Earlier today, the government published reforms to the Ley Organica de Precios Justos [Fair Prices Law], which seeks to regulate – among other things – how much goods and services can be sold for in the country. The reforms were published in the Gaceta Oficial No. 40.784, and are effective as of today.
According to the law, its purpose is to:
… establish norms to determine the prices of goods and services, earnings margins, mechanisms for selling, and due controls to guarantee people access to goods and services at fair prices…
The reform applies to “anyone involved with the administration, management, operations personnel and legal caretaking” of any activity that involves the sale of a good or service, including “media and websites”.
The reform also increases fines and prison terms for non-compliance. For example, anyone found guilty of selling expired products will receive a sentence of between five and ten years, up from one to three years in the previous version of the law. The penalty for usury also increases from one to two years to five to eight years.
Anyone found guilty of hoarding products in order to reduce supply will be fined up to 20% of their yearly earnings for their first infraction. The punishment for contrabando de extraccion [smuggling goods out of the country for re-sale] will receive a sentence of ten to fourteen years.
The reform also mandates that no one can set prices on goods and services that will net them more than 30% in earnings.
A copy of the Gaceta Oficial can be found here, in Spanish.
Lopez Letter Released on Twitter
Lilian Tintori, Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, posted a letter on her Twitter account that her husband wrote inside the Ramo Verde prison. The letter reminds Venezuelans of the importance of the December 6 parliamentary elections and is titled “Majority for What?”.
Below, my translation of the letter:
Majority for What?
Today, Venezuelans are clear: a dictatorship rules over Venezuela. This is what we’re facing.
Our people know that winning the National Assembly on December 6 is a fundamental objective on the path to winning democracy and building a better Venezuela, but it also knows that this is not the last battle.
With that clear, the Venezuelan people have risen to the occasion in the face of adversity, and in the midst of the worst crisis in its history, is ready to face the struggles on the horizon because it knows that the time of the opposition candidates is coming and will not be stopped.
Today, the people who want change know that they are the majority, but we have to demonstrate that majority in the voting booths on December 6. We must vote massively.
Even more importantly, we must then defend those votes peacefully and courageously, firmly and in an organized manner. We cannot hesitate to defend the popular will.
Having done so, we will have weakened this dictatorship with a new National Assembly. From there, we will drive forward the political change of those who usurp the power of the Republic. This National Assembly does not only have the responsibility of drafting democratic laws, it has an historic responsibility: to drive the political change that all Venezuelans want.
Opposition deputies have promised to make this change come true, and count on the support of a determined people to win democracy and liberate Venezuela.
What does it mean to liberate Venezuela? To change the model. To break the chains of the immoral system that oppresses us today, and to build the foundation of a model that is inclusive, that guarantees us peace, well-being and progress.
To achieve a change in the model we must achieve political change from the elite who have usurped the powers of the State. Our people know this perfectly well, as do the parties that make up the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica. This is why we reached an historic political agreement on July 23 2015, when the democratic forces in Venezuela promised to, together and in perfect unity:
“We promise to drive forward this process of building solutions to the crisis, and to activate the constitutional mechanisms for political change to make these solutions possible in the first semester of 2016”
I want to highlight the wisdom of the people who wrote this historic document when they said, “the political change to make these solutions possible”.
There will be no solutions to the problems we Venezuelans suffer without first achieving the political change from the corrupt elite who have usurped power.
We cannot wait years. We cannot wait for the presidential elections of 2019. We will drive forward political change in the first semester of 2016. 90% of the country wants that, and the constitution allows it.
With the same spirit of unity, opposition colleagues have agreed to begin a profound debate over which mechanisms to activate to achieve political change – be it [constitutional] amendments, resignation, a recall or a constituent assembly.
However, this debate will not lead us astray of the biggest agreement reached. Political change has a date in Venezuela: the first semester of 2016.
I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt – both in my mind and soul – that we will achieve this.
Strength and Faith, Venezuela
Ramo Verde Military Prison
Maduro Visits Middle East
Maduro traveled to Saudi Arabia today to attend the Summit of South American-Arab Countries. Maduro’s entourage includes First Lady Cilia Flores, the Vice-Minister of Planning and Knowledge, Ricardo Menendez, Minister of the Economy and Finances Rodolfo Marco Torres, and Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez.
One of the issues the summit is expected to tackle is the continued dip in oil prices.
Below, some pictures of Maduro’s arrival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia:
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