The National Assembly officially began its debate of the proposed economic emergency decree announced on Friday, The Assembly is expected to announce the creation of a special commission to examine the proposed decree in the next few hours.

Part of the process will include summoning important political and economic actors to the National Assembly so that they may answer questions from the deputies.

The decree faces an uphill battle at the National Assembly, as skeptical opposition deputies appear to doubt both the government’s intentions and its ability to deal with the economic crisis without first admitting what they consider to be an obvious fact: that the Bolivarian economic model the PSUV is built upon has completely failed.

Opposition deputy Americo de Gracia told the Associated Press that “the conditions for approval are not there”, and that he has yet to speak to a single opposition deputy who thinks the economic emergency decree is a good idea.

Deputy Jose Guerra said that it would be impossible to accept the decree without knowing exact figures, something the decree lacks. Guerra said:

We can’t approve the decree without knowing the economic reality. They must explain the figures and what policies they will take, because on the face of it it looks like they want to invalidate budgetary and fiscal controls, which the Assembly sets. We want to help find a solution to this crisis, but we need information.

FEDECAMARAS: Decree Will Worsen Situation

The president of FEDECAMARAS [the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce], Francisco Martinez, spoke on the economic emergency decree earlier today, and said that he considers it evidence that the government is not willing to correct the fundamental errors affecting the Venezuelan economy.

In a video published earlier today, Martinez was blunt in his assessment of the proposed decree:

We warn of even more difficult times ahead. The proposed decree will not solve the country’s problems. On the contrary, it will make them worse.

Martinez said that one of the most fundamental problems leading to today’s crisis has to do with the strict price controls enforced by the Venezuelan government, which force private corporations to operate at sometimes steep losses. Martinez also considers the government’s track record in business intervention to be a complete failure:

To give you just a few examples: cement production, which is totally controlled by the State, fell 63% in 2015. Agroisleña [a private company founded in 1958 and expropriated in 2010] used to provide 40% of the country’s agricultural chemicals, but after the birth of Agropatria [the name given to Agroisleña after expropriation], the state-run company can’t satisfy 5% of the market. The national government controls 52% of the pre-cooked corn flour [industry] and 90% of coffee [industry], which every Venezuelan knows are scarce.

Martinez also pointed out that the Venezuelan economy has shrunk for eight consecutive trimesters, and that the country’s inflation rate is the highest in the world.

Spanish Ambassador’s Son Got €3.8 Million In Shady PDVSA Deals

Spain’s El Español reported today that the son of the former Spanish ambassador to Venezuela received at least €3.8 million in suspicious deals with PDVSA, the state-owned oil company.

The newspaper reports that Alejo Morodo, the son of Raul Morodo (ambassador from 2008 to 2013) is the owner of a dummy corporation registered in Panama. At several points until 2013, Morodo received a total of at least €3.8 million from PDVSA for “legal consulting” services. “A majority” of the money was deposited directly into a Swiss bank account, while the rest went directly to a law firm Morodo owns headquartered in Madrid, Spain.

The money was allegedly paid personally by the former head of PDVSA, Rafael Ramirez. Ramirez and PDVSA are currently under investigation by United States authorities for allegedly laundering money through European banks and bribery.

El Español contacted Morodo, who confirmed that he had provided legal services to PDVSA with the goal of helping the company establish itself in Europe.

No Justice Yet For Protest Victim

Rosa Orozco, the mother of Geraldine Moreno, lamented today that “it’s been almost two years and there hasn’t been justice” in the killing of her daughter. While participating in a protest in Valencia on February 22, 2014, Geraldine was shot in the face by a National Guard soldier. She died in a hospital eight hours later.

Orozco also decried the fact that the national government has blamed all 43 protests death solely on the opposition, saying:

19 of the young people killed during the protests were murdered by the National Bolivarian Guard, the National Bolivarian Police, the SEBIN [secret police] and the colectivos [pro-government armed groups]. The order was given to shoot for the head to disperse the protests, and look how that turned out. The government took my daughter, my soul.

She also said while two National Guard officers are currently serving jail time for Moreno’s death, other officers involved in the killing have escaped prosecution.

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


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