Speaking during a televised event last night on the progress made by the Operacion de Liberación del Pueblo, Maduro called Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles “incompetent”, and suggested that he had ties to Colombian paramilitary groups the government alleges are working to undermine the Venezuelan government.

Maduro said that out of 1,200 apartments inspected by security forces in MIranda state, 200 of them were somehow connected to criminal activities. Maduro then said:

This only happens because the governor there [Capriles] is never seen handing over public works. Instead, he’s out in Barlovento and in the coast of Higuerote organizing the paramilitary groups to conspire against the people. 

Capriles was quick to reply to Maduro’s “irresponsible” accusations in a series of tweets. Capriles said:

Please spend at least one minute trying to solve one of the country’s problems.

You, Nicolas Maduro, have failed not only when it comes to the economy – plunging the country into chaos – but also when it comes to security. [We’re seeing] the greatest level of violence in the history [of Venezuela].

While Maduro did not provide any kind of evidence for his allegation, “Colombian paramilitaries” have become a go-to boogeyman in recent weeks, as the government blames them from everything from food shortages to violent crime.

Last week, Minister of the Interior Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez blamed Colombian paramilitaries for 16 deaths resulting from a raid on the Cota 905 area of Caracas. Neither Lopez nor any other Venezuelan authority has provided conclusive evidence of their assertions.

Economist: Minimum Salary Might Be Worth $8 By December

Angel Garcia Banchs, the head of the economic firm Econometrica, told Noticiero Digital that unless immediate action is taken to overhaul the currency exchange system, inflation could decrease the Venezuelan minimum salary to $8 per month.

Speaking generally on the economic situation in the country, Banchs said:

[Venezuela] has never seen such a rapid deterioration as the one it is seeing now, with a black market dollar rate that is unstoppable and is about to explode.

Banchs explained that as the black market rate for dollars continues to increase, fewer dollars will flow into the country. This will cause the Banco Central de Venezuela to print more and more Bolivares, which in turn leads to a runaway inflationary process.

He also explained that whatever the PSUV may want, the way the economy is organized now cannot last:

We must understand that the way things are now is unsustainable. There are going to have to be changes within and without chavismo, because our country is going to have to get back on track. Totalitarianism today cannot find balance; it cannot be viable. Today, totalitarianism is impossible. We have the example of Cuba, but that is a kind of totalitarianism born in the 20th century. One born in the 21st century is not viable. The only thing that is viable is to rescue our country.

Central Bank Looks to Control Currency Denominations

The Banco Central de Venezuela [Central Bank] has announced that it will only give the country’s banks low denomination bills in an attempt to stock cash machines with higher denomination bills.

In Venezuela, bills come in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. A source in the financial sector told El Universal that the Central Bank understands that the Bs. 100 bill is attractive to people looking to exchange Bolivares for pesos at the Colombian border.

Jose Roso, former president of FEDECAMARAS Tachira, reminded El Universal that in 1998, 1 Bolivar bought 2.43 pesos; today, one Bolivar buys 0.007 pesos, hence the desire for high denomination bills.

El Universal also reports that the number of Bs. 100 bills in circulation increased 104% in the past year, according to the Central Bank’s own statistics. The number of Bs. 100 bills in circulation is up 4,233% from 2008.

Video Shows Looting Attempt

A video allegedly recorded on July 19 somewhere in Maracaibo appears to show a group of people trying to break into what appears to be a supermarket. The video shows the individuals trying to break down safety barriers with kicks and shopping carts. The video description claims that the individuals were bachaqueros, people who sell scarce goods on the street at high prices.

Below, the video:

Venezuela Commemorates Bolivar’s Birthday

Simon Bolivar was born today in 1783. Coincidentally, it is also the anniversary of the Battle of Lake Maracaibo, the last time Venezuelan and Spanish forces faced each other during the War of Independence.

Below, a short clip showing Maduro touring a museum at the Naval School in Vargas. The museum displays artifacts related to Bolivar and other Venezuelan military figures of the time:

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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