http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/...n-backed-talks-venezuela-161031063813013.htmlMembers of Venezuela's opposition have met the government for talks as President Nicolas Maduro seeks to fend off calls for his removal.
Maduro launched the talks on Sunday night at a museum in western Caracas, held in the presence of mediators from the Vatican and former presidents of Spain, Panama and the Dominican Republic.
Some of Maduro's rivals fear they could be a stalling tactic designed to ease pressure on the unpopular socialist leader, who many Venezuelans blame for triple-digit inflation and widespread food and medicine shortages.
Fifteen parties belonging to the Democratic Unity opposition alliance boycotted the talks, saying they were not prepared to sit across from the government until it released several jailed opposition activists and reversed its decision to cancel a constitutionally allowed recall referendum against Maduro.
"For an eventual dialogue to take place it has to be very clear from the outset that the aim is agreeing on the terms of a democratic transition in the remainder of 2016," the parties said in a statement.
Last week the opposition alliance rallied tens of thousands of supporters across the country and another protest has been called for Thursday for which the opposition is pledging to march to the presidential palace.
More: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...piles-of-cash-venezuelans-start-weighing-themAt a delicatessen counter in eastern Caracas, Humberto Gonzalez removes slices of salty white cheese from his scale and replaces them with a stack of bolivar notes handed over by his customer. The currency is so devalued and each purchase requires so many bills that instead of counting, he weighs them.
“It’s sad," Gonzalez says. "At this point, I think the cheese is worth more.”
It’s also one of the clearest signs yet that hyperinflation could be taking hold in a country that refuses to publish consumer-price data on a regular basis. Cash-weighing isn’t seen everywhere but is increasing, echoing scenes from some of the past century’s most-chaotic hyperinflation episodes: Post-World War I Germany, Yugoslavia in the 1990s and Zimbabwe a decade ago.
“When they start weighing cash, it’s a sign of runaway inflation,” said Jesus Casique, financial director of Capital Market Finance, a consulting firm. “But Venezuelans don’t know just how bad it is because the government refuses to publish figures.”
More: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-economy-idUSKBN140115Venezuela, mired in an economic crisis and facing the world's highest inflation, will pull its largest bill, worth two U.S. cents on the black market, from circulation this week ahead of introducing new higher-value notes, President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday.
The surprise move, announced by Maduro during an hours-long speech, is likely to worsen a cash crunch in Venezuela. Maduro said the 100-bolivar bill will be taken out of circulation on Wednesday and Venezuelans will have 10 days after that to exchange those notes at the central bank.
Critics slammed the move, which Maduro said was needed to combat contraband of the bills at the volatile Colombia-Venezuela border, as economically nonsensical, adding there would be no way to swap all the 100-bolivar bills in circulation in the time the president has allotted.
Central bank data showed that in November, there were more than six billion 100-bolivar bills in circulation, 48 percent of all bills and coins. Authorities on Thursday are due to start releasing six new notes and three new coins, the largest of which will be worth 20,000 bolivars, less than $5 on the streets.
As AP reports, President Nicolas Maduro on Monday ordered the closure of Venezuela's border with Colombia for 72 hours in a crackdown on currency smuggling by what he has called "mafias" trying to destabilize the socialist-run economy.
Venezuelans rushed to spend their 100-bolivar notes Monday, before the government's Wednesday deadline for taking the note out of circulation, and there also were logistical concerns about how authorities would remove the more than 6 billion 100-bolivar bills in circulation, and whether replacement bills were ready. Furthermore, as Bloomberg notes, according to a report by Torino Capital, a New York investment bank, the 100-bolivar notes account for more than three quarters of Venezuela’s cash outstanding and 11 percent of the nation’s money supply, making Maduro’s decree a difficult task for a nation in the throes of an economic crisis.
An estimated third of Venezuelans have no bank account and keep their savings in the soon-to-be-worthless bills. Venezuelans are in open revolt... (as Reuters reports)...Luis Volcanes, 36, had for six weeks withdrawn cash every day but on Monday ran around with a big brown envelope trying to deposit that same money, only to find cash machines at four banks in a row were not working.
"This seems crazy, like the government did this on a whim. I don't know what I'm going to do," Volcanes said as people trickled in and out of a bank in Caracas, complaining none of the machines worked.
One man unable to deposit money yelled, "This is total chaos!"
At least one shop owner threw his hands up in frustration.
Lucio Colombo, 47, who sells gifts and snacks in Caracas' wealthy Chacao district, has asked clients to pay in cash for the last two weeks because his credit card reader no longer works.
"So how do I get paid now?" he asked. "I was thinking of bringing my laptop so people can pay me by transfer - or I could just go on holiday. They are forcing me to stop working."
Just look at Venezuela, the country with the highest inflation rate in the world. The socialist nation has experienced a swift fall in oil prices, throwing the entire economy into turmoil. Experts say that Venezuelan inflation could go as high as 1,600%, leaving many people without basic necessities.
A 100 bolivar note—once the highest denomination offered in Venezuela—is now worth roughly about 2 cents. The country is printing higher-denomination notes so citizens don’t have to bring bags and bags of cash for transactions in stores, but this doesn’t solve the issue of poverty.
With the Venezuelan bolivar essentially worthless and supplies rapidly running out, Bitcoin is rising as an answer. According to Bitcoin brokerage Surbitcoin.com, the number of Venezuelan users skyrocketed, from 450 in August 2014 to more than 85,000 in November 2016.
http://www.wsoctv.com/news/national...ms-21st-victim-as-new-protests-loom/515571106Protesters sprawled in lawn chairs, worked on math homework and played cards on main roads around Venezuela's cities Monday, joining in sit-ins to disrupt traffic as the latest slap at the socialist government.
Thousands shut down the main highway in Caracas to express their anger with the increasingly embattled administration of President Nicolas Maduro. They turned the road into a kind of public plaza, with protesters settling in for picnics, reading books and reclining under umbrellas they brought to protect against the blazing Caribbean sun.
In the provinces, protests turned deadly. The public prosecutor announced that 54-year-old Renzo Rodriguez was killed by a gunshot to the chest Monday at a protest in the plains state of Barinas. In the mountain town of Merida, state worker Jesus Sulbaran was fatally shot in the neck at a pro-government rally. In addition, five people were injured at the Merida protest, Venezuela ombudsman Tarek William Saab said.
The two killings raised to 23 the number of deaths linked to unrest that began almost a month ago over the Supreme Court's decision to gut the opposition-controlled congress of its powers.
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-idUSKBN17Q1KOGunmen killed two more people during political unrest in Venezuela on Monday, bringing the total number of deaths to 12 this month, as anti-government protests entered a fourth week with mass "sit-ins" to press for early elections.
This month's turbulence is Venezuela's worst since 2014 when 43 people died in months of mayhem sparked by protests against Maduro, the 54-year-old successor to late leader Hugo Chavez.
https://www.yahoo.com/news/venezuela-opposition-start-two-day-anti-maduro-shutdown-050716978.htmlPresident Nicolas Maduro's adversaries launched a two-day national strike on Wednesday in a final push to pressure him into abandoning a weekend election for a super-congress they say will institutionalize autocracy in Venezuela.
The election result was never in doubt.
How the opposition politicians, the street fighters and Venezuela's security services react will determine whether or not the death toll rockets in the coming days.
The omens are not good.
Weeks of confrontation, flats raided and set on fire by the police, shootings of unarmed civilians, Molotov cocktails and roadside bombs, injured police, armed pro-government militias roaming the streets at night and now the military deployed. It's the stuff of nightmares.
The anti-government protesters had been calling the election day "D-Day" for a week and they are promising it is just the start.
Every announcement from the government on moves to change the constitution or the law will be met with yet further street protests.
Despite international condemnation and internal unrest, the government is ploughing on with its agenda of taking total control; and it is difficult to see what the opposition or its opposition-controlled parliament can do about it.
The new assembly, however illegitimate, is a higher body and the courts loaded with Maduro judges will support it.
With the more militant elements of the opposition already frustrated by what they see as inertia from their political leaders it seems likely that things really are going to get much worse.
http://www.france24.com/en/20170804-venezuelas-currency-crumbles-dizzying-speedVenezuela's money, the bolivar, is sinking faster and faster under an intensifying political and economic crisis that has left citizens destitute and increasingly desperate.
Its depreciation accelerated this week, after a disputed vote electing an all-powerful "Constituent Assembly" filled with allies of President Nicolas Maduro, which the opposition and dozens of countries have called illegitimate.
On Thursday alone, the bolivar slumped nearly 15 percent on the black market, to be worth 17,000 to one US dollar.
In a year, the currency has lost 94 percent.
The government has sought to monopolize dollars in the country through strict currency controls that have been in place for the past 14 years. Access to them have become restricted for the private sector, with the consequence that food, medicines and basic items -- all imported -- have become scarce.
According to the International Monetary Fund, inflation in Venezuela is expected to soar above 700 percent this year.
In June, Maduro tried to clamp down on the black market trade in dollars through auctions of greenbacks at the weekly fixed rate, known as Dicom. There is also another official rate, of 10 bolivars per dollar, reserved for food and medicine imports.
The horizon is darkened further with big debt repayments Venezuela has to make, for instance $3.4 billion the state oil company PDVSA has to reimburse in October. That debt is denominated in dollars.