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Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles criticized the government’s continued preoccupation with the U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan officials, calling it a distraction from the country’s real problems. Capriles made the comments while touring the Andres Eloy Blanco school in Los Teques.

Capriles said:

The government spends all day talking about Obama, of an alleged invasion by the empire, instead of working on the real problems facing Venezuelans. All they’re doing is passing the buck and they don’t talk about how to solve the crisis, the violence on the streets, la scarcity of food and medicine, and the sad state schools and hospitals find themselves in. The people are tired of this corrupt model. The Venezuelan people just want solutions.

Capriles also decried military spending instead of directing the money to infrastructure projects such as schools. Praising the integral part education plays in any society, Capriles said:

Whoever works towards education works towards the future. Education is the window to opportunities. It allows us to bridge gaps and inequality.

Opposition Party Asks for Money Laundering Investigation

The Primero Justicia opposition party will ask the Public Ministry to investigate Venezuelans with multi-million dollar bank accounts in an Andorran bank accused of laundering money. The announcement was made today by deputy Julio Montoya, who also said that a party delegation would fly to Madrid next week and meet with Spanish and Andorran authorities to discuss the issue.

Montoya said that he would not allow the government to remain silent on the issue, and that the party would seek answers to pressing questions:

Through which government sector was the money [stolen]? Through which banks was the money laundered?

Saab Speaks on Brain Drain

The People’s Defender, Tareck William Saab, spoke on the phenomenon of Venezuelan youth leaving the country to study abroad. Saab said that there are currently 18,000 Venezuelans studying abroad; 83% studying a foreign language, 50% of whom have chosen English. Saab lamented the fact that few Venezuelans choose to continue their educations and stay in the country, saying:

Only 20% go on to graduate degrees, which is what the country needs the most, so that they can then stay with us and help the homeland. This should be a priority.

Venezuelans who wish to study abroad must apply for foreign currency through the government, who then approve or deny their requests. To Saab, the government should not prioritize international students when it comes to handing out foreign currency. He explained:

I don’t think that asking for foreign currency to study English, Mandarin or anything else should be a priority.

Saab went on to explain that 60% of Venezuelans who completed degrees abroad in 2013 and 2015 did not return to the country.

Roig: Venezuela Facing “Important” Currency Shortage

The president of the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (FEDECAMARAS), Jorge Roig, spoke today on what he called an “important” shortage of foreign currency in the country, which is having the effect of rending the country’s exchange systems useless.

Calling the country’s newest exchange system – SIMADI – a “well-intentioned” system, Roig said that it has proven to be virtually useless so far due to the fact that the government is not providing it with the foreign currency it needs to function adequately. Roig said:

In December, we pointed out that it was necessary to bring in a currency exchange system, and the exchange systems have not worked out. SIMADI, as well-intentioned as it might be, cannot function if it doesn’t have the currency with which to work.

Late last month, the government announced that the SIMADI market had only processed a meagre $2.6 million in its first month of operation.

Roig stressed that the issue lies with the lack of foreign currency flowing through the exchange markets, which amounts to “an important lack of foreign currency in Venezuela”, which:

… has paralysed the nation’s productive apparatus, specially the food and medical sectors, which cover the most basic necessities of our citizens.

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