Posts Tagged ‘Nicolas Maduro’

Obama and Cuba: The Triumph of Ideology over U.S. National Interests

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
National Review

By Elliot Abrams

The American Left has loathed the embargo and overlooked all of Castro’s repressive actions since the 1960s. They have blamed the U.S.–Cuba deadlock entirely on the United States and have sought the end of the embargo whenever a Democrat was in the White House. Under Johnson, Carter, and Clinton they did not get their way; that had to await Obama.

When the Soviet Union fell, the Castro regime was in dire straits. It survived through sheer repression — until it was sustained by Venezuelan oil money sent by Hugo Chávez. Today Chávez is dead, oil is under $60 a barrel, and Venezuela is reeling. Who will bail Castro out this time? Now we have the answer: Barack Obama.

Put aside the prisoner exchange, which one can be for or against and still decry the rest of Obama’s moves today. It’s clear that Obama told the Cubans ... Read More

Obama gives the Castro regime in Cuba an undeserved bailout

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

By Editorial Board

IN RECENT months, the outlook for the Castro regime in Cuba was growing steadily darker. The modest reforms it adopted in recent years to improve abysmal economic conditions had stalled, due to the regime’s refusal to allow Cubans greater freedoms. Worse, the accelerating economic collapse of Venezuela meant that the huge subsidies that have kept the Castros afloat for the past decade were in peril. A growing number of Cubans were demanding basic human rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly.

On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regime everything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide ... Read More

Fire In The Hole: The Imminent Implosion of Venezuelan Chavismo

| December 17th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Agustino Fontevecchia

Ever since Hugo Chavez´s rise to power in 1998, the opposition has announced (like the boy who cried wolf) that the demise of the Chavista regime was around the corner. After 15 years, it is hard to find similar allegations to be truthful or realistic. The institutionalists in the armed forces did not overthrow the government, the opposition did not win the elections, and the economic crises have not roused the pro-Chavez masses against the government they elected. The hypotheses presented by the opposition have proven wrong repeatedly.

Yet, none of this means the danger of governmental collapse in Venezuela is nonexistent. On the contrary, if the disintegration of the Chavista leadership has ever been closer, it is now. Not for any of the previously mentioned reasons, though. This time the threat comes from deep inside PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela). The fractures that pre-date the death of ... Read More

Venezuelan bonds tumble after Maduro comments on fuel subsidies

| December 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

(Reuters) – Venezuelan bonds tumbled to new lows on Monday after President Nicolas Maduro said he is in “no hurry” to raise the price of gasoline, which is the cheapest in the world thanks to a huge subsidy that drains the OPEC nation’s coffers.

Investors are growing worried that Venezuela could default on its foreign debt due to capital flight caused by its currency control system and a tumble in crude prices that has cut into its hard currency holdings.

The country’s benchmark Global 2027 bond fell 5.13 percent to $37.63 to yield 26.46 percent. State oil company PDVSA’s 2017 bond lost 7.69 percent to $43.00 to yield 72.45 percent.

Venezuelan bonds on average yield 30.18 percentage points more than comparable U.S. Treasuries, according to JPMorgan’s Emerging Market Bond Index. They have lost 43.75 percent of their value this year, compared to a drop of 43.20 percent ... Read More

Who Gets Citgo’s Assets If Venezuela Defaults?

| December 16th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Ye Xie, Katia Porzecanski and Pietro D. Pitts

Venezuela’s bondholders have long held that if the South American country ever defaulted, they’d be able to seize its refineries and almost 6,000 gas stations in the U.S.

That notion is starting to unravel, just as plunging oil prices, a collapsing economy and dwindling foreign reserves has made swaps traders almost certain that Venezuela will renege on its obligations in the next five years.

Creditors would have a hard time convincing U.S. courts that Citgo Petroleum Corp., the Houston-based unit owned by Venezuela’s state oil company, is legally an “alter ego” of the government and responsible for its obligations, according to law firms Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. For almost two decades, bondholders have assumed the ability to seize Citgo assets would deter Venezuela from stopping debt payments, which has propelled gains ... Read More

Venezuela reels under failing economy with no signs of improvement

| December 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Tampa Tribune

By Juan Carlos Chavez

TAMPA — For Venezuelans living in Tampa and across Florida, the news from home is painful to hear this Christmas season, with a growing economic crisis, a popular uprising and a harsh government crackdown.

Feb. 12 will mark the one-year anniversary of civil unrest in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, against the regime of President Nicolas Maduro. The violence of the past 10 months has left more than 1,400 dead and thousands behind bars or injured.

Much of the anger on the streets arises from Maduro’s inability to restart a failing economy.

Citizens face shortages of basic necessities such as bread, toilet paper and milk. Inflation has risen to 63 percent, and many believe — with Venezuela’s economy heavily dependent on oil prices that now are in a tailspin — the country will enter a period of hyperinflation in the next few months.

“It is expected that the situation will worsen because the administration ... Read More

Venezuela’s Maduro says he hasn’t broken relations with U.S. only out of ‘Chavista wisdom’

| December 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said in a recorded television interview aired Sunday that he had wanted to break “all” relations with the United States and close Washington’s embassies and consulates, but he decided not to out of “Chavista wisdom.”

In a TV interview taped, evidently, on Saturday evening and aired while he was speaking on Sunday in Cuba at the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA, presidential summit, Maduro confirmed that on Monday a march to repudiate U.S. policies against him will be held in Caracas.

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in recent days have approved measures awaiting signature by President Barack Obama to deny visas and freeze assets of Venezuelan officials accused of violating the rights of Maduro opponents.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced last Friday that Obama approves of the initiative, although he offered no ... Read More

Venezuela’s Maduro says ‘no rush’ to hike world’s cheapest gasoline

| December 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

(Reuters) – Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro said there was “no rush” to hike the world’s cheapest gasoline prices, suggesting the increasingly unpopular president has shied away from implementing the risky domestic reform in the near future amid an economic crisis.

“I’ve considered, as head of state, that the moment has not arrived,” he said in a pre-recorded interview broadcast on the Televen channel on Sunday.

“The moment will come, maybe in 2015, there’s no rush, we’re not going to throw more gasoline on the fire that already exists with speculation and induced inflation.”

Venezuela’s economy is flailing under the weight of an over 60 percent annual inflation, an apparent recession, strict currency controls, and slipping oil prices.

Maduro has appeared reluctant to make necessary but unpopular economic adjustments, such as hiking gasoline prices for the first time in two ... Read More

“Obama debe ser muy agresivo aplicando las sanciones contra funcionarios de Venezuela”: Roger Noriega en NTN24

| December 12th, 2014 | No Comments »

El exembajador de Estados Unidos ante la OEA, Roger Noriega, dijo en El Informativo de NTN24 que Estados Unidos está “comprometido con el Estado de Derecho y la democracia” de América Latina, por lo que el Gobierno de Barack Obama deberá ser drástico con las sanciones a los funcionarios del régimen venezolano que violaron los derechos humanos de los ciudadanos de este país. 

De click aquí para ver la entrevista.

Read More

Venezuela Default Odds at 93% as Bonds Sink to 16-Year Low

| December 12th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Katia Porzecanski 

Swaps traders are almost certain that Venezuela will default as the rout in oil prices pressures government finances and sends bond prices to a 16-year low.

Benchmark notes due 2027 dropped to 43.75 cents on the dollar as of 11:35 a.m. in New York, the lowest since September 1998, as crude extended a bear market decline. The upfront cost of contracts to insure Venezuelan debt against non-payment for five years is at 59 percent, bringing the implied probability of default to 93 percent, the highest in the world.

This year’s 38 percent plunge in oil prices has exacerbated concern that Venezuela is running out of dollars needed to pay debt, pushing bond prices to levels investors haven’t seen since the 1998 Russian financial crisis spurred a selloff in emerging markets. Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez, also the country’s OPEC representative, said yesterday that the government is working constantly with ... Read More

Obama Favors Sanctions for Abuse of Venezuela Protesters

| December 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


CARACAS, Venezuela — President Obama plans to sign into law a bill that would impose sanctions on Venezuelan government officials responsible for human rights violations or violence against protesters who took part in antigovernment demonstrations here this year, a White House spokesman said in Washington on Thursday.

Venezuela is a major oil supplier to the United States, but the two countries have had rocky relations during the governments of two leftist presidents, Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chávez, who died last year.

Mr. Maduro has condemned the proposed sanctions and hinted at possible reprisals.

“The gringos now say that they are going to impose sanctions on Venezuela,” he said on Wednesday. “No one imposes sanctions on Venezuela, because our people decided to be free.”

The bill, which passed the Senate and the House ... Read More

EU must act against ‘ever increasing authoritarian practices’ in Venezuela

| December 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Parliament Magazine

By Dita Charanzová

In a desperate move to preserve the Chavista regime, president of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro has been resorting to extreme and desperate measures to prevent his government from collapsing. Maduro’s struggle to preserve his power is alarming, and the situation is quickly deteriorating.

As a result of the ever increasing authoritarian practices being employed, Venezuelans are suffering further restrictions on their freedom of expression, greater censorship over the media, police brutality – especially against protestors – and the arrest and detention of the political opposition.

The recent arrest of opposition leader and former national assembly deputy Maria Corina Machado on 3 December for allegedly plotting to assassinate president Maduro signalled the continuation of the government’s desperation to silence and punish opposition.

This is why I, together with my colleague Fernando Maura Barandiarán, have initiated a resolution on behalf of ALDE for the European parliament to address the persecution of democratic opposition in Venezuela ... Read More

Venezuela On the Road to Default

| December 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Legal Insurrection

By Casey Breznick

Over the summer I covered the Argentine government’s default on its debts owed to U.S. hedge funds—its second default in just 13 years.

Now fellow Latin American socialist paradise Venezuela is gearing up for a default of its own, as precipitously falling oil prices have decimated the country’s budget and will continue to pressure its currency reserves. Since mid-June, crude oil prices have declined by more than 30%, with West Texas Intermediate (the benchmark measure for North American oil) dipping to $60.55/barrel before ultimately settling at a 5-year low of $61.54/barrel on Wednesday.

A CNBC report on the prospect of a Venezuelan default cited a Capital Economics report stating that a default could be expected by next September or October when $5 billion in debt payments come due. Only an upswing of oil prices to somewhere around $121/barrel would allow Venezuela to balance its budget, according to some estimates. But with OPEC recently slashing its 2015 ... Read More

U.S. House Passes Bill Sanctioning Venezuelan Officials

| December 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill Wednesday sanctioning Venezuelan officials who had allegedly committed human rights abuses earlier this year.

The bill requires the U.S. to lift the visas of the Venezuelan officials and calls for the government to freeze any assets such officials might have in the U.S.

The bill, which passed the Senate on Tuesday by voice vote, is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama .

Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), a sponsor of the bill, called on other governments to deny Venezuelan officials involved in human rights violations “entry into their countries and access to their financial systems.”

On Tuesday in Caracas, Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, blasted the bill when it passed the Senate. “We don’t accept insolent, imperialist sanctions,” Mr. Maduro said in a nationally broadcast speech to military personnel. He angrily accused U.S. officials of “interfering” in Venezuelan affairs.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), who ... Read More

U.S. Moves to Penalize Venezuelan Officials

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


The U.S. government moved closer to hardening sanctions on Venezuelan officials for alleged human rights abuses after Senate lawmakers passed a bill that now heads to the lower house, which has backed a similar proposal, for a vote this week.

The Senate voted late Monday to freeze the bank accounts and assets and decline visas to Venezuelan officials allegedly involved in a violent crackdown this year on Venezuelan protesters in which 43 people were killed. In May, the House overwhelmingly approved, by voice vote, a similar sanctions bill.

Florida congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said the Senate legislation would be brought to a vote this week in the House, saying it was important to “not allow the actions of President Nicolás Maduro] to go unpunished.”

In Caracas, Venezuelan Mr. Maduro reacted angrily to the bill. “Outrage and condemnation is what we feel towards the White House,” Mr. Maduro said in a televised speech ... Read More

Sanciones a Venezuela podrían llevar a cambio de política de Estados Unidos

| December 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


El proyecto de ley aprobado por el Senado para sancionar al chavismo -que probablemente será ratificado esta semana por la cámara baja- contiene disposiciones que podría forzar un cambio en la política estadounidense hacia el régimen de Nicolás Maduro, obligando al Departamento de Estado a ser mucho más proactivo en asistir a los venezolanos a recuperar la democracia.

La nueva legislación también podría congelar los activos en dólares fuera de Estados Unidos de los funcionarios chavistas implicados en violaciones a los derechos humanos.

El proyecto de ley bipartidista, que en primera instancia congelaría las propiedades de al menos 56 líderes de la Revolución Bolivariana, también fortalece la posición de quienes están a favor de adoptar una posición mucho más agresiva frente a la destrucción de las instituciones democráticas en Venezuela y podría conducir a una mayor distribución de recursos para ese fin, señaló el ... Read More

Oil price plunge means survival of fittest

| December 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Anjli Raval

The 40 per cent plunge in the price of oil over the past six months is testing the mettle of the world’s biggest producers, from Venezuela to Iran and Russia. But it is also a survival of the fittest at a more granular level — among the world’s megaprojects.

Energy Aspects, a London-based consultancy, estimates that more than 12 per cent of global oil production would be uneconomic if the majors were to give the go-ahead to existing projects at today’s prices.

Most at risk are those in the Canadian oil sands which has a break-even price of $80 a barrel, US shale plays and other areas of tight oil ($76). Brazil’s deepwater fields ($75) and Mexican projects (around $70) are also vulnerable.

None of this looks pretty, particularly as most new production scheduled to come on line in the next couple of years is set to come ... Read More

Venezuela needs cash, but there’s no easy way to get it

| December 9th, 2014 | No Comments »


Days after OPEC decided not to give into Venezuela’s pleas to cut oil production, President Nicolas Maduro has begun talking up several moves to raise money, including plans to slash 20 percent of “unproductive” spending and an attempt at “perfecting” the country’s foreign exchange system.

“Clearly the government is trying to send signs to the market that they are working on necessary adjustments that the economy needs in order to honor international commitments and keep up with social policies, which are essential for political stability,” said Diego Moya-Ocampos, a senior political risk analyst at IHS. “However, these policy adjustments are not enough. This reflects simply that the government is desperately looking for funds to compensate for the lost revenues from declining oil prices.”

The sharp decline in oil prices—Brent crude is at a five-year low—is making Venezuela’s autocratic government act swiftly. The commodity accounts for 95 percent of the country’s export earnings.

Barclays predicts that ... Read More

U.S. Senate approves Venezuela sanctions

| December 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


The U.S. Senate on Monday passed a bill imposing targeted sanctions against Venezuelan officials responsible for violence and political arrests in the wake of anti-government protests earlier this year.

During a sparsely attended Senate session, the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 was passed by voice vote. The bill had been caught in a political tug of war since May when the House passed a similar version of the sanctions.

In a statement, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) applauded the measure and asked her House colleagues to take up the Senate version so “Venezuela’s oppressors will be denied visas to enter the United States and their properties along with their assets will be frozen.”

The Senate bill targets Venezuelan authorities who directed “significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses against persons associated with the anti government ... Read More

Venezuelan Bond Buyers Pack Into Manhattan Law Office

| December 9th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Katia Porzecanski

The scores of money managers and analysts who crowded into Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s panel discussion on Venezuela last week are a testament to the deepening concern over whether President Nicolas Maduro can make good on the nation’s debt obligations.

During the two-hour event on the 39th floor of the law firm’s downtown Manhattan office, some 150 attendees pressed the lawyers on an array of potential scenarios if Venezuela defaulted, according to interviews with six attendees who asked not to be identified because the meeting was private. Among the topics debated were whether the state oil company’s U.S. gasoline stations could be seized as collateral and whether it was legally possible for Venezuela to restructure the producer as an empty shell to avoid bondholder claims, they said.

For a country that hasn’t missed a foreign bond payment in decades, the questions reflect ... Read More

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