- Title: Maduro gives annual speech, presenting message to nation, looking back at 2016
- Date: 15th January 2017
- Summary: VARIOUS OF MADURO AND FLORES AND JUSTICES FROM THE SUPREME COURT LISTENING TO SINGING AT THE BEGINNING OF CEREMONY
- Embargoed: 29th January 2017 19:51
- Keywords: Nicolas Maduro crisis National Assembly
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0025Z6Y7GN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave his annual message to Venezuela on Sunday (January 15), choosing to deliver the speech at the Supreme Court instead of the traditional, opposition-led National Assembly.
The country's constitution requires the President to give the address at the National Assembly, but President of the Supreme Court, Gladys Gutierrez, said the change of venue had been decided due to the "disrespect" of the Assembly.
"I have come before the Sovereign Supreme Court of Justice to fulfill its mandates and orders and to present this annual message, this report and account for the year 2016. I am presenting it here, given the exceptional circumstance of a National Assembly in the hands of the oligarchy risking the life of the Republic in a situation of contempt, legislating in a void outside of the Constitution," Maduro said as he began his speech.
"Nothing and no one was going to prevent me from fulfilling my obligation to render accounts to the country, an obligation that is primarily ethical. I owe it to the people of Venezuela and go wherever it is necessary to speak in the same way I am governing the country, through the will of our people. Today I come in the exercise of my rights and constitutional duties and to abide by the order of the Court of Justice and to obey their obligations as one more citizen," he added.
Maduro went on to address the struggling economy during his speech. Venezuela's hard currency income fell 60 percent in 2016 compared with the previous year, he said, blaming low oil prices.
The country with the world's largest crude reserves receives over 90 percent of its foreign income from oil, whose price has fallen since mid-2014, worsening a recession in the OPEC country.
Venezuelans are struggling amid shortages of basic food products, spiraling inflation and a depreciating currency that has dragged down monthly minimum wages to below $10, and violent crime.
The unpopular socialist Maduro praised Venezuelans for their "courage" last year.
The opposition spent much of 2016 pushing for a recall referendum to remove him, but authorities quashed chances of a vote at the end of the year. Polls suggest Maduro would have lost such a referendum, which would have triggered early elections to replace him.
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