Earlier today, Vice-Minister for Productive Economy Miguel Perez Abad announced a new currency exchange regime to take effect on March 10. The system will replace the current systems, which are called SICAD, SICAD 2 and SIMADI.
The new currency exchange system in the country will consist of two types:
- Cambio Protegido [Protected Exchange] (DIPRO), which will initially trade at Bs. 10 per US dollar. This system will be available to “essential sectors for the country”, including: remittances for pensioners living abroad, all students studying abroad, as well as health/sport activities abroad. This rate will also apply to importing food, medicine, and raw materials for production.
- Sistema de Cambio Flotante [Floating Exchange System] (DICOM), which will trade at a free-floating rate set by demand and supply of dollars the government assigns to the system. This rate will likely be around Bs. 200 per US dollar. This system will be available to all other aspects of the economy not included in the DIPRO system, including foreign travel.
Abad hinted that the DIPRO rate, which will begin trading at Bs. 10, would be “adjusted” in time. The initial DIPRO rate also represents a de facto devaluation of the Bolivar, which previously had an official rate of Bs. 6.30.
Abad heralded the new dual-tiered exchange system as a positive step in “breaking the corrupted exchange rate” that it replaces.
“Abastos Bicentenario” Goes Bankrupt
A document submitted yesterday to the National Assembly by the Ministry of Nutrition outlining financial data for 2015 shows that Abastos Bicentenario, the state-run supermarket chain, is now bankrupt. According to the document, Abastos Bicentenario posted a deficit last year of Bs. 3.4 billion, up from Bs. 687 million in 2014. The document states:
According to what is established in Article 264 of the Venezuelan Code of Commerce, when a company has consumed more than two thirds of its social capital, the same will be placed in liquidation if its stockholders chose to not repay it.
As a result, the document admits that the chain is bankrupt.
The same document shows that out of a budget of Bs. 34.4 billion in 2015, Bs. 25.8 billion (approximately 70%) went to stocking the supermarkets. Still, the growing scarcity crisis took a toll on the chain, as perishable merchandise stocks fell 62% last year, while perishable stock fell 2%. Similarly, “in-transit” imports – that is, imports that have already been ordered and are on their way to the country – fell 127% last year.
The chain’s bankruptcy is likely bad news for both national and international vendors to the chain. The Ministry of Nutrition revealed that the chain’s debt to national vendors rose 107% to Bs. 6.2 billion in 2015, while that with foreign vendors increased 75% to Bs. 7.5 billion.
NA Creates Tumeremo Commission
Yesterday, the National Assembly created a special commission yesterday to investigate the alleged massacre at Tumeremo last week. The commission is headed by MUD deputy Americo De Grazia, who first brought the allegations from the missing miners’ families to the national spotlight on Friday.
The creation of the commission came just hours before National Guard soldiers found possible evidence to the massacre near Tumeremo last night. El Nacional reports that soldiers found “bits of clothing, some stained with blood” near the suspected scene of the alleged crime.
People’s Defender: Persons of Interest Identified
People’s Defender Tarek William Saab announced yesterday that authorities had identified persons of interest in the alleged Tumeremo massacre. Saab was in Tumeremo yesterday when he made the comments, and visited the families of some of the missing miners. At the same time, Saab was careful to refrain from giving credence to media reports that the 28 miners have been murdered:
We’re not going to be making a hypothesis. We want to establish the facts that are being investigated (…) there are some citizens who have been identified as possibly being the ones responsible for the reported violent acts.
Saab was accompanied by Minister of Interior, Justice and Peace Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez, who refused to comment on the case out of concern for the ongoing investigation.
Earlier today, Saab provided more information on the investigation, saying only that “some Colombian nationals” were involved in the event.
Maduro Acknowledges Tumeremo Rumours
During a speech yesterday to mark International Women’s Day, Maduro acknowledged the rumours out of Tumeremo, and suggested that “paramilitary groups” could have been responsible for the violence, if indeed any took place. Maduro said:
The preliminary information that the People’s Defender has presented me with comes from testimony taken from a group of miners who called attention to a possible massacre due to a war between gangs in these mining areas. At this time, every security organization is protecting the complainants and the families of the possible victims. We are going to take this investigation all the way, until the last piece of truth about this crime [is discovered], if it has indeed taken place, and we’re going to punish [those responsible].
Everything seems to indicate that a paramilitary group [was responsible], but I’m asking that we wait for the results of the investigation.
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