Thursday, August 25, 2016
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
President Nicolas Maduro has set a 48-hour deadline for ministers to dismiss some public workers who requested a recall referendum against him, a Socialist Party spokesman said Monday.
Hundreds of public workers have already said they were dismissed for signing a petition for a referendum against the unpopular president, according to testimony seen by Reuters, human rights groups and local media.
"Today, by order of the party president Nicolas Maduro, five ministries ... cannot have people that are against the Revolution and the president in management positions in ministries, public institutions, local government and municipalities," said Jorge Rodriguez, the leader of the Socialist Party in Venezuela.
"They have a deadline of 48 hours," said Rodriguez.
The ministries cited by Rodriguez were food, basic industries and finance among others.
Venezuela's constitution allows a recall referendum halfway through a president's six-year term. The opposition is pushing for a referendum against Maduro, blaming him for an economic and social crisis.
Supermarket queues are in the hundreds or thousands, with lootings and food riots a daily occurrence. Shortages, triple digit inflation and a deep recession have pushed Maduro's approval ratings to near its lowest since he was elected president in 2013.
The opposition accuses the electoral council of stalling the process for a referendum so that it takes place next year. If that happens and Maduro loses, his Vice President would become president, keeping the Socialist Party in power.
In 2004, during the campaign for a referendum against former president Hugo Chavez, government lawmaker Luis Tascon published a list of more than 2.4 million Venezuelans who signed in favor of a referendum.
Many lost jobs and were marginalized from state services and the "Tascon List" became notorious.
Friday, August 19, 2016
Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro Spent $400,000 Celebrating Fidel Castro’s Birthday
AUGUST 17, 2016 AT 10:54 AM
Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro reportedly spent more US $400,000 in less than a week while celebrating the 90th birthday of Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba.
According to National Assembly member Carlos Berrizbeitia, Maduro — who was in Cuba Monday, August 8 through Sunday, August 14 — lived lavishly while celebrating on the island.
According to calculations done by Berrizbeitia, the Venezuelan government has spent US $124 million on visiting other countries so far this year.
“The amount spent on trips this years surpasses billions of bolívares,” Berrizbeitia said. “For the trip to Cuba, for example, it was unnecessary to use the presidential plane, whose flight time cost US $25,000. Additionally, they brought musicians, journalists, family and friends to sing happy birthday to Fidel. That added up to $400,000 because there were more than 80 people there.”
Several military members also attended, and were in Cuba from August 8 through August 14 with officials and journalists spending money on travel, hotels and food — up to US $15,000 per day, for a total of $105,000.
Berrizbeitia said he feels sorry for the amount of money the Venezuelan government is spending while there are people suffering in the street, and unable to get medicine in hospitals.
He did not criticize Maduro’s trip to the Dominican Republic, however, as the President was invited by Danilo Medina on official business. But official business, Berrizbeitia said, it not the same as a vacation.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
It should be clear to all but those who remain willfully blind to reality that Venezuela is on an irreversible course to total collapse. Yet even so, the government this week passed on what may well be its last chance to avoid the inevitable social explosion.
Venezuela’s people desperately want to get rid of President Nicolás Maduro by nonviolent means and escape from the nightmare that daily life has become in what was once a proud Latin American democracy.
Food is next to impossible to find. In cities like Caracas, many families make do with one meal a day.
Doctors report children with severe cases of malnourishment far more common in other parts of the world, but not seen heretofore in Venezuela.
Medicine has become a luxury, if you can find it. In Miami, benevolent “drug mules” have organized an unofficial network of couriers to send prescription drugs and medicines to those in need back home.
Crime is so rampant that people in cities like Caracas fear venturing far from home.
Mr. Maduro is incapable of fixing any of this because he is wed to a socialist model of governing that cannot possibly work as long as its virtually sole export — oil — continues to sell at less than half of the price it yielded just two or three years ago. Corruption, cronyism and inept management add to the economic debacle.
Venezuelans know that as long as Mr. Maduro is president, their predicament will only get worse. In the more than three years under his rule, the country has gone from bad to worse to intolerable.
The people of Venezuela, including many who once supported socialist policies, have tried just about everything in the arsenal of protest politics to make the rest of the world — as well as the government — understand that they are fed up, that they demand and deserve a government that actually works.
They’ve tried public, mostly peaceful demonstrations. They’ve tried voting in a legislative assembly controlled by Mr. Maduro’s opponents. They’ve tried holding a “dialogue” with the unresponsive government. The most desperate have finally capitulated and left the country.
None of this has obliged Mr. Maduro to change course. It’s as if he is determined to take the country over the cliff.
In the latest move, the democratic opposition gathered enough signatures on a petition for a recall referendum to trigger a process leading to a vote for a new government. This is the constitutionally prescribed way of changing the government.
Mr. Maduro’s electoral council responded this week by imposing a timetable for the next step in the process — gathering even more signatures, amounting to 20 percent of the country’s voters — that ensures that the actual vote (if it is allowed to take place) would not come about until next year.
Timing matters, The needless delay means that if Mr. Maduro loses the referendum, he would be succeeded by his vice president to serve the rest of his term through 2019. A vote this year, however, because it comes earlier in the incumbent’s term, could result in a new presidential election that the opposition would probably win.
By dragging its feet, the government has foreclosed the democratic option to peaceful change. That is on Mr. Maduro and his cronies. When the collapse comes, as it surely will eventually, the president and his cronies will have no one but themselves to blame.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
The Curacao Coast Guard detained 20 Venezuelans who were trying to reach the island by raft this Saturday, August 6.
According to local media, the boat was detected by radar six miles from the island, making authorities suspicious.
Authorities intercepted the boat, finding one Colombian citizen and 20 Venezuelans, all of whom were arrested.
They reportedly wanted to reach land with the intention of fleeing the economic, political and social crisis currently facing Venezuela. The country has the highest inflation in the world, and the lowest wages in the region.
This is not the first time Venezuelans have tried to illegally leave the country through illegal means. On March 29, a corpse was found on Baby Beach in San Nicolas. Later, a Venezuelan who tried to illegally enter Aruba aboard a raft was found by authorities.
On June 29, 2015, three Venezuelan students illegally entered Trinidad and Tobago using the same method.
On May 9, the government of Curacao said it was preparing to receive possible Venezuelan refugees; it also announced that if Venezuelans came in mass migration that it would not have the capacity to help them all.