Minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace Ernesto Reverol spoke today for the first time about allegations that he was actively involved in the drug trade from 2008-2010 as the head of the country’s anti-drug agency. The allegations come from an unsealed indictment from a New York state court.

During a press conference today, Reverol said that the allegations were untrue, and that they were part of a campaign to discredit and destabilize the Maduro government.

Reverol explained:

On August 1, there was an allegation made against me and against General Colina. It came from the Department of Security [sic], [but] this information is supposed to remain sealed until the suspects are captured. This is all a set-up to destabilize the government, in which we are independent, sovereign and free.

In the United States, an indictment is a formal accusation against an individual. When an individual is indicted – usually by a selected group of citizens called a grand jury – he or she is believed to have committed a crime. Indictments result in formal charges being laid against the suspect. Indictments may be sealed or unsealed; a sealed indictment may be unsealed for any number of reasons, one of them being the arrest of the suspect.

Reverol continued by saying:

[These are] unfounded allegations that have been made against me [by] North American authorities, [and I] reject them wholly for being distant from reality. They have been offensive against human dignity and  they are trying to use [them] as a political weapon to continue their destabilizing work and break the will of our military leaders and our Bolivarian revolution leaders, diminishing the greatest value that is the universal right to a defense.

Detergent Prices Jump 945% in 4 Months

Reddit user by the name of alvarofg posted an image on the social media website today of two containers of the exact same laundry detergent side by side.

The detergent on the left is stamped “04/16” (April 2016) and is priced at Bs. 403.40. The one on the right is stamped “08/16” (August 2016), and is priced at Bs. 4218.75. The price increase represents a jump of approximately 945% in just four months.

Below, the image showing the price increase of the product:

Minimum Salary Only Buys Six Basic Products

El Nacional published an article today in which it points out that the new minimum monthly salary – Bs. 22,576.72 as of September 1 – is only enough to cover the cost of six basic products. At current prices, a worker earning minimum salary could spend 100% of their monthly income on just on a chicken and one kilogram of each of these products: flour, rice, milk, pasta, and sugar.

The prices used for the calculation are not the government-set prices, but rather the price of the products found on the street sold by re-sellers. Since regulated products are nearly impossibly to find, Venezuelans are often faced with the choice of either not making a purchase or buying from re-sellers.

Jessica Hernandez works at a diner in Caracas, and she talked to the newspaper about how difficult it is for her to afford food. Hernandez said:

You wait two weeks to get paid, and in less than one day you’ve spent all the money on food, all of which you have to make stretch to make last. I don’t work on Tuesdays so that I can go line up at supermarkets and buy things cheaper, but the best case scenario is that I find three products. I’ve had to buy things from bachaqueros [street re-sellers], [and I do so] angrily, but I have no choice. I need milk for my son.

Because re-sellers tend to charge so much for their products, many Venezuelans have taken an intense disliking of them.

For example, El Nacional points out that the regulated price of a kilogram of corn flour is Bs. 190, but re-sellers sell the same product for Bs. 2,500. Similarly, while a kilogram of regulated rice costs Bs. 120, re-sellers in Caracas have it for Bs. 3,000. On average, the difference between the price of a regulated product and that of the same product sold by re-sellers is 2.985%.

The drastic increase in prices are due in part to the country’s runaway inflation. The inflation rate between January and July jumped 240%, and the IMF estimates that the rate might reach 700% at the end of the year.

Bigger Families Hit Hard By Rising Prices

The price of the nutritious food basket for a family of five – the quantity and combination of products needed to maintain a healthy diet – jumped 32% between June and July, and is currently sitting at Bs. 363,866.73. The figure means that a family of five must spend the equivalent of 24.2 minimum monthly salaries just to be able to buy the food they need to be healthy.

The price of virtually every food product rose between June and July. Below, a list of some common food items and their one-month price increases:

  • Sugar and salt: 98.4%
  • Cereals: 88.2%
  • Coffee: 65.3%
  • Grains: 64.7%
  • Dairy and eggs: 25.7%
  • Fruits and vegetables: 22.9%
  • Fish and shellfish: 10.7%

CNE Confirms Requirements Met for Second Step of Recall

The Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) formally announced today that the opposition had successfully completed all of the requirements needed in order to move on to the second stage of the recall referendum against Maduro.

The announcement means that the CNE will now take at least 15 days to announce the date of the second step. The second step will require that the opposition collect signatures from voters in favour of holding a referendum against Maduro from 20% of registered voters, which equals approximately 4 million people.

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