El Nacional highlighted the plight of Venezuelan workers today in an article on cestatickets, the stipend some Venezuelans receive in addition to their income in order to help them buy food. In the article, El Nacional points out that Venezuelans who earn less than Bs. 22,265.04 per month (three times the minimum wage) are entitled to a daily food stipend of anywhere between Bs. 75 to Bs. 112.5.
While the stipend might appear like a good idea in theory, the reality is that a simple lunch costs an average of Bs. 396.55, making even the maximum daily amount of Bs. 112.5 insufficient. “A more complete lunch”, the article states, “including [dry food], soup and juice”, usually costs more than Bs. 500.
Maria Jose Rodriguez, a secretary in an office in Plaza Venezuela, Caracas, told El Nacional:
I only get Bs. 75 per day, and the cheapest cachito [a staple Venezuelan breakfast bread; essentially a croissant with ham] costs Bs. 80. The stipend doesn’t buy anything, not even a decent breakfast out on the street.
The same article points out that hot dogs sold by street vendors cost around Bs. 90, while an empanada (another Venezuelan staple) costs anywhere between Bs 55 and Bs. 90.
El Nacional points out that if a worker were to save up his/her daily food stipend for a month, they would have anywhere between Bs. 1,652 to Bs. 2,475. In such a case, the stipend would be equally inadequate when it comes to purchasing food, since a kilogram of regulated meat sells for up to Bs. 1,300 in Caracas.
Rosa Real, an office administrator in Los Ruices, Caracas, told El Nacional:
You get Bs. 2,400 and a kilogram of meat on the street costs more than Bs. 1,000. The stipend is not enough. It’s even worse if you want to buy cold cuts. A kilogram of Uruguayan cheese costs Bs. 2,300, and that’s all I have in my [cestaticket] card. You pay with the stipend, and sometimes you even have to pay [the rest] with your credit card.
The Banco Central de Venezuela has not published inflation numbers at all this year, leaving other firms to guesstimate the rate at which prices in Venezuela are rising. El Nacional cites the firm Econometrica, which estimated that the inflation rate for July 2014-2015 was 150%, and that 2015 will see an annualized inflation rate of 200%.
Gov’t Links Opposition to Rape, Dismemberment of Woman
Minister of Interior, Justice and Peace Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez linked the Venezuelan opposition today to the gruesome murder of a woman named Liana Hergueta in Caracas last week.
Earlier today, Gonzalez Lopez said during a televised press conference that police had arrested three men in Hergueta’s murder. One of the suspects met the victim, Lopez said, last year during an anti-government protest in the Las Mercedes area of Caracas. Gonzalez Lopez said:
… [the murder] is closely linked, tied with, and originates with sources from Venezuela’s opposition.
The Minister said that the three suspects (Carlos Eduardo Trejo Mosquera, Jose Rafael Perez Venta and Samuel Jose Angulo Sanchez) have close connections to “important opposition figures”, and suggested that the men had been paid by the opposition to commit the murder. Gonzalez Lopez provided no evidence for any of his claims.
Gonzalez Lopez explained that authorities believe that one of the suspects offered to sell Hergueta some U.S. dollars earlier this year. He said that Hergueta paid for the dollars but never received them, and that she subsequently tried repeatedly to reach the suspect to demand her money back. Gonzalez Lopez said that on August 5, the suspects agreed to meet Hergueta to resolve the issue, at which time they kidnapped her, raped her, strangled her and then dismembered her body.
Hergueta’s remains were found inside a car in the Los Manolos neighbourhood of Caracas on August 7.
On the alleged link between the murder and the Venezuelan opposition, Gonzalez Lopez said:
We’re found some links that we as security bodies find worrying. We wonder what activities Mr. Perez Venta, a man who is close to the security circles of some very notable opposition figures, was involved in.
The Minister also said that the sum of money involved in the dispute totaled $5,000, or Bs. 1,340,000.
Former Minister of Defence Freed After 8 Years
Former Minister of Defence Raul Isaias Baduel was released from the Ramo Verde prison last night after serving nearly eight years for embezzlement, abuse of power and crimes against military decorum.
Baduel was Minister of Defence from 2006 to 2007. In 2002, he was in charge of the operation that brought Chavez back to power after he was briefly ousted in a coup. He was arrested in 2009 and was found by a judge to have embezzled $3.9 million.
Below, some pictures of Baduel last night taken shortly after his release:
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