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The results of the 2016 Encuesta sobre Condiciones de Vida en Venezuela [Living Conditions in Venezuela Survey] (Encovi) were released today, and they paint a shocking picture of the toll that the country’s economic collapse has taken on Venezuelan families. The study, which was conducted by a research team involving experts from the country’s largest universities, found that 82% of Venezuelans households live in poverty, a figure that if accurate would likely make Venezuela the poorest country in Latin America.

The results of the survey were presented during Jesus Torrealba’s radio show this morning by professor Angel Oropeza, who said:

For the first time in history (…) we’ve arrived at 82% of households living in poverty.

The survey also found that 52% of Venezuelan households live in extreme poverty, which constitutes a “brutal” reality for a majority of Venezuelans homes, Oropeza said.

Oropeza also said that the survey’s respondents reported feeling the physical effects of poverty through “uncontrolled weight loss”:

One of the facts that surprised us tremendously about 2016 was that (…) 75% [of respondents] said that they had uncontrolled weight loss; in other words, they lost an average of eight kilograms without wanting to, and in the case of the poorest [respondents, the average was] nine kilograms.

The survey found that 9.6 million Venezuelans two or less meals per day.

The full study has not yet been released, but El Nacional reported that it sampled 6,500 Venezuelan households.

MUD Restructures, Eliminates Executive Secretary

The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the country’s official opposition bloc, announced its long-awaited restructuring today.

The biggest change came via the elimination of the executive secretary position, which was until today filled by Jesus Torrealba. During a press conference today, Torrealba said:

The MUD will not have an executive secretary anymore. It’s now moved to another structure that has three support groups: one technical, which will be headed by Roberto Picon: one political, which will be headed by Angel Oropeza, and a civic struggle group that will be headed by two people: Alfredo Padilla and Tinedo Guia.

Instead of relying on a centralized leadership role in the form of an executive secretary, the MUD will now have a general coordinator who will act as an intermediary between all of the MUD’s member parties. The bloc’s first general coordinator will be Jose Luis Cartaya.

Upon his departure from the helm of the MUD, Torrealba said:

I am thankful for the trust that was placed in me for the past two years, and I wish to express my gratitude for that trust so that I could head this movement that is so important.

Macri: No Respect For Democracy, Human Rights in Venezuela

Argentinian president Mauricio Macri voiced his strongest condemnation of the Maduro regime today during a press conference in Buenos Aires, saying that there was “no respect for democracy” or human rights in Venezuela.

Macri said that the situation in the country “is worse” than even a year ago, and said that Argentina dodged a bullet by diverting away from the path of authoritarian populism on which it was headed under Cristina Kirchner, a close ally of Hugo Chavez. Macri said:

We had to struggle a lot to avoid [chavismo spreading to Venezuela].

Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez reacted to news of Macri’s comments through her Twitter account, saying:

Venezuela repudiates the comments from Pres. @mauriciomacri Because they are offensively interventionist against the Venezuelan state.

Venezuela will never pay attention to lackeys who are the enemies of the Great Homeland!!!

Bs. 100 Note Life Extended for 4th Time

The Bs. 100 note, the elimination of which had been announced three times before, has been given a new lease on life after vice president Tarek El Aissami announced today that the bills would go out of circulation on March 20. Before this latest announcement, the bills had been scheduled to become obsolete on February 20.

The newest extension of the life of the Bs. 100 bill is the latest news in a disastrous campaign to remove the bill from circulation.

On December 12, Maduro announced that the bill would become obsolete on December 15, and gave Venezuelans just three days to deposit the bills at banks or spend them before they became worthless. The announcement caused an unprecedented level of panic in the country, as countless Venezuelans flocked to banks and stores to get rid of their bills.

Maduro’s December announcement resulted in looting in several areas of the country, including Ciudad Bolivar, which saw intense unrest over a period of about 72 hours.


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