Manuel Rosales, the former Zulia governor, returned to Venezuela yesterday after six years of exile. Rosales was arrested at the door of the airplane by SEBIN agents, and was subsequently taken the agency’s headquarters at El Helicoide in Caracas.

Rosales ran against Hugo Chavez in the 2006 presidential elections. In 2008, he was accused of corruption, and subsequently fled the country. The allegations against him are mired in controversy, including revelations from a former political opponent that a judge approached him in 2008 and asked him to make false accusations against Rosales as part of a campaign to eliminate Rosales via “judicial lynching”.

Shortly before his arrest, Rosales recorded a message. Below, Rosales’ message along with my translation:

Manuel Rosales: Greetings to the people of Maracaibo, Zulia, and Venezuela. We’ve just landed, we’ve just arrived on Venezuelan soil – as you know – with lots of joy and lots of strength from Zulia and Venezuela. From here, I hope to go to La 72 [literally, “the 72”; I’m not sure what he means by this, but I think it’s the name of a place], but I’m seeing lots of movement. They should use this deployment they’ve made because of my arrival to fight crime. Anyway, let’s see if we can get there. If not, I’ve already told you: I don’t want any violence or any problems. Let’s do this peacefully. We’ll make them pay on December 6. Long live Zulia, and Venezuela. I love you!

Maduro Announces Increase to Minimum Wage

Last night, Maduro announced that the minimum monthly salary in Venezuela will be Bs. 9.648 starting on November 1. At the current unofficial exchange rate (Bs. 731.91/US$), the increase means that Venezuelan making minimum wage will earn U.S. $13.20 per month.

While making the announcement, Maduro said that the country’s rate of inflation could reach 80% by the end of the year. Since the Banco Central de Venezuela has not published inflation information all year, the country’s exact rate of inflation is not known. However, a number of international organizations have estimated that the 2015 inflation rate for Venezuela to be at least 150%.

Luis Vicente Leon, the head of the Datanalisis firm, reacted to Maduro’s inflation claims, saying:

It’s unlikely that inflation will end the year below 150%.

Alejandro Grisanti, an economist at Barclay’s, pointed out that barring any other salary increases this year, the monthly minimum wage in the country will have gone up 70%, while inflation “is near 180% or 200%”.

Orlando Ochoa, an economist and professor at the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello, told El Nacional that raising the minimum wage does nothing to solve the real problem: inflation.

Maduro Sings “Happy Birthday” To His Wife

While speaking to the nation via cadena [a broadcast that every television and radio network is required to carry by law], Maduro took the opportunity to sing “Happy Birthday” to his wife, Cilia Flores.

Maduro was an an event in Ciudad Guyana, Bolivar state when he said:

Maduro: Look, I’m going to ask for applause here for Cilia because it’s her birthday today. She’s waiting for me in Caracas so I can sing her happy birthday. Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday Cilitahappy birthday to you! Wooh!

Analyst: Opposition Sitting on 29% Lead

Political analyst John Magdaleno told El Nacional that the opposition leads the PSUV by 29% with less than two months to go before the December 6 parliamentary elections. Magdaleno said that the Venezuelan opposition has not enjoyed so much support since at least 2003.

According to Magdaleno, the PSUV is suffering the most because its most loyal supporters – those belonging to the lowest socio-economic levels – appear to have abandoned the party. He said:

This is the worst moment the government has faced in 17 years, and it’s due to the complexities of the political, economic, and social situation that the country is living.

Magdaleno also pointed out that Maduro has become a widely unpopular figure. While support for Maduro sat at around 44% in October 2012, that level was somewhere around 20-23% in September of this year.

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

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