The Maduro government announced today that it was extending a measure that makes imports exempt from taxes until June 2020 in an effort to ensure that food and other supplies enter the country. The measure was set to expire at the end of the current year.
The import tax exemption covers imports of food and personal hygiene products, including staples like milk, meat, grains, and soap, as well as other items like chocolate.
The news is likely to help maintain a growing business in the country alive: that of the bodegon, a type of store that has become more and more common in the country in recent months. Bodegones sell imported items at premium prices, often in US dollars. These stores tend to be stocked with products that are common in places like the United States and Canada, which are the same that are less likely to be available in supermarkets or government-run stores.
The extension was published in the Gaceta Oficial dated December 26, 2019, which you can read here in Spanish.
Brazil Rejects Request to Transfer Over Captured Soldiers, Considers Them Refugees
The government of Brazil has rejected a call from Caracas to hand over five soldiers that were captured inside of its territory last Thursday. The soldiers were unarmed when they were picked up by the Brazilian authorities in an indigenous reserve near the Venezuelan border.
The Venezuelan government had asked Brazil to return the soldiers, whom it considered deserters.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza called Brazil’s refusal to comply with the request and to consider the men refugees “unbelievable”, and accused the five soldiers of being involved in the December 22 raids against two military installations in Bolivar state.
Arreaza also accused the government of Jair Bolsonaro of being “complicit” in aggression against Venezuela, and of “[protecting] delinquents and mercenaries”.
Row of Luxury Cars in Caracas Sparks Indignation
An image surfaced on Twitter yesterday showing a row of luxury vehicles parked somewhere in Caracas. The image sparked indignation among some users, who decried the exuberant display of wealth in a nation where a large segment of the population lives on approximately $6 per month at the current black market rate (~Bs. 51,000 per USD).
The vehicles were parked outside of a venue in the Las Mercedes area of Caracas. Below, a video of the vehicles:
Another video below:
Below, a close-up shot of one of the vehicles:
Eduardo Battistini, a former El Hatillo municipal councilor, opined that the vehicles were a sign of the growing inequality in Venezuela:
That a video taken in Las Mercedes show six [sic] Ferraris doesn’t mean economic recovery, much less [economic] well-being. What it does show is the daily, abysmal growth of inequality.
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