The number of deaths from the unrest that shook Bolivar state this the weekend over the government’s mismanagement of the introduction of a new set of currency has climbed to five. The announcement came from the Public Ministry, which revealed that the ages of the three identified victims range from 14 to 39.
The deaths occurred in the La Paragua, Tumeremo and El Callao municipalities, which also saw the worst of the looting over the weekend.
This morning, residents of the state began the long road to recovery as most businesses in the state’s urban centers attempted to open today. Marina Morante, a resident of Ciudad Bolivar, told El Nacional about the plight she is experiencing in the city:
A group of us attempted to head out this morning, fearful, because we don’t have any food. We will buy whatever we need and then we’ll go home, since even though it feels like a holiday [because many businesses are closed and there are few people out on the street] it feels really strange.
Last night, we saw men on motorcycles roaming around after 4:00 PM. I didn’t even look out the window. I stayed in my room all day with my children.
Maduro, Santos Agree to Re-Opening of Border
Maduro and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos have agreed to re-open the border between the two countries “in a progressive manner” after Maduro order all crossings into the neighbouring nation closed last weekend. Maduro ordered the border closed in order to combat “mafias” that he claims were working to undermine the Venezuelan economy.
Minister of Communication Ernesto Villegas made the announcement through his Twitter account, saying:
The presidents have instructed their ministers of defense to co-ordinate immediately in order to normalize the border.
Aside from a handful of brief open windows, the border with Colombia has remained closed for most of this year on Maduro’s orders. Colombia has become a scapegoat for the Maduro regime, and often plays a key role in the regime’s conspiracy mythos.
Basic Nutritious Food Basket Price Jumps to Bs. 460,281.55
The price of the basic nutritious food basket – a unit that measures the amount of food a family of five must purchase each month in order to eat a healthy diet – jumped by Bs. 30,755.47 to Bs. 460,281.55 in November, representing an increase of 7.2%.
A family of five living in Venezuela must earn 17 times the minimum monthly salary (Bs. 27,092.10) in order to afford a healthy diet.
The price of the nutritious food basket is published on a monthly basis by the Centreo de Documentacion y Analisis Social de la Federacion Venezolana de Maestros [Social Documentation and Analysis Centre at the Venezuelan Teacher’s Federation] (CENDAS).
According to CENDAS, the price of regulated products (which the government sets the price for) and the same products on the black market now averages Bs. 4,319.7%. For example, while the government-set price of coffee is Bs. 358.12, a bag of coffee sells for Bs. 5,782.71 on the black market.
The disparity between the regulated, government-set prices is both a cause and result of the chronic scarcity crisis that has been affecting the country for years now.
Since Venezuela neither produces nor imports enough goods to meet demand, basic necessities are generally scarce. Basic necessities that are price-controlled are particularly scarce, since they tend to be more in-demand given their cheap price. At the same time, the government-set prices encourage speculation, since an individual can typically expect to make tremendous profit by re-selling regulated goods on the black market.
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