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The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published a report today which found that Venezuela led all of Latin America in money spent buying weapons in 2015, reaching the #18 spot world-wide for money spent on purchasing weapons. Last year, Venezuela spent a total of $162 million in military equipment.

According to the same report, China was the country’s primary weapon provider, having sold $147 million worth of weapons to Venezuela. The national government also spent $6 millions in weapons from the United States, $5 million from Austria, and $4 million from Holland.

Venezuela’s total military expenditure was broken down in the following manner:

  • $133 million in armoured vehicles
  • $14 million in artillery
  • $11 million in fighter aircraft
  • $4 million in ships

Blackout Hits Caracas, Again

Two days after section’s of the city’s east end lost electricity for nearly 20 hours, Caracas’ west end was plunged into darkness last night. The affected area encompassed virtually all of the city’s west end, including El Paraiso, Catia, Los Magallanes, 23 de Enero and Miraflores.

La Patilla reports that citizens in the Miraflores neighbourhood reacted to the blackout by banging on pots and pans in protest of the worsening condition of the country’s electrical grid.

The blackout occurred as a result of a fault at the Catia 30 substation. Minister of Electrical Energy Luis Motta Dominguez was quick to lay blame for the blackout on “an act of sabotage”, although he did not provide an explanation for the comment.

Poll: 8/10 Venezuelans Don’t Have Enough Money to Buy Food

A recent poll by Venebarometro found that 79.6% of respondents said that they did not have enough money to buy food when asked.

A similar poll conducted in April 2014 found that 69.1% of respondents felt they were unable to buy food, suggesting that the plight of Venezuelans has worsened over the past two years. The increase in Venezuelans struggling to buy food is partly the result of a skyrocketing inflation rate, which reached 68.5% in 2013 and 180.9% in 2015. According to official figures, food prices have increased 646% since 2014.

The same poll found that 76.9% of respondents reported not having enough money to buy medicine, while 89.7% reported being unable to buy clothes for the same reason.

Venebarometro conducted the survey between January 21 and 31 of this year. It sampled 1,200 people, and is accurate within 2.37% nine times out of ten.

Poll: 72% Want Maduro Gone Before 2019

Maduro’s presidential term is not scheduled to end until 2019, but a recent poll by DatinCorp has found that 72% of respondents would like Maduro to leave office before then. Those who expressed their desire to see Maduro removed from office were split as to the best way of doing so:

  • 29% support a recall referendum
  • 14% support a constituent assembly to re-work the Constitution and shorten presidential term limits
  • 14% support a “national unity” government, presumably in which a coalition would rule instead of Maduro
  • 13% would like Maduro to resign
  • 2% would like the military to forcibly remove Maduro from power

The same poll found that 70% of Venezuelans consider Maduro to be too incompetent to tackle the country’s problems. 67% do not believe that Maduro’s much-touted Economic Emergency Decree will do nothing to fix the crisis affecting the country.

Maduro’s near-universal disapproval is matched only by similar opinions towards the military. DatinCorp found that only 6% of respondents have a positive opinion of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces.

DatinCorp conducted the poll on February 2. It sampled 1,196 homes across the country, and has a margin of error of 2.8%.

Video Woman Makes Waves on Social Media

Yesterday, a video uploaded to the NTN24 YouTube page showing a woman addressing a message to Maduro began to spread through social media.

In the video, an upset woman named Yajaira Ceballos explains to reporters how she was unable to find any of the items she was looking for at Locatel, a national pharmacy chain. As the video progresses, Yajaira breaks down as she explains her desperation at the situation she is living.

Due to the severe scarcity crisis affecting the country, many large chain stores place restrictions on when people are even allowed to try to purchase products. One common mechanism for these restrictions is allowing people to shop only on certain days of the week, as Yajaira points out in the video.

Below, the video along with my translation:

Yajaira: [We are allowed] two items per person. It was all shampoo. [unintelligible – sounds like Locatel doesn’t have anything!”]. You go out looking for food, and nothing. They won’t give us our pension. What’s happening with this government? How much longer will this last? How much longer will the humiliate us?

Reporter: What were you hoping to buy?

Yajaira: Today was my turn because of my number. Look [holds up ID to show that, according to her ID number, it was her turn to shop that day]. And I didn’t find anything!

(…)

What is this? How much more will they make us suffer? The elderly, little old people, everyone is affected. We’re all affected.

(…)

They [the PSUV] talk about the Adecos and the Copeyanos[the names of the followers of the country’s main political parties before the arrival of the PSUV: AD and COPEI]. Why do you talk about the Adecos and the Copeyanos if what you’re doing is worse? Huh? When you go to Locatel and Faramatodo [another major pharmacy chain] you don’t find anything! I went to the Bicentenario[a state-run supermarket chain] in Plaza Venezuela and lined up with 500 people, and at 9:35 AM the manager of the supermarket came out and said, “Everything is sold out, ladies and gentlemen. You can go home now”. What is this? How much longer will they humiliate us? Huh? So, Mr. President: we will elect the Adecos! We will elect them so that they’ll put an end to this mafia [the PSUV], this shamefulness, this humiliation, and these abuses against us Venezuelans who are the most affected.

(…)

How much longer will this go on, Mr. President? We voted for you because Chavez told us to vote for you, but it was a lie. He disappointed us.


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

Today marks the two year anniversary since the start of this blog. 

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