• Venezuela’s Maduro vows economic change if re-elected

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says that if he is re-elected in the presidential vote next week, he will transform Venezuela’s economy, which has been in a state of near collapse during his presidency.

The leftist president, who stands accused of being responsible for the country’s acute economic crisis, said in a rally on Tuesday that the country “needs big economic changes and we are going to do it ourselves.”

“If you give me your power on May 20 (the day of the election), I swear... to you with my life that I will dedicate myself to making all the economic changes that Venezuela needs for rebirth,” he said.

The oil-rich country, which has a quintuple-digit annual inflation rate, suffers from severe food and medicine shortages, the return of once-controlled diseases, and mass emigration.

The opposition blames Mauro for the economic crisis, but he blames the dire situation on an “economic war” that he says is waged by the United States. He has vowed to end the “war” if re-elected.

Maduro also accuses the opposition of being incited by the US to topple his socialist government.

Earlier, an independent economic expert calculated an unofficial inflation rate of almost 18,000 percent for Venezuela, exceeding a prediction by the International Monetary Fund of almost 14,000 percent.

Meanwhile, the president’s main rival, Henri Falcon — a one-time government supporter — is struggling to attract voters by proposing to open the economically-wrecked country to immediate emergency foreign aid.

“Which would you prefer to have: two petros or two dollars?” Falcon asked people during an election rally in a poor neighborhood in Caracas on Monday.

Petro is a cryptocurrency that the Maduro government has introduced and pitched as crucial to bypassing international sanctions imposed over alleged human rights violations.

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May 16, 2018 12:12 UTC
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