The Plan Republica is officially underway ahead of Sunday’s municipal elections, meaning that thousands of additional soldiers and police officers will be deployed throughout the country for the rest of the week.

Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez announced the start of the security initiative earlier this afternoon, and said that a total of 115,000 soldiers and 140,000 other individuals from the country’s police and other security services would participate in the initiative.

It is common for the Venezuelan government to boost security during electoral processes, specially in the chavista era. The increased security measures also tend to be accompanied by a nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol, which for this election will be in effect from Friday until Monday. These initiatives are taken with the goal of minimizing the possibility of social unrest during elections.

Ramirez Warns Regime Against Turning on Him

In an interview with Reuters, former United Nations ambassador and lifelong Chavez ally Rafael Ramirez spoke on his recent fall from grace with the Maduro regime, and warned Caracas that turning against him would constitute “one of the worst political maneuvers” possible.

Ramirez–who was forced to resign from his position at the UN on Monday–appeared incredulous by the possibility that Maduro, seeing him as a political enemy, may be moving to destroy his career.

Speaking to Reuters from an “undisclosed location”, Ramirez said that that if Maduro were indeed attempting to force him out of politics, he would be acting “against a relevant figure of the Chavez government”. Ramirez served in the Chavez government for over a decade, acting as the president of the state-owned PDVSA oil company from 2004 to 2014.

Ramirez has fallen out of favour with Maduro over the past several weeks, after he published a pair of articles on the popular Aporrea website criticizing Maduro’s tenure as president. The publication of the articles appears to have forced Maduro’s hand, leading to Ramirez’s dismissal from his position at the UN.

National Assembly: GDP Shrank 12% from January to September

The National Assembly’s Finance Commission released a report yesterday which revealed that Venezuela’s GDP shrank 12% between January and September of this year.

Deputy Jose Guerra, who made the contents of the report available yesterday, pointed out that the country has experienced 15 consecutive quarters of economic decline. Guerra also told reporters that he expects the economy to continue to perform poorly into the foreseeable future, given the fact that the Maduro regime continues to demonstrate an absolute unwillingness to admit that it is responsible for Venezuela’s economic performace.

Historically, the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) would make economic information such as GDP and inflation figures public, but it has not done so since 2015.

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

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