Posts Tagged ‘Hugo Chávez’

Venezuelan stores fingerprint shoppers to stop hoarding

| October 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

CARACAS, Venezuela — The government has begun implementing a novel solution to chronic short supplies of basic goods at its supermarkets: fingerprinting shoppers to prevent hoarding.

Starting in September, consumers at six state-run stores must register their fingerprints, which are scanned to keep track of what they buy. The aim is to limit bulk purchases of 23 basic goods, including flour, rice, milk, sugar, toilet paper, coffee, margarine, oil, chicken, meat, shampoo and detergent.

So far, around 800,000 people have registered their fingerprints, and the government plans to expand the program to other stores.

The initial announcement of the fingerprinting scans was greeted by some protests from consumers fed up with an economy wracked by high inflation and shortages stemming in part from currency controls that have deprived importers of dollars they need to pay for foreign goods.

However, since the system went into effect, it has won praise in some quarters for shortening ... Read More

A Revolution in Green

| October 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Affairs

By Peter Wilson

Early this September, during a shakeup of his cabinet, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro made a surprising pick. Rodolfo Marco Torres, his nominee for vice president for the economy,  was a former brigadier general in Venezuela’s army. He had first stepped into politics as head of a state bank in 2005 and had been rising through the civilian ranks since then. Earlier this year, he became minister of finance, and then he made history this past June as the first military officer to join the central bank’s board of directors. Now, after only eight months in the minister’s chair, he will take charge of Venezuela’s battered economy.

Torres is not alone. He is among tens, if not hundreds, of former army officers who have secured high government posts over the past two decades thanks to their loyalty to the late President Hugo Chávez, and his successor, Maduro. These days, the ... Read More

Venezuela’s Currency Hits New Low

| October 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Kejal Vyas

CARACAS—Venezuela has hit a new, dubious milestone in its slow-motion economic decline: Its largest banknote, the 100-bolívar bill, is worth just one U.S. dollar, at least on the country’s black market.

On Monday, the bolívar held at 100.68 per dollar, unchanged from Friday when it breached the 100 level for the first time, according to DolarToday.com, a significant decline from just 17 per dollar at the start of 2013. DolarToday.com tracks the South American nation’s vibrant currency black market, where many Venezuelans go to get greenbacks and which businesses use as a pricing reference.

The country’s smallest bill, the two-bolívar note, is worth just two U.S. cents on the black market. The situation has left Venezuelans carrying large wads of cash everywhere they go, a risky proposition in a country with one of the highest crime rates in the world.

David Varela, ... Read More

Venezuela’s Bondholder Default Anxieties Ease With Citgo

| October 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Sebastian Boyd

Venezuelan bonds are rebounding from the deepest losses in emerging markets as President Nicolas Maduro allays concern the country will unload Citgo Petroleum Corp., its U.S.-based unit.

Venezuela’s $5.1 billion of dollar-denominated sovereign bonds tracked by Bloomberg returned 2.6 percent through yesterday since Maduro said Sept. 23 that he’s seeking to “strengthen” Citgo, which has historically played a crucial role in protecting bondholder interests as the nation’s main seizable asset. The rally, the biggest among 55 developing nations, narrowed losses to 12.8 percent this quarter.

With foreign-currency reserves close to an 11-year low and Harvard University economist Ricardo Hausmann questioning its decision to pay bondholders as billions of dollars of arrears fuel record shortages, Venezuela is facing intensifying scrutiny over its ability to pay $5.3 billion of debt due next month. Maduro’s comments helped to soothe investors who saw the state oil producer’s decision to put the U.S. refining unit ... Read More

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro defends Clorox seizure

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has defended the seizure of a factory owned by US-based company Clorox.

“Socialist formula: any company that’s abandoned will be taken over by the working class,” Mr Maduro said.

Cleaning products maker Clorox closed its production facilities in Venezuela last week, saying government-imposed price freezes were crippling it.

The Venezuelan authorities have accused Clorox of illegally abandoning the country and have seized its facilities.

‘Economic war’

“The legal documents in various government and judicial institutions demonstrate the abandonment of their legal and constitutional responsibilities,” Mr Maduro said.

He said the closure of the plant was part of an “economic war” being waged against the socialist government by the opposition.

He warned the working class to be “alert to this new madness”.

Clorox, which sells bleach and other household cleaning products in Venezuela, announced in a statement on 22 September that it would cease its operations there immediately and try to sell its ... Read More

Crisis económica amenaza la petrodiplomacia venezolana

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

POR ANTONIO MARIA DELGADO

La petrodiplomacia chavista, esquema de compras de lealtades de países vecinos a través de subsidios petroleros, le ha costado al Estado venezolano más de $44,000 millones en los últimos años, y aún cuando sus frutos políticos son cruciales para la estabilidad del régimen bolivariano, el colapso económico del país sudamericano han vuelto el programa insostenible, dijeron analistas.

Los subsidios que Venezuela otorga a los países de Centroamérica y del Caribe a través de Petrocaribe y a Cuba, a través del Convenio Integral de Cooperación (CIC) se están tornando difíciles de mantener para una nación cuya economía está en vías de implosión, advirtieron los expertos.

“Venezuela ya no puede seguir sustentando estos programas”, comentó desde Washington Antonio De La Cruz, director Ejecutivo de la firma de asesores Inter American Trends.

“Va llegar un momento, en los próximos meses en que ellos van a ... Read More

American Aid Props Up a Castro Ally

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Mary Anastasia O’Grady

A French court has upheld an earlier arbitration court ruling that obliges El Salvador to honor a contract it signed in 2002 with the Italian renewable-energy company Enel Green Power (EGP). The contract, which designated the French court to handle disputes, allows EGP to gain majority ownership of the Salvadoran thermoelectric private-public partnership La Geo by increasing its investment in the company.

In other words, the court told El Salvador that it may not stop EGP from bringing more technical know-how to the impoverished country and adding some $127 million to a $100 million investment in its electricity infrastructure. The Sept. 18 ruling in Paris exhausts El Salvador’s legal pathways for halting the investment, which it has been doing since 2008. But it doesn’t necessarily alter the circumstances on the ground.

A poor country devoted to blocking an infusion of capital sounds crazy until you learn that El ... Read More

Venezuelan Army Enjoys Meat to Cars Denied Most Citizens

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Bloomberg News

Venezuela’s national parade ground at the Fort Tiuna military base presents a scene that local civilians can only dream of — stalls laden with goods and no waiting lines.

The market with everything from subsidized meat to baby strollers, along with loans, new cars and apartments, are perks provided to the armed forces as the economy contracts, poverty rises and President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity sinks to a record low.

The benefits help ensure the loyalty of the military, while siphoning reserves away from the poor who have seen wage growth fall behind inflation, according to analysts, citizen activists and academics.

Since Maduro came to power 17 months ago, the armed forces have created their own television channel, housing program and bank, the only military-owned one outside Iran and Vietnam. A third of Venezuela’s 28 ministers and half the state governors are now active or retired officers, mostly companions of former paratroop ... Read More

Bipartisan Lawmakers to Admin: Please Oppose Venezuela’s Security Council Bid

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
PJ Media

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling on the Obama administration to oppose Venezuela’s effort to land a non-permanent, two-year seat on the UN Security Council.

A week ago, Reuters cited diplomatic and administration sources as saying they were resigned to Caracas securing a seat at the 15-nation table and wouldn’t oppose the bid. Venezuela is the only Latin American country in the running and needs a two-thirds vote from the General Assembly next month.

President George W. Bush led a campaign against a Venezuelan bid in 2006. That was during the reign of Hugo Chavez, but this Venezuelan bid comes after Nicolas Maduro’s violent crackdowns on peaceful demonstrators and other human right abuses.

“There should be no place for Venezuela at the UN Security Council. Nicolas Maduro and his regime have been the cause of instability in Venezuela and the Western Hemisphere region and allowing it a seat on the ... Read More

Peru seeks to revive economic miracle as supercycle slows

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Andres Schipani in Cusco and Vivianne Rodrigues

During an impromptu ceremony in the ruins of Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca citadel of sun worship, investors on a recent business trip pleaded for only one thing: prosperity for Peru.

“We need to recover the greatness, beyond economic cycles. We need to recover the faith,” said a Peruvian asset manager to the gathering, following a capital markets conference in Lima.

Growth in what was Latin America’s fastest growing major economy is slowing below 5 per cent for the first time since 2009. Some are saying the Andean economic miracle is at an end.

This week President Ollanta Humala made his pilgrimage to another citadel in search of higher help: to the centre of capitalism in New York.

“We are still facing the future with optimism,” he told the Bloomberg Latin America forum. “We are preparing measures to reactivate” the economy.

Peru has made huge ... Read More

Is Nicolás Maduro Latin America’s New Man at the United Nations?

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

Representatives of Latin America and the Caribbean have chosen the troubled government of Venezuela to represent them in the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) as a non-permanent member whose term begins next January. When the U.N. General Assembly elects new UNSC members in mid-October, Latin America’s nominee to debate matters of “peace and security” will be a country that is among the least peaceful and most insecure in the Americas. Although the region’s image may suffer as a result, at least President Nicolás Maduro’s regime will be conspicuous as its economic mismanagement collapses Venezuela’s oil-rich economy and as its repression intensifies in a desperate bid to hold to power.

The Security Council has five permanent members (France, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States) and 10 non-permanent members, elected to represent one of five regional groups of countries. Venezuela seeks to be one of two members representing the ... Read More

Under pressure at home, Venezuela’s Maduro calls for a more ‘democratic’ U.N.

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Jim Wyss

BOGOTA- Addressing the United Nations General Assembly for the first time since taking office 17 months ago, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said it was time to make good on the dreams of his late boss Hugo Chávez and shake up the staid body.

Echoing other regional leaders, Maduro, 51, said the United Nations had been co-opted by imperialist powers and needed a dose of democracy.

“The U.N. charter is one of the most beautiful poems you can read,” he said. “But it’s turned into a document that has been thrown aside and is trampled permanently.”

“The countries of the world are clamoring for their voice to be heard,” he said, noting that the 15-member Security Council needs to be more representative.

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Maduro also used his speech to denounce the U.S. blockade of Cuba, one of Venezuela’s staunchest allies, and its continued attacks on Syria and Iraq. While Maduro ... Read More

Crisis in Venezuela worsening

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY MARK SCHNEIDER

The lull in the street battles that raged across many of Venezuela’s cities this spring belies the violent civil conflict still threatening the country. From February to June, dozens of people died, hundreds were wounded and several thousand more were detained during conflict between protesters and government security forces.

Repression, exhaustion and disorganization have quieted protesters for the moment, but they will certainly return given the government’s failure to address the causes of the country’s polarization. With its vast oil reserves — by some measures the world’s largest — and its complex network of regional relations, Venezuela’s meltdown would be a disaster not only for its people but for the entire hemisphere.

Hugo Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, has largely clung to his controversial policies, worsening the country’s multifaceted economic, social and governance crises. Recent opinion polls show that President Maduro is losing popular support, ... Read More

Venezuela opposition names new head to fight Maduro

| September 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Corina Pons

(Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition parties on Wednesday named a 56-year-old journalist and teacher to head their coalition ahead of 2015 parliamentary elections where they hope to weaken President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government.

“It was a unanimous decision to elect me, we’re all rowing in the same direction,” Jesus Torrealba said in a speech accepting leadership of an opposition movement that narrowly lost the presidency to Maduro last year and has been squabbling since.

He replaces outgoing Democratic Unity coalition executive-secretary Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, who resigned in July, and faces a mammoth task to unite moderates and radicals who differ in their views on how to oppose Maduro.

Torrealba, who was a member of the Communist Party in his youth, founded a non-governmental organization called “Neighborhoods’ Radar” and later had a program of the same name on a pro-opposition TV station to denounce grassroots problems from ... Read More

Avanza en La Haya caso contra Maduro por crímenes de lesa humanidad

| September 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

POR ANTONIO MARIA DELGADO

La Fiscalía de la Corte Penal Internacional (CPI) de La Haya inició el estudio de una denuncia presentada por más de 300 diputados y senadores de España y América Latina, quienes acusan a la cúpula del régimen de Nicolás Maduro de haber cometido crímenes de lesa humanidad durante la cruenta represión de las manifestaciones de este año.

La denuncia, que también acusa al régimen de hacer uso del sistema judicial venezolano como instrumento de persecución política, atribuye al chavismo una cadena de violaciones a los derechos humanos que habrían sido perpetrados por los cuerpos de seguridad del chavismo durante al feroz represión de los manifestantes que dejó este año más de cuarenta muertos, cientos de heridos, miles de arrestos y docenas de casos documentados de tortura.

La denuncia había sido presentada en abril por los legisladores, agrupados bajo la Alianza Parlamentaria Democrática de ... Read More

A year after skipping the UN,Venezuela seeks coveted prize

| September 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Jim Wyss

BOGOTA- During the opening of last year’s U.N. General Assembly, Venezuela provided a dose of chaos and drama when President Nicolás Maduro canceled his inaugural address at the last minute and flew home, citing shadowy threats against his safety on the streets of New York.

On Tuesday, those fears seem to have vanished as the South American leader glad-handed global leaders and faced the press on the sidewalks of Manhattan.

Maduro may have reason to feel confident as he prepares to address the organization Wednesday night: Venezuela seems poised to win a seat on the U.N. Security Council for the first time since 1993.

The last time it vied for a spot, in 2006, under late President Hugo Chávez, the U.S. and others blocked the move. This time around, few seem prepared to get in Venezuela’s way. Despite questions about its human rights record and continuing crackdown on protesters, the country ... Read More

Gold Reserve Awarded $740 Million From Venezuela Takeover

| September 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Pietro D. Pitts and Nathan Crooks

A World Bank arbitration court ruled that Venezuela must pay $740 million to Gold Reserve Inc. (GDRZF) for taking its Brisas gold and copper project in 2008.

A three-member panel concluded the company was owed $713 million for the project, $22.3 million for interest and $4 million for legal and technical costs, Spokane, Washington-based Gold Reserve said yesterday in a statement. Payment of the award is due immediately and the company said it has commenced steps to ensure collection.

“We feel vindicated by the tribunal’s clear conclusion that the Venezuelan government acted unlawfully,” Gold Reserve President Doug Belanger said in the statement. “There are well documented procedures in place for identifying and attaching sovereign commercial assets.”

Former President Hugo Chavez nationalized assets in Venezuela’s energy and mining industries to increase state control over the economy before he died in 2013. The nation is now involved in 28 ... Read More

Clorox Exits Venezuela After Price Freeze Hobbles Operations

| September 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Craig Giammona and Lauren Coleman-Lochner

Clorox Co. (CLX), the consumer-products company that sells everything from bleach to salad dressing, is pulling out of Venezuela after inflation and government-mandated price freezes made the business unprofitable.

Clorox Venezuela will cease operations immediately and try to sell its assets, according to a statement today. The shares rose the most since 2011 after the announcement and a weekend report by the New York Post that Clorox had spurned a takeover offer from another consumer-products company earlier this year.

“This is a very difficult situation for our company,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Don Knauss said in the statement. “We are extremely proud of the men and women who did their very best to operate our business in the face of significant economic challenges. We are working to support them through this transition.”

Clorox becomes the latest U.S. company to pull back from Venezuela, where currency controls, supply ... Read More

Venezuela’s Crackdown on Opposition

| September 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By the Editorial Board

The Venezuelan government early this year responded to a wave of street protests by jailing opposition leaders, deploying the army against unarmed protesters and tightening control of the media. The deplorable tactics have largely driven an inspiring opposition movement underground, depriving Venezuelans of the right to challenge a leader who has put a once-prosperous nation on a perilous track.

The imprisonment and trial of an opposition leader, Leopoldo López, show how far President Nicolás Maduro is willing to go to stave off legitimate grievances in a country he and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, mismanaged.Mr. López, a 43-year-old Harvard-educated politician, has been jailed since Feb. 18, when the authorities accused him of instigating violent demonstrations. Some 1,700 demonstrators are awaiting trial and more than 70 remain jailed.

Mr. López’s trial, which began in July, is a travesty. The indictment bizarrely ... Read More

Venezuela doesn’t deserve a seat on the U.N. Security Council

| September 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Editorial Board

THE ODDS that Venezuela, once Latin America’s richest country, will suffer a catastrophic economic collapse shortened significantly this month. Nicolás Maduro, the economically illiterate former bus driver who succeeded Hugo Chávez as president last year, rejected the advice of pragmatists proposing common-sense measures to rein in soaring inflation of more than 60 percent and crippling shortages of basic goods such as milk and toilet paper. Instead he gave a speech claiming that “our problems are the result of economic war waged by the opposition and private business.”

Now Mr. Maduro’s government is attempting to prove his point. It is pressing forward with the prosecution of several top opposition leaders, including Leopoldo López, the former mayor of a Caracas district who heads the more militant wing of anti-government forces. “Militant” is a relative term here: Earlier this year Mr. López and several allies called for peaceful street demonstrations under ... Read More

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