Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

Hospitals in Venezuela virtually closed for lack of materials

| August 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Local 10

BY HELENA POLEO

Hospitals all over Venezuela suffer from a critical shortage of basic medical materials, from saline to gloves and medications, causing a nationwide health crisis.

The president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation, Douglas León Natera, states that Venezuelan hospitals are “virtually closed” due to medical material shortages. In the group’s estimate, 98 percent of the medical facilities have no way to operate.

“If they are open, it is because the health workers have decided to continue working at their own risk,” he told the Agence France-Presse.

This oil-producing country imports 98 percent of its drugs and medical equipment, and the shortage of dollars and strict currency controls in the Venezuelan economy has severely affected all types of medical providers. The Pharmaceutical Federation estimates that drug shortages has reached 60 percent, while the Venezuelan Association of Distributors of Medical, Dental, Laboratory and Related Equipment (Avedem) reports there are “absolute deficiencies” in 85 percent ... Read More

Morris Beschloss: Venezuela Abandons Citgo-Petroleum Corp. and Supplemental U.S. Holdings

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Desert Sun-01

The unofficial announcement by Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, that it is in the process of selling major U.S.-based Citgo Petroleum Corporation in addition to three refineries, representing a combined 750,000 barrels per day conversion capability, has geopolitical, as well as energy-oriented ramifications.

Caracas is already closely allied with fellow U.S. antagonist Cuba, while providing Iran with a strong footprint in the Western Hemisphere. The late dictator Hugo Chavez, who first “socialized” Venezuela and seems to have established that energy rich nation in the Sino/Russian/Iranian world camp, has also perpetuated a distinct anti-U.S. point of view, leading to a breakdown with America economically, as well as politically.

While Venezuela harbors South America’s largest crude oil reserves, it also sits on a huge additional complement of Canada-like “oil sands,” second only to Canada in tar-sands reserves in the Athabasca region of its Alberta Province.

Citgo’s refineries are located in Chicago’s suburb of Lemont, IL, ... Read More

Venezuela as a Distressed Seller

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY CHRISTOPHER SWANN

Venezuela is digging its way to distressed seller status.

The country wants to offload Citgo, its American refinery and pipelines unit. It may be worth up to $15 billion, money that’s sorely needed because of President Nicolás Maduro’s foolish economic policies. And the drop in value of heavy-oil assets like Citgo owns makes it a bad time to sell.

There can be advantages to getting rid of refining businesses.ConocoPhillips, for example, spun out its fuel-processing plants as a standalone company in May 2012. The two separate companies are now worth a total of 61 percent more.

Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA has a different motive. Mr. Maduro’s administration is running out of cash. That’s the result of anti-business policies — including price controls and nationalization — that have depressed local production and increased reliance on imports. Access to dollars is rationed ... Read More

New owners of leading Venezuelan newspaper fire columnists and change editorial line

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Journalism in the Americas

BY DYLAN BADDOUR

A leading Venezuelan newspaper that was recently sold to anonymous investors appears to be shifting its opposition editorial line weeks after pledging not to. The managing editor at El Universal, Elides Rojas, told the International Press Institute (IPI) that the newspaper’s new president had “ordered a complete revision of the opinion section” and had suspended or dismissed editorial staff.

El Universal has been a vocal critic of the Venezuelan government, especially on its editorial pages.

Weeks ago, the spokesman for the group of unknown buyers who bought the 105-year-old newspaper last month, Jose Luis Basanta, dismissed fears that the buyers had a political agenda in an interview with Bloomberg News.

“The editorial line is not going to be touched but only the days, the weeks and the months ahead will be able to demonstrate that,” he told Bloomberg.

... Read More

Opposition Fails to Exploit Venezuela’s Woes, Leader Says

| August 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY JUAN FORERO

Venezuela’s de facto opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, said the country’s opposition movement was divided and unable to take advantage of the government’s inability to improve a deeply troubled economy.

“There’s like a short circuit, with the opposition apparently not in tune with the problems of a majority of Venezuelans,” said Mr. Capriles in a Tuesday interview. “The government is weak, unpopular, but there’s an opposition that is not capitalizing on the discontent, because the opposition is in this internal debate that doesn’t interest Venezuelans.”

That political scenario comes despite months of student protests this year against rampant crime, food scarcity and soaring inflation that shook President Nicolás Maduro’s government and resulted in a crackdown that left dozens dead and hundreds jailed before it fizzled in April, rights groups say.

Mr. Maduro’s popularity has plummeted in recent months to 35.4%, as four of every five Venezuelans believe the oil-rich nation is headed in ... Read More

Chavez Friends Get Rich After His Death as Venezuela Slides Into Chaos

| August 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY MICHAEL SMITH & ANATOLY KURMANAEV

Retired Venezuelan Army Captain William Biancucci paces around his sparsely furnished Caracas office, clutching a red, bound copy ofHugo Chavez’s socialist constitution. He’s discussing his plans to buy a private jet to ease travel to and from his cattle ranch in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest. From a sprawling stretch of pastureland, he packs cows by the thousands on ships headed to Venezuela.

Biancucci, 55, who grew up poor, says he won contracts to supply Venezuela with livestock thanks to friendships with military officers now in the government. His voice rises with emotion as he says he’s been a devotee of Chavez since military college, when the late leader was his history professor.

In 1992, Biancucci joined 140 other officers in staging a coup attempt led by Chavez. Although the coup failed, Chavez was elected president six years later — and Biancucci’s business thrived. Socialism, Biancucci says, is the ... Read More

Why Sanctions Are Right in the Case of Venezuela

| August 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Huffington Post

BY SERGIO MUÑOZ BATA

I beg to differ with liberals who say the recent U.S. sanctions against individual members of the Venezuelan government are counterproductive. By the same token, I disagree with conservatives who dismiss them for being too light and applaud the White House and Congress’ efforts to punish Venezuelan drug traffickers and human rights violators for a very simple reason: in the rigged system of justice that Hugo Chavez set up in the country, it is impossible for any member of its repressive political system to ever face justice in a court of law.

The latest sanctions controversy came about last month after a period of relative calm in the stormy relationship between the United States and Venezuela and should serve as a reminder that the interactions between the two countries continue to be prickly and could get worse.

The first confrontation came when the State Department requested the government of ... Read More

Venezuela to close Colombia border each night

| August 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

Venezuela says it will close its border with Colombia at night from Monday, to try to stop large-scale smuggling of petrol and food.

The government says that tonnes of goods – produced in Venezuela and heavily subsidised – are sold in Colombia at much higher prices.

The shortage of many staples in Venezuela’s western border area this year led to anti-government protests.

The border closure was agreed with the Colombian government.

President Nicolas Maduro discussed the measures with his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos, at a summit on 1 August.

The 2,200km-long (1,360 miles) border will be closed between 22:00 local time and 05:00 every night.

Cargo vehicles, including vans and lorries, will be banned from crossing from Venezuela to Colombia between 18:00 and 05:00.

‘Failed policies’

The cross-border smuggling is also a problem for Colombia, with a big loss in taxes and complaints of unfair competition by local businessmen.

The profits are often used ... Read More

Emails: Mary Landrieu, Citgo fend off Venezuela sanctions

| August 8th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Politico

BY BYRON TAU

Oil company Citgo teamed up with Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary Landrieu to block a package of Venezuelan sanctions that senators were considering last week, emails obtained by POLITICO reveal.

Citgo — the wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s national oil company — raised concerns that the package targeted at human rights abusers would hurt the company’s ability to import crude oil to its Gulf Coast refinery in Port Charles, La., eliminating jobs, according to the documents.

Landrieu’s office confirmed her involvement in heading off the sanctions package. The Louisiana Democrat faces a tough reelection fight and is under pressure to show she can wield her energy chairmanship to help her state.

According the emails, Citgo’s concerns set off a last-minute scramble on Capitol Hill to determine what Landrieu’s objections to the bill were and whether they could be resolved before Congress left town. Her concerns ultimately resulted ... Read More

Venezuela Says It Wants at Least $10 Billion for Citgo

| August 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY PIETRO D. PITTS & ANATOLY KURMANAEY 

Venezuela won’t accept less than $10 billion for its oil refining and marketing assets in the U.S., the head of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA said.

“Their value is much, much more,” Rafael Ramirez, president of the oil producer known as PDVSA, told reporters today. PDVSA is receiving offers for Houston-based subsidiary Citgo Petroleum Corp. and will sell the company if an acceptable proposal is made, he said, without elaborating further.

“We are not a refining company, we’re an oil producing company,” Ramirez said during the commemoration of 100 years of Venezuelan oil production in Zulia state.

Citgo said PDVSA has put it up for sale in a July 29 bond prospectus. The company owns three refineries capable of handling about 749,000 barrels a day in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois. The company sells gasoline through about 6,000 stations and donates heating oil to 200,000 low-income families during winters.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro is seeking to sell foreign refineries ... Read More

Menor demanda externa reduce crecimiento de América Latina

| August 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

AFP

SANTIAGO – La menor demanda externa de materias primas por parte de los socios de América Latina y el Caribe, principalmente China, llevó a Cepal a reducir su estimación del crecimiento de la región de 2.7% a 2.2% en el 2014.

A la menor demanda externa se suma “un bajo dinamismo de la demanda interna, insuficiente inversión y un limitado espacio para la implementación de políticas que impulsen la reactivación”, sostuvo la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (Cepal) en un informe económico presentado este lunes.

El menor crecimiento de China es “el principal riesgo” en lo que queda de año para los países de la región exportadores de materias primas.

En tanto, el crecimiento de Europa y Japón, otros importantes socios comerciales de Latinoamérica, caerá de 0.5% a 0.2% y de 1.7% a 1.4% respectivamente, lo que también significará una menor demanda de las ... Read More

It’s Nearly Impossible to Fly to or From Venezuela Right Now

| August 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
vocativ-01

BY BORIS MUNOZ

Several weeks ago, dozens of travelers crowded around a small desk at Delta Airlines’ office in Caracas, impatiently fanning their faces in the heat, waiting to hear if their flights had been canceled. Delta had recently announced that it was cutting the number of flights out of the capital from seven to one, reducing the amount of people who could travel from Venezuela to the United States from 1,120 to 160. And now thousands were stranded.

“I can’t believe it!” said Andrea Figueroa, a 23-year-old college student set to study abroad this fall in New York City. “The Delta representatives in the call center say they will give us our money back two months from now.”

It’s not only Delta. American Airlines, AirEurope, AirFrance and others have cut back on flights and the number of seats available. Airlines such as Air Canada and Alitalia ... Read More

Venezuela’s increasing inflation, shortages leave poor doubting Maduro

| August 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY CORINA PONS

Geraldine is tired of hearing that she should be grateful for the apartment the Venezuelan government gave her last year. With the elevator out of action, water leaking through the ceiling and no gas supplies, she wishes she had never moved in.

The 31-year-old mother of two said she was given keys, but not ownership papers, for the apartment here after spending three years in a government shelter for those left homeless by torrential rains in 2010. She now spends much of her day lining up for the few subsidized goods left in the shops, before climbing the eight floors to her flat and cooking on a small electric stove.

“I feel that for the past year, all we have done is survive,” Geraldine said during an interview in the apartment, asking that her last name not be published for fear of government reprisal. “Conditions were better in the shelter, ... Read More

A weak first step

| August 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

The Obama administration’s decision last week to impose visa sanctions against unnamed government officials in Venezuela is a step in the right direction, but it’s nothing more than a slap on the wrist — and a mild one at that.

For years, both President Obama and President Bush before him, despite strong provocation by the late Hugo Chávez and now by Nicolas Maduro, have tried to avoid giving Venezuela’s corrupt leaders an excuse to wrap themselves in the national flag and claim that the United States is attacking the nation’s sovereignty. Dictatorial regimes thrive on such claims and use it as a handy distraction to rally national sentiment against outside interference.

Beginning earlier this year, however, massive but generally peaceful demonstrations against the regime’s political and economic policies have been met with brute force and a refusal to seek a political solution to the crisis. Prominent opposition leader Leopoldo López remains in ... Read More

Multiples acusaciones de narcotráfico contra Carvajal en narcotráfico

| August 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

ANTONIO MARIA DELGADO

El ex jefe de inteligencia militar venezolano Hugo Carvajal —figura central de al menos seis investigaciones criminales realizadas en Estados Unidos— presuntamente coordinó el envío de 5.6 toneladas de cocaína encontradas en México dentro de un avión DC-9 que partió de Venezuela en el 2006, en un famoso caso que también vincula al conocido narcotraficante Walid Makled.

Según la acusación presentada en su contra por la Fiscalía Federal del Distrito Sur de Nueva York, Carvajal estaba detrás del transporte de la droga que se encontraba dentro de 128 valijas encontradas dentro del avión que partió desde la rampa presidencial del Aeropuerto Internacional de Maiquetía.

“En o alrededor del 10 de abril del 2006, Hugo Armando Carvajal-Barrios, el acusado, en Venezuela, coordinó el transporte de aproximadamente 5,600 kilogramos de cocaína desde Venezuela a México”, declara la acusación contra el ex Director de Inteligencia ... Read More

Venezuelan opposition leader quits coalition post over internal strife

| July 31st, 2014 | No Comments »
Global Post

CARACAS, July 30 (Xinhua) — The leader of Venezuela’s opposition alliance, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, has resigned due to strong internal divisions, but will stay within the alliance, according to an announcement made Wednesday.

The general secretary of Venezuela’s opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) was cited as saying “I’m not saying goodbye, what I’m doing is moving places. I’m not leaving this house, but I’m moving to another room.”

“I don’t want my name and the controversy it can generate to continue to be an excuse for them to shoot at the Unity from the ramparts,” he added.

According to Aveledo, “in recent months, a clever and cruel campaign” has been launched against the coalition by “attacking the credibility of its spokesman, yours truly.”

The ranks of the opposition have split again, with hardline activists turning on Aveledo for ... Read More

Chairman Menendez Statement on Administration’s Announcements of Visa Restrictions against Human Rights Abusers in Venezuela

| July 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
US Senate

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the Administration’s announcement today to apply visa restrictions against human rights abusers in Venezuela.

“Today’s announcement sends an unambiguous and direct message to President Maduro, members of his Administration, and the Venezuelan government: the United States will never tolerate systemic human rights violations conducted by a merciless government against its own people. The Administration’s visa sanctions are an important step in the right direction, but more hard hitting sanctions are needed. The Maduro regime will not go unpunished for violating the human rights and freedoms of its people.

“Since February, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan citizens have assembled to protest the country’s political and economic crisis. The freedom to assemble peacefully was met with shocking levels of violence, brute force, and the systemic ... Read More

Declaraciones del Presidente Menéndez Sobré Anuncios de la Administración Para Restringir Visas de Violadores de Derechos Humanos en Venezuela

| July 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
US Senate

Washington, DC - El senador Robert Menéndez (D-NJ), presidente del Comité de Relaciones Exteriores, emitió las siguientes declaraciones sobre el anuncio de la Administración para solicitar restricciones de visados contra los violadores de derechos humanos en Venezuela.

“El anuncio de hoy envía un mensaje inequívoco y directo al presidente Maduro, los miembros de su gobierno, y el gobierno de Venezuela: Estados Unidos no tolerará las violaciones sistemáticas de los derechos humanos llevadas a cabo por un gobierno contra su propio pueblo. Las sanciones anunciadas por la Administración representan un paso importante en la dirección correcta, pero se necesitan sanciones más contundentes. El régimen de Maduro no continuará sin recibir un castigo por violar los derechos humanos y libertades de su pueblo.

“Desde febrero, cientos de miles de ciudadanos venezolanos se han reunido para protestar la crisis política y económica del país. La libertad de reunión pacífica ha ... Read More

Rep. Salmon Statement on the Imposition of New Visa Restrictions against Venezuelan Human Rights Violators

| July 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
US House of Representatives   Washington, D.C.— Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) today released the following statement upon the United States’ imposition of visa restrictions against violators of human rights in Venezuela:   “I was pleased to learn that, after months of stalling, the Obama Administration has finally decided to react to the Venezuelan government’s violent repression against protestors.  Today’s announcement of visa denials and prohibitions against Venezuelan officials complicit in the crackdown of legitimate protesters is long overdue, but merely a first step in the right direction.   “Venezuelan pressure for the release of General Carvajal, a known FARC narcotics trafficking collaborator, should be enough to show the Administration that sitting by idly while authoritarian dictators undermine democratic values and violate human rights in our hemisphere is no substitute for deliberate policy that reflects the interests of the United States.  The unraveling of U.S. leadership around the world is not just embarrassing, it threatens peace and stability.”   Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) ... Read More

Dozing U.S. Diplomats Let Venezuelan Narco-General Slip Away

| July 30th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Foreign Policy

BY ROGER F. NORIEGA

Although a retired Venezuelan general and confidante of President Nicolás Maduro just managed to evade U.S. extradition to face drug smuggling charges, the unsealed indictment in his case reveals that U.S. prosecutors have gathered compelling evidence of widespread criminality at the highest levels of the Maduro government. Dozing U.S. diplomats let Major General Hugo Carvajal slip away this past weekend, but the fact that Caracas pulled out the stops to keep him from facing U.S. justice has exposed a regime with a very guilty conscience.

U.S. diplomats were caught off-guard on Sunday when the Netherlands decided to recognize the dubious claims of “diplomatic immunity” by Carvajal, who was being held in Aruba since his arrest last Wednesday at the request of U.S. law enforcement authorities. In court proceedings last Friday, Aruban authorities dismissed Carvajal’s claims of immunity, arguing that he had never been accredited as Venezuela’s consul general ... Read More

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