Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro promised to pay back billions of dollars in government debt to disgruntled importers, after widespread shortages of basic goods helped fuel months of deadly anti-government protests. “We are going to immediately pay back 30 percent of (the total hard currency owed to importers) as a way to move forward on these commitments,” Maduro told a gathering of business leaders. Venezuela — which sits atop the world’s largest proven crude oil reserves — has Latin America’s highest inflation rate — 57 percent. Maduro’s heavily state-led government inherited from late leader Hugo Chavez a decade-old system of hard currency controls.
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