EspañolCongressmen belonging to Venezuela‘s ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) have put forward differing proposals to halt the collapse of the bolívar — which has fallen in value by as much as 66 per cent within eight days — including a bid to make all Venezuelans dependent on a central government internet server, thus denying them access to unofficial exchange rates.
On Friday, May 22, National Assembly Member Juan Carlos Alemán reported that the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation is working on a project to end Venezuela’s reliance on “servers like Google or Firefox, which are outside of national control.”
Alemán‘s suggestion forms part of an ongoing battle by the administration of President Nicolás Maduro to block access to the widely used website Dólar Today, which posts daily updates of the black-market exchange rate. Government officials have cited the need to “defeat” DólarToday in order to “twist the arm” of the unofficial dollar exchange rate.
As Maduro has forbidden the publication of the unregulated price of the bolívar, DólarToday is blocked in Venezuela, but locals can circumvent the ban via Twitter — something the proposed bill could end.
Maduro has blamed the decline of Venezuela’s currency on an ongoing “economic war” with hostile business interests conspiring to bring down his government.
“The problem is that we are dependent on servers such as Google and Firefox, which are outside of national control,” Alemán explained. “We have recently launched two satellites into space … with this kind of technology, we will be independent and able to control these kinds of situations.”
On Monday, May 25, Congressman Germán Ferrer proposed to unify the country’s three-tiered currency system in order to “solve a series of distortions” in the market. His remarks underline serious disagreement within Maduro’s own party about how to confront the growing economic crisis facing Venezuela.
The Simadi regulated exchange rate, which Maduro introduced in February, is currently trading at 198.5 Bs. per US dollar. However, its availability depends on the ability of local currency exchanges to meet demand.
“There should only be one exchange rate, and that may start solving some distortion, until equilibrium is reached. It would also contribute to boosting national manufacturing power,” Ferrer argued.
“If this is not corrected it will be difficult to rein in outgoing smuggling,” he added, in reference to the traffic of contraband along the Colombian-Venezuelan border.
“According to the former CEO of [state-run oil firm] PDVSA Rafael Ramírez,” Ferrer noted, “the country loses over 100,000 barrels of gasoline every day” through smuggling, “which amounts to some US$4 billion, which is far from our economic ability to absorb.”
EspañolChile's Chamber of Deputies approved on Wednesday, May 20, a resolution asking President Michelle Bachelet to recall Chile's ambassador to Venezuela until the Nicolás Maduro administration frees its political prisoners. The lower house backed the motion with 66 votes in favor, 26 against, and 10 abstentions, calling on Ambassador Pedro Ramírez to be withdrawn "until the situation of the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma; opposition leader Leopoldo López, and in general all those imprisoned for political reasons is resolved." The approval of the petition comes after Bachelet refused on April 16 to meet with Lilian Tintori and Mitzy Capriles, the wives of López and Ledezma respectively, who were visiting Chile to try and generate support for their husbands. https://twitter.com/MariaCorinaYA/status/601146059029643264 "Chile's Parliament has asked to remove its ambassador in Venezuela due to the situation of political prisoners." The PanAm Post spoke with one of the 10 congressmen who presented the bill, Alejandro Santana, parliamentary leader of the opposition National Renewal party. Why did you decide to begin this project? We believe that Venezuela isn't respecting basic, constitutional rights, that ought to exist for any citizen, beginning with freedom. Events in Venezuela add up to there being a complete dictatorship for those that think differently; there's no freedom of speech, nor the right to voice political disagreement. It's not a country with which we want to have diplomatic relations. That's why we've voted for and approved a bill that echoes the criticism given by President Bachelet, so she takes steps in this direction. She also disagrees with the undemocratic practices against ordinary people in Venezuela and the opposition being carried out by President Maduro. We believe that there has to be democracy for the whole world, not only in certain countries. And in Venezuela, there's no democracy. This goes beyond a simple declaration... This goes beyond that. And Congress, specifically the Chamber of Deputies, has already spoken. And it did so with a majority, asking the president of the republic to take a position in favor of democracy. This is what we're hoping she'll do in the coming days, withdrawing the ambassador from Venezuela. According to your experience, what will the president's answer be? I hope the president doesn't get it wrong. We've already seen many mistakes over the past year. But I believe that this issue has a republic, democratic connotation; I hope she doesn't send out a signal that contradicts what the great majority of congressmen in this country are asking of her. Many of those that voted in favor are part of the government, they're parliamentarians from her [New Majority] coalition. The president isn't rising to the occasion on this issue, and that's why Congress has spoken out with this proposal. Why do you think no other country in the region has taken a similar stance? I'm not sure. There are several countries here that have succumbed to the far left like Nicolás Maduro. What we have to do as the independent, autonomous, and democratic country that Chile is, is send a clear message like the one we have just issued in the Chamber of Deputies. Translated by Laurie Blair.