Venezuela, Post-Chavez

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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#276

Post by Addie » Fri Jan 08, 2016 2:35 pm

STRATFOR
Jan. 8: In Venezuela, a Court Case Threatens Political Deadlock

A legal case that is currently pending in the Venezuelan Supreme Court could be a catalyst for future political gridlock and instability in the country. On Jan. 6, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) requested that the court reverse the swearing in of three opposition legislators from Amazonas state. Previously, a December Supreme Court ruling had barred the three from taking their seats, but the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable ignored it. The request now under consideration also asks the Supreme Court to void any legislative decisions made by the National Assembly until the body complies with the court's original order to remove the lawmakers in question.

The latest legal case may prove to be a source of further infighting among Venezuelan politicians in the coming weeks. If the court acquiesces to the PSUV's request, it will put the opposition in a difficult position: It will have to choose whether to back down and comply or ignore the court once again. On the one hand, obeying the court would limit the opposition's political power and would probably exacerbate the existing divides within the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition, threatening the coalition's tenuous cohesion. On the other, defying the decision would likely create a legal vacuum in which the central government would refuse to recognize the opposition's legislative verdicts. This would likely lead to political stalemate, restricting the opposition's ability to leverage its newfound power. ...

It is also becoming increasingly apparent that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro intends to rule without the opposition's input. Still, this does not mean he will be able to withstand public pressure for economic reform. During a Jan. 6 Cabinet reshuffle, Maduro named Luis Salas, a leftist sociologist, Venezuela's next economic minister. The decision would seem to indicate that the president intends to continue his wait-and-see approach to the country's economy, at least to some degree. But a report emerged Jan. 8 that suggested Industry and Trade Minister Miguel Perez Abad — a businessman — will have significant influence over Venezuela's economic policy. This signals at least the possibility of economic reform ahead. That said, the Maduro administration has so far shown an unwillingness to undertake any significant currency devaluation or consumer price increases, which would help put the country's economy back on track but would carry significant political costs for the government.

Notably, the latest reshuffle left officials loyal to former National Assembly Speaker Diosdado Cabello out of the new Cabinet. Both Gen. Guiseppe Yoffreda and Jose David Cabello (Diosdado's brother) were removed from their respective posts at the head of the Air and Water Transport Ministry and the Industry and Trade Ministry. Neither man was reassigned to a new position. This could be a sign that Cabello's influence within the PSUV administration is waning, even though he remains one of Venezuela's most powerful political leaders.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#277

Post by Addie » Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:28 am

LA Times
In power struggle, Venezuela's high court declares parliament in contempt

Venezuela’s supreme court ruled Monday that the newly installed National Assembly is in contempt of court for swearing in three ineligible legislators, and has declared any laws and other actions the body takes to be null and void.

The ruling sets the scene for a clash between the court, dominated by judges appointed by socialist President Nicolas Maduro, and the assembly, two-thirds of whose seats were won by opposition candidates in Dec. 6 elections.

The court on Dec. 30 ruled the three newly elected opposition assembly members, Julio Ygarza, Romel Guzamana and Nirma Guarulla, were ineligible because of vote-buying accusations. All three are from the southern state of Amazonas.

The opposition countered that the ruling amounted to a “judicial coup” designed to deprive the opposition of a supermajority and the special powers that go along with it. It noted that the disputed assembly seats had been officially awarded to the three within days of the Dec. 6 elections and that reports of vote-buying emerged afterward and were unfounded. ...

Maduro allies in the congress then asked that the court disqualify the assembly as constituted, a motion the court on Monday accepted, ordering that the three be stripped of their parliamentary membership.
Adding from Foreign Policy:
Venezuela’s Supreme Court Suspends the Opposition-Dominated Parliament


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#278

Post by Addie » Thu Jan 14, 2016 10:59 am

WSJ
Venezuelan Opposition Agrees to Cede Supermajority

CARACAS, Venezuela—Three opposition lawmakers gave up their seats in the National Assembly on Wednesday, stripping President Nicolás Maduro’s adversaries of the supermajority they had won in December’s legislative elections and limiting the scope of their intended overhauls.

The move, which comes as the country battles an economic crisis, was designed to resolve an acrimonious battle in the legislature. The Supreme Court, which is packed with Mr. Maduro’s supporters, opened an investigation into alleged vote-buying by the three lawmakers and ordered that they not be sworn in. The lawmakers denied they had committed wrongdoing, and the opposition accused the government of fabricating the vote-buying allegations to prevent a supermajority able to rewrite the constitution and possibly unseat Mr. Maduro.

Government adversaries in the National Assembly on Wednesday approved the move by the three lawmakers to give up their seats to defend themselves as the Supreme Court reviews the alleged voting irregularities in the remote state of Amazonas. Pro-government lawmakers have said all decisions passed by the assembly would have been illegal as long as the Amazonas lawmakers had remained. ...

Above all, the loss of the supermajority takes away the opposition’s ability to name new judges to the Supreme Court, which has been the main obstacle to challenging Mr. Maduro. In December, days before the new congress took office on Jan. 5, the lame-duck, Socialist-controlled congress approved 13 new Supreme Court judges allied with the ruling party. The court has ruled against the opposition since then.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#279

Post by Addie » Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:52 pm

Reuters
Senior Venezuela military on trial for facilitating drug smuggling

CARACAS (Reuters) - Five members of Venezuela's military, including some high-ranking officers, are on trial in Venezuela for allegedly allowing drug planes to use the country's airspace, the state prosecutor said in a statement on Thursday.

Venezuela is suspected by the United States of playing a major role in the trafficking of drugs from South America to the United States and Europe.

President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government says those accusations are part of a broader smear campaign and points to arrests like these as proof his administration is cracking down on what it calls a few bad apples.

Five active members of the Air Force, including a major and colonel, are on trial in the central state of Aragua. Two brothers, a retired Army major and a retired National Guard sergeant, are also on trial in the same case. ...

At least 100 military and police officials in the last five years have been accused of drug trafficking by Venezuelan prosecutors, according to the state prosecutors' office.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#280

Post by Addie » Fri Jan 15, 2016 11:03 am

WaPo
Venezuela’s oil-based economy is about to flatline. Then what?

Venezuela, the nation with the world's largest petroleum reserves, is facing one of the world's most painful, and predictable, economic collapses. Oil exports account for as much as 95 percent of its trade revenue, and with Venezuela's brand of heavy crude slumping to $24 a barrel this week, the country is drifting dangerously close to a flat line.

Because the cost of producing a barrel of oil is roughly $20 for state-run oil monopoly PDVSA, according to independent analysts, anything below that level would wipe out the last few pennies of profitability for what is essentially the country's only significant export industry. ...

It's the same challenge facing other big exporters like Nigeria, Russia and Iraq that also depend heavily on oil sales. Only in Venezuela, which already has the world's highest inflation rate, the pain may be worse. ...

Economists at the International Monetary Fund are predicting a 10 percent contraction in Venezuela's GDP this year. Annual inflation tops 150 percent. Maduro must make some $16 billion in debt payments by the end of 2016, and Venezuela's reserves, held mostly in gold, amount to about $15 billion.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#281

Post by Volkonski » Fri Jan 15, 2016 12:47 pm

Addie wrote:WaPo
Venezuela’s oil-based economy is about to flatline. Then what?

Venezuela, the nation with the world's largest petroleum reserves, is facing one of the world's most painful, and predictable, economic collapses. Oil exports account for as much as 95 percent of its trade revenue, and with Venezuela's brand of heavy crude slumping to $24 a barrel this week, the country is drifting dangerously close to a flat line.

Because the cost of producing a barrel of oil is roughly $20 for state-run oil monopoly PDVSA, according to independent analysts, anything below that level would wipe out the last few pennies of profitability for what is essentially the country's only significant export industry. ...

It's the same challenge facing other big exporters like Nigeria, Russia and Iraq that also depend heavily on oil sales. Only in Venezuela, which already has the world's highest inflation rate, the pain may be worse. ...

Economists at the International Monetary Fund are predicting a 10 percent contraction in Venezuela's GDP this year. Annual inflation tops 150 percent. Maduro must make some $16 billion in debt payments by the end of 2016, and Venezuela's reserves, held mostly in gold, amount to about $15 billion.
World oil prices have dropped another 5% today. I have seen predictions that oil prices could drop another 25% this spring. This could lead to social unrest in several countries.


Image“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#282

Post by Addie » Sat Jan 16, 2016 9:24 am

BBC News
Venezuela economy: Nicolas Maduro declares emergency

The Venezuelan government has announced a 60-day economic emergency to deal with the country's worsening crisis.

President Nicolas Maduro will govern by decree for two months.

The edict includes tax increases and puts emergency measures in place to pay for welfare services and food imports.

The government's move came as official figures released by the central bank showed that the Venezuelan economy had contracted by 4.5% in the first nine months of 2015. ...

The decree also instilled more state controls on businesses, industrial productivity and on electronic currency transactions.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#283

Post by Foggy » Sat Jan 16, 2016 9:54 am

Well sure, this is going to work! That's been the problem all along, that Maduro simply didn't have enough power! I'm certain he's going to fix Venezuela right up!

:?


... and how does that make you feel?
What is it you are trying to say?
:think:

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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#284

Post by Addie » Sat Jan 16, 2016 10:39 am

An interesting op-ed in Forbes about China.
Venezuela's Future - Mortgaged By Chavismo In Cooperation With China ...

There is a player in Venezuela, however, which is not getting enough attention, and whose actions over the past few years have reinforced chavista rule and made it more difficult for any government that succeeds that of the socialists to attempt to revive Venezuela’s fortunes. That player is China. China’s looming presence in the country has been a factor that has reinforced the negative tendencies of the ruling socialists, helped to prolong the misery of the Venezuelan people, and is now adding to the very serious challenges that the opposition now in the majority of the National Assembly and any successor government will have in attempting to untie the Gordian knot that is the country’s current economic, political and social condition. ...

In exchange for Chinese loans throughout Latin America, Beijing drives a hard bargain, and usually ends up with owning the legal rights to a very large percentage of the given country’s natural resources. The fact that Venezuela has the largest oil deposits in the world has made it of great interest to China. With Venezuela such a political and economic basketcase, and with the policies of Chavez and Maduro making Venezuela an extremely unattractive destination for foreign investment, few countries have been willing to lend Caracas money or to otherwise invest in the country. China has been virtually the only major power willing to put significant money into Venezuela. This means that China’s influence in Venezuela is second to none, and this has accentuated the negative aspects of China’s presence visible elsewhere on the continent. ...

When Caracas has gone back to Beijing seeking relief from its loan payments and to seek more loans to keep itself afloat, China has responded both by promising more money and by lengthening the terms of its existing loans, which in essence means that China has a legal claim on Venezuela’s oil farther into the future. This in turn means that that valuable asset will be unavailable even longer for more productive uses than paying off Venezuela’s Chavez and Maduro-era debt to China.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#285

Post by Addie » Sat Jan 16, 2016 10:48 am

Fusion
Venezuela builds world’s largest Virgin Mary monument and turns it into political symbol

What do you do when your country is immersed in a political crisis and the economy is falling apart? You build a big Virgin Mary, and pray for very big miracles.

Venezuela this week inaugurated the “world’s largest” monument to the Virgin Mary, and the socialist government now seems to be using it for political propaganda.

The sculpture, which measures 200 feet high in the city of Barquisimeto, has already been visited by thousands of Catholic faithful who are in town for an annual religious procession.

Venezuelan state television, desperate for good news, boasted that “only under the revolution” is such a monument possible. [Marx must be rolling in his grave]

But that’s not all. ...

“This is a sign of the Bolivarian government’s commitment with the Venezuelan people’s faith,” the billboard reads. Adding, “This monument was built during the year of the economic war, with a barrel of oil selling for less than $30.”
:dazed:


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#286

Post by Addie » Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:12 am

Reuters
Venezuela Congress plans to investigate PDVSA, China loans

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's new opposition-led Congress plans to investigate state-run oil company PDVSA's [PDVSA.UL] financial health and hefty Chinese loans, a lawmaker said on Tuesday.

The OPEC member country depends on oil for nearly all of its export revenue. With the political opposition in control of the National Assembly since this month, rivals of leftist President Nicolas Maduro want to use their new perch to push for greater transparency and accountability at PDVSA.

"We want to know the real state of PDVSA's books," Elias Matta, an opposition lawmaker and vice president of the energy and oil commission, told Reuters on the sidelines of the National Assembly.

"The country wants to know how the money from the Chinese funds were spent. We also want to investigate what the real cost of production is. And why haven't they done the output increases they talked about so much? We're going to have a lot of work in this commission," he added with a smile.

Venezuela has received some $50 billion in financing from China through an arrangement under which it repays loans in shipments of crude and fuel.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#287

Post by SueDB » Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:27 am

Ah, follow the money....


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#288

Post by Addie » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:15 am

Associated Press
IMF: Venezuela Inflation to Surpass 700 Percent

The International Monetary Fund says Venezuela inflation will blow past 700 percent this year.

In a note published Friday, IMF Western Hemisphere Director Alejandro Werner said inflation would more than double in the economically struggling South American country in 2016, reaching 720 percent.

Venezuela already suffers from the world's highest inflation rate. The IMF estimates that inflation here was running at 275 percent last year.

Last week, Venezuela's Central Bank published economic data for the first time in more than a year. The bank said inflation reached 141.5 percent by September of last year.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#289

Post by RTH10260 » Mon Jan 25, 2016 10:02 am

Under cover report on ISIS recruiting


[liveleak]1902ad7d38e3[/liveleak]

Undercover report reveals IS recruitment tactics

in this video has revealed the extent to which the so-called Islamic State use social media to encourage people to travel to Iraq and Syria.

The tactics have been compared to online grooming.

By the end of 2015 it is thought more than 700 people had left the UK to join Islamic State.



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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#290

Post by Addie » Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:21 pm

Financial Times Op Ed by Ricardo Hausmann
It could be too late to avoid catastrophe in Venezuela

A disorderly default on an Argentine scale is almost inevitable, writes Ricardo Hausmann

As markets brace themselves for the negative effects of the decline in oil prices, Venezuela will probably be the first big domino to fall.

Domestically, the most likely scenario is an imminent economic collapse and a humanitarian crisis. Internationally, it will imply the largest and messiest emerging market sovereign default since the Argentine crisis of 2001. The situation is made worse by the inability of the political system, at present, to address the situation.

Why Venezuela? First, because while most other oil exporters used the boom to put some money aside, former president Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013, used it to quadruple the foreign debt. This allowed him to spend as if the average price of a barrel of oil was $197 in 2012, when in fact it was only $111. He also used it to maim the private sector through nationalisations and import controls. With the end of the boom, the country was put in a hopeless situation.

The year 2015 was an annus horribilis in Venezuela with a 10 per cent decline in gross domestic product, following a 4 per cent fall in 2014. Inflation reached over 200 per cent. The fiscal deficit ballooned to 20 per cent of GDP, funded mainly by the printing press.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#291

Post by Addie » Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:53 pm

WSJ
Inflation-Wrought Venezuela Orders Bank Notes by the Planeload

CARACAS—Millions of pounds of provisions, stuffed into three-dozen 747 cargo planes, arrived here from countries around the world in recent months to service Venezuela’s crippled economy.

But instead of food and medicine, the planes carried another resource that often runs scarce here: bills of Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar.

The shipments were part of the import of at least five billion bank notes that President Nicolás Maduro’s administration authorized over the latter half of 2015 as the government boosts the supply of the country’s increasingly worthless currency, according to seven people familiar with the deals.

And the Venezuelan government isn’t finished. In December, the central bank began secret negotiations to order 10 billion more bills, five of these people said, which would effectively double the amount of cash in circulation. That order alone is well above the eight billion notes the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank each print annually—dollars and euros that unlike bolivars are used world-wide. ...

The flood of money has led some sectors of the economy, such as real estate and car sales, to effectively price their goods in U.S. dollars, though they do so on the sly because dealing in foreign currency is illegal. On the crime-ridden streets of Caracas, people in the security industry say, professional kidnap-and-ransom teams often demand U.S. currency instead of bolivars.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#292

Post by Addie » Sun Feb 14, 2016 1:31 pm

AFP
Venezuela opposition calls talks on ousting president

Caracas (AFP) - Venezuela's opposition said it will launch discussions Sunday aiming to devise a legal procedure within weeks to oust President Nicolas Maduro, whom it blames for the oil-rich country's economic crisis.

"Tomorrow there will be a special day of debate among political leaders on this subject," Jesus Torrealba, executive secretary of the opposition coalition MUD, told AFP on Saturday. ...

The center-right opposition's most prominent figure, congressional chairman Henry Ramos Allup, on Friday vowed to speed up efforts to oust Maduro.

That call came after Maduro defied lawmakers by securing emergency powers to intervene in the economy.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#293

Post by Addie » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:33 am

WSJ
Businessman Named Venezuela’s New Economic Czar

CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has appointed a businessman as the country’s new economic czar, replacing a leftist sociologist who has denied existence of inflation and argued for the dissolution of the central government amid the deepest recession in the nation’s history.

Trade and Industry Minister Miguel Perez Abad, an infrastructure contractor from eastern Venezuela, is the new vice president for economy, a post the president created two years ago to guide general economic strategy, Mr. Maduro said Monday night. Mr. Perez replaces Luis Salas, a 39-year-old political economy professor at the state-run Bolivarian University, after just a month at the post.

Mr. Perez, who will remain trade and industry minister, is Venezuela’s fourth economy chief in two years. To halt triple-digit inflation and fill shops with scarce food and medicine, Mr. Maduro had earlier tried giving reins over the economy to an oil official, an army general and a leftist intellectual, while refusing to loosen rigid currency and price controls at the root of the crisis. ...

At a forum organized by Mr. Salas’ faculty at the Bolivarian University last month, speakers accused Mr. Perez and the reformers of trying to sabotage the Socialist revolution. “People like Perez Abad are sending the party bases to the dogs,” Carlos Lanz, a sociologist and supporter of Mr. Salas, said in a speech.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#294

Post by Addie » Thu Feb 18, 2016 6:37 pm

CNN
Venezuelans face a 6000% hike in gasoline price

For two decades, Venezuelans have paid just pennies at the pump.

But on Wednesday, President Nicolás Maduro announced that they'll soon be paying a lot more.

Before the announcement, a liter of high-quality gas in Venezuela cost about 10 centavos or one U.S. penny. Now it costs 6 bolivars or about 60 U.S. cents -- a 6000% price increase.

"That's an aggressive hike in fuel prices and it's still the cheapest in the world," says Edward Glossop, an economist at Capital Economics who covers Venezuela.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#295

Post by Addie » Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:03 am

AF-P
Venezuela’s Opposition Is Calling for Foreign Intervention in the Country’s Political Crisis

Venezuela’s opposition coalition decided Thursday to call on the Organization of American States to help resolve its power struggle with the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

The legislature invoked an article that allows the regional organization to launch initiatives for restoring democracy when an “unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime” threatens a member state’s order, according to Agence France-Press.

The opposition has been honing a strategy to oust President Maduro since it took control of the National Assembly in December, a landmark win against years of socialist rule that began under the late Hugo Chávez in 1999. But Venezuela’s Supreme Court has curtailed the opposition’s power.

Amid the political struggle, Venezuela is in the throws of a major economic crisis, fueled by failing oil prices and expensive social policies. The oil-rich nation’s economy shrunk 5.7% last year.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#296

Post by Addie » Mon Mar 07, 2016 1:33 pm

Reuters
Venezuela says investigating alleged killing of miners

Venezuelan authorities said on Sunday they were investigating the alleged killings of a group of miners in the jungle state of Bolivar, following reports they were gruesomely murdered in a fight for control of a gold deposit.

Citing people who reported witnessing the incident, family members and opposition politicians said a gang shot and dismembered with a chainsaw as many as 28 miners on Friday in a battle for the Atenas wildcat mine.

Families have blocked a main street in the nearby town of Tumeremo to seek information about the missing miners.

One man said his son and a friend were nearing the deposit on a motorbike when they were stopped at a checkpoint where he said gang members and men in security forces' uniforms were holding miners captive.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#297

Post by Addie » Thu Mar 17, 2016 10:16 am

Associated Press
17 miners killed in Venezuela were shot in head

Caracas - Venezuelan officials say all but one of 17 miners found dead in a mass grave near where they went missing had been shot in the head.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega said Wednesday that all were quickly identified and the bodies are being returned to family members.

Human rights groups are calling for a thorough investigation because witnesses reported the miners were detained by armed men wearing vests bearing police insignia.
Also:

Associated Press
Venezuela recovers remains of 17 missing miners


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#298

Post by Addie » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:19 pm

Associated Press
2 Policemen Killed, 4 Injured in Venezuela Street Protest

People demonstrating against a bus fare hike killed two police officers Tuesday in the restive western Venezuelan town of San Cristobal as informal protests sweep the troubled country.

The officers, aged 21 and 25, were killed by a bus hijacked and later abandoned by protesters in Tachira state, according to the Tachira police. Four other officers were seriously injured when masked protesters drove the hijacked bus through a police line, according to posts from the Tachira police Twitter account. ...

The country has seen an average of 17 small-scale protests a day so far this year, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, with a majority seeking to bring attention to the lack of basic services and food.

An anti-government protest at one of the city's largest universities continued into the afternoon, apparently unrelated to the protest that turned deadly in the morning.

The city is known for its frequent student demonstrations Protests in San Cristobal against the country's socialist administration two years ago helped spark a nationwide street protest movement. The town's mayor was imprisoned for his involvement.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#299

Post by Addie » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:25 am

NPR
In Venezuela, An Electricity Crisis Adds To Country's Woes ...

The government, which controls the electric system, accuses unnamed "enemies" — the political opposition — of allegedly attacking the country's thermoelectric plants. "We have to understand, this is a war," Luis Motta, the minister of electricity, declared in an interview on state TV. But independent analysts say government mismanagement and populist policies are to blame for the crisis. For example, Venezuelan households pay just pennies a month for electricity. "For me, if I want to do my monthly budget, I don't even care about electricity payment," says Caracas-based economist Carlos Alvarez. "It is nothing."

He says these rock-bottom rates starve the state electric company of money needed to upgrade the system. Now, with Venezuela's economy in a free fall, the cash-strapped government has more pressing concerns, he says.

"I would say for now [the] priority is food, medicine," Alvarez says. "People [are] dying because they don't have the medicine that they need. People [are in] lines to get some food."

Venezuela's power outages — which have been happening on and off for about five years but became worse this year owing to extremely low water levels in the main hydroelectric dam — are making daily life especially miserable. With no electricity, neighborhood water pumps stop working. To wash dishes and flush toilets, Elizabeth Castro, a nurse, stores water in buckets inside her apartment on the outskirts of Caracas.

The standing water provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes that spread malaria and Zika, a disease that has sickened Castro and several family members.


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Re: Venezuela, Post-Chavez

#300

Post by Addie » Mon Apr 25, 2016 7:56 am

Daily Beast
Inside The Tower of David, Venezuela’s Vertical Slum

The Torre David was supposed to be one of the tallest buildings in Venezuela. Instead, it became its most notorious slum.

The skyscraper, halted mid-construction in the early 1990s, was taken over by thousands of squatters in 2007. For years they turned the building into an informal community that was photographed, filmed and made famous worldwide as a “vertical slum.”

Today, emptied of its unsanctioned inhabitants, it once again stands vacant in the center of the Venezuelan capital, its future unclear. ...

By some estimates, roughly 5,000 people eventually occupied the Tower of David, building brick walls and rooms and fully outfitted homes within the empty shell of the buildings. Local services emerged, including shops, barbers and haulers willing to carry loads up the stairs to the tower’s higher floors. ...

But the tower is also a unique example of a new kind of informal community, a phenomenon explored in depth by the architecture firm Urban-Think Tank in a year-long investigation that suggested a series of interventions that would help make the tower a sustainable vertical community, and that its experimental nature could inform other slum developments around the world.


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