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REDACTED Page 174 of 190 has increased under Maduro’s regime As described in the background section, Venezuela’s economic situation has been worsening during the last years. As of 2015, the country is facing huge scarcities caused mainly by the decrease in the oil prices which reduces the public and private sector’s ability to import foreign goods.765 Faced with this situation, senior officials of the GoV pursuant to the state policy accused certain private entrepreneurs accused of being as right-wing capitalists, neoliberals, oligarchs and bourgeois766 and of starting an “economic war” to “reduce or limit the offer of essential massive products” to generate scarcity and harm the GoV in alliance with the political opposition. 767 The need to fight this “economic war” has been emphasized in several GoV’s communications media.768 On January 27 2015, President Maduro created the “Joint Chiefs of Economic Battle” leaded by Ernesto Villegas, a civilian and Fabio Zabarce Pavón, a military officer. The new institution was staffed in all the Venezuelan states in order to “lead the battle for the prosperity, the supplying, and the economic upturn for all the Venezuelan.”769 The “Joint Chiefs” –Maduro explained- would work in collaboration with the Ministers, in special with Carlos Osorio and Elías Jaua, Ministers of Communes and Social Movements respectively. 765 THE ECONOMIST. (2015) Empty shelves and rhetoric. The Economist. [Online] 22 January. Available from: solutions-mounting-economic-crisis-empty-shelves-and-rhetoric [Accessed 26 October, 2015]; FLANNERY, N.P. (2015) How Bad Is Venezuela's Economic Chaos? Forbes. [Online] 18 February. Available from: economic-crisis-hurts-u-s-companies/ [Accessed 26 October, 2015]; FEDECAMARAS. (2014) Las erradas políticas económicas son las verdaderas causas de la escasez y de la inflación. Fedecamaras. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 26 October, 2015] 766 NOTICIAS BARQUISIMETO. (2015) Maduro: “La Guerra Económica atenta contra la vida de los venezolanos.” Noticias Barquisimeto. [Online] 24 July. Available from: la-vida-de-los-venezolanos/ [Accessed 26 October, 2015] 767 The shortages are deliberately caused primarily by opposition sectors and private enterprises in order to cause destablization. TELESUR. (2015) The Truth Behind Shortages in Venezuela; and VTV. (2014) Claves para entender la “guerra económica” en Venezuela; EL UNIVERSAL. (2015) Maduro: La inversión social es la forma de combatir la guerra económica. El Universal. [Online] 30 May. Available from: es-la-forma-de-combatir-la-guerra-economica [Accessed 27 October, 2015] 768 MV. (2015) Guerra Económica; TELESUR. (2015) Claves: Quiénes están detrás del acaparamiento en Venezuela? 769 AVN. (2015) Ernesto Villegas es designado Jefe del Estado Mayor de la Batalla Económica en Caracas. Agencia Venezolana de Noticias. [Online] 27 January. Available from: econ%C3%B3mica-caracas [Accessed 27 October, 2015] On January 272015, President Maduro created the “Joint Chiefs of Economic Battle”

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