Venezuela confirmed on Tuesday it had entered a recession while inflation remained the highest in the Americas, but President Nicolas Maduro's populist government blamed political foes for the dismal data. According to the latest Central bank information, GDP contracted in each of the first three quarters: 4.8%, 4.9% and 2.3%, while twelve-month inflation reached 63.6% in November.
Maduro, 52, won election last year to replace his mentor Hugo Chavez and has consistently blamed political opponents, who protested in the streets for four months this year, for damaging the oil-dependent economy.
Those protests resulted in violence that killed 43 people, including protesters, security officials and Maduro backers.
These actions against public order blocked the correct distribution of basic goods to the population, as well as the normal development of production of goods and services, the central bank statement said.
This resulted in an inflationary spike and a fall in economic activity.
Venezuela, whose last recession was from 2009-2010, may struggle to turn around its economy given the plunge in oil prices. Venezuelan crude has dropped to 48 dollars per barrel, compared with 96 mid-year.
Opponents say Venezuela's economic crisis is a consequence of 15 years of populist policies, begun by Chavez, who ruled from 1999 to 2013 before dying of cancer.
With one day of the year left, they publish the September, October and November figures. The highest in the world. Economic efficiency Nicolas! Wonderful, scoffed opposition leader Henrique Capriles via Twitter.
Venezuela had not published inflation data since August. Inflation in September was up 4.8%, October 5% and November 4.7%, compared with the same months of 2013, the bank said in its statement.
The bank said Venezuela's balance of payments posted a surplus of 6.8 billion by the end of the third quarter, with a current account surplus of 899 million, and the capital account showing a deficit of 568 million.
Venezuelan exports, of which oil accounts for more than 90%, fell 14.2% to 19 billion dollars in the third quarter, while imports were down slightly, by 1.4%, to 12.2 billion in the same period, the bank said.