U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez last night. Through Twitter, Rodriguez said that Kerry called her last night and asked her to “normalize diplomatic relations” with the United States through dialogue.
Rodriguez qualified the phone call as “fluid and sometimes tense”, and said that the would reveal more information about the conversation through her Twitter account at a later date.
Venezuela and the United States have not hosted each other’s ambassadors since 2010. Throughout the Chavez era, the relationship between Venezuela and El Imperio [“The Empire”, as Chavez called it] was tumultuous at best. Just last year, President Barack Obama called Venezuela “a threat” to the United States, and placed sanctions on seven high-ranking Venezuelan officials for their alleged involvement in human rights violations during the 2014 anti-government protest crackdown.
Paraguachon Border Closure Forcing Truckers to Find Alternate Routes
El Nacional published an article today in which it highlights the plight of legitimate businesses as Paraguachon became the latest border crossing to be closed in Maduro’s fight against smuggling.
According to the article, the crossing over the Limon river was less busy than normal yesterday. Commuter buses are still allowed to travel to and from Colombia at the crossing, but have to be thoroughly inspected by Venezuelan soldiers.
As is the case in Tachira following the border crossings there, entrepreneurial Venezuelans have begun selling their services as guides around the military barricades and through the border. Guides in Zulia are charging Bs. 5,000 per person to cross at points 25 minutes away on either side of the Paraguachon crossing.
The article points out that the community of Maicao has seen a dramatic decrease in business, as it relied extensively on trade with Colombia. Drivers there told El Nacional that they would find alternate routes into the neighbouring country. The community’s mayor, Euripides Pulido, told Caracol Radio that there was “immense worry” over the closure.
At least some people in the area are particularly concerned for the Wayuu people, an native group that has inhabited the area since pre-Columbian times. Ricci De Luque, a leader of the Wayuu population on the Colombian side of the border, said:
Yesterday some natives said that they were part of the [Bolivarian] revolution and that Maduro could not do to them what is happening in Cucuta. Let’s see what the natives do because in both countries their interests are respected.
When Maduro announced the closing of the Paraguachon crossing yesterday, he singled out the Wayuu population, saying that they could continue to cross the border unhindered.
ICHR Will Visit Tachira Border
Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Angela Holguin announced yesterday that the Inter-American Human Rights Commission will visit the border with Venezuela in Colombia in order to view the situation there first-hand. A delegation from the organization is expected to visit the area before the end of this week. The purpose of the visit will be to help the organization compile an official report on the deportee crisis for the Organization of American States.
Colombia’s El Tiempo reports that Bogota is disappointed with the closing of the border crossing at Paraguachon, an event that is likely to hinder a face-to-face meeting between the leaders from both countries. On the apparent escalation of the issue, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said yesterday:
We will not be provoked. On the contrary: when we are attacked, we stand firm with our principles and values (…) a palabras intensas, oidos sordos [a Colombian saying that literally means, “deaf ears to intense words”].
Holguin – who was in New York City yesterday meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – said that the circumstances for a meeting between Santos and Maduro are “a little complicated” at the moment.
Poll: 69.4% Do Not Believe in “Economic War” Theory
A poll conducted by the Instituto Venezolano de Analisis de Datos released today found that 69.4% of respondents do not believe that – as the government repeatedly asserts – there is an “economic war” being waged against Venezuela. Out of the 23.9% who do believe in the existence of the economic war, 71.9% define themselves as PSUV supporters.
The same poll found that 87.9% of the 1,200 Venezuela polled said that they did not have enough money to cover their daily expenses.
Cabello: State of Exception Declarations Not Over
National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said today that the national government was not done declaring states of exception. The comments come hot on the heels of the declaration of the state of exception in Zulia state, raising the number of municipalities affected by the decrees to 13 across two states.
If it’s necessary, we will approve all of the states of exception that President Nicolas Maduro presents to us to guarantee peace and calm for all Venezuelans.
Cabello also blamed Colombia for some of the difficulties affecting Venezuela, saying:
We are historic victims of an important number of crimes by Colombia and the paramilitaries from that country (…) they’ve come here silently to commit their bad deeds.
Nutritious Food Basket Rises to Bs. 28,363.22
The Centro de Documentacion y Analisis para los Trabajadores (Worker’s Center for Documentation and Analysis) (CENDA) revealed today that the price of the nutritious food basket rose 32% from June to July of this year, reaching Bs. 28,363.22. The nutritious food basket is a unit used to measure the price of basic foods necessary to maintain a minimum level of nutritional health.
In Venezuela, the monthly minimum salary is Bs. 7,421.67, meaning that an individual working a minimum wage job must earn 3.9 times their minimum wage in order to eat a healthy diet.
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