Archive for January 4th, 2013

Venezuela’s next leader may be chosen in Cuba

| January 4th, 2013 | No Comments »


As Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez struggles to recover from surgery, Cuba may have the most say over who succeeds him.

A parade of relatives and senior Venezuelan officials have been in Havana this week to visit Chávez, stricken with a severe respiratory infection following his fourth cancer surgery last month. But the Chávez lieutenants also appear to be holding meetings with senior Cuban officials about how a succession will unfold should the Venezuelan leader be incapacitated or die, according to experts.

One of Chávez’s visitors this week has been Vice President Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s chosen successor and also Cuba’s favorite. But so has Maduro’s chavista rival, Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Assembly, whose power base is the Venezuelan military.

“They are sitting down with [Cuban President] Raúl Castro and other senior Cuban officials about how a transition will happen. The conclusion is that Chávez won’t be able to return,” said José Cárdenas, a former ... Read More

Venezuelan Officials Return From Cuba

| January 4th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal


CARACAS—Top Venezuelan officials including Vice President Nicolás Maduro returned in good spirits Thursday from a visit to Cuba where ailing President Hugo Chávez is recovering from cancer surgery, looking to quash speculation that the president’s health is in sharp decline.

News earlier in the day that several of Venezuela´s top political power brokers had gathered in Cuba sent rumors flying regarding Mr. Chavez’s health following his cancer surgery Dec. 11 in Havana. The growing uncertainty sent the price on Venezuela’s closely watched sovereign dollar bond maturing in 2022 soaring to an all time high of 121.055 compared with 120.12 the previous day. The yield on the security, which moves inversely to bond prices, dropped about 2 percentage points to 9.377%.

“President Chávez is conscious of the circumstances he is experiencing, complex circumstances. He is aware of the battle that he’s putting up…with the same energy as always,” ... Read More

Venezuela VP criticizes ‘manipulations’ in reports on recent conversations with US official

| January 4th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

Venezuela’s vice president on Thursday suggested that reports about recent contacts between U.S. and Venezuelan diplomats were distorted in implying the conversations were initial efforts toward improving relations if President Hugo Chavez dies. He said Chavez authorized the conversations.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro spoke on television upon his return from Cuba, where he and other officials met with the ailing president more than three weeks after he underwent cancer surgery.

“In these days, we’ve seen how there have been attempts to distort an event that was simply sought to be carried out with the authorization of the president” in late November and early December, Maduro said. “And it has to do with the relationship with the government of the United States.”

“Some articles have come out that have tried to manipulate a group of elements,” Maduro said, without giving details.

Some recent news stories have raised questions about whether contacts between U.S. and Venezuelan ... Read More

Ecuador’s Top Central Banker Admitted To Faking His College Degree And Now He Has Disappeared

| January 4th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Business Insider


Pedro Delgado, President of Ecuador’s Central Bank and cousin of President Rafael Correa, resigned on December 19 after admitting that he had faked his economics degree.

He used the falsified degree 22 years earlier to gain access into the prestigious Central American Institute of Business Administration, where he received his MBA.

Enrique Herreria, a rival lawmaker, brought this information to light – as well as charges against Delgado that could carry a sentence between nine and 12 years.

However, Delgado has now disappeared. He went to visit relatives in Miami for Christmas, promising to return after New Years’, but has failed to do so.

The U.S. government revoked Delgado’s visa today after the Ecuadorean government asked for help bringing Delgado back to Quito for questioning.

The Globe and Mail reports that Delgado doesn’t exactly have a pristine history:

…Mr. Delgado was no candidate for the central bankers’ hall of fame. He came under fire for an allegedly improper ... Read More

With Chávez in Cuba, who will be Venezuela’s president next week?

| January 4th, 2013 | No Comments »


Hugo Chávez’s condition after his latest cancer surgery in Cuba is throwing political uncertainty into a nation that, under the charismatic and populist leader, has used oil reserves to punch above its geopolitical weight in big foreign policy issues. It is not even clear who will be president of Venezuela next week.

The 58-year-old Chávez, who won a decisive re-election in October, is scheduled to be sworn in to a third term on Jan. 10. But reports suggest that he may be in no condition to attend an inauguration in Caracas. There are reports that Chávez is in a coma, which have been denied by his chosen successor, vice president Nicolás Maduro. Maduro has said that instead Chávez is in a “delicate” state after suffering respiratory infection on the heels of Dec. 11 pelvic surgery, his fourth operation for cancer.

In successive tweets in Spanish today, Roger Noriega, a fellow at the American ... Read More

The Future of Venezuela (Debate)

| January 4th, 2013 | No Comments »
The New York Times


President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who has led his resource-rich country with his own brand of socialism, Chavismo, for 14 years, has been indeteriorating health since his cancer surgery last month. It is not clear whether he will be able to be inaugurated for a fourth term on Jan. 10, and his chosen successor waits in the wings.

If Chávez steps down or dies, what will become of Venezuela? Will Chavismo survive? What sorts of social, economic and political issues must the next president confront? Would the nation’s contentious relationship with the United States improve?

An Economic Crisis of Historic Proportions


Last month, Jorge Botti, the head of Fedecámaras, Venezuela’s business federation, explained that unless the government supplies more dollars to pay for imports, shortages — from food to medicine — would be inevitable. “What we will give Fedecámaras is not more dollars but more headaches,” replied acting president Nicolas Maduro, the heir apparent to the Chavista regime ... Read More

Hugo Chavez: What happens on 10 January?

| January 4th, 2013 | No Comments »


On 10 January, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is due to be sworn in after winning a new six-year term in last October’s presidential elections.

But as the key date approaches, all the signs suggest that Mr Chavez, who is recovering in Cuba from cancer surgery, will not be fit enough to attend the inauguration at the National Assembly.

The constitution does not state explicitly what happens if the ceremony does not take place on 10 January. And political analysts as well as government and opposition figures have differing interpretations of what that would mean in practice.

For some, the inauguration date could be postponed; others argue that if Mr Chavez is not there in person, a “temporary absence” should be declared (something which they say has in effect already happened).

Others focus on the notion of “absolute absence” and the need for new elections to be held within 30 days (as ... Read More

Hugo Chavez Squandered The Greatest Oil Rally In History

| January 4th, 2013 | No Comments »
Business Insider


As Hugo Chavez’s reign in Venezuela appears to come to an end, oil markets guru Stephen Schork says the 13-year president deprived his country the fruits of the insane oil price surge that’s occurred since he came to power.

“Chavez’s march down the road to serfdom squandered the greatest oil rally in history,” he writes.

It all goes back to 2002, when a national strike led by the PdVSA — the country’s state oil company, which had been an anti-Chavez entity — caused production to drop from just below 3.0 MMb/d to just above 0.6 MMb/d.

In response, “Chavez purged PdVSA of talent and replaced it with political allies,” Schork writes.

Meanwhile, oil prices were on their way up, eventually climbing 1,210%, to $131/b in 2008.

But during the same period, monthly Venezuelan crude oil production declined on average by 0.19% per month.

Eventually production did recover somewhat, to 2.0 MMb/d.

Too late, Schork says:

The Venezuelan government has spent ... Read More

Hugo Chavez Health Update: Venezuela President Suffering From ‘Severe’ Respiratory Problem

| January 4th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters


CARACAS – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is still suffering a “severe” respiratory infection that has hindered his breathing as he struggles to recover from cancer surgery in Cuba, the government said on Thursday.

The 58-year-old socialist leader has not been seen in public nor heard from in more than three weeks. Officials say he is in delicate condition after his fourth operation in just 18 months for an undisclosed form of cancer in his pelvic area.

“Comandante Chavez has faced complications as a result of a severe lung infection,” Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said in the latest official update on the president’s condition.

“This infection has caused a breathing insufficiency that requires Comandante Chavez to comply strictly with medical treatment,” the communique added, giving no further details.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro had earlier returned to Venezuela on Thursday after visiting Chavez in hospital as rumors swirled that the president ... Read More

Venezuela on the verge of crisis over Chavez’s health

| January 4th, 2013 | No Comments »
Global Post


LIMA, Peru — Venezuela is on the brink of political crisis as rumors swirl that President Hugo Chavez is on his deathbed just six days before he is due to be sworn in for his fourth successive term.

The 58-year-old self-styled “Bolivarian socialist” leader is suffering complications, including a severe lung infection, following his fourth cancer operation in 18 months, in a Havana hospital on Dec. 11.

He has not been seen in public since shortly before that operation. Government officials have acknowledged that his condition is serious but have refused to give clinical details, including the kind of cancer the president has or the prognosis.

The latest update on Chavez’s health came late on Thursday, when Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said the lung infection had triggered a “respiratory deficiency.”

That required the president to remain in “strict compliance with the medical treatment,” although Villegas gave no clues about what that treatment actually ... Read More

Hugo Chavez battles lung infection in Cuba hospital

| January 4th, 2013 | No Comments »

Venezuela’s President, Hugo Chavez, is suffering from “complications” brought on by a “severe lung infection” which developed after surgery, officials say.

Mr Chavez, 58, had his fourth operation for cancer in Cuba on 11 December and then developed a respiratory infection.

In a statement from Caracas, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said the infection had “led to a respiratory insufficiency”.

Mr Chavez is due to be sworn in for another term in office on 10 January.

“[Mr] Chavez has faced complications as a consequence of a severe lung infection,” said Mr Villegas.

‘Psychological war’

The president has not been seen in public since having cancer surgery in Havana, prompting persistent speculation about his condition.

The information minister was among a number of Mr Chavez’s political allies who have urged people not to believe what they called lies about his health.

Mr Villegas warned Venezuelans not to be taken in by a “psychological war” being fought in the ... Read More