During his weekly television address this afternoon, Maduro spoke on the dialogue effort underway between his PSUV party and the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the first round of which concluded without agreement in the Dominican Republic yesterday. The talks are scheduled to continue on December 15.
Maduro offered a “special invitation to the Miraflores Palace” to the opposition negotiators to meet him at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas this week to continue the talks. On the meeting, Maduro said:
I await for them with a kind heart.
Maduro’s offer was immediately rejected by National Assembly president Julio Borges, who is also the lead opposition negotiator. In the thread, a defiant Borges told Maduro that instead of inviting the opposition to Miraflores, he should invite the people who are suffering most from his dictatorial rule. Borges also said that the opposition would go to Miraflores, but on their own terms after winning next year’s presidential election.
Borges’ Twitter thread is below, along with my translation:
1/5 [Nicolas Maduro] our goal is not to come visit you, but to reach an agreement that traces a route to Venezuela’s future, [a route that] includes food, medicine and the free elections.
2/5 You attack me because you are afraid of me. We know that we have begun a serious negotiation that has full support from the international community. We represent the people’s interests.
3/5 Your resistance to the idea of humanitarian aid stresses that the drama lived by Venezuelans is not your priority. While you’re speaking on TV, Venezuelans are dying of malnutrition and lack of medicine.
4/5 Today, [with the help of] foreign affairs ministers from the region, we have a date and an agenda for the next meeting as well as clear rules that we have to follow. We are the ones who brought you into the dialogue.
5/5 You should invite to Miraflores the families that are going hungry and suffering from a lack of medicine due to your presidency. We will go there when we rescue democracy in the presidential elections of 2018.
Maduro Rejects Humanitarian Aid, Again
Maduro doubled down on his rejection of humanitarian aid today, following a similar stance taken yesterday by the country’s Minister of Health.
Maduro also explained that rejecting humanitarian aid was in some way connected to a sense of national pride. He said:
Venezuela is a go-getting, hard-working country. Venezuela is not a nation of beggars, which is what some have suggested with the topic of humanitarian aid. No, Venezuela produces its things.
Maduro’s catastrophic tenure as president has resulted in the virtual destruction of the Venezuelan economy. Under Maduro, Venezuelan salaries collapsed to the lowest in the region. An individual earning the minimum monthly salary in Venezuela earns approximately 15 cents per day, based on a monthly income of Bs. 456,507.44 and the current black market exchange rate of Bs. 103,024.27.
Contradicting himself almost immediately, Maduro went on to say numbers unnamed organizations had offered Venezuela aid in recent years and that he had accepted it, but that “they have not given us a penny”. In fact, the Maduro regime has categorically rejected humanitarian aid–even in principle–as a matter of national policy for as long as the topic has been in discussion.
Tired of Physical Money, Maduro Proposes the “Petro”
Maduro announced this afternoon that his regime would launch a cryptocurrency called the “Petro” some time in the future, and that the currency would be backed by the country’s oil and mineral wealth.
Maduro said that launching the Petro is necessary to “advance the country’s economic development”, and that the Petro would allow Venezuela to circumvent “the financial blockade” that he claims Venezuela suffers.
He did not give details regarding how exactly the Petro would work or when the regime plans to implement the currency.
Cryptocurrencies have become famous worldwide due in part to the arguable success of Bitcoin. Unlike traditional fiat currencies that exist in physical form and tend to be issued by a national central bank, cryptocurrencies exist only in digital form. This fact, along with anonymity and security measures built into the platform, has made cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin favourites for drug and weapons traffickers and money launderers.
Maduro said that the Petro would finally allow Venezuela to “join the world of the 21st century”.
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