Just one day after Maduro announced on television that he had asked the President of the Dominican Republic Danilo Medina to help mediate a new, future round of talks between the PSUV and the opposition, Medina responded by suggesting that he would do no such thing.

When asked by reporters today if the Venezuelan government had in fact approached him with the proposition recently, Media said:

They haven’t spoken to me, and I don’t think that I would do it again.

Medina facilitated a round of negotiations between Maduro and the opposition in January of this year. The talks ended in failure in early February after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the political divide separating them.

Regime Cracks Down on Remittances, Forces Official Rate

The Superintendencia de las Instituciones del Sector Bancario (Superintendency for Banking Insitutions, SUDEBAN), Venezuela’s top baking authority, stressed today that any remittances entering the country must be exchanged at the official regime-set rate known as DICOM.

SUDEBAN’s president, Antonio Morales, said that it was unacceptable that foreign money was entering Venezuela to be traded at the black market rate, and said that Banesco played a role in that illicit operation. Morales said:

People weren’t sending remittances through official channels. They looked for someone with a Banesco account, they would send them $100 from outside, they would change that money at the black market rate, and then they would hand that over to their family.

Morales’ comments could be evidence of justification for the takeover of Banesco, which the Maduro regime ordered earlier this week citing financial irregularities at the institution.

The matter of remittance exchange rates is of vital importance to the growing Venezuelan diaspora around the world. While on the black market $1 USD could sell for as many as Bs. 661,824,52 on the black market, it would only sell for Bs. 49,614.93 a the official DICOM rate.

Deputy: 2018 Might Reach 100,000%

National Assembly deputy Jose Guerra said during a radio interview this morning that the inflation rate for the country might reach an astronomical 100,000% by the end of this year if current trends continue.

Guerra–who heads the National Assembly’s Finance Commission–said that such a number would give Venezuela the record for highest inflation rate in Latin American history, as it would surpass Nicaragua’s rate of 23,000% in the 1985-1988 period.

Guerra also said during the interview that the monthly inflation rate has averaged 75% since October of last year, which he blamed on an increase of 7,000% in the number of bills in circulation during that same period of time.

Minimum Monthly Salary Keeps Food Courts Out of Reach

Venezuela’s inflationary crisis is perhaps better understood by how little the monthly minimum salary–Bs. 1,000,000–can purchase.

In an article published today, El Nacional visited the food courts of two shopping malls in Caracas to see how a worker might spend her monthly wages buying food.

According to the newspaper, the prices below were observed in the Los Ruices shopping mall food court:

  • A lunch plate (beef, rice and plantains) costs Bs. 1,390.000.
  • A plate of pasta “with two kinds of sauce” costs Bs. 460,800.
  • A bowl of seafood soup costs Bs. 1,380,000.

In the El Lider shopping mall food court, El Nacional observed the following prices:

  • A plate of chicken and rice with side of vegetables costs Bs. 759,000.
  • A double cheeseburger with bacon costs Bs. 1,680,000.
  • A “simple” sandwich costs Bs. 825,000.

The newspaper cites a Los Ruices mall worker responsible for the food court as saying that whereas in previous years the food court was buzzing with customer activity by 11:00 AM, “today it’s not even full during lunch”.

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

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