Posts Tagged ‘Hugo Chávez’

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

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

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

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

Bolivia’s Perennial President

| October 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
Harvard

By Julio Mendez Cabrera

It is often expected that democracies impose term limits on presidential candidates. Such is the case in Bolivia, where the current term limit is set at two terms and general elections are set for October 12, 2014. So why is the incumbent, Juan “Evo” Morales, running for the third time?

The simple answer is that he is doing so because he can. Following a spurt of political instability in 2008, a January 2009 referendum instituted a new constitution, which reestablished the country as the Plurinational State of Bolivia and set new presidential term limits. A provision of the constitution states that terms prior to enactment do not count toward these limits. As such, despite promising before the constitutional referendum that he would not seek reelection following its enactment, Morales will run for president again.

And he will surely win. Though there are numerous ... 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

The 61% Devaluation That Venezuela Told No One About

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Sebastian Boyd

The world’s steepest currency devaluation is happening with so little fanfare that you may have missed it.

Venezuela is forcing companies to pay an average 61 percent more for dollars in government auctions compared with a year ago, according to estimates by Barclays Plc. The sales are the only way most of them can get their hands on scarce foreign currency to purchase goods from abroad without access to the official exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars per dollar.

The South American nation is seeking to ease a chronic dollar shortage caused by years of increasing government control over the foreign-exchange market and economy. At the same time, President Nicolas Maduro may be reluctant to pursue a devaluation of the official rate out of concern it would add to the world’s highest inflation rate and deepen shortages that sparked deadly protests earlier in the year.

“They’re ... Read More

How Venezuela Got No Dollars From $65 Billion Bond Sales

| October 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Sebastian Boyd

In the past decade, Venezuela and the nation’s oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA have sold $65 billion of dollar-denominated bonds without ever seeing a dime.

Sure, they got money, but took in no dollars. To preserve foreign reserves while injecting some much-needed hard currency into the economy, the government, PDVSA and the central bank sold the debt to local investors in return for bolivars. Buyers then sold the notes abroad to obtain U.S. currency, which has become scarce as Venezuela tries to limit capital flight.

With $4.5 billion of debt coming due this month and reserves at an 11-year low, Venezuela is realizing the bond sales didn’t actually buy it much time and are instead exacerbating a cash crunch that’s fueling concern the country will default. The nation’s bonds have plummeted 9.5 percent in the past month, the most in emerging markets.

“Bonds were being sold as a foreign-exchange mechanism ... Read More

Venezuela doesn’t belong on the Security Council

| October 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY DIEGO ARRIA

The Latin American and Caribbean governments represented at the United Nations have endorsed the candidacy of the Venezuelan tyranny created by the late Hugo Chávez and continued by his appointed successor, Nicolás Maduro, to represent them for a non- permanent seat at the Security Council for the period 2015-16.

It could not come at a worse moment for world peace. Dangerous forces are threatening global security, and unity is required to face these emerging threats. Venezuela is not a reliable ally in these times.

For example: The Security Council has unanimously agreed that countries should pass laws against traveling abroad to join terrorist groups or financing those efforts. Yet Venezuela’s regime is known for providing passports to those from the Middle East belonging to radical groups, including Hezbollah, as well as cooperating and providing logistics for the narco-terrorist group known as the Revolutionary Armed ... Read More

Single point of failure: Venezuela’s financing programme leaves many Caribbean countries vulnerable

| October 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

“THAT’S how Chávez earned a place in heaven,” said Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s president, on a visit to New York last month. Mr Maduro was lauding a programme begun by his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, to supply heating oil to 150,000 low-income families in the United States. Yet such generosity pales next to PetroCaribe, a Venezuelan energy-assistance programme for the Caribbean and Central America that Chávez launched in 2005.

Under the PetroCaribe programme, ten members of the Caribbean Community, along with the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and El Salvador, buy oil from Venezuela. (St Lucia is preparing to receive its first shipment.) How much they pay upfront depends on market prices. The more expensive oil is, the more of the cost is loaned on very lenient terms: in the past, loans have been extended for 25 years at interest rates as low as 1%. The cash saved is earmarked for many purposes: energy subsidies, ... Read More

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

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