Maduro arrived in Iran last night, the latest stop in his international tour. He was welcomed to Tehran by Iranian President Hasan Rohani. At the forefront of the meeting between the two leaders is the continued drop in oil prices. The drop has split OPEC into two camps, with Iran and Venezuela calling for cuts in production to drive the prices up.
During the meeting last night, Rohani said:
Without a doubt, the co-operation between OPEC members will allow us to neutralize plans by certain powers against OPEC, and stabilize oil prices at an acceptable level for 2015.
Maduro has already left Iran, and is now in Saudi Arabia.
Below, a picture of the meeting between the Venezuelan and Iranian leaders:
Scarcity Still in Spotlight
Minister of Defence Carmen Melendez announced yesterday that while the country’s supermarket “shelves are full”, Venezuelans wishing to enter supermarkets will be required to provide identification.
Melendez explained that supermarkets and similar establishments will have National Bolivarian Police, National Guard, and immigrant officers posted at the doors to check for identification before customers are allowed inside.
According to Melendez, the measure is being taken after it became apparent yesterday that undocumented persons – some of them illegal aliens – were trying to buy food in Caracas, which resulted in officers initiating deportation procedures against those with improper documentation.
Similar identification measures are being taken in Tachira state. Globovision journalists interviewed citizens in San Cristobal waiting in line to enter a supermarket. Some of them said that not only were they being asked to provide their birth certificates to authorities for inspection before being allowed to enter the establishments, but that they were also asked to provide the birth certificate of their children if they attempted to buy diapers.
La Patilla has another video showing lines outside a number of supermarkets in Caracas from yesterday:
Below, a picture from a line in the Avenida Sucre, Caracas, not too far away from Miraflores Palace:
A picture uploaded by Maria Corina Machado on Twitter today. The picture shows residents of the San Bernardino neighbourhood in Caracas lined up outside a Bicentenario supermarket displaying the numbers on their wrists that mark their place in line – 808 and 811:
A line outside a supermarket in Guatire, Miranda state:
Finally, pictures showing a mob of people breaking through a fence outside a supermarket in El Trigre, Anzoategui state:
Calls for National Strike on Monday Came from the Gov‘t: MUD
Jesus Torrealba, the head of the official opposition bloc, denied rumours that the opposition was calling for a national strike starting on Monday. Word of the possible strike has been circulating social media, although the source of the calls has not been conclusively established.
Torrealba maintains that the opposition is not calling for the strike, and that he believes that the government is responsible for the rumours. Torrealba said:
The government carried out an operation through social media to talk about a supposed strike that was going to happen this coming Monday. This is a desperate move from a government that is trying to change topics, to remove from the spotlight the drama that is unfolding as a result of the scarcity.
Voluntad Popular, one of the most predominant opposition parties (headed by Leopoldo Lopez), also spoke against the alleged plan for a national strike on Monday. The party issued a written statement earlier today, part of which reads:
We are firmly convinced that all rights to peaceful and non-violent protest are legitimate and constitutional. However, we consider that due to the current, profound economic crisis facing the Venezuelan people, a call for a national strike is not appropriate at this time, since it would be giving the regime the excuse it’s looking for to once again absolve itself of its absolute and unequivocal responsibility for the scarcity and the severe economic crisis that assaults our Venezuelan brethren every minute.
We at Voluntad Popular call on all businesses to open their doors on Monday, January 12…
The statement named Minister of Communes Elias Jaua as responsible for starting the rumours.
VP: Ramo Verde Still Has “Lots of Available Cells Left”
Vice-President Jorge Arreaza threatened during a speech today that the Ramo Verde military facility – the infamous home of Leopoldo Lopez, Daniel Ceballos Enzo Scarano and other political prisoners – still has “lots of available cells”.
If they [protesters] want to keep the man in Ramo Verde [Leopoldo Lopez] company, there’s lots of available cells left.
Arreaza was specifically speaking to people who were thinking about participating in guarimbas, the street barricade protests that paralysed much of the country in the early months of 2014.
Ministry of Oil Website Stops “Oil Price” Updates
The official website of the Ministry of Oil and Mining used to have the current price of oil displayed on its front page. The price was updated weekly to reflect the market price per barrel of Venezuelan oil.
As of yesterday, the website no longer displays the price. While it is unclear if the move is intentional or not, the removal of the oil price section of the website comes at a time when Venezuelan oil prices are at their lowest levels in five and a half year, selling for just $42.44 per barrel as per yesterday.
Makeshift Memorial for Students Destroyed in Altamira
Residents are reporting that a makeshift memorial erected in Altamira, Caracas to commemorate the deaths of the students killed in last year’s unrest was destroyed overnight, allegedly by members of the National Bolivarian Police.
Below, a video of the site last night:
Altamira and Chacao have seen increased protester activity in the last few days, although not nearly as much as what was seen in the early months of last year.
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