By Steve Ellner - New Left Project , May 22nd 2015
Academic Steve Ellner explores the current political and economic juncture in Venezuela, linking its current difficulties to the tendency to pursue both pragmatic and populist strategies and the failure of the government in certain cases to take advantage of its triumphs over the opposition in order to launch a revolutionary offensive.
The Venezuelan Central Bank has announced the creation of a new currency exchange entity known as SIMADI, which will allow dollars to be sold and purchased legally according to “market rates”. The new mechanism will operate alongside SICAD I and SICAD II, which will continue to sell dollars at an exchange rate set by the government.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro made a point of downplaying his foreign exchange reforms last Wednesday, and good thing he did. The reforms are bound to do little to curb Venezuela's economic problems, despite the fact that genuine changes to the exchange system are urgently needed.
Most people think that the Venezuelan economy is a basket case on the verge of collapse, and that has been a widespread belief for most of the last decade. But the South American nation has only run into serious trouble in the past two years.
These last two weeks have attested to a process of assuming positions in economic policy. The decisions that the government is taking on economic questions are the result of a calculation in the scenario of political and social confrontation.
Today members of the government held a press conference to inform the public about the new system for buying foreign currency. Called the Complimentary System of Foreign Currency Acquirement (Sicad), interim president Nicolas Maduro said it aims to “overcome the parallel market”.