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Diana D’Agostino, the national director of the Accion Democratica opposition party, issued a press release today in which she disclosed some startling figures regarding murder in Venezuela. Part of the press release reads:

For every 100 murders committed in Venezuela, eight or nine suspects are arrested, that is to say that 91% of these crimes remain unpunished, those responsible are still free and are seldom punished by the law.

D’Agostino also referenced the latest figures by the Observatorio Venezolano de la Violencia, and NGO that tracks murder statistics. According to the group, the murder rate in the country for 2013 was 79 per 100,000 people, a figure that D’Agostino says “not even a country at war” achieves.

The Observatorio has tracked a disturbing increase in the number of murders over the last 16 years. Whereas in 1998 the group tallied 4,550 murders, it counted 24,763 in 2013.

D’Agostino blamed ineptitude at the national level for the apparent failure to tackle the issue of violence, saying:

The government has militarized the problem knowing that public order should not be responsibility of military forces (…) [and they continue] to justify their ineptitude by blaming the “anti-values of capitalism”, movies and television shows form el imperio [the United States], Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man.

75% Of Businesses Lack Foreign Currency

Mauricio Tancredi, the president of the Consejo Nacional de Comercio y los Servicios [National Council of Commerce and Services] (CONSECOMERCIO), said in an interview today that less than 15% of businesses have access to foreign currency, saying:

Tancredi explained:

It’s not true that businesses have access to foreign currency. On the contrary, less than 15% have or had access to foreign currency.

Tancredi also said that many businesses fear what actions the government may take this upcoming Christmas season as part of the Plan Feliz Navidad, saying:

When [the government] announced this plan, the commercial sector was flooded with a feeling of deja vu over what happened during the first week of November last year, with the inspections that the government carried out, some times done in surprise and sometimes in a hostile manner.

While the commercial sector is not totally opposed to the kinds of inspections the government is likely to carry out, Tancredi said that they do ask that they be conducted in a “fair” manner.

He also highlighted the chaos that is Venezuelan consumer prices. For example, Tancredi pointed out that identical products can have two completely different prices in different stores, depending on how that product was imported, using either the SICAD I or SICAD II exchange rates.

Venezuelan businesses face one of the most volatile and uncertain economic climates in the world. On November 1, the national government ordered a chain of stores to lower the price on Barbie dolls by 81%.

Enzo Scarano Faces First Day in Court

Enzo Scarano, the ex-mayor of San Diego, Carabobo, appeared before a judge today as his trial for the crime of “gender violence” for allegedly injuring three female PSUV supporters in April 2012.

Scarano was arrested earlier this year after his city became one of the epicenters of the protests that spread through the nation starting in early February. He has been held in the Ramo Verde military prison near Caracas for the past 229 days.

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