Figures released by the Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas (INE) reveal that in December 2015, there were a total of 13,166,601 employed Venezuelans, down 440,456 from the year before.

The same report found that of that total, 10,387,326 Venezuelans worked in the private sector, down 510,588 from December 2014.

Mayrolga Giran, the vice-president of the labour comission at the Confederacion Nacional de Industrias (CONINDUSTRIA), told El Nacional that one of the reasons why the number of employees in the private sector decreased by such a dramatic number is due to the fact that many Venezuelans are taking their chances earning a wage in the informal economy. GIran pointed out that low wages make the allure of making money in the black market too tempting for many to resist:

A worker who earns minimum salary or a bit more has seen his income reduced due to a decrease in shifts as a result of the lack of raw materials, stoppages at production lines and the electricity crisis.

Giran said that it is likely that many Venezuelans who receive government stipends to buy regulated goods resell them for as much as 2,000% profit in the black market. In Venezuela, the practice of reselling regulated goods is called bachaqueo.

Giran explained:

Bachaquear [reselling regulated goods] is a great business, and it is more profitable than earning a fixed salary at a company.

Labour lawyer Gabriel Ernesto Calleja told El Nacional that another reason for the exodus of workers from the formal economy is a result of the fact that the country’s industrial capacity is only able to operate at 20% of its full strength due to the lack of raw materials. Calleja pointed out that this in turn creates excess labour, which the informal economy absorbs.

Spain’s ABC: Old Guard Out for Maduro

Spain’s ABC published an article today in which it claims that the chavista Old Guard – the movement’s retired military officers who took part in the 1992 coup d’etat that Chavez led – are exerting their influence on the military leadership to force Maduro to resign. The article cites “military sources” as saying that members in the inner circle of Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez have been pressuring him to demand Maduro’s resignation or face a military revolt.

Allegedly, one of the leaders of the group is Diosdado Cabello, vice-president of the PSUV.

According to ABC, the retired officers believe that Maduro’s lack of leadership in the face of the crisis affecting the country is plunging the country into further chaos.

FEDECAMARAS: Socialism Has Been “Useless”

Francisco Martinez, the president of the largest private-sector organization in the country – the Federación de Cámaras y Asociaciones de Comercio y Producción de Venezuela [FEDECAMARAS] – said today that the very few private industries left in Venezuela are operating at half of their capacity as a result of the severe harm the Bolivarian revolution has caused the Venezuelan economy over the past 17 years.

Martinez explained:

Over the course of the last 17 years the economy’s foundation has been affected [negatively by the revolution]. We’ve had to severely compromise many [industrial production lines in response to] this effect on our companies, which has resulted in severe distortions. The magnitude of the crisis is so grave that it has affected every facet of the country’s industrial and productive sphere.

Martinez said that the PSUV’s claim that the country is bearing the brunt of an “economic war” is nothing but an excuse for corruption and administrative incompetence, and that the Maduro administration has proven itself to be completely unable of taking meaningful action on the economy. Martinez said:

The time for improvisation has come to an end. The time for social experiments guided by [visions of] impossible utopias is over. The national government holds the key to free the Venezuelan economy, to free the productive forces that have been repressed over the past several years.

On the “Socialism of the 21st Century” – another name for the Bolivarian revolution – Martinez said:

[It has been] absolutely useless. It’s a concept that has only caused [the country] to tip over. [It has caused] instability, scarcity, macroeconomic distortions and the impoverishment of the country.

Maduro: Roussef Vote Part of “Judicial-Media Coup”

Maduro spoke today on the Brazilian Congress’ vote to impeach President Dilma Roussef last night, saying that his Brazilian counterpart was the victim of a “judicial-media coup” that is part of a wider right-wing project to destroy socialism in Latin America.

Maduro said:

The right-wing in the continent is ignoring popular sovereignty. What, do they want to disappear us? Watch out!

Over the past few weeks, Maduro has stressed that efforts to remove Roussef from power in Brazil are part of an “imperial offensive that wants to end the Latin American left”. Last week, while giving a speech that aired on the state-owned VTV network, Maduro said:

Trying to overthrow the first female President of Brazil says a lot about the imperial obsession that has taken foothold in the continent.


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