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Venezuela's Maduro to announce economic measures as new term starts

World News
Mon, 14 Jan 2019
Reuters


Caracas- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was set to announce new economic measures on Monday after starting a disputed second term in office last week, although economists expectfew major changes as the country grapples with a devastating economic crisis.

The leftist president, sworn in for a six-year term on Jan. 10, has faced growing international sanctions since winning re-election last May in a vote widely considered fraudulent. This has cut Venezuela off from foreign financing and left his government with few friends abroad.

Maduro said last week he planned new economic measures but has not given any details of what he will announce on Monday. The president is expected to speak at around 11 a.m. ET (1600 GMT) before an all-powerful legislature called the Constituent Assembly to present his plan.

Critics in the United States and Latin America, as well as political opponents at home, have called Maduro a dictator whose failed state-led policies have caused Venezuela's worst ever economic crisis. Maduro counters that he is a victim of a U.S.-led "economic war" aimed at ousting him from power.

The size of the economy has halved during five years of recession, annual inflation is nearly 2 million percent, and widespread shortages of food and medicine have spurred three million Venezuelans to emigrate since 2015.

In August, Maduro's government introduced several economic measures to try to tackle the crisis, devaluing the bolivar currency and lifting the minimum wage and taxes. But economists say the measures were too limited to have a significant impact.

As Maduro's second term got underway, the leader of the country's opposition-led Congress, Juan Guaido, said last week he was willing to replace Maduro with the support of the military. Several government officials have said Guaido should be arrested for treason and on Sunday he was briefly detained by intelligence agents. (Reporting by Vivian Sequera Writing by Angus Berwick Editing by Frances Kerry)