SIMADI, the third tier of the Venezuelan currency exchange system, processed 17,000 transactions during its first month of operation, totalling $2.6 million. The president of the Asociacion de Casas de Cambio de Venezuela [Venezuelan Money Exchange Association], César Atencio, addressed the anemic figure, saying:
It’s very little, but we started at zero. This is something that didn’t exist in January, something that didn’t exist in the country in 2003… it’s a little, but it’s positive.
Maduro ordered the creation of SIMADI in mid-February, and the exchange system launched on February 19. The system allows Venezuelans to exchange Bolivares for foreign currency at a free-floating rate which currently sits at Bs. 193.39. SIMADI is the third exchange tier in Venezuela (the other two being CENCOEX and SICAD), and the only one that does not have its rate fixed by the government.
Earlier this week, Maduro reminded Venezuelans that SIMADI is only a part of the country’s currency exchange system, and that the other two exchange markets help meet anywhere between 70-80% of the country’s foreign currency needs.
Ceballos to Remain in Jail
Daniel Ceballos completed his one year prison sentence this week, and although a court ordered his release, he will remain in jail pending a second trial against him. Ceballos, who was the mayor of San Cristobal, Tachira, was removed from office, arrested and sentenced to one year in prison last year over allegations that he failed to stop the protests in the city. He is also charged with a number of other crimes, including conspiracy, for which he is currently on trial. He will remain in the Ramo Verde military prison outside Caracas at least until the end of the trial.
Venezuela Files Complaint with U.S.A.
Foreign Ministry Delcy Rodriguez announced today that the Venezuelan government has sent a formal letter of protest against the United States sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials. The letter was delivered to the United States embassy in Caracas.
Tareck William Saab, the People’s Defender, hailed the government’s signature drive to denounce the U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan officials as a complete victory over the United States. Saab said:
We can now begin to talk about about a total spiritual defeat; it is a moral and ethical victory against this decree [sanctions]. We hope that in the meeting of the [Organization of American States] the defeat of this aggression will be cemented.
Capriles: Lines Won’t be Fixed with Threats
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles spoke at an event in Valles del Tuy today, and said that it was necessary for the country to begin producing again if it wants to defeat the scarcity that has been plaguing Venezuelans for nearly a year. Capriles also criticised the government’s belligerent tone, saying:
The country needs to produce. This is something that needs to be repeated, so that we all understand it clearly and so that no one is confused. No one likes to line up: people line up out of necessity. The only way out of this crisis, so that we won’t have to line up to buy food, medicine or any other product, is to re-start national production. Line ups are defeated by production, not with threats or decrees or by bringing in products from other countries. We have the capacity and the manpower here to produce everything that we consume.
Capriles also said that the Venezuelan economy needs more jobs to create the economic well-being necessary for families to live fulfilling, peaceful lives.
Yare II Prisoners on Hunger Strike
Approximately 900 inmates of the Yare II prison in Miranda state have been on a hunger strike since Wednesday according to Humberto Prado, the head of the Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones [OVP], an NGO that monitors prisons in the country.
Prado spoke on the reasons for the strike, saying:
The Yare II inmates are on a hunger strike to call the attention of the government, specifically the Ministry of Penal Services, so that they can reinstate visitation rights, which have been cancelled.
The hunger strike in Yare follows a similar protest in the Rodeo I prison, also in Miranda state. There, inmates staged a hunger strike from Sunday to Wednesday of last week in protest of the prison leadership.
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