By Ricardo Guanipa D’erizans July 01, 2019 For Venezuelan economy expert Ricardo Hausmann, director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University, and former chair of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Development Committee, Venezuela is a unique case, as it exceeds the worst economic depressions in the world, in addition to the massive migration of more than 4 million citizens.“The chaos in Venezuela is an event of historical magnitude, which has only happened in countries like Azerbaijan, Liberia, Libya,” Hausmann told Diálogo. “But within a context of civil wars or state decline.”Venezuela is experiencing a large-scale economic crisis. In late May, the Venezuelan Central Bank published figures for the first time since 2015, evidencing the country’s economic situation and confirming the collapse of the Venezuelan economy.According to these new statistics, inflation is out of control and exceeded 130,000 percent in 2018 — the highest mark in Venezuela’s recent history, but much less than the 929,000 percent the Central Bank estimated in 2018. Data showed a 52 percent contraction of the Gross Domestic Product between 2013 and 2018, which represents a decline of the Venezuelan economy by more than half in five years.These numbers confirm that the Venezuelan economy has been spiraling downward for years. Other data show severe drop in oil exports from the country that depends on oil and has the largest oil reserves in the world, from $85 million in 2013 to $30 million in 2018 — when Nicolás Maduro took office. This demonstrates a decline that far precedes the first U.S. sanctions imposed in August 2017.According to Hausmann, Venezuela was already perceived as an economically broke and bankrupt country. “The latest emission of Venezuelan debt bonds was launched by Maduro in May 2017, three months before the sanctions. Bonds were issued with an interest rate in dollars of 47 percent,” Hausmann said. “The only way to pay for those Venezuelan bonds was to starve the population. That’s why the United States prevented Maduro from continuing to have access to international financial markets so as to prevent him from continuing to indebt the country so irresponsibly.”The collapse of the Venezuelan economy, Hausmann insists, came in 2013, specifically between 2004 and 2013 when oil price increases. Rather than save, the country allowed the oil boom to create greater national debt. “Foreign public debt went from $25 billion to $160 billion,” Hausmann said. “This brutal increase in foreign debt made external markets refuse to loan to Venezuela in 2013, because it already had a huge debt. That’s how recession really started: Venezuela was already overly indebted.”“We are in this crisis not because of the U.S. government’s sanctions. We are in this complex humanitarian crisis because of the economic mismanagement of a Cuban communist model, as well as high levels of corruption,” Lawrence Castro, a representative of the Venezuelan National Assembly and MERCOSUR’s parliamentary member, told Diálogo.“At the National Assembly, the figures we work with represent dilapidated money, from this ill-fated revolution, of about $380 billion, which is pretty serious. Today, thanks to Interim President Juan Guaidó and the National Assembly, we were able to curb the theft occurring in several national companies from Nicolás Maduro, Iris Varela, Diosdado Cabello, Tareck El Aissami, Tarek William Saad, among others. The reality is that here corruption and the communist management of the [country’s] economy have been the reasons why we are going through such calamities.”
Over the course of a career spanning 19 years, 15 albums and countless tours around the globe, The New Mastersounds have carved out a unique space for themselves as world-class purveyors of contemporary jazz-funk. Comprised of guitarist Eddie Roberts, drummer Simon Allen, bassist Pete Shand, and organist Joe Tatton, the band’s particular blend of mostly instrumental, guitar-driven grooves has developed throughout the years to include a rich tapestry of textures. The breadth of that spectrum of styles is realized on their latest full-length studio album, Renewable Energy, due out Friday, April 13th via One Note Records.In addition to the album’s 10+ original tracks, it features a brand new take on a rock and roll classic, James Gang‘s “Funk 49”. As Eddie Roberts explains, “Funk 49 was introduced to me by my wife Ashley… When we first started dating, she had a compilation of ‘southern rock’ in her car, and by the most parts, I wasn’t really into it..but I always loved when this would come on, and I’d ask ‘what’s this again?’ It’s just an NMS kind of groove, and I knew it would work.”Led by Roberts’ echo-filtered vocals, this new version of the classic tune maintains the devil-may-care ethos of the original while the addition of Tatton’s impressive organ work (James Gang was a power trio, sans keys) elevates the track to the captivating level of soulfulness fans have come to expect from The New Mastersounds. Notes Roberts, “We had so much fun recording this. We don’t go in for a lot of singing..but this tune just really suited my voice, and we laid the whole track down in a few takes.”Today, as the band prepares to release Renewable Energy, Live For Live Music is excited to premiere The New Mastersounds’ take on James Gang’s “Funk 49”. Listen to the new track below:The New Mastersounds – “Funk 49” (James Gang cover)<span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>[Audio: The New Mastersounds]The New Mastersounds will be hitting the road this May and June for a nationwide run of club and festival dates. For a full list of upcoming performances, see below. To get more information on The New Mastersounds tour and album plans, head to the band website.The New Mastersounds Upcoming Tour Dates:May 4 • New Orleans, LA • Joy TheaterMay 5 • New Orleans, LA • Joy TheaterMay 8 • Washington D.C. • Union StageMay 9 • Ardmore, PA • Ardmore Music HallMay 10 • Fairfield, CT • The WarehouseMay 11 • Brooklyn, NY • Brooklyn BowlMay 12 • Brooklyn, NY • Brooklyn BowlMay 25 • Mill Valley, CA • Sweetwater Music HallJune 2 • Morrison, CO • Red RocksJune 6 • Charleston, SC • Pour HouseJune 7 • Atlanta, GA • Terminal WestJune 8 • Asheville, NC • Salvage StationJune 9 • Nashville, TN • The CowanJune 13 • Boston, MA • The SinclairJune 14 • Asbury Park, NJ • Wonder BarJune 15 • Pittsburgh, PA • Rex TheaterJune 16 • NY, NY • Rocks off Concert CruiseJune 21 • Crested Butte, CO • Public HouseJune 23 • Bend, OR • 4 Peaks Music FestView All Tour DatesYou can catch The New Mastersounds’ Eddie Roberts in action in New Orleans at a special Jazz Fest late night performance by J.E.D.I. (Jazz Electronic Dance Improvisation), comprised of Aaron Johnston (Brazilian Girls/David Byrne), Marc Brownstein (the Disco Biscuits), and Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce), on April 19th at Maison. Roberts will serve as a special guest along with Eric “Benny” Bloom (Lettuce) and Shira Elias (Turkuaz). For more info, click here.***Tickets are on sale now***For Live For Live Music’s full guide to Jazz Fest late nights, click here.