Caracas, Venezuela (VA) – A leaked audio of a conversation between Venezuelan businessman, Lorenzo Mendoza, and former politician, Ricardo Hausman, has revealed Venezuela’s political and business opposition to be seeking collaboration with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections on December 6th.
In the phone conversation, leaked in Venezuela last Wednesday, both men speak about the possibility of IMF intervention in the Venezuelan economy and frequently refer to each other as “mate”.
Mendoza currently ranks as one the wealthiest businessmen in the world and controls key areas of the Venezuelan economy, such as the production of cornflour, beer and other household staples. Government supporters hold him responsible for the widespread shortage of key products, which they say is an attempt to destabilise the administration of current leftwing President Nicolas Maduro.
Hausman was formerly Planning Minister (1992-1993) to disgraced ex-Venezuelan President president, Carlos Andres Perez. He currently resides in the US where he is a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
In the audio, which is dominated by Hausman, the ex-minister reveals that he is a longterm friend of the IMF’s Vice-president for the Western Hemisphere, who has asked him to go to the organisation to “talk about Venezuela”. He explains that the fund is “worried” that it will have to “intervene” in the country.
“The condition is that we have a small committee meeting to speak, gloves off, about what the hell we can do to see… Or, if you were to receive a call from Obama or Holland, or whoever and they say… Hell, mate, for us it’s really important that they get involved in Venezuela,” says Hausman.
The economist also assures Mendoza that he is committed to the “war in Venezuela” despite his absence, stating that “there is no exit for Venezuela without substantial international help,” appearing to reference the opposition’s violent street campaign to unseat the government last year, entitled La Salida (the exit).
Specifically Hausman recommends a 40-50 billion dollar loan from the IMF, which he says will entail a significant restructure of the country’s “debt profile” and “what they euphemistically term, private sector involvement”. The two men also reference a group of Hausman’s students in the US, who appear to have been pinned by both men to carry out the economic restructuring in a post-Chavista government.
The conversation finishes with Hausman revealing that he has “projects” in Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Albania, and confirming that the time is right for “carrying out an adjustment plan in Venezuela”.
IMF: Venezuela’s Dirty Word
The recording has caused shockwaves amongst Venezuela’s citizens, who have widely rejected any IMF involvement in the country’s economics. The fund is largely held responsible by citizens for the country’s debt crisis in the 1980s, the economic turmoil of the 1990s, as well as for the riots known as the Caracazo in 1989 which led to widespread police repression and thousands of killings.
The IMF’s poisonous legacy in the country has led the country’s political opposition to distance itself publicly from the organisation. Nonetheless, its spokespeople have been consistently linked to the ill reputed fund over the past fifteen years of leftist government.
Earlier in February 2015, the political opposition led by Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma, released a “Call for a National Transition Agreement” just days before the national government reported that it had uncovered plans for an attempted coup amongst the airforce.
“The Call for a National Transition” contained a number of points orientating the politics of a transitional regime in Venezuela, including selling off national public enterprises and the input of “international financial organisations”.
After the government publicly released the recording between Hausman and Mendoza last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused the opposition of once again seeking financial support from the IMF in order to promote “insurrectionary violence” in the country.
“I have proof that the IMF has received a visit from a group of technocrats… who have requested 60 billion dollars in order to put their plan into action, and the fund has told them that they will give them [the money] if they unseat the government,” stated the president on his weekly television show, In Contact with Maduro.
Although Maduro has yet to reveal evidence, Mendoza at least seems to have corroborated the authenticity of the phone conversation, which he has slammed as an “illegal” recording of a “private talk” that he had with Hausman.
Maduro has called for Mendoza to be prosecuted.
“I hope the judicial bodies react,” he stated.
Written by RACHAEL BOOTHROYD ROJAS for Venezuelanalysis.com