Tonight, in a very surprising development, the four Directors of brokerage firm Econoinvest were freed, to be tried in freedom, after more than two years and seven months in prison. This jailing was not only illegal in terms of the length of time they were in prison without a trial and not freed on their own recognizance, but in the end they were political prisoners of the Chavez Government. They were accused of making illegal trades in the foreign exchange markets, trades that were legal under the law and if they were not, the Government should have jailed many other people, including those on each side of the trade. This would have involved hundreds of thousands of people. While in jail, their companies were ripped off by those appointed by the Government to intervene them, but all investors were paid off, showing how one sided and partial the law is in Venezuela.
But in the end, the Government was simply trying to blame others for their own stupidity and incompetence, as the swap rate devalued from around Bs. 5.4 in January 2010 to Bs 8-plus in April of the same year. The government decided to find a scapegoat and somehow, Econoinvest became the primary target, for reasons I have yet to understand, even if many others were also persecuted.
For me, this is a very happy occasion for many reasons, which go from the very simple, to the very complex, a story that remains to be told in this blog. I know quite well one of the people involved, who worked with me for many years, and know another one of those happily released today. Additionally, I was involved in the same business and have watched with consternation every single step of their ordeal.
Given that Chávez is in no condition to make decisions, I will like to interpret the decision as “change is in the air” one. Maybe I am being too optimistic. To me, the prisoners were singled out by Minister of Planning and Finance Jorge Giordani. Two years and seven months after this witch hunt, the “parallel” rate, unmentionable and illegal now, is up over 100% over what it was then, showing that it was the failure of the Government’s economic policies that led to that sharp devaluation in 2010 and the unfair and unjust jailing and persecution of so many people. Seven other people were also freed, all related to the intervened banks and brokers, before the foreign exchange crisis of 2010.
Hopefully, this is a sign of change and that now that Chávez is not around to decide things, there is a miniscule sign of humanity, regret and compassion somewhere within Chavismo.
But we need much more…