Maduro welcomed Bolivian President Evo Morales in Caracas today for an event called “We Are All Venezuela”, a regime-sponsored conference that allegedly aims to come up with strategies for defending the human and civil rights of Venezuelans. The event is scheduled to last four days, and will involve workshops on “defense, sovereignty and peace”, as well as an event to take stock of the Bolivarian Revolution’s social works over the past 18 years.
Speaking during a special broadcast of his Sunday television show Los Domingos con Maduro, the president also said that he would “reveal everything” about the opposition’s dialogue efforts with the regime. After announcing on Friday that his government and the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) opposition bloc would re-start a dialogue process on September 27, the MUD quickly refuted the claim, and said that in fact no agreement for a dialogue had been reached.
In an address later in the day, Maduro suggested that the opposition had met with his government many times since 2016. Maduro said:
I can tell you that there have been dozens [of meetings] with the opposition, without having to say that there have been hundreds.
Maduro continued by saying:
Meetings. Look, I can tell you that Mr. Julio Borges [National Assembly President] has been to more than 30, 40 meetings, just to give you a name. Mr. Henry Ramos Allup [head of the AD party] has been to an important number of meetings. I’ll also say that Mr. Leopoldo Lopez [head of the VP party], even as a prisoner, has attended meetings with my authorization.
National Assembly deputy Luis Florido was quick to react to Maduro’s allegations regarding Leopoldo Lopez, saying that it was “false” that Lopez had ever participated in talks with the government. Lopez has been imprisoned since 2015, and was suddenly moved to house arrest in early July where he remains under constant watch.
In the past, Maduro has suggested that opposition leaders have secretly negotiated with his regime behind the backs of their supporters in an apparent attempt to embarrass the MUD leadership. The claims tend to spark outrage among opposition supporters, many of whom are distrustful of the MUD leadership and consider negotiating with the regime a lost cause.
Maduro Announces Coca Plant Venture with Bolivia
While touring the Avila National Park north of Caracas with his Bolivian homologue today, Maduro announced that Venezuela would begin producing coca leaf tea. Exalting the medicinal properties of the coca leaf, Maduro made the announcement by saying:
We are 2,300 meters above sea level, but that’s nothing for Evo. He lives at 4,000 meters [above sea level]. When you go there [to Bolivia], people tell you three things: walk slowly, sleep alone and eat a little. That’s what they say when you get up there. Some people have violated these principles. You have to drink coca leaf tea in order to sort of cope [with the altitude sickness]. We Caribbeans can’t deal with it.
Maduro announced that the factory would be financed with Bolivian money, and that it would also produce coca candy. It is not clear when or where the factory will be built.
Maduro also took the opportunity to take a jab at his international enemies by saying:
Coca is used for its health benefits, not how they use it in the North American Empire [by] converting it into cocaine to destroy the minds and bodies of human beings.
Deputy Guerra Suggests Monetary Overhaul
National Assembly deputy and economist Jose Guerra suggested a major overhaul to Venezuela’s monetary scheme today, saying that the Bs. 100 bill should be converted into a Bs. 100,000 one in order to help Venezuelans cope with the country’s runaway inflation rate.
Guerra said that Nicaragua had attempted a similar measure in the past, and advocated for its use in Venezuela. He explained the necessity of the measure by saying:
We don’t have enough bills primarily due to inflation. A Bs. 20,000 bill [the highest note in circulation] doesn’t even buy you a carton of eggs. Also, because the Venezuelan Central Bank doesn’t give banks enough bills so that they can be distributed.
Venezuela is likely to end the year with the highest inflation rate on the planet, a number that Guerra has estimated to reach 1,200%. As a result of the daily increases in prices for goods and services, Venezuelans who rely on cash to make purchases must carry unwieldy amounts of paper notes in order to make even to make the most modest purchases.
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