Yesterday, a Caracas tribunal published an order to the country’s Sistema Integrado de Informacion Policial [Integrated Police Information System] (SIPOL) to track down the heads of three Venezuelan media outlets: El Nacional, La Patilla, and Tal Cual. The heads in question are Miguel Henrique Otero, Alberto Federico Ravell, and Teodoro Petkoff, respectively. The order also applies to
The order stems from a lawsuit by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello against the country’s media outlets over their reporting of a story by Spain’s ABC that alleged he was involved in a drug trafficking operation. According to the order, Cabello is seeking compensation for “moral damages”.
The order allows for authorities to find and transport Otero, Ravell and Petkoff to a court in Caracas in order to answer to Cabello’s lawsuit. The same order applies to ten other individuals, including Leopoldo Lopez Gil, Leopoldo Lopez’s father.
Back in January, Leamsy Salazar – a former bodyguard to Hugo Chavez – spoke to Spanish media and said that he had asked the U.S.’s Drug Enforcement Administration for protection, and that he was speaking to U.S. authorities about drug trafficking operations involving high-ranking Venezuelan officials, including Diosdado Cabello.
The order can be found here, in Spanish.
Bolivar Governor: We’ll Eat “Fried Rocks” Before Opposition Wins
The governor of Bolivar state, Francisco Rangel Gomez, told supporters on his radio show four days ago to not become upset whenever they can’t find food in supermarkets. Instead, Gomez said, Venezuelans should stand firm in their commitment to the revolution, saying:
We should be really careful [because] they [the opposition] will take whatever they want away from us. We’re capable of eating sticks or, instead of using eggs, throwing two rocks [on a pan] and eating fried rocks, but we will never bow down to anyone or anything.
Gomez’s comments came at around the same time that Minister of Communication Jacqueline Faria told supporters in Caracas that lining up for food should be an “enjoyable” experience.
Jose Vicente Carrasquero, a political scientist, spoke on the comments today, saying:
[The comments] are a tool of the government – aside from being insufferably bold-faced – to think that Venezuelans do not have the ability to realize that they’re making fun of them [by] suggesting that they should eat fried rocks and line up happily. They’re insults and it shows a lack of respect and a lack of understanding of the essential values of the people who gave them a mandate.
Non-Electronic Passports To Become Invalid
On November 24, all Venezuelan passports that are not electronic will become invalid, as a law passed in 2009 comes into effect. The law in question is the Reforma Parcial de la Ley de Aeronautica Civil de 2009. The law was published in the Gaceta Oficial No. 39.222 dated July 15, 2009.
Electronic passports contain a a chip to help identify travelers with better certainty, and has been in use in Venezuela for some time.
All non-electronic passports have an expiration date of November 25, 2015, meaning that they will become invalid on that day whether or not individuals decide to apply for an electronic one.
Maduro: A Vote for the Opposition Is Like “Whipping Yourself”
Speaking on his weekly television show, En Contacto con Maduro, Maduro warned voters considering casting their ballots for the opposition to “punish” the PSUV would only be hurting themselves. Maduro explained:
They’re saying that the “punishment vote” will win. A punishment vote against whom, the people? Voting for the right wing is the same as punishing yourself. It’s like grabbing a whip and whipping yourself raw.
Maduro was confident that PSUV supporters would not break ranks, saying:
Punishment vote? Against the revolution? That doesn’t exist, nor will it exist. Write that down. It’s 60 days before [the election] and I’m telling you. I know. Someone told me already (…) On December 6, our people will once against say to the revolution, “We’re here, let’s keep going!”
Sugar Productions Drops
So far in 2015, Venezuela has produced 130,905 fewer tonnes of sugar than it did last year, according to the Federacion de Cañicultores de Venezuela [Venezuelan Association of Cane Growers]. While the country produced 523,349.99 tonnes of sugar during the 2013-2014 season, the 2014-2015 season saw only 392,444 tonnes produced.
The head of the organization, Jose Ricardo Alvarez, told El Nacional that the reason for the decline is the fact that producers are forced to operate at a loss due to strict price control set by the national government. Alvarez said:
Last year, we asked the government to set the price for producers at 21 Bolivares per kilogram of sugar, but we 13 Bolivares. For each kilogram of sugar, we lose 8 Bolivares.
To offset the losses, Alvarez said that the organization is asking the government for Bs. 3.2 billion within the next two months.
El Nacional reports that the cost of producing one kilogram of sugar for next year’s season will be Bs. 71.73, of which producers will receive less than half in subsidies, a fact that is putting the next harvest in jeopardy.. Alvarez explained:
President Nicolas Maduro has approved a subsidy of Bs. 16.41 per kilogram of sugar, which on top of the Bs. 15 we receive now adds up to Bs. 31.41. We’re short Bs. 40. If they don’t approve this, the new harvest won’t start,
Medical Importers Facing Exchange Crunch
Although nearly half of all medical products used by Venezuelans are imported, businesses that bring them into the country receive less than half of all foreign currency assigned to the industry, a source in the medical sector told El Nacional.
The source told the newspaper that newer, cutting-edge medicines for everything from cancer to hypertension must be imported, since their formulas are patented by foreign companies, making their production in the country impossible.
It’s imperative that the government clear foreign currency for imports as soon as possible, the source, said, because the importation process takes an average of 28 days.
While importers are still managing to bring in some medicine into the country, they are accumulating tremendous amounts of debt in the process. The debt backlog goes back years, the source said:
There are cases were the debt is between $10 and 20 million, and [the government] has only cleared between $30,000 and $50,000.
Truck Overturns in Tinaquillo, Is Looted
A truck carrying beer belonging to Empresas Polar overturned on a highway near Tinaquillo, Cojedes state earlier today, and was promptly looted by passers-by. It is not clear if there were any injuries in the incident.
Below, an image from the scene:
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