El Nacional published an article today in which it points out that the monthly minimum salary in Venezuela is enough to afford only nine out of fifty eight basic necessities, meaning that Venezuelan workers are increasingly further away from meeting even the most basic standards of living.

Nancy Bustamante, who works as a dry cleaner in Caracas, aired her frustrations to El Nacional:

You work all week and when you get your pay cheque, it buys you practically nothing. The only way to buy cheaper food is to lining up for long hours at supermarkets, but then you don’t have time to do that because you have to work. Our hands are tied. If you buy [items] from someone on the street, they charge you whatever they want.

According to the Centro de Documentacion y Analisis Social de la Federacion Venezolana de Maestros (CENDAS), Venezuela’s minimum monthly salary – Bs. 9.648 – can barely afford to buy nine out of fifty eight items considered to be basic necessities. While the government-set price for corn flour (a staple Venezuelan food) is Bs. 19, it is much more often found on the streets selling for Bs. 400. Powdered milk, with a regulated price of Bs. 70 per kilogram, sells for Bs. 1,500 on the streets, while pasta sells for Bs. 350, 23 times more expensive than the regulated price of Bs. 15.

El Nacional points out that the price discrepancies are even more severe for meat products. While the government has set the price of beef at Bs. 250 per kilogram, street sellers carry it for as much as Bs. 2,000. While the government has set the price of a 3-kilogram chicken at Bs. 200, Venezuelans can find it on the streets for Bs. 2,850.

The newspaper points out that even Venezuelans who make more than the minimum monthly salary struggle. Laura Marquez works in a telecommunications company and earns Bs. 18,000 a month. She told the newspaper:

All of that money unfortunately goes towards food, and we’re not even managing to eat well. We’ve also had to cut back on some things that we used to do before, like going out, taking our child to the carnival, and even buying clothes and shoes.

Marquez said that her family’s number one priority is making sure that her child, who is six years old, is eating as well as he can be.

Economist: Inflation Forcing More and More to Seek Subsidized Foods

Carlos Alvarez, an economist with Ecoanalitica, told El Nacional that the rapid increase in food prices has forced more and more Venezuelans to look for food in subsidized supermarkets, a fact which has led to the exponential increase of lines in those establishments.

Ecoanalitica is predicting that the inflation rate under the best conditions will hit 296%. Alvarez explained:

That’s our estimate based on some measures being taken, including devaluing [the bolivar] and putting into effect an increase in gasoline prices. If these things don’t happen then inflation could be much higher.

Oil Prices Fall Following Venezuela-Saudi Meeting

The price of oil fell today, just one day after Venezuelan Minister of Oil and head of PDVSA Eulogio del Pino me with Ali al Naimi, his Saudi Arabian counterpart, to discuss strategies by which to drive the price of the commodity upward. While it is unlikely that had an agreement to force the price of oil up would have had such an immediate effect anyway, today’s price dip is symbolic of Venezuela’s continued frustrations with the price of oil.

Brent futures fell eight cents today to $34.98 per barrel, following a fall of forty cents on Friday.

Leftist Leader: Maduro Should Consider Amnesty Law

Rafael Venegas, the general secretary of the leftist Vanguardia Popular party, called on Maduro today to consider the opposition’s proposal for an amnesty law that would see the country’s political prisoners released, and reminded the president that the 1980s saw left-leaning political prisoners released through similar amnesty laws.

Venegas was himself imprisoned in the 1980s for his political activities, but was released via an amnesty law:

I was freed in February of 1985 as a result of a Presidential Decree that covered 38 Venezuelan political prisoners. That was the third time the Jaime Lusinchi government decreed an amnesty law since the previous Christmas.

Venegas called the opposition’s proposed amnesty law a “noble initiative”, and pledged his support as well as that of his party for it. Venegas also said:

Political maturity, mutual respect, respect for one another’s different positions, patriotic fervor, magnanimity and the spirit of reconciliation were the principal foundations that allowed [for the 1980’s amnesty wave] to take place (…) [I call on the government] to hear the people’s calls for reconciliation and peace as a way to face its most difficult problems, to make a Venezuela free of political prisoners, persecution and exiles possible.

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

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