The price of the basic family food basket—a measure used to determine how much it costs to maintain a household of five for one month—jumped to Bs. 832,259.95 in January. The figure represents a jump in the cost of common household items of 11.9% from December 2016.
The monthly figure comes from the Centro de Documentacion y Analisis Social de la Federacion Venezolana de Maestros [Documentation and Analysis Centre at the Venezuelan Federation of Teachers] (CENDAS), and suggests that personal hygiene and home cleaning products rose by an average of 14.5% from December to January. The price of a particular type of common laundry soap alone shot up by 65.2% during that period.
The measure also includes the price of food, which CENDAS claims was on average 14% higher in January than in December. CENDAS calculates that the total cost of providing a nutritious diet to a family of five in January rose to Bs. 621,106.98, making healthy diets impossibly expensive for a growing number of Venezuelans.
Economist: Economic Recover Might Take 15 Years
Economist Miguel Angel Santos spoke on a television show today called Circuito Exitos, and said that he believes that chavismo will be remembered in posterity as a system that gave Venezuela “50 years of stagnation”.
Santos argued that if the Venezuelan government were to immediately take all of the measures that it needs to take in order to hope for a chance to avert total complete economic collapse, the recovery might take as much as fifteen years. Santos said:
In my opinion, we’re talking between eight and fifteen years, depending on how the conditions develop.
Calling the “destruction” that the PSUV has wrecked on the Venezuelan economy “gigantic”, Santos said that Venezuela could not continue to rely on oil income indefinitely, and so the task for an administration concerned with fixing the economy would be to build a non-oil economic system.
We have to grow in a way the is different to the way that we’ve grown in the last 28 or 30 years–maybe even more. This would become the country’s fundamental challenge (…) we need to change our way of thinking and our way of thinking about development, and that represent a very important challenge to shift paradigms.
Santos pointed out that Venezuela GDP has fallen 29% in the last three years, a fact that he calls “unprecedented” for a country that has not experienced war or prolonged civil strife.
Santos also called the loss of human capital “a tragedy”, referring to the massive waves of migration over the last twenty years that have seen Venezuela’s best and brightest escape the country to try to build better lives all around the world. To the generation tasked with rebuilding the country, Santos said:
To the generation that will be tasked with reconstruct [Venezuela] with all of the enthusiasm that a reconstruction demands, we’re telling them that there are difficult years ahead, and that it will take some time to get to a level that they have never known, but that existed before they were born.
Colombian Open to Dialogue, Not Border
Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs Maria Angela Holguin said today that Colombia “believed” in a dialogue between the opposition and the PSUV as a way to move the country forward, and suggested that President Juan Manuel Santos was interested in being kept in the loop on any future talk developments.
We believe in dialogue in Venezuela. We are convinced that they have to find a way out [of the crisis] themselves.
When asked about how the relationship between Colombia and Venezuela was development, Holguin said:
Unfortunately, we haven’t advanced very much.
Colombia plays a prominent role in the PSUV’s worldview that there is a wide-reaching conspiracy bent on destroying the Bolivarian Revolution. Along with Miami and Madrid, Bogota is often named by top-ranking PSUV officials as a “headquarters” of anti-PSUV activity.
In August 2015, Maduro ordered the entire border with Colombia closed indefinitely in order to “restore order, peace, calm and justice” in the Venezuelan border states. The border closure was followed by the mass deportation of Colombian citizens found in the Venezuelan border states, a crackdown that resulted in a humanitarian crisis in the form of thousands of desperate Colombians escaping Venezuela on foot hoping to avoid the wrath of Venezuelan authorities.
During the turmoil, Venezuelan authorities identified, looted and destroyed the homes of Colombian people living illegally in Venezuela.
Holguin said that Colombia was not ready to commit to re-opening the border with Venezuela to vehicular traffic yet.
Almagro Working to Update Venezuela Report
The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, announced through his Twitter account today that he was working to update a scathing report he wrote last year on the Maduro regime’s constant and ongoing violations against human rights and the democratic order in Venezuela. The updated report should be made available by the end of the week.
In the original report. which was published on June 23 of last year, was 132 pages long and covered in minute details the abuses that the Maduro regime had engaged in, and described the crises affecting the country’s healthcare and food sectors, among others.
Almagro also thanked the United States Senate for passing a bipartisan motion on Tuesday calling on Maduro to immediately release Leopoldo Lopez, and applauding Luis Almagro’s attempt to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter against the regime. Pending debate by OAS members, invoking the Charter might have the effect of suspending Venezuela from the organization.
Almagro also acknowledged that he had received a petition signed by 46 Venezuelan NGOs calling on him to push once more to invoke the Charter against Venezuela through the OAS.
VP Deputy Pleads for Prisoner’s Life
National Assembly deputy for the Voluntad Popular (VP) party Juan Andres Mejia pleaded for authorities to allow political prisoner and fellow VP member Delson Guarate to be allowed to receive medical treatment after he was diagnosed with lymphoma in January.
Mejia told reporters today that Guarate is being held in isolation and is being denied care that, given his condition, might prove fatal sooner rather than later. Mejia said:
The case of political prisoner Delson Guarate could end his life. He needs urgent medical care.
Last week, the National Assembly provided an update on Guarate’s condition, saying:
[Guarate’s] health has been in delicate condition for three months. It was only after hemorrhaging that [the authorities] agreed to take him to a hospital.
Guarate, who is the mayor of the Mario Briceno Iragorry municipality of Aragua state, was arrested on September 2 of last year during a crackdown on opposition politicians. The pretext for Guarate’s detention was that he had committed “environmental crimes” including improperly disposing of solid waste.
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