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Venezuela has adopted rather drastic and arbitrary exchange controls that, in the words of President Chavez, will punish his enemies and reward his friends! Much of the particular rules have yet to be spelled out, claims Miami-based lawyer Nino Lucio, partner at Lucio, Bronstein, Garbett, Stiphany & Allen. But the “enemies” of Chavez are taken to mean the international business community of Venezuela, adds Lucio. Many observers are assuming that the rules are intended to be applied arbitrarily, maybe through a “black list”. 

The proposed controls require an elaborate (eg, three years of audited financial statements) procedure to register in order to petition the central bank for the purchase of dollars. Supposedly, the black market in dollars is really taking off in Venezuela. 

Even if duly registered and approved, there are monetary limits on the amount of monthly purchases of dollars (around $1,300), even for the support of foreign-based students. Supposedly, Chavez is telling the Venezuelan people not to travel overseas as there are sufficient beautiful and cheaper sights available in Venezuela!

One business group has filed a challenge before the supreme court of Venezuela, whose independence Chavez has supposedly threatened. In addition, he has also threatened to confiscate private property (such as producers of corn meal) and to put curbs on the independent press. This is in addition to what he recently did in confiscating cola supplies, and so on. 

“This is headed for a major showdown, if that was not the case already!” adds Lucio.