Published on 31 December 2014  by venezuelanalysis.com

Significant changes planned for Venezuela's currency system in 2015The Venezuelan government has published previously withheld data revealing that the economy entered a recession in the second quarter of this year. However President Nicolas Maduro said significant changes to Venezuela’s economic model were being planned and that an economic “recovery plan” would be implemented in early 2015.

State of the economy

A report released by the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) on 30 December showed that the economy contracted this year by -4.8% in the first quarter, -4.9% in Q2, and -2.3% in Q3.

The slowdown occurred in the context of a series of economic problems facing the South American OPEC nation, which include an increasingly overvalued fixed-rate currency, shortages of many basic products including some food and medicines, and Bolivarian-era record annual inflation of 63.6% as of November.

These problems have been compounded by a fall in the oil price from US $99 per barrel in June to $48 yesterday, effectively reducing the government’s foreign export revenue by 50%. Oil sales account for almost all of the country’s foreign earnings.

The inflation statistics were published after a three month absence. According to newspaper El Universal’s report on the data, inflation in food prices is far higher than overall inflation, at 92.8% annually.

The BCV also reported that despite these negative trends, Venezuela registered a trade surplus in the first three quarters of 2014 of $6.811 billion, reflecting a positive balance of payments. International reserves are $20,890 billion.

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Published on 19 December 2014 collated from  www.venezuelanalysis.com

Thousands of Venezuelans March to Celebrate their Constitution and Condemn US InterferenceIn the same week as re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, U.S. president Barack Obama has just signed in legislation to impose sanctions on Venezuelan government officials. After the United States congress approved sanctions on Venezuela last week, President Barack Obama signed them on Thursday, thereby punishing Venezuelan government officials.

The U.S claims the sanctions are in retaliation for the so called repressive or violent role of government officials earlier this year. Some opposition supporters participated in blockades, burning of over a hundred public buses, stations, and buildings, sharp shooter targeting of Chavista marchers, and physical and verbal attacks on people trying to get to school or hospitals in February, March, and April this year. Forty-three people were killed, the majority being civilians and members of the pro-government national guard.

Pro-revolution Venezuelans responded to the sanctions in mass demonstrations on Monday, flooding the streets and social media platforms with ant-imperialist messages.

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Published on 9 December 2014 by TeleSUR English

The presidential council will advance participatory democracy for people with disabilitiesVenezuela has approved the creation of a new national council for people with disabilities in an attempt to eliminate the stigma around such communities, announced President Nicolas Maduro in a national address late Monday. 

The Presidential Council for People with Disabilities was created to strengthen the participation of disabled persons in state and societal affairs, as well as increase awareness and eliminate discrimination towards disabled individuals across the country. 

In the past months, Venezuela has tried to address the needs of the country's large disabled community.

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Published on 3 November by www.venezuelanalysis.com

Maduro meets with Uruguays Pepe MujicaIn an announcement made on 28 November , Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro pledged to slash spending in certain areas, such as senior government officials’ salaries, while swearing “we will never cut one bolivar of what we spend on education, food, housing... on our people.”

On 2 December the South American leader authorized a 20% cut in what he denominated “discretionary and luxury spending” in order to “maximize resources” in the face of the tumbling price of oil, which has already seen a 30% decrease in Venezuela’s hard cash income.

To determine what expenses are superfluous, Maduro has assembled a committee for efficient spending.

The president urged Venezuelans to see the measure as a tool for “deepening our strategic methods of savings and the optimization of resources… we must take advantage of this crisis.”

Maduro also mentioned plans to modify the Sicad II currency exchange system, in the hopes to create a “true, new alternative” for citizens to access dollars at a preferential rate by minimizing the amount of paperwork required to participate.

“We’re going to be delivering a blow to the parallel dollar,” Maduro warned.

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Abridged from two articles published on 19 and 20 November by www.venezuelanalysis.com

Maduro passes a wave of new lawsOn 18 November,  Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro passed 28 laws by means of the enabling law, which permits executive action without parliamentary approval. The bills, 16 of which were revealed in Tuesday’s promulgation ceremony, make up a comprehensive economic reform directed at industry, agriculture, tourism and tax revenue.

During the live broadcast from the Miraflores presidential palace, President Maduro called the new measures “enabling laws to diversify the economy, to guarantee its growth, and to gain stability in the face of an economic war.”

In recent months, Maduro has gone after buhoneros, or those who buy regulated goods in bulk to re-sell for a profit on the street, and contrabandistas; those who smuggle food and gasoline across land and sea borders. An estimated 40 percent of subsidized goods are removed from Venezuela through the latter method, making it one of the main drivers of scarcity.

However, with these latest statutes, the Venezuelan president is poised to be threaten the stronghold of those elite families and powerful companies who he believes have waged “economic war” on the government, by manipulating the economy to their political and financial gain.

The Anti-Monopoly Law was presented yesterday as a means to “create mechanisms to regulate those positions of power in the market which exercise control over the greater economy.”

Additionally, Venezuela’s upper class will be hardest hit by a series of tax reforms. On top of the pre-existing 12 percent consumer tax (IVA), one law introduces a 15 percent additional tax on “luxury items.”

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Published on 11 November 2014 by TeleSUR - Venezuela analysis

A Palestinian woman is greeted by a crowd upon her arrival in Venezuela AVNLast week, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced the beginning of the Yasser Arafat Scholarship Programme, which aims to train 1000 Palestinians in various fields.

The first delegation of 119 students arrived in Venezuela on Thursday to begin their studies in medicine at the Dr. Salvador Allende Latin American Medical School.

“We will train at least 1,000 Palestinian students,” Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced after the delegation arrived in Caracas. “I just ordered the Ministry of Education to expand the program not just in medicine, we also will enable them to study engineering, architecture and every field of knowledge.”

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Published on 4 November 2014 by Venezuela Analysis

Workers and PSUV members celebrate creation of Workers BankOn Monday, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced his approval of a workers’ proposal to increase the minimum wage by 15% starting December 1st. 

The new wage will be 4,889 bolivars per month (US$776 at the official exchange rate of 6.3)

This marks the third hike in salaries approved in 2014, making the current minimum wage 64.5% higher than at the start of the year. However, this latest announcement brings workers’ salaries just above the rate of inflation, which reached 63.4% during that same period.

An additional adjustment to the denominator used to calculate food tickets, which are mandatorily issued by employers and used like cash at most major supermarkets, increases workers’ access to items hardest hit by inflation. 

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Published on 29 October 2014 by Venezuela Analysis
Rajoy meets with Lilian Tintori wife of Leopoldo LopezOn Tuesday the Venezuelan Foreign Office announced the government’s decision to recall their ambassador to Spain, Mario Isea Bohórquez, for consultations. A hardline opposition leader, currently imprisoned and facing charges of inciting violence, refused to attend his own trial yesterday in in an attempt to pressure the government to respond to a United Nations request for his immediate release.
 
As part of the process of reviewing, in full, the diplomatic relations with Spain, and as consequence of the interventionist declarations of Spain's head of government Mariano Rajoy, [the Venezuelan government] has decided to call back for consultations Venezuela's ambassador in Spain,” stated the communique from Venezuelan authorities yesterday.
 
The decision comes after Rajoy posted his concern on Facebook that Venezuela was not respecting its citizens’ right to protest, after Lopez’s wife Lilian Tintori met with the Spanish president in Genova, Italy last Wednesday.
 
In the statement, the Venezuelan government noted that Rajoy's party, the conservative Popular Party (PP), also supported the attempted military coup against then Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2002, when PP's José María Aznar was president of Spain.

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Published on 16 October 2014 by Venezuela Analysis

Evidence suggests Colombian Paramilitaries were involved in the assassination of Robert SerraAll eight men who participated in the murder of pro-government lawmaker Robert Serra have been identified, said Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro in a press conference.

“This assassination was being prepared for over three months. It was directed by a Colombian whose legal identity we have not yet revealed. A Colombian paramilitary meticulously directed the whole preparation process of the crime. He used a gang directed by another thuggish murderer, Padilla Leyva, alias “Colombia,” Maduro told local and international media.

The Venezuelan president showed cctv footage of how six men entered Robert Serra’s house on Wednesday 1 October, saying that in five to six minutes both Serra and his assistant Maria Herrera were stabbed to death. Two other men waited outside with getaway vehicles.

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