Venezuela: opposition calls for strike against Maduro's reforms

Margarita left her four children behind in Caracas to earn money in Venezuela

Margarita left her four children behind in Caracas to earn money in Venezuela

Opposition leaders are seizing on tension among residents, calling for a nationwide strike and protest on Tuesday.

Like Erdogan in Turkey, Maduro has blamed his country's economic woes on Washington, which has imposed crippling sanctions on the South American nation.

"The next few days will be very confusing both for consumers and the private sector", said Asdrubal Oliveros, director of Caracas-based think tank Ecoanalitica, which is highly critical of the government. The largest bill under the outgoing cash system was the 100,000-bolivar note, equal to less than 3 cents on the commonly used black market exchange rate.

It's one of several steps the country is taking to curb runaway inflation, which is likely to top 1 million percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. In addition, corporate tax rates will go up, as will the minimum wage.

The presidential plan provides for a 34-fold increase in the minimum wage, indexed to the value of petro, the Venezuelan cryptocurrency with which the government intends to circumvent the lack of liquidity and financial sanctions of the United States.

The embattled Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, said the country needed to show "fiscal discipline" and stop the excessive money printing of recent years.

His government pushed back Saturday against criticism of the economic reform plan.

Oil production accounts for 96% of Venezuela's revenue - but that has slumped to a 30-year low of 1.4-million barrels a day, compared with its record high of 3.2-million 10 years ago.

China 'shifts to Iranian tankers to keep oil flowing'
The September contract CLc1 expired on Tuesday and settled 92 cents higher to $67.35 a barrel. A Chinese delegation is due in Washington this week to try to resolve the dispute, but U.S.

Venezuelans have grown accustomed to ambitious economic announcements that fall flat and Maduro's long televised address Friday night was short on details.

But there's a good reason the redenomination hasn't generated renewed hope or investor confidence: Venezuela has done this before.

Oliveros warned that the new bank notes will crumble "within a few months" if hyperinflation is not brought under control. It also prohibited dealing in Venezuelan digital currencies.

Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez stripped three zeroes off the bolivar in 2008, but that failed to prevent hyperinflation.

"Nicolas Maduro and his regime have driven a once-prosperous country to economic ruin and humanitarian crisis", Pence said.

ConocoPhillips seized $750 million of PDVSA assets in May after winning two worldwide arbitration cases against Venezuela for the "unlawful and uncompensated expropriation" of its heavy crude oil projects in the country by Chavez in 2007.

Subsidies would only be available to citizens registering their vehicles for a "fatherland card" - which the opposition has decried as a mechanism to exert social control over opponents.

More details on the terms of the move will be given Sunday, they said.

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