Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday shuffled his cabinet by naming a new economy czar to oversee the OPEC country's decaying populist system and a new oil minister to confront the economic difficulties caused by low oil prices. He also appointed a new vice-president, state governor Tarek El Aissami, a hard liner that could replace Maduro if he is forced to step down.
The Venezuelan military is selling food staples at up to 100 times the government-mandated costs in illegal marketplaces, according to an independent media investigation. The black markets are carried out at all levels of the military from foot soldiers on up to generals.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro reversed his decision to ban from circulation the 100-bolivar bill and gave the notes, which are worth between US$ 0.02 and 0.04 according to varying quotations, a two-week grace. The bills can now be used until January 2, Maduro said.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri said Friday that we have come from years of isolation and bad relations with almost all countries except Venezuela and Iran. He added that this year we have experienced a Copernican change in that sense.
Diosdado Cabello, considered one of the three most powerful persons in Venezuela called Argentine president Mauricio Macri a coward, described the Argentine ambassador in Caracas as an enemy and suggested that if he had any dignity left he should pack his suitcase and leave Venezuela.
The government of President Nicolas Maduro government closed the border with Brazil for 72 hours for the same reason it had taken the same measure with Colombia: money smuggling, Brazilian local authorities and residents of southern Venezuela who routinely cross to Brazil where they can make transactions in bolivars confirmed.
Argentina's priority as chair of Mercosur which it will officially take over this week will be to advance negotiations with the European Union for a wide ranging trade agreement which will not include Venezuela, anticipated foreign minister Susana Malcorra .
During a commemorative assembly marking the fourth anniversary of the day the late Hugo Chavez picked him as his successor, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called for a powerful civilian and military mobilization next December 17 to make a anti-coup test in view of the alleged threats from imperialism and national oligarchy.
Brazil and Argentina foreign ministers agreed on Thursday in Brasilia that Mercosur must open to the world and expand its trade horizons, but it will have to be done without Venezuela which has been currently ceased from the block. Jose Serra and Susana Malcorra coincided that Mercosur must speed the trade agreement with the European Union taking advantage of the fact US elected-president Donald Trump has pledged to limit such treaties.
The founding Mercosur countries Friday suspended Venezuela from full membership of the free-trade bloc in view of its failure to adjust its domestic regulations to economic agreements and human rights and immigration guidelines and principles that are mandatory to all the other members.