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The national government unveiled its 2015 budget today at the National Assembly, estimating the costs to run the country through next year will be Bs. 741,708,000, or around C$ 132,446,283. The amount signifies an increase of 34.7% over the 2014 budget.

The budget was presented by the Minister of the Economy, Finance and Public Banking Rodolfo Marco Torres, who explained that next year’s budget is based off an estimate of C$ 60 per barrel. Of the amount, Bs. 124,074,000 will be collected from oil revenues, while the rest of the money will come through taxes.

The dollar-per-barrel price estimated in the annual budget is important because should oil prices dip below the estimated $60 per barrel, the calculations used to estimate both the amount the government takes it and how much it can spend would be severely skewed. The minister took time to address the concern, saying:

It’s necessary to entertain a conservative scenario when it comes time to estimate a variable that is as as sensible to foreign influence as is the price of oil.
(…)
It’s worth pointing out that we are wholly ready for any scenario that could present itself regarding oil prices. [We can] guarantee social spending, the fulfilment of the plan de la patria [the government’s vision for the country], and the payment of our foreign commitments.

The budget set aside for next year represents 21.6% of the country’s GDP.

Colombia Files Formal Complaint over Incursion

The government of Colombia filed a formal complaint before the Venezuelan government over an incursion into its territory by five Venezuela National Guard soldiers this past Sunday.

The complaint was filed yesterday morning by the Colombian Minister of Foreign Relations Maria Angela Horguin, who also had a phone conversation with the Venezuelan ambassador to Colombia, Ivan Rincon Urdaenta, over the matter.

Ceballos Trial Delayed

The trial of ex-San Cristobal Mayor Daniel Ceballos was delayed today after the judge failed to call the court to session. The trial was expected to resume today.

According to Ceballo’s wife (and mayor of San Cristobal) Patricia de Ceballos, her husband, his lawyers and state witnesses were all ready and waiting in lobby waiting to be called into the courtroom, but the order was never given for them to do so.

One of Ceballos’ lawyers, Juan Carlos Gutierrez, said that the defence was not sure when the trial might resume, and added:

They [the court] have yet to receive the first pieces of evidence and there has also not been a reply to the finding by the United Nations Working Group for Arbitrary Detention, which ordered Venezuela to free Ceballos and Leopoldo Lopez.

Earlier this month, the Working Group for Arbitrary Detention – a United Nations body – called for the immediate release of both Ceballos and Leopoldo Lopez, whom it considers to have been detained arbitrarily.

Deputy Speaks on Serra Case

PSUV Deputy Freddy Bernal spoke to the media today regarding the Robert Serra murder case, and gave some details regarding “El Colombia”, the man accused of orchestrating the murders. Bernal said:

Unfortunately… the criminal (El Colombia) already had [committed] a few homicides. Now, why hadn’t he been detained? Why hadn’t Venezuelan justice processed him? It’s not unlikely that he had some kind of connection with a security body of the state, who protected him.

Despite suggesting that “El Colombia” might somehow be connected to a security force, Bernal also stressed that he was most definitely a Colombian paramilitary, echoing the government line that Serra’s murder was planned and executed by foreign terrorists.

Bernal is not the first person to connect “El Colombia” with the government. On Sunday, a column appeared in El Nacional which linked him to the government’s public housing projects. The column cites journalist Thabata Molina who claims that “El Colombia” was not only given shelter in a subsidized housing building, but that authorities turned a blind eye to his criminal activities, unofficially making him the “pran” (i.e, leader) of the housing complex.

The building in question is the Mision Vivienda de la Paz, located in Caracas. The building has been the site of increased police activity recently, including a shootout involving CICPC officers who were raiding the complex for undisclosed reasons on October 13. The building was also raided on October 9, resulting in eight arrests.

Barquisimeto Residents Line up for Gas

Residents of Barquisimeto and Cabudare, Lara state, were forced to endure long lines for gas today as the city is hit by a shortage of the fuel.

Just yesterday, the national director of PDVSA’s national market, Julio Garcia, said that all gas stations in the country are “fully supplied”.

Below, the pictures:

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