The Maduro regime took over eight municipal markets today, saying that its merchants were hoarding products and selling food and other items above the prices set by the regime. The announcement was made by newly-appointed vice president for the economy, Tareck El Aissami.

El Aissami said that the following community markets would be “temporarily” taken over by the government: San Francisco Market, South Municipal Market, Mercabar, Aragua Wholesale Market, Maracay Open Market, Wholesale Market of Valencia, Petare Municipal Market, Greater Coche Market, and the Quinta Crespo Main Market. The markets are located across a number of states, including Miranda, Carabobo and Aragua.

While El Aissami did not provide any concrete details regarding how long the markets would be taken over for or how they would operate under government control, he did say that the regime had as its goal the takeover of 97 markets. It is not clear when the remaining 89 takeovers will take place, or precisely which markets would be targeted.

Markets like the ones that were taken over today are indispensable to millions of Venezuelans as the country traverses the worst economic collapse in its modern history. While government supermarkets lay virtually bare, private establishments carry unregulated products at exuberant prices. Markets, which are populated by individual businesses and sellers, are hubs of economic activity and one of the last refuges against the scarcity crisis.

Maduro Increases Minimum Monthly Salary

Maduro announced today that the minimum monthly salary would increase immediately, from Bs. 1 million to Bs. 3 million per month. On top of this, workers will also receive a bonus called the Bono de Proteccion ante la Guerra Economica [Protection Against the Economic War Bonus], which is valued at Bs. 1.2 million.

The bonus is named after the economic war theory that the regime espouses, which contends that the country’s economic woes are the result of a vast, international conspiracy that involves everyone from the White House to Venezuelans living abroad.

Today’s increase is the fourth that Maduro has decreed in six months, which is a sign of the hyperinflationary crisis affecting the country.

Ecuador To Create Shelters for Venezuelan Migrants

The government of Ecuador announced today that it is going to build temporary shelters to help house the influx of Venezuelan migrants that have been pouring into the country over the past year.

According to Ecuador’s vice ministry of migration, the number of Venezuelans migrating to the country has been steadily increasing since 2013, the year in which Maduro took office. In 2016, 102,369 Venezuelan migrants entered Ecuador; in 2017, the number shot up to 288,000.

The Ecuadorian government also announced that the shelter measure would take place with the help of a dozen government institutions, as well as with assets from the United Nations.

The social, political and economic collapse of Venezuela over the past two years has resulted in an exodus that is unprecedented in the country’s history. The mass migration out of Venezuela appears to have intensified in after July of last year, when Maduro’s Constituent Assembly was formed. The creation of the Assembly was widely decried by regime critics as a giant step by Maduro towards dictatorial rule.

Reuters: PDVSA Oil Exports Fall 32% from May

Reuters reported today that oil exports by the state-owned PDVSA oil firm fell 32% in the first two weeks of June compared to the same time period in May. The agency cited “internal trade reports” from PDVSA as the source of the information.

According to Reuters, the fall in exports translates to an average of 765,000 barrels per day in June, compared to the 1.133 million barrels per day exported in May. Moreover:

The trade data reveals the extent of the state-run oil firm’s export crisis from declining crude output, a lack of cash for spare parts and equipment, and a loss of employees fleeing due to hyperinflation and the nation’s severe recession.

King Felipe VI of Spain, Trump Talk Venezuela

Yesterday, king Felipe VI of Spain and queen Letizia met with Donald Trump in the White House. During their meeting, Trump and the Spanish king made brief comments to the media gathered in the Oval Office.

In his comments, the Spanish king made reference to the Venezuelan crisis, and suggested that it was part of the common ground upon which Washington and Madrid stand.

Below, a video of the king’s comments:

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