Venezuela has announced a new currency auction mechanism in a bid to stabilise its forex operations, the fifth such plan in four years. As David Pollard reports, it may do little to quell the recent surge in unrest at the economic hardship faced by the Venezuelan people.
They're big denominations, but amid the shortages, worth little. Soaring inflation has eaten into what oil revenue Venezuela has after the slump in crude prices. This the official launch of a new mechanism to offer dollars for sale within a stable exchange rate band - to importers struggling to get hold of materials. But it is the fifth such scheme in four years, and unlikely to buy off those taking to the streets amid economic meltdown. Like these doctors and health workers. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR AT PROTEST, SAYING: "They prefer to spend money on bombs and not treat patients. That is what this government is about, a repressive government, a miserable government." President Maduro does have supporters. They gathered in Caracas on Tuesday to hear his latest pledge: to press ahead with plans to form a controversial 'constituent assembly'. It will rewrite the constitution before regional elections in December - a democratic answer to Venezuela's problems, he says. Though his detractors see a move, simply, to cling to power .... While at talks in Mexico, some of Venezuela's NAFTA trading partners see a gathering threat. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CANADIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, CHRYSTIA FREELAND, SAYING: "We have been working in very close partnership with our Mexican partners, also with Argentina, also with the Secretary General of the OAS (Luis Almagro). This is really a crisis situation which is causing great hardship for the people of Venezuela and also is a crisis for our hemisphere." Though it is still here that it's felt most. 55 dead in the last two months of anger. And after Maduro's new promise, the opposition warning of more violence ahead.