The Banco Central de Venezuela has begun negotiations with Germany’s Deutsche Bank to swap some of Venezuela’s gold reserves into cash in time for the country to pay off some upcoming debt deadlines. A source “familiar with the negotiations” told Reuters:
They [Venezuela] are looking for money everywhere.
Venezuela must pay $9.5 billion in debt obligations in 2016, which is more than half of the country’s total foreign reserves, which are currently sitting at around the $15.4 billion mark. According to Reuters, out of that total, only $2.4 billion are readily available as cash.
As of November of last year, Venezuela’s gold reserves were valued at $10.9 billion, down $3.5 billion from the same time in 2014 due to a dip in gold prices.
Thieves Steal Guns from Gov’t Facility
Five heavily armed delinquents subdued a National Guard solider guarding the entrance to an Honour Guard facility in San Mateo, Aragua state and stole a large quantity of military-issue firearms. The break-in occurred in the early morning hours, and an inventory of the firearms at the site revealed that the men stole the following hardware:
- 19 M4 carbines along with 77 ammunition magazines.
- 1 M16 assault rifle.
- 1 AK 103 assault rifle.
- 1 .40 caliber Glock pistol.
- 1 unidentified 9mm pistol.
The journalist who broke the news, Alex Fuenmayor, also reported that police sources indicated to him that the men fled the scene in a Toyoto Hilux that was adorned with pro-PSUV stickers.
Gang Imposes Curfew in Maracay
A gang in Maracay declared a curfew in the city’s La Cooperative and La Pedrera neighbourhoods last night to mourn the death of a former Tocoron prison pran [the leader of the inmates] known as Chino Pedrera. The man was a member of the gang, and ran the Tocoron prison as its most powerful inmate for some time.
Members of the gang known as “Tren de Aragua” began distributing pamphlets in the affected areas yesterday afternoon, threatening residents to stay in their homes and businesses to close for the day or face consequences. El Nacional reports that while some businesses decided to stay open last night, they eventually closed their doors early after receiving visits from patrolling gang members. City buses did not enter the areas affected by the curfew until yesterday afternoon.
Criminologist Luis Iziquiel pointed out the troubling implications of the gang-imposed curfew:
It looks like the government does not have the strength to act against criminals who have demonstrated that they are more powerful than the police. They have grenades, rifles, high-powered weapons, while the government disarmed the police in 2012, leaving them only with 9mm pistols and shotguns.
Caracas Residents Protest Lack of Water
Residents of the Los Dos Caminos neighbourhood of Caracas have blocked the Sucre Avenue in the area for the second day in a row to protest the fact that they have no had water service for 15 days. The residents claim that they have repeated contacted Hidrocapital, which provides water service to Caracas, but that the entity has so far ignored them.
Below, an image of the blocked road:
Mendoza: I’ll Answer Maduro’s Insults With Respect
Lorenzo Mendoza, the head of Polar, responded to an angry tirade Maduro directed at him yesterday during which he called Mendoza “a thief”. Mendoza said that he would not retaliate in kind against Maduro, saying that “that’s how I was brought up”. He called Maduro’s rant “a joke”, saying:
It’s a joke. It doesn’t make sense to try to put on a drama show without any basis [in reality].
Mendoza told Union Radio that Maduro’s threatening ramblings hurt the nation’s economy since they discouraged investors from doing business in Venezuela.
Mendoza came under attack yesterday from Maduro and other PSUV officials for making a series of suggestions earlier this week on how to fix the country’s economy. Mendoza said that he would continue to make suggestions as he saw fit, pointing out that it is his right as a Venezuelan to express himself.
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