Maduro gave a much-anticipated speech today, in which he had promised to deliver a “really pedagogical explanation” of the economic crisis affecting the country as well as his proposal for solving it.
Maduro’s plan includes focusing on what he called the “14 productive engines of the Bolivarian economic agenda”, which he listed as follows
- Exporting new products to bring in more foreign currency
- “Communal, social and socialist” economy
- National and international tourism
- Telecommunications and information
- Public and private banking
Maduro explained the important of the “14 engines” to his plan:
Let us united around these fourteen engines with all of our will and all of our love so that we can turn this crisis into a real opportunity and so that we can open a path to the future.
Maduro also laid out a plan to tackle the country’s inflation, the highest in the world, using three approaches. The first approach involves exposing the so-called “economic war”, an international conspiracy headed by the United States that Maduro claims is the source of the country’s economic woes:
[We have to] expose it and disassemble it. I can talk about the national [conspirators]. DolarToday [a website that publishes the black market exchange rate]. Either we expose it or they’ll dismantle the country. Now they’ve financed this criminal amnesty law, and they got a little bit of money for every article [in the law].
The second step in Maduro’s three-step plan includes moving beyond oil as the country’s primary source of income, while the third involves developing the “Bolivarian economy” and a new system of distribution.
In one of his more concrete statements, Maduro said that the state-owned Abastos Bicentenario supermarket chain was “rotten”, and called for the chain’s “total and absolute restructuring”. Maduro said that the supermarkets would be disbanded, and that they would instead serve as distribution centres for communal markets.
Maduro also increased the minimum monthly salary to Bs. 11,078.
Maduro: Gasoline Prices Go Up
Maduro announced that gasoline prices in the country would go up effective immediately. The new pricing scheme is:
- 95 octane: Bs. 6 per liter
- 91 octane: Bs. 1 per liter
Venezuela has historically enjoyed the world’s cheapest gasoline prices. Under the old prices, filling up a 2010 Toyota Corolla with 95 octane gasoline cost around Bs. 5. Filling up the same car will now cost approximately Bs. 500.
The price of 95 octane gasoline has gone up 6085.86%, while that of 91 octane has gone up 1328.57%.
Maduro: Opposition Planning Coup D’Etat
During the same speech, Maduro broke away from economic matters to say that he had evidence that the Venezuelan opposition was planning a coup d’etat against him. Maduro said:
I apologize. I’m a Christian, and I know what an open heart looks like. I’m Chavez’s son, so I’d like to believe even one micro-word that the opposition says, but that’s a lie. I’ve already said it. I’ve already talked about how they said about the economy that they were going to block the [economic] emergency decree. They did block it. They’re talking about a truth commission; they’re going to approve a law that is criminal, and they approved it. They’re talking about wanting stability. They’re promoting a coup d’etat. But I’m not going to talk about that today. I will present evidence about that tomorrow. Not today. Today we’re focused on the economy.
Maduro has been speaking for over four hours and shows no sign of stopping. The rest of the economic announcements he makes will be included in tomorrow’s update.
Capriles Calls for Recall Referendum
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles held a press conference today in which he said that “the time had come to recall Nicolas Maduro”. Capriles said that Maduro lacked the will to change course for the country, and that if he was not recalled from power as soon as possible, it would become more difficult to do so in the future.
Capriles explained why he believes that the recall referendum must take place now:
The only thing they’re interested in – and I say this with a lot of respect for those who still believe in the government – the government doesn’t care about Venezuelans. They don’t care about the people. The only thing the government is interested in is staying in power.
Capriles also said that in order for the referendum to take place, 3,899,273 signatures would have to be collected.
Carabobo Power Plant Hasn’t Produced Electricity in Two Months
Workers from the Central Plant, a thermal plant in Carabobo state, held a protest outside the headquarters of the Corporacion Electrica Nacional [National Electrical Corporation] in Caracas yesterday to demand new collective agreement. The Central Plant staff were joined by electrical workers from seven other states, who were protesting the dire state the country’s electrical infrastructure finds itself in.
The workers told the media at the scene that the plant has not produced any electricity since December. Juan Gonzalez, a union representative from Aragua state, said that the reason for the shutdown at the plant and the electrical crisis in the country is that the national government has not kept up with infrastructure maintenance. Gonzalez said:
The Central Plant has not produced a single kilowatt since December. If we had that thermal plant up and running, you be can sure that the people of Venezuela wouldn’t be suffering through this electrical rationing.
PSUV Deputy: TSJ Will Strike Down Amnesty Law
Earlier today, PSUV deputy Pedro Carreño criticized the amnesty law, which was approved at its first reading yesterday in the National Assembly, calling it evidence that Venezuela has lived “a permanent coup” since 1999. For Carreño, the proposed law constituted an admission of guilt by the Venezuelan opposition.
Carreño also reminded reporters that Article 214 of the Constitution grants the President of the Republic the power to bring any proposed law to the attention of the nation’s top court, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), which can they decide whether or not to strike the law down:
If the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia finds the law repulsive, it will be unconstitutional. This is what’s going to happen. Simply put, this law will be struck down.
Flores’ Trial To Go Ahead on February 28
The drug trafficking trial for Cilia Flores’ nephews, Efrain and Franqui Flores, will go ahead as scheduled on February 29 in New York City. The Flores’ defense had asked the judge to defer the start of the trial, but the judge denied the motion.
According to Caraota Digital, district attorney Preet Bharara will bring evidence to trial that includes audio recordings of “known personalities in the [Venezuelan] political and military spheres” that allegedly form part of the drug cartel for which the Flores cousins were working.
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