Francisco Garces, the PSUV mayor of the Guaicaipuro municipality in Los Teques, Miranda state, spoke in an interview that aired on Globovision this morning on the challenges affecting Venezuelans today, including the ongoing economic crisis and the state of the recall referendum.
On the country’s economic troubles, Garces stressed his belief that Venezuela’s problems are not deeply-rooted or structural, and that the government is doing a good job at ensuring the survival of the economy through this period of adversity.
Garces explained that while Venezuela is not suffering through an economic crisis, Venezuelans’ purchasing power – that is, how many products they can buy with their earnings – is experiencing “problems”. Garces explained:
We have a problem with the purchasing power, which is a result of the economic war which has affected family incomes.However, Venezuela is not a country that suffers from structural poverty or an economic crisis, because kids are going to university [and] the elderly are receiving their pensions thanks to a State [built on] social justice.
Powdered Milk Re-Appears, Now Costs 22% of Monthly Salary
Venezuelans reported the re-appearance of La Campiña powdered milk in the country’s supermarkets today through social media. The once ubiquitous problem had essentially disappeared from store shelves over the past several months.
However, the product’s re-appearance was not all good news. Shoppers reported that the new price for a 900 gram can of powdered milk is now Bs. 4,980, which represents approximately 22% of a worker’s minimum monthly salary.
The new price appears to have taken effect despite the fact that the government-set price for one kilogram of powdered milk is Bs. 72-75.
Indignation as Children Photographed Rummaging Through Garbage for Food
Aporrea.org – a traditionally chavista website – published a picture today showing children rummaging through piles of garbage in the Catia Market in Caracas. The picture was allegedly taken by an Aporrea reader on this past Saturday, August 13.
[This is evidence] of a situation that high-ranking government officials deny many times, and that the right-wing opposition uses only to fight for power. Meanwhile, us ordinary Venezuelans ask ourselves, “Who cares for this country? Who brings alternatives to solve a crisis that has forced families to look through garbage to be able to eat? Is this the same country that has enough money to feed three countries, as [Foreign Affairs Minister] Delcy Rodriguez claimed? Or is this the country in which 94% of Venezuelans eat three or more times a day, as [Vice-President of Planning] Ricardo Mendez claimed?
Economist: Inflation Will Nullify Salary Increase in 2-3 Months
Economist Asdrubal Oliveros told El Nacional today that Maduro’s announced salary increase – which is set to take effect on September 1 – will be effectively erased by the runaway inflation in 2-3 months.
Below, a selection of Oliveros’ interviewed as published in El Nacional:
El Nacional: With respect to the consumers, will this provide relief against inflation’s continuous rise?
Oliveros: At first, people will feel that they’ve earned more money, but with the inflation with which we’re living – which unofficially averages between 20-25% per month – we will see this salary increase diluted in two or three months. After this trimester, the effect will disappear due to the dynamics that prices have shown up until now.
El Nacional: How [can Venezuelans] make this increase last?
Oliveros: The current situation does not allow us to tell people to save money or buy foreign currency. At the end of the day, this increase only represents an improvement in their monthly income, and will only allow them to deal with their current spending.
El Nacional: What advice would you give these people?
Oliveros: You have to look after your job. This is the one element everyone should take into account, specially those working in the private sector. We’re not in a situation where we can find ourselves unemployed, and much less if you’ve got formal employment, because the policies that the government is taking during this strong recession [are causing] the private sector to have a tougher time maintaining jobs.
El Nacional: As an expert, what advice would you give to the government?
Oliveros: They have to look for a way to reduce the inflation rate, because at these current levels, the rate at which prices increase make it impossible to live on the current salary
Paraguay Calls for Formal “Judicial Review” of Venezuela’s MERCOSUR Membership
Paraguayan Foreign Affairs Minister Eladio Loizaga formally requested today that MERCOSUR members conduct a “judicial review” of Venezuela’s membership to that organization, opening the possibility not only that Venezuela will be forced out of the body’s presidency, but also that it will be removed from the member roll.
The request comes in the shape of a formal letter, which the Paraguyan Foreign Affairs ministry has released. The letter argues that Venezuela never successfully completed the administrative requirements to join MERCOSUR, and is thus unable to act as the organization’s president.
Loizaga said MERCOSUR’s other members – Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay – are aware of Venezuela’s failure to meet the membership requirements, and that the countries will discuss what this could mean at a meeting in Montevideo on August 23.
MERCOSUR’s presidency is rotated among its members in 6 month blocks based on alphabetical order. Venezuela claims that it is not the president of the organization, but Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil have objected, citing the country’s spotty human rights and economic record.
Opposition to Request Meeting with UN Secretary General
National Assembly deputy Luis Florido announced today that the country’s opposition will formally request a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in the coming weeks in order to discuss the ongoing incarceration of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
The announcement came via a press release, which reads:
The next actions that we will take to defend our leader will be international in nature. We are asking for a meeting with the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, to tell him that there are political prisoners in Venezuela and that there is no democracy in our country. I ask, “How will we free Leopoldo Lopez?” By freeing the country. That is the key to the cells of every political prisoner.
Florido also said that Maduro announced the increase to the minimum monthly salary for September 1 to coincide with an opposition march in Caracas that day. Florido also said that the increase was simply “not enough”.
Polar Brings Complaint Over Gov’t “Harassment, Discrimination” to ILO
Polar Enterprises – the largest private producer of food in the country – announced today that it had filed a formal complaint against the Venezuelan government before the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. The announcement was made by Guillermo Bolinaga, the head of legal and regulatory matters at Polar.
In the complain, Polar alleges that it has become the victim of “harassment and discrimination” at the hands of the Venezuelan government, presumably with the goal of forcing the company to fail.
This year alone we have received 768 inspections. Our managers and workers are the victims of threats and attacks by national government officials. Over the last several weeks, we have suffered an increase in the arbitrary detention of our co-workers as part of vicious [legal] proceedings and in clear violation of our right to a defense as laid out in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. So far this year, they have arbitrarily detained nine of our managers.
Bolinaga also said that aside from this type of legal and physical harassment, the national government “discriminates” against the company by denying it access to foreign currency with which to import raw materials for production. He said:
They don’t only attack and threaten us, but they also continue to discriminate against us when it comes to accessing foreign currency to buy raw materials and imported goods. We know that other companies have received foreign currency through the available mechanisms, while Polar Enterprises continued to be denied access [to foreign currency]. We must remember that due to the currency control scheme introduced 13 years ago, we cannot access foreign currency to purchase raw materials, because the national government controls their allotment.
Polar Enterprises employs approximately 30,000 Venezuelans, and has operated successfully in the country for 75 years.
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