The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a press consortium that investigates, tracks and reports on corruption and organized crime has named Maduro its “2016 Man of the Year in Organized Crime and Corruption” award. According to OCCRP:
The award recognizes the individual who has done the most in the world to advance organized criminal activity and corruption.
A panel of eight journalists, scholars and activists expert in fighting corruption chose Maduro for the global award on the strength of his corrupt and oppressive reign, so rife with mismanagement that citizens of his oil-rich nation are literally starving and begging for medicines.
As murder and crime in Venezuela has skyrocketed and political oppression has intensified, the president and his inner circle, including wife Cilia Flores, have extracted millions from state coffers to cover the patronage that keeps him in power.
Some Tachira, Zulia Stations to Accept Colombian Pesos
Amid an ongoing currency crisis that has seen the Bolivar take an inflationary hit of over 700% in 2016, the governor of Tachira state followed up an announcement by Maduro last night that the border states of Tachira and Zulia would allow some economic transcations to take place using the Colombian peso.
Madro announced last night that the municipalities of Ureña and Paraguachón would be allowed to sell gasoline for pesos at stations right along the border with Colombia.
Governor Jose Vielma Mora said today that “other products” would also be sold for pesos in Tachira in the near future, although he did not reveal which ones. Vielma Mora said:
There’s something that must be pointed out about Tachira state: it’s that the President has authorized the gas stations in Pedro Maria Ureña [municipality] to [sell gas] by the litre for Colombian pesos, and there is another administrative authorization process incomming [that will allow] the sale of other products that the state will sell to Colombia in pesos.
The measure might be a signal of the imminent re-opening of the border between the two countries to vehicular traffic, after Maduro ordered all road crossings into Colombia closed 16 months ago.
The mayor of the Ureña municipality, Alejandro Garcia, welcomed the announcement, saying:
…. there is no inconvenience whatsoever from using pesos [at gas stations], because this would be a product that we could sell to our Colombian brothers and not to Venezuelans because we don’t go to those gas stations [right on the border] to fill up.
MUD: Maduro Has Destroyed Modern Healthcare Progress
The head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), Jesus Torrealba, said today that Maduro has managed to destroy in four years as president what the country was able to build in forty years in terms of healthcare.
For Torrealba, the fact that the government does not publish regular, reliable healthcare statistics is the most superficial symptom of a healthcare system that is in complete ruin. Torrealba said:
Epidemological information has been blocked, and and healthcare has become the centre of corruption. Unfortuantely, there’s international complicity in this, specially when it comes to the purchasing of vaccines without regulations.
Torrealba appeared to be referencing the fact that, according to accounting information provided by the Ministry of Health last year, Venezuela bought vaccines from Cuba at more than twice the price that it would have paid by buying them through the United Nations.
The chronic lack of medicine in the country in recent years has become but one of the multiple afflicitons plaguing Venezuelans living under the Maduro regime.
La Patilla published an article today in which it points out that a pharmacist in charge of ordering at a Caracas establishment said that two years ago, the pharmacy could expect to receive “40 or 50” boxes of antibiotics per week. In recent months, “three or four boxes [per week] is a lot”.
The pharmacist, whose name is Sarai Castillo and works at the Farma Total in Santa Maria, Caracas, also said:
When [we do] get medicine we get it in small quantities and it doesn’t last us two days, because people let others know that we have an antibiotic here and they all come immediately to buy it.
Capriles; The Dialogue Was a Fraud
Miranda state governor and opposition leader Henrique Capriles said in a press conference today that the opposition had to accept the fact that it failed to remove Maduro from power this year, and called for greater unity among the anti-PSUVt factions.
On the dialogue process that the Maduro regime agreed to in late November, Capriles said:
The dialoue was a fraud. The government defraued us because we are honest people, just as they defraud Venezuelans every day.
Guerra: International Reserves Fall $5.2 Billion in 2016
National Assembly deputy Jose Guerra announced today that the country’s international reserves fell $5.2 billion in 2016, and that poverty levels increased beyond their 1998 levels, the year before Chavez came to power.
Guerra, who is a member of the Finance Commission at the national Assembly, said that the Venezuelan economy was “devastated”, partially because the country simply lacks any kind of coherent direction when it comes to economic policy. Guerra pointed out that Venezuela had four different cabinet ministers in charge of the economy in 2016:
The ominprescent General Rodolfo Marco Torres was followed by Luis Salas, the apprentice, who lasted less than two months in his position. He was substituted by Miguel Perez Abad, who was followed by [a man] famous for being unknown in the profession: Carlos Faria. Today, we don’t know who coordinates or leads the economic cabinet.
Luis Salas rose to immediate infamy upon his appointment to the head of the coutnry’s economy earlier this year due to his public assertion that inflation does not exist.
Guerra also said that from an economic standpoint, he considers the three years since Maduro has been in power “the lost trio”.
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