Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

Diosdado Cabello identified as the head of the Cartel of the Suns

| January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

[Translation by IASW]

By Antonio Maria Delgado

Leamsy Salazar, Venezuelan [navy] captain who was the head of security for the late Hugo Chávez, arrived Monday in Washington to assist in an investigation headed by U.S. authorities regarding the links between chavismo and drug trafficking.

Salazar, who spent much of his career alongside Chavez arrives in the United States as a protected witness and may provide the most devastating details presented so far about chavismo. According to sources close to the investigation, in his testimony, Salazar argues that the drug trafficking organization known as Cartel de los Soles (Cartel of the Suns) is led by President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello.

“This has been the hardest blow that has been given to chavismo. This is the man who has provided all the secrets. He was the head of security and chief of staff for Diosdado Cabello, and was the head of security of Hugo ... Read More

U.S. Pushes Energy Exports to Undermine Venezuela

| January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
Oil Price

By Nick Cunningham

The United States is seeking to dislodge Venezuela’s energy influence in the Caribbean, capitalizing on the collapse in oil prices.

Vice President Joe Biden hosted the first ever Caribbean Energy Security Summit in Washington DC on January 26. The summit, attended by leaders of Caribbean nations, was intended to find cleaner and more affordable sources of energy. As island nations with few indigenous sources of energy (save natural gas in Trinidad and Tobago), many rely on costly oil and gas imports.

But beyond providing sustainable alternatives, the energy summit appears to be an attempt to peel off Caribbean nations from Venezuelan influence.

Since 2005, Venezuela has provided very generous support to ideological allies in the western hemisphere. Using its abundant oil reserves – Venezuela is sitting on an estimated 298 billion barrels of oil, according to the EIA, arguably the largest reserves in the world – the ... Read More

Diosdado Cabello’s head of security defects to the U.S. and accuses him of narcotrafficking

| January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01

[Translation by IASW]


With the arrival yesterday in Washington, DC, of protected witness, [Venezuelan Navy] Captain Leamsy Salazar, who until December was the head of security for Diosdado Cabello, a U.S. federal prosecutor has accelerated the preparation of a formal indictment against the number two in the Venezuelan regime.

Salazar is the highest-ranking military officer to break ranks with chavismo and make formal accusations in the United States against senior government officials for their involvement in narcotrafficking.

For almost 10 years, Salazar served as chief of security and as personal assistant to Hugo Chávez. After Chávez’s death, Salazar went on to work for Cabello as his chief of security.

Cartel of the Suns

According to sources close to the investigation, opened by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Salazar claims that [Cabello], the president of the National Assembly, is the head of the Cártel de ... Read More

El jefe de seguridad del número dos chavista deserta a EE.UU. y le acusa de narcotráfico

| January 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01


La preparación de una acusación formal contra Diosdado Cabello, presidente de la Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela y número dos del chavismo, se ha acelerado en la Fiscalía federal estadounidense con la llegada ayer a Washington, como testigo protegido, de Leamsy Salazar, quien hasta su salida de Caracas en diciembre era el jefe de seguridad de Cabello.

Miembro de la Casa Militar, encargada de la custodia presidencial, Salazar fue durante casi diez años jefe de seguridad y asistente personal de Hugo Chávez. Tras su muerte, sus servicios fueron requeridos por el presidente de la Asamblea Nacional, para quien también ejercía de ayudante personal. Salazar es el militar en activo de mayor rango (capitán de corbeta, equiparable a comandante) que rompe con el chavismo para acusar formalmente en Estados Unidos de prácticas delictivas a las altas jerarquías del país, en especial la relacionada con el tráfico de ... Read More

Identifican a Diosdado Cabello como jefe del Cartel de los Soles

| January 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


Leamsy Salazar, un capitán de corbeta venezolano que fue el jefe de seguridad del fallecido presidente Hugo Chávez, llegó el lunes a Washington para colaborar en una investigación de las autoridades estadounidense sobre las vinculaciones entre el chavismo y el narcotráfico.

Salazar, quien pasó gran parte de su carrera al lado de Chávez, llega a Estados Unidos como testigo protegido y podría brindar los detalles más devastadores presentados hasta ahora sobre el chavismo. Según fuentes cercanas a la investigación, en su testimonio el capitán sostiene que la organización de narcotráfico conocida como Cartel de los Soles es dirigida por el presdente de la Asamblea Nacional, Diosdado Cabello.

“Este ha sido el golpe más duro que se le ha dado al chavismo. Este es el hombre que ha brindado todos los secretos. Fue el jefe de Seguridad y jefe de ayudantía de Diosdado Cabello, y ... Read More

US Caribbean energy summit seeks ways to ease region away from shaky Venezuela oil program

| January 26th, 2015 | No Comments »

A decade-long addiction to oil subsidized by Venezuela may be coming to an end for several Caribbean nations, with a nudge from the United States.

Fears that falling oil prices could knock the wheels off the already wobbly economy of oil-dependent Venezuela have sparked apparent interest in alternatives to Petrocaribe, a trade program created by the late President Hugo Chavez that has kept the region dependent on the South American country for energy.

Evidence of that interest will be on display Monday as Caribbean leaders converge in Washington for the first Caribbean Energy Security Summit, hosted by Vice President Joe Biden. Plans for the event have been in the works for months, but with oil recently falling to below $50 a barrel, a sense of urgency has emerged given Venezuela’s increasingly precarious situation.

“It’s absolutely the case that the economic situation has deteriorated for Venezuela ... Read More

Mr. Maduro in His Labyrinth

| January 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
The New York Times

Framed portraits of the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez were propped up at various stops of President Nicolás Maduro’s recent whirlwind trip abroad, as the man at the helm of the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves begged for bailouts.

Posters of his predecessor also abounded when Mr. Maduro, a former bus driver, arrived home to a carnival-like welcome, as he drove the lead coach of a convoy that snaked through crowds of supporters.

Last week, in a speech before lawmakers, Mr. Maduro, whose approval rating has slipped to 22 percent as the Venezuelan economy teeters on the brink of collapse, again invoked his mentor in predicting a landslide victory in upcoming parliamentary elections. “I have no doubt that Chávez’s nation will deliver a great victory in the memory of Hugo Chávez in elections that are being held this year,” he said.

... Read More

Is Venezuela About To Collapse?

| January 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Daily Beast

BY Catalina Lobo-Guerrero

CARACAS, Venezuela — “God will provide,”said Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in his State of the Union speech last Wednesday. Praying is one of the few options left for Maduro, after an unsuccessful international tour of the Middle East, where he lobbied the Saudis to cut oil production and raise the tumbling price of crude.

During a 13-day tour he also visited Russia (twice), China and Portugal, all in a bid to drum up investments and credit. The president did not disclose how much he might have received; instead he spent much of his time framing his trip as an effort to form a bulwark with China, Russia and others against what he considers an American plan to dominate the world.

Before oil prices started to fall this past summer, the country’s inflation was already the highest in the world, at ... Read More

Venezuela in a bind as Nicolás Maduro faces default dilemma

| January 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
Financial Times

Andres Schipani in Bogotá and John Paul Rathbone in London

Nicolás Maduro promised “God will provide” after Venezuela’s president returned to Caracas apparently empty-handed from a world tour where he had sought financial help for his country’s ravaged economy.

Venezuela — which is a member of Opec, the oil producer’s cartel — is heavily dependent on exports of crude, the price of which has more than halved since the summer to under $50 a barrel on Thursday.

In a televised state of the nation speech, Mr Maduro said oil would “not return to $100”, adding: “We have less foreign currency . . . But God will provide”.

Bondholders, worried about default, were unconvinced. Alarmed by Mr Maduro’s seeming failure to win support from China or fellow Opec countries such as Saudi Arabia, they immediately marked down Venezuelan debt. At almost 29 per cent, its benchmark 2027 bond now yields three times more than comparable Russian debt.

... Read More

The retreat of U.S. interests from Latin America has left a vacuum for the Chinese to fill

| January 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 BY ILAN BERMAN You have to feel a bit sorry for the Obama administration. The White House in December announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, including establishing a U.S. Embassy in Havana and formally revisiting Cuba’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism. The move was a clear effort by Washington to distinguish itself in a new international theater.

But that gambit was soon eclipsed by another: In a meeting that could herald a significant shift in the Western Hemisphere’s balance of power, China hosted a high-profile summit earlier this month with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or Celac.

Celac is a relatively recent invention. Conceived in 2010 at a meeting in Caracas hosted by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez , it is designed to deepen integration among Central and South American states—while excluding the U.S. and Canada. The 33-member bloc explicitly styles itself as an alternative to the U.S.-led Organization of ... Read More

Beijing still funds struggling Venezuela, for now

| January 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »

By Hailey Lee

At a time when Venezuela is in dire need of financial backing, the country may be down to its last major banker: China. But even the economic powerhouse of Asia is closely weighing the risks of doing business with the struggling South American country.

So far, it seems China remains committed to the OPEC nation, at least according to Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, who announced in early January that China had pledged another $20 billion in financing.

That’s welcome news as oil prices continue to plummet with no bottom in sight. The going price of Venezuela’s oil exports tumbled by about half to $41.33 a barrel this week after peaking last June, according to Venezuela’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mining. In order to balance its budget, Venezuela needs oil prices of at least $100 a barrel, according to calculations from Barbara Kotschwar, research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Right now, low oil prices are ... Read More

President pushes currency, fuel reforms for ailing Venezuela

| January 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Andrew Cawthorne and Alexandra Ulmer

CARACAS, Jan 21 (Reuters) – President Nicolas Maduro shook up complex currency controls on Wednesday and also prepared Venezuelans for a rise in the world’s cheapest fuel prices in response to a recession worsened by plunging oil revenue.

The socialist-run OPEC member’s economy shrank 2.8 percent in 2014 while inflation topped 64 percent, the socialist leader announced in a speech to parliament, in what is almost certainly the worst performance in Latin America.

With oil prices down by more than half since mid-2014, Venezuela’s economic mess has hit Maduro’s popularity hard and threatened the future of the ruling “Chavismo” movement named for his charismatic predecessor Hugo Chavez.

The 52-year-old Maduro blamed political foes for Venezuela’s dismal data, but he also announced the most concrete changes in months to try to shore up the economy.

Carefully avoiding the word devaluation and without giving ... Read More

Gobierno de Venezuela habría emitido visas fraudulentas para terroristas de Hezbollah

| January 21st, 2015 | No Comments »

Venezuela ha sido un pilar clave en la penetración irregular de inmigrantes iraníes e islámicos en el continente americano, según se desprende un informe elaborado por el Centro para una Sociedad Libre Segura (SFS), un think thank global basado en Washington DC, y el Instituto de Canadá de Análisis Social y Económico (ISEA), al que tuvo acceso Infobae.

El estudio sugiere que las facilidades que Venezuela –y también Cuba– ofrecen a los extremistas islámicos son una amenaza para la seguridad en Norteamérica. Recuerda, en ese sentido, que en 2006 las fuerzas de seguridad canadienses detuvieron a 18 terroristas que planeaban una serie de atentados, que incluían la decapitación del primer ministro Stephen Harper y la detonación de una bomba en el Parlamento.

“En la medida en que Irán siga abriendo caminos estratégicos en el hemisferio occidental, la amenaza de ataques patrocinados por actores estatales es posiblemente más ... Read More

After weeks of waiting, Maduro expected to unveil economic plan

| January 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


Barring more delays, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is expected to unveil his plan late Wednesday for rescuing the flailing economy, which features skyrocketing inflation, a recession and shortages that have sparked massive shopping lines.

The announcement comes as tensions are rising in the socialist nation, which has been hit by falling crude prices even as it sits on the world’s largest reserves.

Analysts say the president needs to slash the budget and modify — or even scrap — a byzantine three-tiered exchange rate system that has been gutted by corruption and caused painful distortions in the economy.

But it’s also clear that Maduro is reluctant to prescribe bitter medicine at a time when his approval ratings are in the slumps and the ruling PSUV party is headed toward congressional elections later this year.

Opposition parties are revving up for a fight, calling on followers to greet Maduro’s speech to the National Assembly ... Read More

Venezuela’s economic collapse owes a debt to China

| January 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Ricardo Hausmann

Every economic catastrophe brings soul-searching. When Argentina collapsed at the end of 2001, the International Monetary Fund was forced into a critical assessment of its involvement in the country. Similar processes were triggered at the World Bank after unsuccessful development projects in Africa. The coming implosion of the Venezuelan economy should prompt similar introspection — not at the IMF, which has been absent since its “expulsion” by President Hugo Chávez in 2007, but in China.

It is hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the Venezuelan collapse. People are queueing for hours to buy food, stores are empty, and the country is in a deep recession. Venezuela has the fastest inflation in the world, while its government debt is the most expensive to insure against default.

How did we get here? Venezuela used the period of high oil prices to quadruple its public foreign debt, in order to fuel a domestic spending boom. By 2012, when Venezuelan ... Read More

Ex presidentes de Colombia, México y Chile asistirán a foro opositor en Venezuela

| January 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

Los expresidentes Andrés Pastrana, de Colombia, Felipe Calderón, de México, y Sebastián Piñera, de Chile, asistirán en Caracas el 26 de enero a un foro organizado por dirigentes opositores al Gobierno venezolano, informó este jueves la exdiputada María Corina Machado.

“Los tres expresidentes van a visitar a Venezuela en una agenda muy intensa de varios días en la cual podrán tener contacto directo con distintos sectores de la sociedad”, señaló Machado en una rueda de prensa en la capital venezolana.

La dirigente opositora dijo que en el foro “Poder Ciudadano y la Democracia de Hoy” los expresidentes podrán conversar con “familiares y víctimas de la represión y la violación sistemática de los derechos humanos del régimen del señor (Nicolás) Maduro”, presidente de Venezuela.

“Los temas fundamentales precisamente serán el poder ciudadano, las transiciones a la democracia, los desafíos en América Latina, libertad frente al autoritarismo y el populismo, y desde luego, los derechos ... Read More

Comunicado en conjunto de Leopoldo López, María Corina Machado y Antonio Ledezma

| January 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
Leopoldo Lopez

A comienzos del 2014 el cambio político era necesario. Nosotros lo veíamos urgente. Y en razón de ello alertamos al país sobre un peligroso agravamiento de la crisis nacional si no se producía ese cambio político.

Junto con nuestro reclamo del cambio político llamamos al pueblo a manifestar, pacífica y democráticamente, dentro de los límites de la Constitución Nacional, en demanda del respeto a sus derechos y en rechazo del intento de consolidar un modelo político-económico empobrecedor, diseñado a contrapelo de nuestra tradición democrática, de nuestra Constitución, y de nuestro bienestar y el de las futuras generaciones.

La respuesta del pueblo fue formidable: una verdadera rebelión democrática, pacífica, y civilista sacudió al país por semanas, reclamando un cambio político urgente. La respuesta del gobierno fue de sordera y protagonizo la  represión más brutal y masiva  de nuestra historia ante el reclamo popular.

Cuando el gobierno ... Read More

Venezuela’s Asia Tour Backfires as Crude Extends Slump

| January 16th, 2015 | No Comments »

By Pietro D. Pitts

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is winding down a tour of Asia and Russia to garner support for measures to bolster oil prices. A further 8 percent decline since the trip started suggests he failed.

Maduro plans to coordinate with OPEC and non-OPEC producers to create a “formula that impacts the oil market and restores the normalization of prices,” he said Jan. 15 after meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as the lowest prices in six years threaten both nations’ economies. Crude extended declines as Maduro spoke.

Venezuelan government lobbying to prop up prices is falling on deaf ears among other OPEC members that are prepared to let prices fall to a level that undermines a U.S. shale boom. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have said repeatedly over the past six weeks that the organization wouldn’t cut output to halt the biggest rout since 2008.

“It was a surprise that he went ... Read More

Race on the high seas: Cartels feature new, faster smuggling boats

| January 16th, 2015 | No Comments »

By Perry Chiaramonte

Latin America’s drug cartels are leaving the U.S. Coast Guard in their wake, with new and faster speedboats law enforcement officials say are virtually undetectable by radar.

The new boats, nicknamed “Picudas,” after a tropical fish whose long, thin bodies they resemble, are made of fiberglass, making them invisible to radar and efficient with fuel. While older smuggling vessels took as long as three days to make the trip from Costa Rica to Jamaica, the Picuda can make the trip in two.

Dialogo, a newspaper published by the Pentagon’s Southern Command, quoted one Coast Guard source that called the craft “a wave-breaking go-fast wonder that defies radar detection.” The boats give the bad guys a leg up on authorities trying to cut off the flow of South American drugs, according to the article.

“They [cartels] are being forced to do something that they would rather not,” Adam ... Read More

Venezuelan Bishops Get Religion

| January 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


There’s no better way to cure a fascination with utopian socialism than to live its reality. That’s one takeaway from a strongly worded critique of the Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro delivered by the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference on Monday.

The country is a mess, the bishops said in a pastoral exhortation, and the reason is “the government’s insistence in trying to establish a Marxist or communist economic model.” Reform needs to include, among other things, “promoting private activity in the economy.”

Those are fighting words, even from a church hierarchy that has never been enamored with Hugo Chávez ’s Bolivarian Revolution. Vatican faith in the state to deliver what it calls “social justice” has always been tempered in Venezuela by the facts on the ground. The late Cardinal Ignacio Velasco, who died in 2003, recognized the empty promises of the demagogue Chávez from the earliest days ofchavismo.

One of the most contentious issues ... Read More

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