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Venezuela president extends economic emergency


Caracas : Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has decreed a two-month extension on emergency powers meant to help shore up the country’s crippled economy.

The presidential decree, published in an official gazette released yesterday, is meant to “protect Venezuelans from economic warfare,” it says, and expands the socialist government’s powers.

Maduro regularly blames US and local business interests for what his administration sees as a “national and international boycott of Venezuela” amid low oil prices. Caracas depends overwhelmingly on oil revenue.

The opposition-controlled National Assembly previously struck down the emergency measure, which then was upheld by the Supreme Court in January.

Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz was expected to address lawmakers to explain the move later yesterday.

Venezuela has the biggest known oil reserves in the world but has suffered from the plunge in world oil prices since mid-2014.

The official inflation rate topped 180 percent in 2015 — one of the highest in the world. Non-government economists estimate the real rate is several times higher.

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