Venezuela's president denies currency devaluation rumor
CARACAS, June 5
CARACAS, June 5 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denied on Wednesday rumors that he was preparing another adjustment of the local bolivar currency, which has been devalued five times in the last decade.
"The sources of this rumor are the stupid people in the corrupt, fascist right wing," the socialist leader said, when asked by a state TV journalist about talk in Venezuelan media and economic circles of another imminent devaluation.
"Let foolish words fall on deaf ears! ... What's coming is the strengthening of Venezuela's currency, the strengthening of the economy," he added in a meeting to launch a youth project.
Maduro, who won an April election to replace his former boss and mentor Hugo Chavez, has inherited a deteriorating economic panorama in the South American OPEC nation.
Growth slowed sharply to just 0.7 percent in the first quarter, monthly inflation hit a three-year high in April, businesses are struggling to access dollars, and shortages of basic products from milk to toilet paper are creating anxiety.
In February, Venezuela devalued the government's fixed rate of bolivar by 32 percent to 6.3 per dollar under currency controls Chavez created in 2003. But the bolivar trades at four times that on the black market, and some economists believe another devaluation is inevitable.
Maduro says unscrupulous businessmen are combining with his political opponents to stoke an "economic war" against his government. He won the presidency by a narrow 1.5 percentage points, but the opposition says he stole the vote by fraud.
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