Vicente Diaz, one of the negotiators for the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) opposition bloc, said in a televised interview today that he was hopeful that talks with the ruling PSUV party scheduled to take place on December 1 and 2 would bear fruit. According to Diaz, the PSUV has demonstrated the “willingness” to engage in a dialogue with the opposition, a fact that he believes augurs well for the talks.
At the same time, Diaz foreshadowed what is likely to be a bitterly-argued issue at the negotiating table: the official declaration of a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela on account of the worsening economic, healthcare and food situation. Diaz said that the PSUV will likely oppose such a declaration, because they believe that to declare a humanitarian crisis would be in invite foreign intervention in Venezuela.
The PSUV is loathe to admit that Venezuela is experiencing a humanitarian crisis despite overwhelming evidence pointing to the fact, partially because to do so would be to admit that the last 18 years of socialist rule have effectively destroyed the country.
The MUD is currently on the break of collapse following a disastrous showing in the October 15 gubernatorial elections. The electoral defeat, coupled with the with widespread anger at the announcement that the opposition would negotiate with the PSUV, have pushed the opposition bloc to a breaking point.
Looking forward to a hypothetical 2018 presidential election, Diaz said that “the worst thing” that the MUD could do would be to fail to reach a consensus on a single candidate, and instead run two or three candidates against Maduro.
Basic Family Food Basket Rises to Bs. 5.5 million
The price of the basic family food basket rose in October to Bs. 5,594,119.73, putting the prospect of a nutritious diet hopelessly out of reach for a majority of Venezuelans. The minimum monthly salary (including food subsidies) is Bs. 456,407.43. In other words, a family of five needs to earn 12.25 minimum monthly salaries in order to enjoy a nutritious diet.
The figure, which is compiled on a monthly basis by the Centro de Documentacion y Analsis Social de la Federacion Venezolana de Maestros, jumped 43.39% from September, and is up 872.33% from October of 2016.
October saw the price of food jump 46.1% from September, while the price of personal hygiene products increased by 94.2%.
National Guard Prisoner Dies of Starvation
El Universal reported today that a 38 year old man named Maiquer de Santiago died in custody at a National Guard prison on Saturday of starvation. De Santiago was being held in a National Guard jail in the El Junquito area of Caracas.
According to the newspaper, de Santiago’s cousin–a man named Pablo–visited him in the prison on November 12, and described him in the following way:
When we saw him he was very thin and gaunt. He seemed really worn out. We told the [National Guard] that his health wasn’t good. On [November] 15 he was taken to the Vargas hospital where he died.
An official government report found that de Santiago died from pulmonary and brain edemas caused by severe malnutrition. Pablo also told El Universal:
[Maiquer] was doing really poorly, but they didn’t help him. They didn’t provide him with the basic necessities of life, and so he died.
Maiquer was arrested for stealing food.
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