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Maduro arrived back in Venezuela today after his two week trip abroad, in which he visited a number of OPEC countries as well as China, Russia and Portugal. He spoke on television before supporters, and made a number of interesting comments.

Accusing private wholesalers and distributors of sabotaging supply chains to cause scarcity, Maduro said:

I’ve given the order to the vice-presidents so that they can visit wholesalers to give them an ultimatum. If not, I will act with the whole weight of the law and of the constitution.

Calling private wholesalers “parasites”, Maduro said that the ultimatum will demand that they “respect the Venezuelan people”. Maduro also announced that he was giving the order to transition into “an economy towards productive socialism”, although he did not explain what exactly he meant by this. He also announced equally unexplained changes to the privately-run distribution model:

Of course we have to change the distribution model. We have to change all of it, and we have to change it now (…) Either we change the model or they’re going to hurt the republic.

Below, some pictures of Maduro’s welcome back to Caracas:

MUD Releases Criticism of Maduro Speech

The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, the official political opposition bloc, released a statement today in which it criticized Maduro’s speech earlier today. The MUD focused on the major points below:

  1. Maduro is far too removed from the average Venezuelan to understand the people’s daily reality. He needs to give answers to some pressing questions, including where the nearly 8 billion dollars in oil profits over the last 12 years have gone.
  2. Maduro needs to explain which agreements – if any – he was able to reach with the nations he visited during his trip. So far, Maduro has been vague at best about the alleged agreements.
  3. Maduro needs to stop insulting political dissenters and opposition leaders for simply speaking their minds and pointing out the dire situation the country currently finds itself in.
  4. Maduro is wrong when he asserts that the MUD is planning to “destroy him”, so he should stop saying that.

The same document also says that the MUD will issue a statement before the nation on January 23 to speak on their understanding of the crisis in Venezuela and their proposals for change. The statement will follow an expected speech by Maduro before the National Assembly, scheduled for this coming Tuesday.

Scarano Hoping for Release

Enzo Scarano, the former mayor of San Diego, Carabobo state, will complete his prison sentence on February 4. His lawyer, Leon Jurado Laurentin, says that he expects Scarano will be fully released.

Scarno was sentenced to 10 months in prison back in March of 2014 on charges stemming from the anti-government protests that took place in the city of San Diego during the early part of last year.

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