Maduro oversaw the handing over of housing units in Lara state today, and he took the opportunity to calm fears that falling oil prices might negatively affect the Venezuelan economy. Maduro explained that there was nothing to fear, saying:
Oil prices can decrease as much as they want, but Venezuela – and the Misiones and Grandes Misiones [free housing programs] – will not be stopped by anyone. And, I already have all the resources I need to guarantee the upkeep of all the Misiones: the Gran Mision Viviena, the Mision Sucre, the Mision Barrio Adentro, the Gran Mision Barrio Nuevo Barrio Tricolor, public education, public health, and the worker’s salaries.
Venezuela gets 96% of its hard-currency income from oil sales. While Maduro did not exactly explain how he plans to ensure cash continues to flow into the country should oil prices continue to fall, he seemed to suggest that the answer might lie in belt-tightening. He was upbeat in his assurances, and said:
I’m calling for maximum discipline, maximum work, maximum resource optimization of currency resources so that our country can traverse these circumstances of decreasing oil prices so that we may continue to move forward with the model of happy Bolivarian socialism. Nothing’s stopping! Everything will continue to move forward [as far as] our plans for protecting our people go.
Maduro also appeared to criticize the United States for trying to decrease its dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic production. Hydraulic fracturing – sometimes referred to as “fracking” – has become increasingly popular in the United States. It is a process by which – very simply put – highly pressured liquid is injected into rocks deep underground, “fracturing” them and releasing oil and gas deposits found inside them.
While there is growing evidence that hydraulic fracturing is harmful to the environment, Maduro offered a more macabre prediction of what the practice my have in store for the United States:
In these past few months the United States has been using a method of removing [oil] from the earth’s crust (…) but these ways of removing oil and gas, they’ve always suggested that they leave that [the oil and gas] there because that’s part of the earth’s crust, and it poses a great danger to planet earth (…) it could bring about the destruction of big cities in the United States.
Maduro: “It’s Getting Dark Too Early”
Back in 2007, Chavez ordered the country’s clocks moved back thirty minutes. The change moved Venezuela from GMT -4 to GMT -4 1/2. At the time, Chavez argued that the change was necessary to help Venezuelans get more sunlight.
Today, Maduro hinted that another time change might be in store for Venezuela. During the same event in Lara, he said:
It’s getting dark too early. We got here at 6 o’clock, and it was already dark here in Lara state. We have to look into this (…) I’ve asked the executive vice-president to re-examine the topic of time throughout the year and in every region because at 6 o’clock it’s already dark, really dark. It shouldn’t be like this. A tropical time such as ours should get dark at 6:30 or 7, right? We’re going to examine this topic.