The cost of the nutritious food basket jumped in July to Bs. 2,043,083.39, placing Venezuelan families further away from being able to meet their basic needs.

The statistic, which is compiled each month by the Centro de Documentacion y Analisis Social de la Federacion Venezolana de Maestros [Centre for Documentation and Social Analysis at the Venezuelan Teacher’s Federation] (CENDAS) is a weathervane for how the country’s economic woes affect Venezuelan families.

The nutritious food basket is a unit of measurement that calculates the cost of living for a family of five, and includes both rent and the amount and type of food needed to eat a healthy and balanced diet.

The July figure is 17.5% higher than that recorded for June, which constitutes an increase of Bs. 304,932.84 in just one month.

CENDAS also revealed that the July jump was fueled by price increases in six of the seven categories that it tracks, including rent and education.

A Venezuelan worker earning the minimum monthly salary makes Bs. 250,532 in both wages and food subsidies, meaning that a family of five would need to earn at least eight times that figure in order to have their basic needs met.

VP Pence Talks Venezuela in Argentina

United States vice president Mike Pence continued his tour of Latin America in Argentina today, and repeated comments he made in Colombia earlier in the week regarding the possibility of US involvement in the Venezuelan crisis.

Speaking alongside Argentinian president Mauricio Macri, Pence said that his government had “many options” available to respond to the crisis, but stopped short of repeating president Trump’s comments last week regarding the possibility of a military intervention.

Pence said:

The United States has many options available , but we think that by increasing economic and diplomatic pressure we will be able to achieve democracy in Venezuela.

Pence also characterized the Maduro government as a “brutal regime” that is responsible for Venezuelans being unable to “find neither food nor medicine” in the country’s stores and pharmacies.

On the effects of the Venezuelan crisis on the rest of the region, Pence said that he had learned that there were 60,000 Venezuelan refugees in Argentina, and over a million Venezuelan migrants in Colombia.

Referencing the effect that the collapsed economy has on Venezuelans, Pence said:

It is incredible to think that Venezuela, which had the potential to be one of the richest countries [in the world], has this level of poverty.

National Assembly Workers Have Not Been Paid in One Year

National Assembly workers marked a grim anniversary today: that of their last paycheck. It was on August 15, 2016 that the legislators were last paid their salary following a decision from the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) that year that declared the legislature in contempt of a court order, and resulted in the freezing of the deputies’ pay.

The decision was one of the approximately 50 rulings that the nation’s top court has made to undermine or otherwise impede the work of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The head of the National Assembly workers’ union, Jose Rivero, said that aside from affecting the everyday lives of the deputies, the lack of salary also affects the work of the legislature. Rivero explained that everything from office supply purchases to maintenance to the National Assembly building have been severely impacted by TSJ’s block on the deputies’ salaries.

National Assembly deputies (all 167 of them) are not the only ones who have not been paid in the past year. The TSJ’s measure also affects the salaries of 4,500 other employees, including 1,435 pensioners.

Muchacho: Democratic Resolution No Longer Possible

The former mayor of the Chacao municipality of Caracas, Ramon Muchacho, told CNN’s Fernando del Rincon during a televised interview yesterday that a democratic solution to the Venezuelan crisis was no longer possible.

Muchacho, who appeared live in the CNN studio to participate in the interview, made the comment while speaking about the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica‘s (MUD) decision to participate in the regional elections that are now scheduled for October.

He said:

Venezuela’s problem isn’t whether or not the opposition participates in the regional [elections]. The regional [elections] will not solve our problems. There is no possibility of a democratic solution in Venezuela today.

Muchacho was sentenced to 15 months in prison and removed from office by the TSJ on August 8. In its ruling, the TSJ found that Muchacho was in contempt of an earlier judicial order to put an end to anti-regime protests in the municipality of Chacao.

Speaking on how he was able to escape the country, Muchacho said:

I was able to leave because I have a lot of friends who are willing to help me. I can’t say more.

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

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