During a televised speech today, Maduro announced that the country’s largest private industry organization, the Federacion de Camaras y Asociaciones de Comercio y Produccion de Venezuela (FEDECAMARAS) would no longer receive the dollars it needs to operate. Maduro also ordered members of his government to cancel meetings with the organization’s head, Jorge Roig, along with any representative of the individual companies the body represents.
The abrupt announcement came after Maduro accused the organization of waging “a war against the country and the people”. Maduro also blamed the organization for all of the country’s economic woes, saying:
FEDECAMARAS is responsible for all of the sabotage and the economic war.
These businessmen are the ones who are responsible for the scarcity, and all they do is ask for money.
Below, a video of Maduro’s announcement, along with my translation:
Maduro: … of the people, the workers. None of what we’re doing is like what the pelucon or the pelucones [a derogatory term for business owner] do. Everything that they do is to build great fortunes for themselves in this world. Isn’t that right? Sometimes, the pelucones get together with some ministers and say, “You owe us a billion dollars”, and they have five billion dollars oversees. So I say to them, “Why don’t you bring that money back here and invest it?” And they keep asking, and asking, and asking, and asking, but, no! Those dollars are for the people, for homes, for transportation, and for food.
FEDECAMARAS, there’s no more dollars for you. Let it be known. Dollars are for people’s homes, for the food, and for a productive economy, and for the business people who truly want to work. For the ones who want to work, of course! Here you go, get your supplies, here’s your investment.
But the big pelucones, the monopolists, all they’re doing is working to enrich themselves. That’s all. You should see the fortunes they have overseas. Three, four, five billion dollars overseas. You should see the private airplanes they have. And how did they pay for that? Did [the money] fall from the sky? Or did they find morocotas [gold coins] in their back yards? Or are they growing a morocota tree? They [got their money] from you, from the sweat of the people, from the sweat of those who work. They got it through speculation and from robbing the country, from our currency exchange systems, over years.
Let’s be clear. I said that we would create an economic revolution, and to make an economic revolution we have to speak clearly. Let’s put it all on the table. No one can lie to me – “It’s ready, everything is fine”. No! It’s not ready, and it’s not OK. It has yet to be done. And today, I’m telling you, let’s do it!
Venezuela cannot move backwards. We don’t have a reverse. You can’t even push us back. You can put it on neutral, and someone can push you. We can only move forward. That’s written in history. We have the strength, and we have the plan. We want to do it, we know how to do it, and we have only one destiny: to do it, and to achieve an economic victory on behalf of the Venezuelan people over the oligarchy and FEDECAMARAS. That’s our only destiny.
FEDECAMARAS represents businesses from virtually every sector of the Venezuelan economy, including commerce, banking, construction, media, and tourism.
Venezuela’s strict currency controls mean that a business in need of dollars to import products or raw materials into the country must exchange money through the government. By refusing to give FEDECAMARAS dollars, Maduro is saying that he is refusing to allow the organization and the companies it represents to exchange money through official means.
Maduro also announced that he would announced his “economic plan” on May 1.
FEDECAMARAS Rejects Accusations
Jorge Roig spoke during a press conference after Maduro’s comments and defended FEDECAMARAS. Roig said that the government was the only one waging an economic war against the country:
The only economic war that exists in the country is being carried out by the ones who have a monopoly on dollars.
Roig also said that FEDECAMARAS is trying to work towards improving economic conditions in the country:
We want to restart the economy. We need to consult a lot of the talent that we have in Venezuela…
Roig also said that 50% of the country’s industry was paralysed due in part to restrictive government policies as well as their obstructive behaviour. Roig said that government policies and statements like the ones made by Maduro today “destroy the productive apparatus” of Venezuela.
Finally, Roig said that FEDECARMAS was worried about “the serious ways in which authorities have stigmatized and intimidated [us].”
Study: 80% Find it Difficult to Afford Food
A study conducted by researchers at the Universidad Simon Bolivar found that inflation and high prices have taken a toll on Venezuelan families. According to the study, 80% of Venezuelans believe that they do not earn enough money to buy all the food they need.
Marianella Herrerar, a PhD candidate with the Centre for Developmental Studies, oversaw the study which polled 1.479 homes around the country. According to the study:
The perception that [the family] doesn’t earn enough to buy food is a difficulty that manifests itself at each [socioeconomic level] of the population.
The study also found that 11.3% of families can only afford two meals per day.