The managers of three different Abastos Bicentenarios in Anzoategui state were arrested today under suspicion sabotaging their operations. Maduro made the announcement today during a televised speech, and he also announced the arrest of a fourth man: the manager of a construction company hired to work on repairs at a Bicentenario.
Maduro said that he was tipped off to the situation through Twitter:
I was looking at my Twitter and I received a very simple message. I’m not sure of the Twitter name right now, but it said: “Maduro, take a look at the Bicentenarios in Puerto La Cruz because they are closed.” I immediately sent Minister [of Nutrition] Osorio, and he took a look at the Bicentenarios in Puerto La Cruz. And what did he find? Something bad, really bad. They were closed, and when products arrived, they were taking them out. It was a crime.
Maduro warned that “whoever does this and I find out about it goes to jail”, and boasted that hardly 24 hours had elapsed between the time he received the Twitter message to the time the suspects were arrested.
FEDECAMARAS Dismisses Maduro Threat
Jorge Roig, the head of FEDECAMARAS, dismissed Maduro’s threat yesterday that the organization representing the country’s private industry would no longer receive dollars for imports and operations as “a show of bravado”. Roig said:
This is no more than a show of bravado (..) but it’s a reflection on how the government manages dollars at their discretion as a political tool instead of being a development tool.
Part of the reason why Roig feels like the threat was empty is the fact that, as he asserts, starving FEDECAMARAS of dollars would starve Venezuela:
It’s almost impossible for Maduro to say that he’s not going to give dollars to the public sector, because the public sector is the only thing putting products on store shelves.
Roig believes that as a result of this reality, private companies – “whether or not they are affiliated with FEDECAMARAS” – will continue to receive dollars.
Gov’t Announces Medicine Registry
In an attempt to gain control over the scarcity of medicine and medical supplies in the country, the Minister of Health announced today that it was launching a registry to help distribute medicine. The announcement was made by Minister of Health Henry Venture, who said that the Sistema Integrado de Acceso a Medicamentos (SIAMED) will at first include cardiovascular and endocrine medicines.
Ventura said that the system will work by having citizens register at the pharmacy of their choice. Once registered, the citizen will be notified if his or her request for medicine can be fulfilled.
Ventura hinted that the program was going to be implemented in part to cut back on corruption, as it is possible that Venezuelan medical manufacturers who receive dollars at the Bs, 6.30 rate might be embezzling the money. Ventura said:
We’re going to see if it’s really true that Venezuelans consume 729 million medicines [per year].
SIMADI Rate Rises to Bs. 196.95
The free-floating SIMADI exchange rate reached Bs. 196.95/dollar today, While the rate has averaged Bs. 184.04 since coming into existence earlier this year, it has seen a spike in the past five days, increasing Bs. 0.45 since yesterday alone.
Maduro Gets Mango Thrown At Him
DolarToday published an undated video on its YouTube page showing Maduro driving a bus through a crowd. At the start of the video, someone throws what appears to be a small piece of garbage at Maduro’s head. A second later, someone throws a mango, hitting Maduro in the head.
Maduro stops the bus, and holds the mango out the window in confusion. Some of the people in the crowd appear indignant by the event: