Maria Gabriela Chavez, Hugo Chavez’s daughter, was named alternate ambassador to the United Nations by President Maduro. Maduro made the decision:
… so that the people of Africa and the middle East can continue to feel the friendly and brotherly voice of Comandante Hugo Chavez.
Maria Gabriela was accused of corruption last month over the importing of rice into the country through the Argentinian food company Bioart. According to the allegations, Maria Gabriela used her name and influence to give Bioart contracts to import rice into Venezuela at 80% above-market value. The scheme has cost Venezuela $11.3 million Euros since February of this year.
Also, Maria Gabriela and her two siblings – Rosa Virginia and Hugo – continued to live in La Casona, the presidential residence, for 10 months after their father died, even though Maduro has asked them to leave
For her involvement in the rice scandal, Maria Gabriela has earned the nickname “La Reina del Arroz” (The Queen of Rice). The nickname has two meanings: first, it’s a play on the fact that the scandal involves rice; second, in Venezuela, an arrocero is someone who goes to a lot of parties, often uninvited.
Parking Lots Reduce Operations Due to Costs
The Asociacion Nacional de Propietarios y Administradores de Garajes y Estacionamientos [National Association of Owners and Administrators of Parking Lots and Garages] (ANPAGE) announced today that it is going to reduce the hours of operation of its parking lots throughout the country. Parking lots will only be open now between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM.
Benigno Luis Marcos, the president of ANPAGE, made the announcement today, saying that the changes were unavoidable due to:
… the impossibility of continuing to operate with the low fares we are mandated to charge by law and the increasing cost of operations.
We cannot continue to operate at a loss. The situation has become unsustainable since we’ve gone more than two years without receiving [permission] to raise fares, while operating costs have increased up to 200%.
In Venezuela, the government exercises strict control over how much profit a company is allowed to make through the Ley Organica de Precious Justos [Fair Prices Law] . Often, the result is that companies are not allowed to charge more than a government-mandated fixed price for their services. According to the law, the maximum level of allowed profit margins is supposed to be re-evaluated on an industry-by-industry basis every year.
Protesters Block Highway Near Barquisimeto
Protesters in Barquisimeto, Lara state blocked access through a regional highway today. The protesters were out to call attention to the government’s broken promise to invest in infrastructure in the area to improve access to drinking water.
Below, pictures from the demonstration: