Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

Russia and Venezuela to fight low oil price

| November 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Deutsche Welle

Russia and Venezuela are discussing joint action against low oil prices, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in Moscow. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez was in Moscow for talks as part of a tour of several oil-producing nations, including Algeria, Qatar and Iran, aimed at developing a joint strategy.

Asked if he discussed joint moves to counteract the 30-percent fall in oil prices this year, Novak told reporters: “Yes, there is such an initiative. We discussed this theme and now we are working out those proposals on our side.”

Russia and Venezuela, like the other countries on Ramirez’ travel itinerary, are heavily dependent on revenues from oil exports for their national budgets. Crude oil prices are set in the context of a global market, so global geopolitical tensions and regional supply or demand surges or drops affect oil prices everywhere.

As a result, any drive ... Read More

Obama administration would back sanctions against Venezuela: official

| November 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration would like to work with the U.S. Congress to impose sanctions on Venezuela in response to a crackdown on anti-government protests, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Tony Blinken, who is Obama’s choice to be deputy secretary of state, said Washington had refrained from pushing for sanctions in the past few months to allow diplomatic efforts by some Latin American countries to secure the release of opposition leaders from jail and nudge Caracas toward electoral reform.

But those efforts have failed, Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his nomination hearing. “We would not oppose moving forward with additional sanctions,” he said.

In July, Washington barred a group of Venezuelan officials, including government ministers and presidential advisers, from the United States after accusing them of abuses in the crackdown on protests against President Nicolas Maduro this spring.

But the State Department did not ... Read More

Venezuela’s Maduro Raises Taxes, Reserves to Help Growth

| November 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Anatoly Kurmanaev and Jose Orozco

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro raised taxes on goods ranging from yachts to rum and increased international reserves as the government responds to the lowest oil prices in four years. Bonds rallied by the most in almost six years.

The president said in a four-hour televised address late yesterday that the 28 laws he signed using decree powers will restore growth in an economy suffering the world’s fastest inflation and shortages of basic goods. He ordered that a $4 billion loan from China be added to international reserves.

“Maduro is at last recognizing there’s a need for a fiscal adjustment and stronger reserves,” Orlando Ochoa, economics professor at Andres Bello Catholic University in Caracas, said by telephone. “The measures in themselves are a drop in the ocean given the magnitude of the problem. Rather, this is a signal of bigger steps to ... Read More

Venezuela Bond Exodus Accelerates on Spurned Devaluation

| November 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Nathan Gill and Katia Porzecanski 

Bond investors are abandoning Venezuela as President Nicolas Maduro’s administration signals the nation doesn’t intend to devalue the currency with sinking oil prices undermining its ability to pay debt.

The country’s $4 billion of dollar-denominated debt due 2027 plummeted to an almost six-year low of 55.10 cents on the dollar yesterday after Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres said this week that there’s “no devaluation planned.” The securities have fallen 14.1 percent this month, posting the biggest drop inemerging markets over that span.

Concern is deepening that Maduro isn’t moving fast enough to bolster the nation’s finances at a time when the price of its oil, which accounts for about 95 percent of Venezuela’s exports, has plunged 28 percent since June to a four-year low. A devaluation would give the government more bolivars for each dollar of export revenue from state oil monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela SA and narrow its price gap ... Read More

Falling oil prices put Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro in a vice

| November 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

CARACAS, Venezuela — Six months ago, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro faced bloody protests demanding his resignation. The streets were clogged with flaming barricades. By the time the smoke cleared, dozens of protesters and national guardsmen were dead, and Maduro’s government was widely assailed for rights abuses.

Those were the good old days.

Venezuelan oil, the lifeblood of the leftist revolution entrusted to Maduro by the late Hugo Chávez, was worth $97 a barrel then. Now it’s middling around $70, and with every dollar it dips, Venezuela’s export-dependent, popularity-challenged government loses $700 million a year.

With the money pot shrinking, Maduro’s approval rating has slumped to 30 percent, according to recent surveys, down from 55 percent in April 2013. The supermarket scarcities and unchecked crime that fueled the protests earlier this year are as bad as ever.

Loath to adopt austerity measures that would hit his softening support base, Maduro has been borrowing money ... Read More

Traders Are ‘Scared As Hell’ Of What’s Happening In Venezuela

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Business Insider

BY LINETTE LOPEZ

Venezuelan investors are abandoning ship en masse after the government indicated that it would not take immediate measures to stop the country from sinking deeper into chaos.

“I am scared as hell,” one Latin American bond trader said. “Default [is] likely within 12 months; the oil price collapse [is] just adding to a completely dysfunctional political and financial situation.”

The signal to head for the exits was so subtle that you would have missed it if you were not paying close attention.

This week the Venezuelan government reiterated that it would not devalue its currency, giving it more bolivars for every dollar. It does not want to do that because the country already has the highest inflation rate in the world, at 64%.

The official exchange rate is 6.3 bolivars per dollar, but the black-market rate sits at 113.62 bolivars to the dollar.

... Read More

China’s tie with Latin America expands to security

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
China Daily

By ZHANG FAN

China’s tie with Latin American countries have exceeded from trade to security cooperation as China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC) is helping Local countries to build their national security control centers.

“We can say now, very proudly, that Ecuador is one of the most security countries in Latin America,”said Ecuadorian President Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado this September.

CEIEC, the state-owned company specialised in engineering and defence electronics, built an ECU-911 system for the Latin American country including two national centres, five regional centres and eight provincial command and control centres.

The project, initiated from 2011, aims to unify seven security departments of Ecuador including police system, transportation, fire control and medical treatment in order to better arrange rescue operations in limited reacting time.

By now, the system has helped the crime rate of Ecuador decreased by 24 percent, ... Read More

With goods scarce in Caracas’s stores, street sales boom and officials glower

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

CARACAS, Venezuela — The sprawling street market that radiates outward from the metro station in Petare, Caracas’s largest slum, is the retail equivalent of an anti-Target.

There’s no organization to it. Tube socks and school supplies are sold beside giant pyramids of pineapple and piled yucca. Leopard-print hot pants stretch over mannequin buttocks next to the stinky stalls of fishmongers.

The bazaar was known until this month as one of the city’s biggest open-air black markets, the place to find all the scarce items that shoppers must queue up for hours to get in supermarkets, or can’t find at all. Earlier this year, toilet paper and corn­meal were scarce; lately it’s diapers and deodorant that have “gotten lost,” as Venezuelans say.

Authorities mostly turned a blind eye to the informal commerce, but late last month Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro went on TV to decree a ban on street sales of coffee, eggs, shampoo and ... Read More

Counting Pennies In Venezuela

| November 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Daniel Bases

It was a gloomy, rainy night in Boston last week where emerging market analysts and portfolio managers huddled together before an audience of 75+ people to discuss an equally gloomy situation in Venezuela, specifically whether or not the nation, with the biggest proven oil reserves in the world, is on the precipice of defaulting on its debt.

Trying to figure out what economic and fiscal policies the administration of President Nicolas Maduro will follow to alleviate rampant inflation and shortages is akin to trying to read tea leaves. But a panel put together by EMTA laid out the scenarios and discussed the implications of any potential default. The talk of default really kicked off Sept. 5, 2014 after anarticle published by former Venezuelan planning minister Ricardo Hausmann and Harvard research fellow Miguel Angel Santos asked whether or not Venezuela should default.

Maduro is the hand-picked successor of former President Hugh ... Read More

Analysts sceptical Opec will halt fall in oil prices

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

BY ED CROOKS

Oil prices will continue to fall even if Opec countries agree to cut production later this month, according to one of the market’s most influential analysts.

Gary Ross, chief executive of Pira Energy Group, said there was an “imbalance” between supply and demand that would force prices down next year regardless of any output cuts that could be announced by the oil exporters’ group at its meeting in Vienna on November 27.

“Opec cannot and will not take the pain necessary to correct the imbalance,” he said.

Other market watchers are also predicting further falls in prices, including Philip Verleger, an energy economist who wrote at the weekend that he expected the cash price of internationally-traded Brent crude to drop to about $70 a barrel or lower.

Brent crude for delivery in the following month was trading at about $81.01 a barrel on Wednesday, down more ... Read More

Venezuela minister rules out currency devaluation

| November 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Zee News

Caracas: Venezuela`s economic minister has ruled out a devaluation of the nation`s currency, as the country struggles with soaring debt and inflation.

Finance minister Marco Rodolfo Torres said in a television interview Sunday “no expected devaluation is expected.”

A foreign currency crunch has led to shortages of basic goods and runaway inflation in Venezuela, which is heavily dependent on imports.

A number of economists have been calling for a devaluation of the bolivar and flexible exchange controls to revive the flagging economy.

Venezuela currently has three official rates for the bolivar but has sharply restricted the availability of dollars.

Due to the currency shortage airlines have reduced or suspended service to the country and automakers have shutdown assembly lines.

Venezuela`s budget deficit is 15 percent of gross domestic product and economists generally consider the bolivar overvalued.

A global drop in the price of oil has worsened the ... Read More

Cuba’s Slave Trade in Doctors

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

Western cultures don’t approve of human trafficking, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited.” Yet it’s hard to find any journalist, politician, development bureaucrat or labor activist anywhere in the world who has so much as batted an eye at the extensive human-trafficking racket now being run out of Havana. This is worth more attention as Cuban doctors are being celebrated for their work in Africa during the Ebola crisis.

Cuba is winning accolades for its international “doctor diplomacy,” in which it sends temporary medical professionals abroad—ostensibly to help poor countries battle disease and improve health care. But the doctors are not a gift from Cuba. Havana is paid for its medical missions by either the host country, in the case of Venezuela, or by donor countries that send funds to the World Health ... Read More

Republicans Should Signal Leadership, at Home and Abroad

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Roll Call

The 2014 midterm elections were a rejection of the policies of President Barack Obama. And the Republican takeover of the Senate is a repudiation of the gridlock in Congress symbolized by the bare-knuckles tactics of outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The new Republican Senate leadership should move swiftly to seize the high ground and signal it is ready to do the peoples’ business. Quick action on several international issues — the Keystone XL pipeline, trade promotion authority and long-delayed ambassadorial nominations — are bipartisan actions that Republicans should put on the table even before they take over in January.

Although opinion polls show voters favor Republican positions on the economy, foreign policy and security, the party’s brand needs burnishing. As Obama hints at a more confrontational tone that could undermine any hope of making Washington work, Republicans can rise above Obama’s blame game by working with Democrats on tangible initiatives to bolster America’s ... Read More

Venezuelan Official Ruffles Feathers in Brazil

| November 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By HANNAH DREIER and ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON

A Venezuelan official’s seemingly low-key visit to Brazil has drawn a rare rebuke from a staunch ally and prompted grumbling at home about privileges enjoyed by top government officers.

Brazil contacted Venezuelan diplomats on Wednesday to complain that the socialist country’s former foreign minister, Elias Jaua, had met with a domestic activist group without providing any kind of heads up.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo said the surprise visit was out of step with the excellent relations between the two countries, and could be interpreted as interference in internal affairs. Brazil does not require ministers to provide notification when they do work in the country, but it is considered good form.

The trip got off to a rocky start two weeks ago when Jaua’s nanny was caught with a handgun as she arrived in Brazil on a plane owned by Venezuela’s state oil company. She said ... Read More

Oil Price a Concern Says Venezuela as Al-Naimi Visits

| November 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Ben Sharples and Pietro D. Pitts

The price of oil is a “concern for everyone,” Venezuela’s representative to OPEC said after a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s oil minister yesterday.

Rafael Ramirez, who is also Venezuela’s foreign minister, told reporters at a climate-change conference on Margarita Island that Saudi Arabia’s participation at the event was part of a meeting between friends. The Middle East nation is the biggest producer in the Organization Of Petroleum Exporting Countries, a 12-member group responsible for about 40 percent of the world’s oil supply.

Brent crude has collapsed to the lowest level in more than four years amid speculation that global supply is outpacing demand. OPEC’s leading producers are responding by cutting prices, resisting calls to reduce supply as they compete with the highest U.S. output in three decades.

Ramirez greeted Saudi Arabia’s Ali Al-Naimi as he arrived at the event before they began ... Read More

En Venezuela se necesitan 3.5 salarios mínimos para la alimentación de una familia

| November 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

POR INDIRA GUERRERO

En Venezuela, una familia promedio debe peregrinar por “el menor costo posible” para completar una canasta alimentaria que, aún subvencionada, está un 17 por ciento por encima del salario mínimo y que es irreal con un mercado que ignora las regulaciones del Estado.

En el país petrolero, un ciudadano puede pagar por un kilo de café 220 bolívares (34 dólares) en el primer establecimiento que lo consiga, o puede recorrer las calles hasta dar con una tienda que lo venda a 26.50 bolívares (4.2 dólares) y hacer que el precio subsidiado del Ejecutivo se convierta en una realidad.

La distorsión entre los precios establecidos por el Gobierno de Nicolás Maduro y los establecidos por el mercado se extiende sobre los más de 40 productos de la Canasta Alimentaría Normativa (CAN), que, según las autoridades, tiene un valor de 5,741 bolívares (911 dólares).

En 2011, el Gobierno del fallecido Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) ... Read More

US Sen Rubio sees new hope for Venezuela sanctions

| November 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

By JOSHUA GOODMAN

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio hopes Republican gains in midterm elections will breathe new life into efforts to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials who commit human rights abuses.

The Florida Republican is a sponsor of legislation targeting Venezuela’s socialist government that has been stalled since clearing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May with bipartisan support. Similar legislation, which instructs the Obama administration to freeze the U.S. assets of known abusers and commit more American funding to pro-democracy groups in the South American country, has already passed the U.S. House.

Speaking in Colombia’s capital a day after Republicans won control of the Senate, Rubio said Wednesday that he welcomes the Obama administration’s decision in July to impose a travel ban on more than 20 unidentified senior Venezuelan officials who played a role crushing anti-government demonstrations earlier this year. At least ... Read More

Las Naciones ‘Sumergidas’ de Latinoamérica

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

Líderes políticos y diplomáticos de América Latina y el Caribe saben más sobre Cuba y Venezuela que incluso los observadores más astutos en Washington. Por lo tanto, deberían saber lo que le conviene más a su región ¿no?

Entonces, ¿por qué el Grupo de América Latina y el Caribe en la ONU le dio su apoyo a Venezuela para ser el próximo representante de la región ante el Consejo de Seguridad? Y, ¿por qué están determinados en invitar a el déspota cubano Raúl Castro a la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá en la primavera?; haciendo caso omiso de las objeciones por parte de sus socios comerciales más importantes, como Estados Unidos y Canadá.

Para muchas generaciones de latinoamericanos, Cuba fue el hogar de algunas de las mejores editoriales de lengua española en el mundo, cientos de periódicos y estaciones de radio de calidad, derechos laborales progresistas, altos niveles de alfabetización y ... Read More

Latin America’s ‘submerging nations’

| November 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

The political leaders and diplomats of Latin America and the Caribbean know more about Cuba and Venezuela than even the keenest observers in Washington. So, they should know better, right?

Then why did the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean at the UN designate Venezuela to take the region’s non-permanent Security Council seat?

And, why are they determined to invite Cuban despot Raúl Castro to the Summit of the Americas in Panama next spring, ignoring the objections of the leaders of the consequential trade partners in the United States and Canada?

For generations of Latin Americans, Cuba was home to some of the world’s best Spanish-language publishing houses, hundreds of quality newspapers and radio stations, progressive labor rights, the region’s highest rates of literacy and nutrition, and a robust middle class.

Then came the Castro revolution. Although some may have been caught up ... Read More

In violent Venezuela, bulletproof everything

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By Patricia Clarembaux

Caracas (AFP) – Venezuela is known for its obsession with beauty contests and plastic surgery. Now, the latest fashion rage is bulletproof clothes and cars to protect against rampant violent crime.

Miguel Caballero, a Colombian designer known for his bulletproof clothing, told AFP that over the past seven months up to 30 percent of his sales are with people sporting his style-meets-safety duds in Venezuela.

The oil-rich country has a huge gap between rich and poor, and sadly, it boasts the world’s second-highest homicide rate.

Costly precautions like protective clothing, armored cars and bodyguards used to be the stuff of presidents and entertainers like pop star Ricky Martin.

But Venezuela is a violent mess. Nearly four kidnappings per week are reported, according to the government, 65 people a day die violent deaths, according to NGOs, and the obsession with survival is spreading everywhere.

Caballero says his customers are Venezuelan ... Read More

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