The Foro Penal Venezolano (FPV) updated the number of political prisoners currently behind regime bars, placing the figure at 278 as of Christmas Eve. The update came via Alfredo Romero, the head of the NGO that provides free legal services to victims of political persecution.

According to Romero, 16 political prisoners have been released so far in December, and five others have been arrested.

The FPV regularly updates the list of political prisoners in the country and sends it to the Organization of American States (OAS), which certifies the number for documentation purposes.

Five Bus Drivers Arrested for Charging Fares in Foreign Currency

The Tachira state government confirmed today that five bus drivers have been arrested for charging passengers in foreign currencies. The bus drivers worked routes that took passengers from the border state to the interior of the country.

State authorities did not provide any additional details on the case, including which foreign currencies the bus drivers asked for and which companies they worked for. However, El Nacional published testimony from a state resident who claims that the Transtachira state-run bus company has charged her in both U.S. dollars and Colombians pesos for trips. Diaz said:

They’ve charged us for tickets in dollars [and] in pesos, the buses from Transtachira have. 200,000 pesos or 50 dollars. We go to Caracas, Valencia, Maracay, Punto Fijo, Puerto la Cruz, and we won’t [spend Christmas] with our families. We don’t have dollars. We’re in a country that uses bolivares. How could a state entity ask us for a foreign currency?

The collapse of the Venezuelan economy makes Venezuela’s currency, the Bolivar Soberano, worth less and less each day. With an inflation rate expected to surpass 1,000,000% at the end of this year, foreign currency offers the kind of stability and purchasing power that the Bolivar Soberano lacks.

Maduro Wishes Mao Happy Birthday on Twitter

Maduro posted a message today wishing Mao Zedong a happy birthday today, the 125th anniversary of his birth.

Below, Maduro’s tweet along with my translation:

125 years! Today our brothers in the People’s Republic of China, celebrate the birth of the Great Helmsman, Mao Zedong, extraordinary revolutionary leader who headed the social and economic transformations of the Chinese people.

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

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