#6D Venezuelan Elections For Dummies

VenezuelanElections

Top 3 questions about Venezuelan Elections on December 6th, 2015

For the first time in 16 years, the “chavismo” -as Chavez’s followers are known – lost its majority of seats in the National Assembly, and the opposition has won 112 seats out of 167, which represents a 2/3rd majority.

Here are some basic questions that will help you understand the current situation in our country:

1. Is Maduro still Venezuela’s president?

Yes, Maduro remains the President of Venezuela. The elections on December 6th were held to elect the new members of the National Assembly. So, how much power does our National Assembly have? Well, it is through the national assembly that the government officials propose new laws and/or changes that, if supported by the majority of its members, will come to pass and be enforced.

Basically, if you control the National Assembly, then you have the capability of creating any law that suits your every need, an advantage the current government always had, until now. This is why we may still be stuck with Maduro but we will no longer be pushed around.

2. Why is this so important?

With what proves to be a certified majority represented by the 112 elected members of the National Assembly, the newly appointed assembly could be able to:

  • Call upon a referendum, also known as a popular vote, to resolve matters of national importance.
  • Promote decentralization by redistributing and dispersing functions, powers and people throughout each municipality and state.
  • Appoint the judges that will make up the Supreme Court of Justice, known to Venezuelans as “El Tribunal Supremo de Justicia”.
  • Approval of projects concerning constitutional reforms.
  • Appoint the members of the National Electoral Council, a.k.a the “CNE”.
  • Approve the necessary guidelines to undergo an economic and social development plan.
  • Approve an amnesty law to exempt prosecuted political leaders from criminal liability for supposed crimes such as the opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, the mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma, and 75 other political prisoners.

3. So now you can go back to your country, right?

Actually, it is not that simple. Venezuela is going through a triple-digit inflation, the highest inflation and worst economic performance in Latin America in 2015. Shortages of basic goods(milk, diapers, medicines, etc.), and endless hours in line hoping you’ll manage to get your hands on what you can, demonstrates what years of poor management will do to a country.

For all Venezuelans living abroad, these elections were a boost of hope and strength. And now, we are motivated to work harder than ever to reconstruct our nation. Perhaps, it’s still not the right time to go back to our beloved homeland but it might be just the right moment to think about the possibility of returning home sometime soon. Being far from home doesn’t mean that we don’t think and work for a better country- there are several organizations dedicated to solving problems in Venezuela. To us, the reality that there will come a time where we can return home has recharged our once drained batteries and has fueled our desire into becoming the best professionals we can be, to offer our acquired experiences and skills to the development of the country that we so desire Venezuela to become.

 

This is me…

These were the first elections in which I was not able to vote. Sadly, I wasn’t the only one, and a lot of Venezuelans were unable to travel there and “vote for change”. Far away, but never absent, we spent last Sunday sitting in front of the computer, looking for news on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and all the social networks and websites you can imagine. We were also in touch with our loved ones, and thanks to technology, we were able to read and share the news with them.

The result marked the opposition’s first major electoral victory since Chavez became president, and Venezuela showed that we all want and deserve a better country.

Glory to the brave people of Venezuela – ¡Gloria al bravo pueblo! –

Katy Da Silva

Collaboration: Alvaro Lossada

Advertisements
#6D Venezuelan Elections For Dummies

10 reasons why you won’t forget Christmas holidays in Venezuela

1.Meet, Eat, Drink, Repeat

Even though Venezuelan are going through a rough time, when it comes to food and drinks, there is no holding back…

Food christmaspostre navidadbebida

Mejor que sobre a que falte…

2. December’s syndrome  

The rules are simple:

  1. Less work, more fun
  2. The more excuses, the better
  3. Whatever you didn’t do through the whole year, you won’t finish it now

echando carro

Diciembre: pura echadera de carro!

3. Fireworks everywhere

Although selling fireworks is illegal, Venezuelans just don’t care. Kiosks in every corner will have an unimaginable repertoire of fireworks. From the most simple to the most noisy, for every age, and every taste. We not only have fireworks on the 25th or 1st… We have spectacular shows everyday and everywhere.

fuegos banner copy

vistanoch4AnioNuevoCaracas

All day today, all night tonight 

4. “When I go to Maracaibo and start crossing the bridge”music-512 Gaitas

Forget about jingles bells, jingles bells, Venezuelan gaitas are everything we listen, sing, and dance to during this time of the year. We use gaitas to express in a joyful way, our complains about everything.

gaitasbanner copy
baile gaitas copy

5. money begging christmas piggy

A piggy bank that seems to chase you during all December asking for more and more money

cochino 2 copy cochino1 copy

y pa’l cochino?

6. Our “cold” season

Even though, we still are at  15°C (60°F), for us it feels like it could start snowing at any time.

PACHECHO copy

LLegó el Pacheco

7. The catchiest christmas TV commercial: Plumrose 

We may not have had plumrose on our tables, but the commercial was always there

Ven, comparte y disfruta… Navidad con plumrose

8. Against the blackouts

Electrical power sucks, but still lights are everywhere

Venezuela_-_Caracas_-_Plaza_Altamira_Navidad_2011Untitled-11 copy

9. From the most simple to the most elaborated: Nativity
nac18283602493_dcabcaa03c_b

And of course, we can not miss the midnight mass.

10. Holiday Greetings on tv

When we had more than 2 national TV channels, every year was a show off of the best and funniest actors, hottest girls, and best music.

felices fiestAS

This is me…

In spite of all the economical, political, and social problems that Venezuelans face in their every day, we are passionate about christmas. I will dare to say that spending christmas away from our country brings nostalgia, and huge desires of being home with people we love the most: family and friends.

Even though christmas seems to be all about presents, decoration, and party every day; for us it is much more than that. Christmas is the best excuse to get together with our loved ones, and reunite with friends and family. It’s the perfect time when we think about the year that’s ending, and all we are thankful for. And filled with hope, we set our goals for the year to come.

My wish this Christmas is for a better country. As I said in a previous post, I wish for the safe Venezuela that my parents used to know and that we all want back; in which we all can share our christmas dinner sitting together at the same table.

unnamed (1)

Katy Da Silva

P.S. Para ti abuelito, siempre en mi corazón.

Collaboration: Andrea Pereira & Ale Lossada

10 reasons why you won’t forget Christmas holidays in Venezuela

CADIVI FOR DUMMIES

2014-10-27 23.54.00

If you have a friend from Venezuela, you may have wondered what is this “Cadivi” thing that he or she is always talking about. And why is it such a big deal?

“CADIVI (Commission for the Administration of Currency Exchange) is the Venezuelan government body which administers legal currency exchange in Venezuela.”

Reference: Wikipedia

In 2003, Venezuela’s government decided to create an Institution which main goal is to control currency exchange… and screw Venezuela’s economy. Every Venezuelan who wants to travel abroad for any reason, to any country, has to go through the arduous process of begging government to allow them to buy foreign currency with their own earned money. For example, students who have been granted an  F-1 Visa,  and need to exchange Venezuelan currency to dollars or euros, have to prepare a folder with A LOT of documents.  Some of these documents are copies of their ID, passport,VISA, and plane tickets; letter of acceptance from the school, as well as schedule of activities, and curriculum; a letter explaining the reasons of your major of choice, bank references and other legal requirements.

Subsequently to submitting the folder to the bank, it’s sent to Cadivi for evaluation. And this is the start of an inefficient process which could take 2, 3, 4 months or even more, before you finally receive an email informing you of their final decision. After that moment, there are two possible scenarios.

First Scenario: CADIVI approves the request

Nowadays, getting consent by Cadivi can be compared to winning a lottery, no one really understands the process or the factors which are being taken into consideration for the decision making. Although this scenario should be the only one, it happens and the majority of Venezuelans don’t trust the process because rumors of corruption are everywhere.

Most importantly is to say that people work hard to save the money in order to apply for CADIVI exchange rate and it’s not something that the government is giving for free.

For the lucky ones, the next steps would be going to the bank, have the money in the account and wait for the exchange.

Second Scenario: CADIVI denies the request

Although you did everything exactly as they asked, Cadivi still denied your request. Massive denials are being received by students around the world, particularly in the last month.

Sadly, you only have 3 options

  1.      Try again and introduce a “reconsideration”.
  2.      Go to the “black market” to get the foreign currency you need.
  3.      Go back to Venezuela.

1. Reconsideration

Going through reconsideration is a lost war. Your legal representative (mom, dad or the person in charge of your legal matters back home) has to go to the bank with a letter explaining your current situation; which they already know because it was one of the first requirements. Your legal representative probably has to submit more documents to support your request. Once again, you will need to wait 2, 3 or 4 months for their decision.

2. The Black Market

The only way besides CADIVI to have access to a foreign currency is going to the “black market” for selling/buying dollars in this case. This means buying dollars from independent people sources instead of those from the Central Bank. This is not legal but it’s the common practice.

You may be asking by now, why would people decide to go back to Venezuela if they have the option of getting dollars on the black market? Right? Here is the answer:

Math, simple math (Dollars vs. Bolívares — Venezuelan currency)

The Venezuelan Bolívar (Bs) is the currency of Venezuela (VEF). There are different exchange rates depending on what it is going to be used for. For academic purposes, for instance, the official rate is US $1.00 which is equivalent to Bs. 6.30.

In the Black Market the price for buying or exchanging bolivares into dollars is in constant change. There’s a popular website called dolartoday.com in which Venezuelans check, daily, the cost of the dollar.

According to DolarToday.com, October 22nd  $1.00 is equivalent to Bs.100.52

That means that any Venezuelan needs to have 15 more times the amount of bolívares to get the same amount of dollars than going through Cadivi.

Insane, right? That explains why many students around the world are facing difficult times when being denied by Cadivi.

Finally, let’s see an example.

Master of International Business at Hult Business School

This example shows the life’s cost for an International student at Hult Business School for a  one year Master program.

tabla bn

(*)Cadivi limits students to spend maximum $1,300.00 per month for personal expenses.

  • In Venezuela, with Bs. 379,890.00 you can buy a KLR650 Kawasaki motorcycle.
  • In Venezuela with Bs. 6,030,000.00 you can buy a 70m² apartment in Caracas (the capital of Venezuela).
  • In Venezuela, the minimum wage is Bs. 4,251.78/month.
  • In Venezuela, a professional with a Master degree and 5 years of work experience could expect to earn  Bs. 25,000.00/month.

For collecting the money for the Master Program at Hult, after being denied by Cadivi:

  • Venezuelan students need to have and sell 15 Kawasaki motorcycles.
  • Venezuelan students need to have and sell an apartment in Caracas.
  • Venezuelan students need more than 100 years to save the money with a regular job.
  • Because no one lives more than 100 years, Venezuelan students need to find a really good job and save money for around 20 years.

Although Venezuela has the world’s largest known oil reserves and it’s the fifth oil exporting country around the world, crisis is everywhere, affecting the future of the ones who live there and the ones who have to go back.

3. Back to Venezuela

After seeing the cost of living for students who got rejected by Cadivi, it’s easier to understand why most of them have to give up their dreams and go back to Venezuela. The amount of bolivares that they need to finish their studies is absurd, and few families can afford it.

This is me…

Sad but true, this is the reason why Cadivi is an issue for all of us. This is why we fight for our rights of studying the career of our choice in the institution and country we like, without depending on an unreliable institution for getting access to foreign exchange. In the end, our true purpose is to become better professionals, to gain knowledge, and learn from the great experience of studying abroad,in order to one day go back to our country, and be part of a generation that is capable of making a change, and build the foundations for a better country.

Katy Da Silva
CADIVI FOR DUMMIES