie about good and evil,” says Luis Salas Rodríguez, master of sociology, researcher and editor of the economic portal 15yultimo.com. The screenplay boils down to two narratives which argue that the difficulties are due either to the U.S. blockade or to the Venezuelan government’s incompetence.Salas explains: “The economic decline began before the blockade, not later, but I need to clarify two things. In the first place the blockade is an escalation in the process of [U.S.] attacks against the Venezuelan economy that have been occurring since 2013, and even since the days of [late President] Hugo Chávez. Not in the ways that began with Barack Obama’s Executive Order against the country in 2015, and the sanctions that he started to apply then, but through attacks on the currency, which were part of a strategy of economic attacks.”[In 2015 Obama declared “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.” — WW] In the second place, Salas emphasizes the fall in oil prices caused by fracking, largely driven by the U.S.: “Fracking was a direct attack on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, by way of flooding the market with an oversupply of U.S. oil, lowering prices which OPEC in particular had achieved after obtaining hegemony in the world market since 2000, when Chavez reunified OPEC.” The blockade, which was openly declared after 2017, was the biggest escalation in the years of continuing attacks on Venezuela. Faced with this, the government implemented a series of economic measures that Salas describes as contradictory.Salas points out three major problematic areas: First, the policy of “paying off debt to lower the country’s risk and satisfy international markets,” which amounted to a $80 billion disbursement between 2013 and 2017. The objectives were not reached, which then “put the government in a much more complicated negotiating position.” Second, the fall in oil production, “partly because of the blockade, but also because of internal problems.” Third, a shift in the government’s economic strategy beginning in 2018: “The government proposed changing the fundamental pillars, and has been moving in a tenuous direction that has not yielded results.”Economic impact shown in dataThe Central Bank of Venezuela recently published data on some of the main economic indicators that show the impact of the combination of external attacks and internal problems. Salas stresses that the most relevant data concern the fall of the gross domestic product from 2014 to the third quarter of 2018. Numbers from that period had not been published [until May 28]. Salas highlighted the following: “From 2014 to 2018 the Venezuelan economy shrank to half of what it was in 2012-2013. It’s a fall in GDP equivalent to that of countries embroiled in a full-scale war, such as Sudan, Libya and Syria. We are talking about the Venezuelan economy regressing to the GDP of 20 years ago, but with 8 million more people. That explains many of the things that are happening, such as emigration, because reducing the country’s capacity to produce a surplus is also driving a surplus population out.”The CBV also published figures for inflation, one of the most hotly debated issues in Venezuela. The data show the evolution of price increases, the appearance of hyperinflation beginning in late 2017, and the repercussions of the plan announced by the government in August 2018. One consequence has been the decline in inflation in the most recent months of this year.“The plan has been successful in discouraging the pace of price growth, but the problem has been the cost of that policy. In general, the anti-inflationary strategy has been a therapy of monetary contraction and very strong economic activity. Workers’ purchasing power has been deflated and state spending has been reduced in nominal and real terms,” analyzes Salas.Perspective on the economyThe debate on the outlook for the Venezuelan economy cannot occur apart from the political conflict and its main variables: the economic and financial blockade led by the United States in an attempt at strangulation and social breakdown; the ongoing attempt to overthrow the government through a combination of attacks; and the current negotiation process in which the government’s demands include the withdrawal of the blockade.“The main effects of the blockade will begin to be felt in the second half of this year. For example, there is the prohibition of flights from the U.S. to Venezuela, not only of people but also of cargo, which could make some supplies impossible to get or force them to be triangulated via other countries, which increases costs,” explains Salas.Another example is the July 27 deadline for the waiver that allows the Chevron oil company to operate in Venezuela. It’s not known whether the U.S. will deny the permit in a bid to redouble the push for economic collapse, or whether, on the contrary, Washington will choose to leave the company in the country in order to avoid allowing its strategic competitors, China and Russia, to advance any further.Oil is the key to thinking about the prospects for improving the national economy. “I believe that the only real possibility of reversing the trend is to reactivate the oil industry, the only Venezuelan sector with a competitive edge that can produce results in the short term with a multiplier effect,” explains Salas.“Supposing that the Asian market is presented as an alternative to exports to North America. What’s certain is that — with current production levels — if that market is opened up, there is no possibility of supplying it because, according to the latest OPEC report, the [oil] industry is producing 700,000 barrels a day.” Increasing production levels is crucial, particularly considering that oil [exports] contribute 95 percent of the foreign currency that enters the country. That means [it is necessary] to circumvent the blockades and correct internal errors.The research Salas carried out rules out the possibility of a recovery based on the productive and export capacity of the private sector, which, as he explains, has received government assistance in recent years: “There is a fundamental, political problem in directing a process of economic recovery that depends upon who finances it.“Nowhere does the opposition say that the private sector is going to finance development in Venezuela, even assuming that, according to the International Monetary Fund, the private sector in Venezuela has about $400 billion deposited in foreign accounts. There is talk about international organizations, whether private banking or the IMF, which involves privatization processes, particularly of the oil industry,” says Salas.Within the Venezuelan economy sits the condensed strategic kernel of the conflict between the U.S. and the Bolivarian government of President Nicolás Maduro. It applies as much to the viability of the Bolivarian project as it does to the strategy of overthrow, retaliation and destruction of the country. This is a strategy that the U.S. has designed with its local allies.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Driving Innovation and Student Success through Digital Transformation

first_imgWe all know technology is driving significant changes in the classroom and on campus. Colleges and universities are adapting to keep up with new methods, resources and tools to teach and instruct, while students are also transitioning to a digital-first learning approach, especially with the growth of online programs. We’re excited to further discuss these major transformations and advancements at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in Denver, where leading industry professionals, IT administrators and campus leaders come together to discuss topics facing the higher education IT industry.This year, throughout our programming and demonstrations at the show, Dell EMC is focused on driving student success through digital transformation, specifically diving into immersive learning and student collaboration, while keeping data protected and simplifying campus operations. We’re hosting multiple sessions to explore these topics led by higher education institutions as they discuss their experiences and showcase how they are changing the face of the higher education sector.Our panels at EDUCAUSE include:Step Out of Your Head(set): Better Approaches for Collaborative Learning in Virtual Environments on October 31, 9:45am – 10:45am, Meeting Room 401/402 featuring:Carolina Cruz-Neira, interim chair of the Department of Computer Science, executive director, Emerging Analytics Center, University of Arkansas at Little Rock University of Massachusetts Lowell: Modern Learning Delights Students through Digital Transformation on November 1, 1:30pm – 2:15pm, Meeting Room 505/506 featuring:Michael Cipriano, CIO, University of Massachusetts LowellPreston Winn, director education solutions and product marketing, VMwareJeanne Weber, sr. higher education strategist, Dell EMC Legacy of Good and Digital Communities on November 1, 9:45am – 10:45am, Meeting Room 403 featuring:Jeffrey Miner, assistant vice president, Information Services, Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteMike Nicks, director, IT Operations Office of Information Technology, University of Nevada, RenoJeanne Weber, sr. higher education strategist, Dell EMCcenter_img At EDUCAUSE, we will be showcasing our solutions developed to support the needs of our higher education customers.  Attendees will have the opportunity to:Get immersed in learning transformation with AR and VR experiences, including an AR CAVE experience.Explore the capabilities of new mobile devices, including our augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) ready workstations.Engage in our collaboration solutions featuring interactive displays, projectors and Intel Unite. Specifically, the new Dell 55 4K Conference Room Monitor – C5519Q, a 55-inch display is ideal for collaborative learning spaces. Available now, the monitor offers an outstanding viewing experience optimized for exceptionally sharp text with 4K resolutionExplore our data protection portfolio and how to protect data on and off campus, from core to edge to cloud.Learn how we help transform campus IT environments through powerful data center and cloud technologies, as well as how we help simplify campus operations that improve agility, reliability and security.Dell EMC is uniquely poised to help at every step of the transformation journey—delivering a tailored approach that leverages our extensive relationships with colleges and universities. Coupled with our comprehensive, end to end solutions that are rooted in the understanding of the missions, visions and strategies of higher education institutions we are ready to help advance your digital transformation journey.  If you’re attending the show, stop by the Dell EMC booth (#1003) on October 30 and November 1 to speak with our experts on how we can aid in your digital transformation journey.You can also follow the conversation on Twitter @DellEMCEdu and #TransformEdu and #EDU18.last_img read more

Africa united behind Sepp Blatter for Fifa presidency, says CAF officials

first_imgAfrican countries will vote overwhelmingly for Sepp Blatter in this year’s Fifa presidential election, senior officials said on Tuesday.“Africa is solidly behind Blatter. You will find he is very popular on the continent,” said Kwesi Nyantakyi, the president of the Ghana FA and a Confederation of African Football (Caf) executive committee member.Blatter faces four challengers in his bid for re-election on 29 May, when he seeks a fifth term as president, which would take him past his 80th birthday.“The continent is united behind him,” added the former South African FA president Molefi Oliphant, who still serves on the Caf executive. “We made a formal endorsement of his candidacy last year at our meeting in Rio de Janeiro already.”Previous endorsements from Caf, however, have not necessarily translated into votes. African football’s controlling body promised Lennart Johansson a block of votes in 1998 but member associations took no heed and helped Blatter to victory. In 2002, the Caf president, Issa Hayatou, failed to muster significant support from his own continent and lost heavily by 139-56 votes at the Fifacongress in Seoul.Affection for Blatter stems from the generous financial assistance he has given Africa during his 17-year tenure. “He has done a lot for the continent. It is he who has set up the financial assistance programmes and who through the Goal project has built infrastructure in all of the countries,” added Nyantakyi. “The Europeans don’t understand that. They say it is not his own money but Fifa’s but that’s not the point. He is the one who set up all the assistance programmes that have helped boost African football.”Goal is Blatter’s pet project, inaugurated not long after he came to power in 1998. It has built training centres, accommodation, pitches and offices for cash-strapped associations.Under Fifa’s financial assistance programme, introduced in 2001, each of the ruling body’s 209 member associations receive generous grants with more than $1bn (£660m) paid out during Blatter’s tenure.The Dutch FA’s president, Michael van Praag, announced on Monday his intention to run following similar moves by the former Fifa deputy secretary general Jérôme Champagne and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.Prince Ali has welcomed Van Praag’s decision to enter the presidential race, describing him as a “credible candidate” who will add to the debate about the future of world football’s governing body. “We welcome other credible colleagues from the football family who want to join a genuine debate about the future of Fifa,” Prince Ali said in a statement on Tuesday. “This election campaign is not about personalities, it is about what is in the best interests of football and the world governing body of the game going forward. It is good for democracy that Michael van Praag has made this announcement.”The former France international David Ginola is also standing in what is widely regarded as being a publicity stunt. But Blatter’s prospective opponents are likely to get little support from the 53 African voters.last_img read more