Venezuela’s Oil Production Is Collapsing

Venezuela’s Oil Production Is Collapsing

CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuela’s oil output is collapsing at an accelerating pace, deepening an economic and humanitarian crisis and increasing the chances the country will default on its debts.

Production fell 216,000 barrels a day to 1.6 million in December compared to November, the 15th consecutive monthly decline, according to data released Thursday by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. …

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SEBIN enforcers fundamental to Maduro’s toolkit of repression

SEBIN enforcers fundamental to Maduro’s toolkit of repression

Tyrannical regimes generally employ repressive domestic intelligence directorates to keep the opposition at bay. In Venezuela, the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional — SEBIN), under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Popular Power for the Interior, Justice and Peace, is President Nicolás Maduro’s preferred tool of repression.

Established in 1969 and known until 2009 as the National Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services, the SEBIN, technically, is to Venezuela what the FBI is to the United States. ...  

Peru family drama threatens South America’s success story

Peru family drama threatens South America’s success story

Few countries in the world have recently had as many reasons to celebrate as Peru.

First, its national football squad qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 36 years. And then it was announced that the team’s star player, Pablo Guerrero, would be allowed to play after a doping ban against him was lifted.

Later this week, this fervently Catholic nation will welcome Pope Francis for the first time since he became pontiff. …

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EU likely to hit Venezuelan officials with sanctions -diplomats

EU likely to hit Venezuelan officials with sanctions -diplomats

BRUSSELS, Jan 17 (Reuters) – EU governments are set to agree sanctions on seven Venezuelans close to the government of President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday, two EU diplomats said, in the bloc’s firmest response yet to the South American nation’s political crisis.

Those likely to be hit with travel bans and asset freezes include the head of the Bolivarian National Guard, the country’s interior minister, the national intelligence director and the president of the supreme court, the diplomats told Reuters. …

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In 2018, Chavismo’s Time May Finally Run Out

In 2018, Chavismo’s Time May Finally Run Out

By José R. Cárdenas

January 16, 2018

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s embattled regime ended a tumultuous 2017 by having to suppress renewed food riots resulting from the government’s failure to import sufficient supplies of pork leg, a traditional holiday staple. In one disturbance, a pregnant woman was shot dead by security forces on Christmas Eve.

Yet if 2017 ended poorly for Venezuela, 2018 is shaping up to be even worse.

Already, there have been new outbreaks of looting in the face of rampant shortages ...  

Venezuela president orders two bishops probed for hate crimes

Venezuela president orders two bishops probed for hate crimes

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for an investigation into Catholic priests he says have made comments critical of the government.

Maduro said in an address Monday that church officials may have committed hate crimes, an accusation he frequently levels at government critics.

He called on the pro-government chief prosecutor and Supreme Court to investigate. …

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Venezuela: A country in meltdown

Venezuela: A country in meltdown

Venezuela’s inflation rate is already the highest in the world but is set for a new record. Even in the capital, people are struggling to afford basic goods and services on incomes once regarded as more than adequate.

Venezuela, a country of 30 million people, sits on the world’s largest oil reserves but has been suffering a massive economic downturn since global crude prices fell dramatically three years ago.

The government has not published inflation data for more than a year. But ...  

Dirty gold is the new cocaine in Colombia — and it’s just as bloody

Dirty gold is the new cocaine in Colombia — and it’s just as bloody

The Black Hawk helicopters roared over a remote jungle in southwestern Colombia, ignoring the patchwork of emerald-colored coca fields that seemed to make easy targets.

Instead, they homed in on a yellow backhoe, far from the nearest village or road, tearing into a riverbank searching for a metal that has inspired dreamers and criminals since the Spanish quest for El Dorado: gold.

As the choppers hovered over the muddy clearing, heavily armed police, bristling with grenades, body armor and automatic rifles, rushed ...  

Cuban economy ever more opaque as data omitted from 2016 accounts

Cuban economy ever more opaque as data omitted from 2016 accounts

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba has not provided a detailed breakdown of key economic activity in its annual statistical abstract for the first time this century, leaving would-be investors more in the dark than usual about the Communist-run economy.

The abstract for 2016, published online in June and July by the National Statistics Office, omitted a chapter that usually provides specifics on gross domestic product, exports and money supply as well as data on debt. Those details are sometimes provided a few ...  

Getting away with murder: It’s time to hold Iran accountable

Getting away with murder: It’s time to hold Iran accountable

Trump administration hostility to Iran takes many forms, many of them with unintended consequences.

The White House has given carte blanche to Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, though the fighting has failed to quash the rebellion and brought about a humanitarian nightmare. There was no protest from President Trump when the Saudis held Lebanon’s prime minister to protest Iranian influence in Beirut. Trump, meanwhile, is threatening to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal, over the objections of all ...  

Colombian rebels attack oil pipelines hours after ceasefire expires

Colombian rebels attack oil pipelines hours after ceasefire expires

Colombia’s Marxist ELN rebels have resumed attacks on oil installations and the armed forces, threatening the future of peace talks just hours after the expiration of a ceasefire agreement with the government.

The talks in Quito, Ecuador, had been scheduled to restart on Wednesday after a recess between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the government of center-right President Juan Manuel Santos.

Santos said he ordered his chief negotiator back to Bogotá after the attacks, however, to weigh the future of a ...  

Julian Assange’s stay in London embassy untenable, says Ecuador

Julian Assange’s stay in London embassy untenable, says Ecuador

Ecuador’s foreign minister has said Julian Assange’s five-and-a-half-year stay in her country’s London embassy is “untenable” and should be ended through international mediation.

The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in Knightsbridge since the summer of 2012, when he faced the prospect of extradition to Sweden over claims that he sexually assaulted two women. He denies the accusations. …

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Bachelet’s trip to Cuba was shameful, and a blow to Latin America’s democratic left

Bachelet’s trip to Cuba was shameful, and a blow to Latin America’s democratic left

Outgoing Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s visit to Cuba earlier this week was a disgrace to her legacy as a democratic leader. But what’s worse, it was a huge blow to the remnants of a democratic, human rights-conscious and globalized left in Latin America.

For decades, Chile’s moderate leftist governments have been a model for Latin America’s democratic left. Moderate left-of-center politicians across the region cited Chile as an example of a country that succeeded in reducing poverty on a long-term basis ...  

Brazil Oil Firm Petrobras Slowly Rising From Pits Of Hell

Brazil Oil Firm Petrobras Slowly Rising From Pits Of Hell

Brazil’s beat-up oil firm Petrobras is slowly rising from its self-created pit of hell.

Yes, its rear-end is still ablaze, and this is a fairly weak country with loads of political strife to drag it back down. But the bad news has got to be fully baked in now. (Nobody ever really knows for sure.) The worse case scenarios are largely out of Brazil’s control. But the one domestic matter likely to push Petrobras shares back under $10 — where it ...  

Venezuela is inching closer to collapse

Venezuela is inching closer to collapse

Venezuela has more oil than any other nation in the world, but it keeps pumping less and less.

Oil production fell in December to one of its lowest points in three decades, further depriving the cash-strapped country of its only major source of revenue and adding to the suffering of its people.

Venezuela produced 1.7 million barrels of oil a day, according to S&P Global Platts, which polled industry officials, traders and analysts and reviewed proprietary shipping data. …

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Ecuador to Probe Legality of Debt Under Ex-president Correa

Ecuador to Probe Legality of Debt Under Ex-president Correa

QUITO — Ecuador’s comptroller’s office on Monday announced it will open an audit of debt contracted in the last five years of the government of former President Rafael Correa to determine the legality of the operations and the use of the funds.

The move follows a report by the comptroller’s office revealing that some documentation relating to debt operations had been declared secret and that official reports on public debt had excluded some of the operations.

President Lenin Moreno, a former Correa ...  

Ecuador selects new VP after Odebrecht scandal conviction

Ecuador selects new VP after Odebrecht scandal conviction

QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador has chosen a new vice president to replace Jorge Glas, who was sentenced to 6 years in jail for his role in a bribery scheme involving the Brazilian company at the center of Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal.

Lawmakers selected Maria Alejandra Vicuna in a vote Saturday. The 40-year-old psychologist previously served as interim vice president and minister of urban development and housing.

Glas was convicted in December, becoming one of the highest-ranking leaders in the region to ...  

Caracas shops mobbed as Venezuela’s Maduro forces price cuts

Caracas shops mobbed as Venezuela’s Maduro forces price cuts

CARACAS (Reuters) – Mobs gathered outside some Caracas supermarkets on Saturday after the government ordered shops to slash prices, creating chaos as desperate Venezuelans leapt at the chance to buy cheaper food as the country’s worsening economy causes severe shortages.

The leftist administration of President Nicolas Maduro ordered more than 200 supermarkets to cut prices back to last month’s levels – a tall order in a country where many prices change daily due to the world’s fastest inflation rate.

News of the ...  

Brazil Presidency Risks Petering Out as Ministers Jump Ship

Brazil Presidency Risks Petering Out as Ministers Jump Ship

By early April, Brazil’s President Michel Temer will have lost half his cabinet, jeopardizing an economic reform agenda during his last year in office.

A Bloomberg survey found that 14 of the 28 members of cabinet plan to leave the government in the next few months, including the ministers of agriculture, foreign affairs and mines. By law, they must quit by April 7 — six months before polling day — to run for elected office. Already three ministers left in the ...  

Cuba doesn’t need a Castro clone

Cuba doesn’t need a Castro clone

IN HAVANA on Dec. 20, a group of artists and activists were preparing to perform a piece titled “Psychosis.” The plot revolves around a person enclosed in a very small space, showing signs of madness, who wants to leave. The play was inspired by events in 2010 at a psychiatric hospital in Havana, where 26 patients died of hunger and cold. The story is obviously a metaphor about the regime of Fidel and Raúl Castro, who have ruled the island ...  

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About

During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.