Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez announced today that the ruling PSUV party was ready to reach an agreement with the country’s political opposition, although he did not make the details of the supposed agreement clear.
Speaking from the Dominican Republic earlier today, Rodriguez said:
We are ready to reach an agreement with the sectors from the Venezuelan opposition that are here at the dialogue in the Dominican Republic insisting that the problems in Venezuela be resolved by Venezuelans.
Rodriguez also said that “today would be a great day” if such an agreement were to be made.
It the two sides are in fact close to a final deal, the fact would not reflect the facts on the ground over the past two weeks. While the opposition demanded guarantees for free and fair presidential elections as part of the talks, Maduro’s Constituent Assembly announced snap elections last week guaranteeing that the opposition’s demands will not be met.
As a result of the snap election announcement, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) opposition bloc issued an ultimatum to the regime two days ago, stressing its demands for free and fair elections. The Constituent Assembly’s announcement also resulted in the withdrawal of Voluntad Popular (VP), a major opposition party, from the negotiations.
At the end of the day’s negotiations, however, the two sides had failed to reach an agreement, other than they would meet again tomorrow to continue the talks.
Price of Basic Family Basket Rises to Bs. 25 Million in December
The price of the basic family basket to Bs. 25,123,437.24 in December of last year, putting a healthy diet and functional home life impossibly out of reach for millions of Venezuelan families.
The price of the basket is calculated monthly, and determines the amount of money needed to maintain a household in working order for a month. The figure takes into account expenses like food, personal hygiene products, education, and household cleaning products.
At Bs. 25 million, the price of the basket means that a Venezuelan family must earn 55 times the minimum monthly salary in order to be able to afford all of their household expenses.
The measure rose an astonishing 3,278.6% from December 2016, a sign of the country’s deepening inflationary crisis.
Each one of the basket’s indicators rose from November 2017. Below, the seven indicators along with the rise in their cost from November to December 2017:
- Food: 129.5%
- Education: 113.9%
- Personal Hygiene and Home cleaning: 33.6%
- Basic public services (i.e., public transportation): 8.9%
- Housing: 11.7%
- Clothing: 6.8%
- Health: 6.1%
Another stark measure of the ongoing prices is the average cost of a worker’s lunch, which in December rose to Bs. 60,000. While Venezuelans earning the minimum monthly salary receive a food stipend, that amounts to only Bs. 9,300 per day, meaning that a worker requires 6.5 times the mount to eat lunch every day.
Spain: Lay Off “Insults” To Restore Relations
The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfonso Dastis, laid out a path forward towards re-establishing diplomatic relations with Venezuela during a press conference today. According to Dastis, any future rapprochement had to start with Maduro “stopping it with the insults and the totally unfounded rhetoric”, calling into serious question the possibility that the two countries will re-establish normal diplomatic relations in the short term.
The Maduro regime expelled the Spanish ambassador in Venezuela on January 26 in retaliation for sanctions levied against seven regime officials by the European Union early last week. Spain reciprocated the measure hours later.
Spain features heavily in Maduro’s worldview as a principal antagonist against Venezuela. Maduro often insults Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and has even threatened to “break his teeth” over his alleged role as a mastermind of a vast and nebulous international conspiracy against the Bolivarian revolution.
Dastis was also asked if he believed that the snap presidential election in Venezuela will help or worsen the crisis in the country. Dastis said:
It doesn’t look good (…) we’re very skeptical.
National Assembly Deputy Photographs Perez Safe House Ruins
National Assembly deputy Franklin Duarte traveled to El Junquito in western Caracas today and photographed the ruins of the safe house in which Oscar Perez and six companions were killed by regime forces two weeks ago. The battle at the home also claimed the lives of two police officers.
Below, the ruins of the home:
The fact that the site of a high-profile even that resulted in the deaths of eight people was leveled before an adequate investigation could take place add fuel to speculation that Perez and his companions were executed by regime forces, making the demolition of the home an attempt to erase evidence.
Maduro, Cilia Flores Target of Insults During Facebook Live Broadcast
Maduro hosted a Facebook Live event over the weekend in which he appeared with his wife, Cilia Flores, and spoke generally about his presidential campaign and his love for Venezuela.
The event allowed Facebook users to type messages that appeared underneath the video in real time. Angry users took the opportunity to pepper Maduro and the first lady with insults as he spoke.
Below, a clip of the broadcast along with the offensive messages. I have translated a few select messages below:
Jorge Andres Cariel: How do you feel when you sleep? Knowing that so many die in hospitals because there is no medicine? How does it feel to know that you have created a famine the likes of which has never been seen before in Veneuzela?
Amparo Ramirez: Wow, I can’t stand this bastard…no one can be happy with the suffering of others, I know you will pay and I hope I can see you pay for all of the damage that you’ve done
Efrain Abreu Sanchez: S H I T DICTATOR
Astrid Florez: You disgusting dog, criminal. It’s Saturday, and you’re figuring out how to finish destroying the people.
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