CARACAS – The Venezuelan opposition asked the Nicolas Maduro government on Sunday to refinance the country’s foreign debt to prevent the public from being hurt by a cutback in already-scarce imports that would otherwise be necessary to pay the $3.5 billion debt load coming due in October and November.
“It’s a proposal we’re making today so that ... the debt can be refinanced and Venezuelans will not be hurt” said the head of the opposition-controlled Parliament, Julio Borges, at a press conference.
The Caracas government must meet its financial obligations in the coming weeks to avoid going into default to its foreign creditors. According to some experts, the government has been accumulating funds to pay private importers of food and other products, but is already up to two weeks behind on $587 million due on its international bonds.
Since 2002, the state has had the legal monopoly on currency exchange but Venezuelan businessmen have complained that they have not received a single dollar from the state since August.
Borges called for “refinancing the debt so that there can be money for food” along with a thorough reform of the economy to contribute “to the wellbeing of Venezuelans.”
The opposition leader also demanded the opening of a humanitarian channel for the entry of foods and medicines that some countries have offered to Caracas and to which, to date, the Venezuelan government has not agreed.
“The ball is in the government’s court. The government has to show that the hunger and the needs of our people are important to it,” said Borges.