Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

UN Human Rights Chief Calls on Venezuela to Free Lopez & Protestors

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Latin American Herald Tribune

GENEVA — The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, expressed serious concern on Monday at the continued detention of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, as well as more than 69 other people who were arrested in the context of public protests that took place across Venezuela over several months starting in February this year.

“The prolonged and arbitrary detention of political opponents and protestors in Venezuela is causing more and more concern internationally,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “It is only exacerbating the tensions in the country.”

According to information received by the UN Human Rights Office, over 3,300 people, including minors, were detained for brief periods between February and June, and more than 150 cases of ill-treatment, many of them torture, were reported. At least 43 people were killed during the protests, including one public prosecutor and nine members of the security forces. Journalists and human rights defenders ... Read More

Colombia police arrest Venezuelan troops after illegal border crossing

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Colombia Reports

By Craig Corbett

Five members of the Venezuelan military were arrested on Sunday morning after illegally crossing into Colombia.

The armed troops allegedly crossed into La Parada in North East Colombia by mistake, and were attempting to return to Venezuela when they were stopped and arrested by Colombian police.

Local police had been notified by concerned locals, who witnessed the truck containing armed Venezuelan troops crossing the border via the Simon Bolivar International bridge.

Representatives from Colombia migration authorities said the five Venezuelans “entered Colombian territory without realizing that had crossed the border, at a time when conducting an inspection in the town of Ureña in Venezuela.”

The troops were escorted to migration authorities in Cucuta. Police and government authorities were met by Venezuelan representatives to discuss the issue, and to negotiate the troop’s release.

Venezuelan authorities released a statement saying that “thanks to the timely intervention of the Colombian law enforcement a problem was avoided and delivery ... Read More

Maduro supporters, foes stage rival protests in polarized Venezuela

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) – Red-clad “Chavistas” rallied in central Caracas on Saturday to protest the killing of a young ruling party lawmaker, while across town a protest called by the opposition’s new leader failed to attract as big a crowd.

The government says the stabbing to death of the 27-year old Robert Serra in his home earlier this month is part of a wider plot by an elitist, self-interested opposition to bring down Venezuela’s socialist experiment, created by beloved late president Hugo Chavez.

“Do you know why they killed Robert Serra?,” President Nicolas Maduro said at the rally in front of a podium emblazoned with the slogan “Against terrorism”.

“To silence us! The right-wing fascists are scared of young rebels, young revolutionaries,” said Maduro, clad in a yellow, blue and red Venezuelan tracksuit.

Several arrests have been made in Serra’s case, including one of his bodyguards. Maduro has also blamed Colombian paramilitaries, although some ... Read More

Falling oil prices put pressure on Russia, Iran and Venezuela

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Editorial Board

THE SILVER lining in the recent financial market turbulence has been the continued decline in the price of oil, which is down about 25 percent since June. In addition to creating a windfall for U.S. consumers — one analysis reckoned the savings could amount to $600 per household — the drop, if sustained, will place considerable pressure on three problematic petrostates: Russia, Iran and Venezuela. The aggressively anti-American foreign policies pursued by all three countries in recent years have been financed in large part by soaring oil revenue.

Though separated by culture and continent, the regimes of Vladi­mir Putin, Ali Khamenei and Nicolás Maduro have in common autocratic government and ambitions to dominate their regions. More than half of their state budgets come from petroleum exports, and their spending plans depend on high prices: $100 a barrel in the case of Russia, $120 for Venezuela and $140 for ... Read More

Venezuela Vulnerable to Oil’s Fall

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Sara Schaefer Muñoz and Ezequiel Minaya

CARACAS—This week’s plummeting world oil prices are throwing into doubt financial stability in Venezuela, which relies on the commodity for most of its income.

Oil exporters from Russia to Iran are suffering with the lowest crude oil prices since June 2012. But few are as vulnerable as Venezuela, where a free-spending populist government had already been grappling with a recession, widespread shortages, and massive protests earlier this year.

The price of the Venezuelan barrel—heavier and more expensive to process than Middle East oil—fell to $77.65 on Friday, the lowest price since late 2010. The price drop was due to “ample” supply and weakening worldwide demand, the ministry said in its weekly oil price report Friday. Venezuelan oil has now tumbled nearly $15 since early September.

“We were already in a critical and precarious situation with oil prices ... Read More

Venezuela’s Election to UN Security Council Can’t Hide Its Weakness

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Commentary

By Ben Cohen

The good news is that Turkey didn’t manage to get itself elected to the UN Security Council. The bad news is that Venezuela did, as was expected. So come January, the chavista regime will have an unprecedented say in world affairs for a two-year term as one of the Security Council’s non-permanent members.

This marks the fifth time in the UN’s brief history that Venezuela will serve on the Council. The last occasion was in 1992-93, when its representative was Ambassador Diego Arria, who distinguished himself by highlighting the genocide then raging in Bosnia, and by speaking out on behalf of human rights more generally. Two decades later, the situation has flipped entirely–the current crop of genocidaires, rogue states, and terrorists, particularly in the Middle East, will discover to their satisfaction that there are few friends more loyal than Venezuela’s present rulers.

As Arria himself pointed out in a recent ... Read More

Colombia gang ‘behind Venezuela lawmaker Serra’s murder’

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says a Colombian paramilitary group was behind the killing of a governing party lawmaker and his partner on 1 October.

Robert Serra and Maria Herrera were stabbed to death in Caracas.

Mr Maduro said Mr Serra’s bodyguard had confessed to conspiring with a Colombian gang to kill the member of the National Assembly.

The president also said that there had been a series of attempts to kill other top socialist party officials.

‘Incriminating footage’

Mr Maduro had previously blamed “ultra-right” opposition groups in Venezuela and in neighbouring Colombia for the murder.

In a news conference on Wednesday he gave more details of the evidence he said had emerged since.

He played an out-of-focus video of a man apparently confessing to the murder. In it, the man said that he was convinced by someone he refers to as “the Colombian” to “get rid” of Mr Serra.

A surveillance video showed four men entering ... Read More

Venezuela Joins U.N. Security Council for Two-Year Term

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Ezequiel Minya

CARACAS—The United Nations on Thursday voted Venezuela on to its Security Council, granting the South American country a long-coveted trophy of international standing and placing a persistent thorn in the side of the U.S. on the U.N.’s most influential committee.

“This is a moment of great pride for all of Venezuela,” said President Nicolás Maduro from the presidential palace in Caracas. “The world has given us support. We should feel happiness in our hearts that we are a country that is admired and loved.”

Not everybody was celebrating the victory. Though the Obama administration resisted calls from Venezuela’s critics to mount a campaign to derail its entry into the Security Council, U.S. officials on Thursday criticized Venezuela’s record at the U.N.

“Unfortunately, Venezuela’s conduct at the U.N. has run counter to the spirit of the U.N. Charter and its violations of ... Read More

Rising Dragon? The Chinese Mafia Threat in Latin America

| October 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
From In Sight

By David Gagne

Chinese mafia operations in Latin America are little understood, but a recent report on these groups in Argentina illustrates how they make their presence felt via extortion, human smuggling rings, and the occasional murder. As China deepens its economic relationship with Latin America, it’s possible these mafias may become ever more prominent.

Authorities in Argentina have attributed 31 murders over the last five years, and four in 2014 alone, to seven Chinese mafias operating in the country, reported La Nacion. These mafias reportedly earn revenue by extorting businesses within the Chinese community, and resort to violence when owners do not comply with their demands.

In at least three of the 2014 cases, the victim did not appear to have been robbed, leading authorities to believe they were killed after running afoul of criminal groups in the Chinese community. According to La Nacion, the Chinese mafias (also known ... Read More

Venezuela Goes From Bad to Worse as Oil Prices Plummets

| October 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Sebastian Boyd and Pietro D. Pitts 

Since becoming Venezuela’s president 18 months ago, Nicolas Maduro has contended with chronic shortages of everything from toothpaste to medicine, the world’s fastest inflation and sinking foreign reserves.

His predicament is about to get worse. Prices for Venezuela’s oil, which accounts for 95 percent of the nation’s exports, are tumbling to a four-year low and threatening to choke off the export dollars the country needs to pay its debts.

“It’s a direct hit on tax revenues,” Lars Christensen, chief emerging-markets economist at Danske Bank A/S, said by telephone from Copenhagen. “There is nothing good to say about the state of Venezuela’s economy, and this isn’t helping.”

The slump in oil prices comes as Harvard University economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff warned this week that Venezuela is almost certain to default on its foreign-currency bonds. Deepening concern the South American country will renege on ... Read More

Ingreso de Venezuela a Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU es casi un hecho

| October 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

Por Antonio Maria Delgado

Venezuela está a punto de ingresar al Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas pese a las críticas de que el régimen autoritario que gobierna al país viola sistemáticamente los derechos humanos y mantiene cercanos vínculos con organizaciones terroristas como las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) y el Hezbolá.

Diplomáticos familiarizados con la situación dijeron que el ingreso del país petrolero al organismo de seguridad probablemente se concretará el miércoles, en vista de que la candidatura de Venezuela no estaba siendo disputada por ningún otro país latinoamericano, lo que significa que la postulación es endosada por toda la región.

De concretarse el ingreso, que requiere dos tercios de los votos de todos los países miembros de la ONU, Venezuela ocupará el puesto dentro del organismo por los próximos dos años.

Pero abrirle la puerta al Consejo de Seguridad al régimen chavista sería un despropósito, dijeron los últimos dos venezolanos ... Read More

Venezolanos necesitan 5.7 salarios mínimos para la ‘canasta básica’, dice ONG

| October 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

CARACAS-Los venezolanos necesitan 5.7 salarios mínimos para cubrir el costo de artículos y servicios de la llamada “canasta básica”, que incluye la “canasta alimentaria” -para la cual se requieren 3.2 mínimos-, informó este martes el Centro de Documentación y Análisis Social (Cendas).

“Esto demuestra que la inflación está descontrolada y que el Gobierno tendrá que ver cómo enfrentar esto, porque no puede seguir echándole la culpa al imperio” estadounidense, declaró Óscar Mesa, director de Cendas, a la emisora privada caraqueña Unión Radio.

Cendas es un órgano no gubernamental que estudia, elabora y publica asuntos “que impactan al mundo sociolaboral y específicamente a la calidad de vida y condiciones de trabajo”, según su página web.

La canasta básica incluye, además de la alimentaria, los suministros como la electricidad, el gasto en alquiler, educación y transporte.

El presidente venezolano, Nicolás Maduro, incrementó un 30 por ciento el salario mínimo en mayo pasado, con lo que se ... Read More

Venezuela Cuts Imports Amid Currency Shortage

| October 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 BY KEJAL VYAS CARACAS, Venezuela—President Nicolás Maduro ’s government, facing deteriorating economic conditions at home, is quietly slashing imports to cover foreign debt payments amid a severe hard-currency crunch.

Economists say the move represents an unorthodox adjustment measure for a country roiled by chronic shortages of basic goods, collapsing industry and the world’s highest inflation.

Despite the troubling outlook, the administration of the socialist president has, for now, ruled out other adjustment mechanisms to counter rising economic distortions, such as a devaluation of the currency or cutting government spending. It is also jettisoned plans to hike the price of subsidized gasoline, which is virtually free and costs the state $12 billion a year.

Those measures, economists say, would ease dollar shortages. But they also would raise inflation at a time when Mr. Maduro’s popularity has fallen. His Socialist party is preparing for congressional elections in December 2015, which gives Mr. Maduro a scant window ... Read More

Venezuela Default Almost Certain, Harvard Economists Say

| October 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Anatoly Kurmanaev, Katia Porzecanski and Sebastian Boyd 

Venezuela will probably default on its foreign debt as a shortage of dollars makes it impossible for the government to meet its citizens’ basic needs, Harvard University economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff said.

The economy is so badly managed that per-capita gross domestic product is 2 percent below 1970 levels, the professors wrote in an column published by Project Syndicate yesterday. A decade of currency controls has made dollars scarce in the country with the world’s biggest oil reserves, causing shortages of everything from deodorant to airplane tickets.

“They have extensive domestic defaults and an economy that is really imploding,” Reinhart said in a telephone interview from Cambridge, Massachusetts. “What they really need to do is get their house in order. If an external default would trigger such a possibility, that’s not a bad thing.”

The suggestion that the country stop servicing its bonds ... Read More

Venezuela, in a Quiet Shift, Gives Foreign Partners More Control in Oil Ventures

| October 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By William Neuman

MENE GRANDE, Venezuela — On a hill overlooking this heat-baked town, a small oil well painted in the national colors of yellow, blue and red gives off a constant whir as it bobs up and down.

Crude oil continues to flow through pipes here just as it did 100 years ago, when this became the country’s first successful oil well, setting Venezuela on the path from a sleepy backwater of coffee farmers and cattlemen to one of the world’s most petroleum-rich countries.

But today, just a short distance from this landmark oil well, known as Zumaque 1, the streets are unpaved and people live in shacks made from corrugated metal sheets. Even after a century of pumping, the oil is still so close to the surface that it seeps from the ground on ... Read More

Exxon Wins $1.6 Billion Settlement for Venezuela Seizure

| October 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Pietro D. Pitts and Nathan Crooks

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) was awarded a $1.6 billion settlement by an international arbitration panel for assets seized by Venezuela’s government in 2007, a fraction of what the crude producer had sought.

The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID, awarded the sum to Irving, Texas-based Exxon as compensation for investments in the Cerro Negro project and other losses, according to a ruling on the ICSID website today. The world’s most valuable oil company had originally sought as much as $14.7 billion for assets nationalized after it refused to accept terms of a partnership with Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

“Our goal with the arbitration was to seek compensation for the fair market value of assets that were expropriated,” Exxon said in an e-mailed statement. “Exxon Mobil’s affiliate engaged in extensive discussions with PDVSA and government officials but was unable to reach agreement ... Read More

5 Dead in Venezuela After Tense Police Standoff

| October 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By FABIOLA SANCHEZ and JORGE RUEDA

President Nicolas Maduro called Wednesday for an investigation into a confusing shootout with police that left a well-connected government supporter and four others dead.

Police before dawn Tuesday raided a high-rise building occupied by presumed members of armed pro-government groups known as “collectives,” leading to a tense, eight-hour standoff that created panic and blocked traffic across several downtown blocks.

Among those killed was former policeman Jose Odreman, the outspoken leader of the 5th of March collective, one of a myriad of sometimes armed groups that provide social services and rally support for the government in poor neighborhoods.

Barely 90 minutes before he was killed, during a brief recess in shooting, Odreman spoke to Venezuelan media and blamed Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres for the bloodshed and held him personally accountable for any attempt on his life.

Fighting resumed when three police officers were taken hostage by individuals holed up ... Read More

Venezuela’s ‘Chavismo’ risks implosion, dissident faction warns

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY ALEXANDRA ULMER

(Reuters) – The socialist movement built by Venezuela’s former president Hugo Chavez risks imploding if corruption, inefficiency and an economic crisis are not tamed, a dissenting faction of the ruling Socialist Party says.

“The revolutionary process is in danger, it’s falling apart,” warned Gonzalo Gomez Freire, a leader of Marea Socialista, or “Socialist Tide”, a small but vocal group of leftist intellectuals critical of President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

Chavez handpicked Maduro as his successor before he died of cancer in March 2013 and Maduro went on to win a presidential election the following month.

 But he is now under intense pressure with an economy in recession, shortages of basic goods and medicines, annual inflation above 60 percent and sky-high crime.

Maduro lacks Chavez’s charisma and his approval rating has dropped to around 35 percent.

The Marea Socialista group relentlessly chides Maduro’s government for enrichment of senior officials, ... Read More

El legado de Insulza y el futuro de la OEA

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Pais

POR EZEQUIEL VÁZQUEZ-GER

Corría Febrero del año 2011. Un grupo de estudiantes en Venezuela había decidido iniciar una huelga de hambre en protesta contra el gobierno de Hugo Chávez. En Washington, junto con un grupo de estudiantes venezolanos, decidimos apoyar la protesta pidiendo un pronunciamiento de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA). Lo hicimos a través de decenas de cartas dirigidas a cada uno de los embajadores, notas de prensa, y una protesta frente al Edificio principal del organismo, previo a una sesión de su consejo Perrmanente.

Terminada esta sesión, el secretario general José Miguel Insulza nos otorgó una audiencia privada, en la que nos dijo: “Me compadezco con ustedes, yo también sufrí una dictadura en carne propia y tuve que refugiarme en el exterior. Pero tienen que entender, a Chávez no lo van a vencer con cartas, Chávez es un dictador, y en Venezuela hay una dictadura militar”.

Esta anécdota sirve para describir el ... Read More

Latin American Growth to Slow, World Bank Says

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By RYAN DUBE LIMA, Peru—Latin America is on track this year to post its slowest rate of annual growth since 2009, when the global financial crisis began to be felt in the region, the World Bank said Tuesday.

The bank cut its growth forecast for the region by nearly half to 1.2%, following expansions of 2.4% and 3% in the previous two years. In its semiannual report on Latin America and the Caribbean, the World Bank said the region could grow 2.2% next year, but cautioned that it was still unclear whether the current downward cycle has bottomed out.

“We do not know if this deceleration has hit bottom, or if there is further deceleration to come,” said Augusto de la Torre, the World Bank’s chief economist for Latin America, in a telephone interview. But growth, he said, “is not going to be what it used to be in the past decade, partially because ... Read More

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