An Ecuadorian woman named Carmen Janeth Briones was formally charged today with faking a kidnapping, disseminating false information and associating with the purposes of committing a crime after claiming last week that her son had been kidnapped in Caracas.
Last week, Briones reported to the Public Ministry that her four year old son had been kidnapped by three knife wielding men in Chacao. The news quickly spread through social media.
After police officers began to investigate the report, it became apparent to them that the event had never taken place. Briones was arrested on Wednesday, and confessed under interrogation that unidentified individuals had paid her an unspecified sum of money to fake the story in order to create panic throughout Venezuela.
Rice Shipment Arrives
3,500 metric tons of rice arrived at the port of Puerto Cabello today from Suriname, the first of a total of 30,000 tonnes expected to arrive from the country. The rice is part of a PetroCaribe agreement that allows for nations in the organization to pay for Venezuelan oil with goods or services.
Bernardo Alvarez, a PDVSA official, spoke on the rice-for-oil deal, saying:
The objectives of the deal are met. The goals are energy security on the one hand, and on the other socio-economic development, because they pay us with rice – which benefits small and medium-size producers in Suriname – and also allows for regional integration.
Alvarez also said that PDVSA is expecting to trade oil this year with Nicaragua, which will pay with $450 million worth of food products. Similarly, deals with El Salvador and Jamaica will net $95 million in food and $60 million in medicine, respectively.
Travellers Hope to find Semana Santa Tickets
Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a busy travel time in Venezuelans, who usually have the week off from work and school. An estimated 300,000-400,000 people are expected to travel around Venezuela this upcoming week.
The heightened load of travellers is putting strains on Venezuela’s land transportation system. At the La Bandera terminal in Caracas, people have been lining up since early yesterday morning hoping to find bus tickets for next week. Daniel Villegas was hoping to find a ticket to San Cristobal, Tachira state, but discovered that they were being sold for twice the normal price: Bs. 1500 instead of the usual Bs. 661.
Venezuelans Take Protest to Great Wall
A group of Venezuelans have taken their protest against the U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan officials to the Great Wall of China. Maduro retweeted the pictures below, showing what appear to be Venezuelan citizens on the ancient wonder:
Earlier this month, Venezuela announced that it had secured a loan from China worth $10 billion.