Puebla, Mexico, April 27, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan government announced plans Thursday to provide financial relief to more than 50 small stores and other businesses hit by vandalism and looting.
Seven and a half billion bolivares (US$10.5 million at SIMADI government rate) in relief funding has already been approved, according to Miguel Perez, the head of the state owned Banco Bicentenario. He said an additional BsF50 billion (US$70 million) will be authorised in the coming days for businesses impacted by anti-government violence.
“We have registered more than 55 businesses that have been burned, looted or vandalised,” he said, according to state news agency AVN.
Speaking to state broadcaster VTV, he emphasised aid will be provided to as many business owners as possible, and rejected speculation the funds will only be handed to government loyalists. Instead, he argued the majority of businesses that are set to receive the first round of aid are mostly known opposition supporters.
“When the [business owners] participate in the meetings [with the government] there are people who are very moved, distressed, afraid,” he said.
“They are very insecure right now,” he added.
In recent weeks Venezuela has been hit by a wave of anti-government protests demanding that the government stand down. Many of the protests have turned violent, while riots have also take place in some parts of the country. Last week, at least 10 people died in one riot in Caracas. Most of the deaths were caused by accidental electrocution, while looters stormed around 20 stores in the San Andres neighbourhood.
Meanwhile this week, pro-government rallies have become the targets of anti-government groups. In the western state of Merida, two government supporters were gunned down by snipers, while in Miranda state a local socialist party leader was assassinated by four unidentified men over the weekend.