- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
There’s finally some good news from Venezuela.
No, it’s not the economy. As Bloomberg notes, OPEC’s planned production cut, announced Wednesday, might give a short-term bump to Venezuelan coffers, but will hardly cure what ails it. And PdVSA, the state-owned oil and gas company, missed a bond payment last week.
And this week we learned that the Venezuelan bolívar lost 55 percent of its value in November alone. The government spent much of the summer and fall increasing the amount of currency in circulation by 130 percent compared to this time last year, but Venezuelans are still scrambling to exchange their currency for dollars, which in turn further weakens the bolívar. By the end of the year, inflation is expected to reach 720 percent. Weimar Republic-style, shopkeepers are reportedly now weighing banknotes instead of counting them, and hardly anyone is bothering to carry a wallet around — most aren’t big enough to hold enough of the near-worthless bills anyway.
And no, the good news isn’t in politics. Talks between the government of President Nicolás Maduro and the opposition, organized by the Vatican and intended to quell the country’s violence, are faltering, and scads of arrested opposition members have not yet been freed.
The good news is that, on Tuesday, all of Venezuela’s lawmakers managed to come together and agree to unanimously condemn the massacre of 12 civilians by soldiers. In October, a dozen farmers went missing after a violent operation — until their bodies were found in mass graves outside Barlovento. Eleven soldiers were arrested in connection with the events. (Whether this vote will translate into concrete action or a change in government behavior is, as a statement released by Amnesty International on Wednesday makes clear, still to be seen.)
This was only the second time since last year that Maduro’s coalition and his opposition have unanimously voted in favor of a piece of legislation. But it hardly foreshadows a new era of political harmony, or an exit from Venezuela’s dystopian meltdown: The other unanimous vote came in response to the Vatican’s call for the now-stalled talks.
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