The rating agency Standard & Poor’s lowered Venezuela’s credit rating to CCC+ today over fears that the country might default on its debt over the next two years. The agency cited “continued economic deterioration” in the country as the primary cause for the adjustment.

The CCC+ rating comes with a dire prediction: S&P estimates that Venezuela has at least a 50% chance to default on its debt some time in the next two years.

To make matter worse, S&P also issued a negative outlook for the Venezuelan economy, which means that another downgrade is not unlikely in the near future. The agency explained:

Economic recession, high inflation and growing external liquidity pressures will continue to erode the government’s capacity to pay external obligations over the next two years.

The Venezuelan government owes approximately 6.5 billion dollars, which totals approximately one third of the country’s total foreign reserves.

Medical Federation Calls for Transparency in Maracay Mystery Illness Case

Douglas Leon Natera, the president of the Federacion Medica Venezolana, spoke on behalf of the organizations he represents today and called on the government to release information regarding the nine deaths reported in Maracay this past week, all attributed to a disease of unknown nature.

Natera said:

The results of the practical tests in the first eight cases should be ready by now, since they don’t take more than five days to complete. But no information has been released. Instead, [the government] has only attacked physicians.

The day after the first eight deaths were reported by the Hospital Central de Maracay, the governor of Aragua state, Tarek el Aissami, called the head of the Aragua Medical College a “militant from the fascist right wing” and accused him of “terrorism” for announcing the deaths.

So far, the illness has claimed nine lives in Aragua’s largest hospital. Ramon Rubio, the vicepresident of the Aragua Medical College said that while a link between the nine victims hasn’t been determined, they all had similar symptoms: skins lesions throughout their bodies and high fever.

The latest victim alleged to have died as a result of the disease was Franklin Fossi, who died on Sunday in the Hospital Central de Maracay after showing similar symptoms. including high fever and widespread skin lesions.

Venezuela Voices Renewed Support for Iran 

The newly-appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rafael Ramirez, re-iterated Venezuela’s support for Iran “in any international forum”, saying:

Your country [Iran] will continue to count on Venezuela’s permanent support in any international forum in defence of the principles of friendship and cooperation.

I want to assure you… on behalf of our president and of our government, that the relationship between our two countries will be strengthened and will have a far greater reach than what they’ve previously had.

Ramirez was speaking at an event in Caracas today, where he was accompanied by the Iranian Minister of Industry, Mining and Commerce, Mohammad Reza Nemazadeh.

Student Leader Given Conditional Release

Sairam Rivas, a student leader who had been detained for 130 days, was handed a conditional release today. While she is no longer in custody, she is expected to check in with authorities on a regular basis as her trial moves forward.

Rivas is the president of the Centro de Estudiantes de Trabajo Social [Social Workers’ Student Centre] at the Universidad Central de Venezuela.

Sairam’s mother, pictured below (left), awaited her daughter’s release along with the press outside the SEBIN headquarters in Caracas, where Sairam is being held:

Maduro: McDonald’s Gave Us Diabetes

Speaking on a cadena tonight, Maduro blamed McDonald’s for making young Venezuelans obese and giving them diabetes. Maduro explained:

Here we have a bunch of diabetic 25 and 30 year olds. Whose fault is that? It’s the fault of junk food. Not to name any brands, but the whole world knows that when I say junk food they know who I’m talking about. Do you know who? A big “M”, right? 



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