Posts Tagged ‘Nicolas Maduro’

Obama administration would back sanctions against Venezuela: official

| November 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration would like to work with the U.S. Congress to impose sanctions on Venezuela in response to a crackdown on anti-government protests, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Tony Blinken, who is Obama’s choice to be deputy secretary of state, said Washington had refrained from pushing for sanctions in the past few months to allow diplomatic efforts by some Latin American countries to secure the release of opposition leaders from jail and nudge Caracas toward electoral reform.

But those efforts have failed, Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his nomination hearing. “We would not oppose moving forward with additional sanctions,” he said.

In July, Washington barred a group of Venezuelan officials, including government ministers and presidential advisers, from the United States after accusing them of abuses in the crackdown on protests against President Nicolas Maduro this spring.

But the State Department did not ... Read More

Venezuela’s Maduro Raises Taxes, Reserves to Help Growth

| November 20th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Anatoly Kurmanaev and Jose Orozco

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro raised taxes on goods ranging from yachts to rum and increased international reserves as the government responds to the lowest oil prices in four years. Bonds rallied by the most in almost six years.

The president said in a four-hour televised address late yesterday that the 28 laws he signed using decree powers will restore growth in an economy suffering the world’s fastest inflation and shortages of basic goods. He ordered that a $4 billion loan from China be added to international reserves.

“Maduro is at last recognizing there’s a need for a fiscal adjustment and stronger reserves,” Orlando Ochoa, economics professor at Andres Bello Catholic University in Caracas, said by telephone. “The measures in themselves are a drop in the ocean given the magnitude of the problem. Rather, this is a signal of bigger steps to ... Read More

Venezuela Bond Exodus Accelerates on Spurned Devaluation

| November 17th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Nathan Gill and Katia Porzecanski 

Bond investors are abandoning Venezuela as President Nicolas Maduro’s administration signals the nation doesn’t intend to devalue the currency with sinking oil prices undermining its ability to pay debt.

The country’s $4 billion of dollar-denominated debt due 2027 plummeted to an almost six-year low of 55.10 cents on the dollar yesterday after Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres said this week that there’s “no devaluation planned.” The securities have fallen 14.1 percent this month, posting the biggest drop inemerging markets over that span.

Concern is deepening that Maduro isn’t moving fast enough to bolster the nation’s finances at a time when the price of its oil, which accounts for about 95 percent of Venezuela’s exports, has plunged 28 percent since June to a four-year low. A devaluation would give the government more bolivars for each dollar of export revenue from state oil monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela SA and narrow its price gap ... Read More

Falling oil prices put Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro in a vice

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

By Nick Miroff

CARACAS, Venezuela — Six months ago, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro faced bloody protests demanding his resignation. The streets were clogged with flaming barricades. By the time the smoke cleared, dozens of protesters and national guardsmen were dead, and Maduro’s government was widely assailed for rights abuses.

Those were the good old days.

Venezuelan oil, the lifeblood of the leftist revolution entrusted to Maduro by the late Hugo Chávez, was worth $97 a barrel then. Now it’s middling around $70, and with every dollar it dips, Venezuela’s export-dependent, popularity-challenged government loses $700 million a year.

With the money pot shrinking, Maduro’s approval rating has slumped to 30 percent, according to recent surveys, down from 55 percent in April 2013. The supermarket scarcities and unchecked crime that fueled the protests earlier this year are as bad as ever.

Loath to adopt austerity measures that would hit his softening support base, Maduro has been borrowing money ... Read More

Traders Are ‘Scared As Hell’ Of What’s Happening In Venezuela

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Business Insider


Venezuelan investors are abandoning ship en masse after the government indicated that it would not take immediate measures to stop the country from sinking deeper into chaos.

“I am scared as hell,” one Latin American bond trader said. “Default [is] likely within 12 months; the oil price collapse [is] just adding to a completely dysfunctional political and financial situation.”

The signal to head for the exits was so subtle that you would have missed it if you were not paying close attention.

This week the Venezuelan government reiterated that it would not devalue its currency, giving it more bolivars for every dollar. It does not want to do that because the country already has the highest inflation rate in the world, at 64%.

The official exchange rate is 6.3 bolivars per dollar, but the black-market rate sits at 113.62 bolivars to the dollar.

... Read More

With goods scarce in Caracas’s stores, street sales boom and officials glower

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

CARACAS, Venezuela — The sprawling street market that radiates outward from the metro station in Petare, Caracas’s largest slum, is the retail equivalent of an anti-Target.

There’s no organization to it. Tube socks and school supplies are sold beside giant pyramids of pineapple and piled yucca. Leopard-print hot pants stretch over mannequin buttocks next to the stinky stalls of fishmongers.

The bazaar was known until this month as one of the city’s biggest open-air black markets, the place to find all the scarce items that shoppers must queue up for hours to get in supermarkets, or can’t find at all. Earlier this year, toilet paper and corn­meal were scarce; lately it’s diapers and deodorant that have “gotten lost,” as Venezuelans say.

Authorities mostly turned a blind eye to the informal commerce, but late last month Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro went on TV to decree a ban on street sales of coffee, eggs, shampoo and ... Read More

Counting Pennies In Venezuela

| November 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Daniel Bases

It was a gloomy, rainy night in Boston last week where emerging market analysts and portfolio managers huddled together before an audience of 75+ people to discuss an equally gloomy situation in Venezuela, specifically whether or not the nation, with the biggest proven oil reserves in the world, is on the precipice of defaulting on its debt.

Trying to figure out what economic and fiscal policies the administration of President Nicolas Maduro will follow to alleviate rampant inflation and shortages is akin to trying to read tea leaves. But a panel put together by EMTA laid out the scenarios and discussed the implications of any potential default. The talk of default really kicked off Sept. 5, 2014 after anarticle published by former Venezuelan planning minister Ricardo Hausmann and Harvard research fellow Miguel Angel Santos asked whether or not Venezuela should default.

Maduro is the hand-picked successor of former President Hugh ... Read More

Oil Price a Concern Says Venezuela as Al-Naimi Visits

| November 7th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Ben Sharples and Pietro D. Pitts

The price of oil is a “concern for everyone,” Venezuela’s representative to OPEC said after a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s oil minister yesterday.

Rafael Ramirez, who is also Venezuela’s foreign minister, told reporters at a climate-change conference on Margarita Island that Saudi Arabia’s participation at the event was part of a meeting between friends. The Middle East nation is the biggest producer in the Organization Of Petroleum Exporting Countries, a 12-member group responsible for about 40 percent of the world’s oil supply.

Brent crude has collapsed to the lowest level in more than four years amid speculation that global supply is outpacing demand. OPEC’s leading producers are responding by cutting prices, resisting calls to reduce supply as they compete with the highest U.S. output in three decades.

Ramirez greeted Saudi Arabia’s Ali Al-Naimi as he arrived at the event before they began ... Read More

En Venezuela se necesitan 3.5 salarios mínimos para la alimentación de una familia

| November 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


En Venezuela, una familia promedio debe peregrinar por “el menor costo posible” para completar una canasta alimentaria que, aún subvencionada, está un 17 por ciento por encima del salario mínimo y que es irreal con un mercado que ignora las regulaciones del Estado.

En el país petrolero, un ciudadano puede pagar por un kilo de café 220 bolívares (34 dólares) en el primer establecimiento que lo consiga, o puede recorrer las calles hasta dar con una tienda que lo venda a 26.50 bolívares (4.2 dólares) y hacer que el precio subsidiado del Ejecutivo se convierta en una realidad.

La distorsión entre los precios establecidos por el Gobierno de Nicolás Maduro y los establecidos por el mercado se extiende sobre los más de 40 productos de la Canasta Alimentaría Normativa (CAN), que, según las autoridades, tiene un valor de 5,741 bolívares (911 dólares).

En 2011, el Gobierno del fallecido Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) ... Read More

US Sen Rubio sees new hope for Venezuela sanctions

| November 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio hopes Republican gains in midterm elections will breathe new life into efforts to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials who commit human rights abuses.

The Florida Republican is a sponsor of legislation targeting Venezuela’s socialist government that has been stalled since clearing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May with bipartisan support. Similar legislation, which instructs the Obama administration to freeze the U.S. assets of known abusers and commit more American funding to pro-democracy groups in the South American country, has already passed the U.S. House.

Speaking in Colombia’s capital a day after Republicans won control of the Senate, Rubio said Wednesday that he welcomes the Obama administration’s decision in July to impose a travel ban on more than 20 unidentified senior Venezuelan officials who played a role crushing anti-government demonstrations earlier this year. At least ... Read More

Las Naciones ‘Sumergidas’ de Latinoamérica

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

Líderes políticos y diplomáticos de América Latina y el Caribe saben más sobre Cuba y Venezuela que incluso los observadores más astutos en Washington. Por lo tanto, deberían saber lo que le conviene más a su región ¿no?

Entonces, ¿por qué el Grupo de América Latina y el Caribe en la ONU le dio su apoyo a Venezuela para ser el próximo representante de la región ante el Consejo de Seguridad? Y, ¿por qué están determinados en invitar a el déspota cubano Raúl Castro a la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá en la primavera?; haciendo caso omiso de las objeciones por parte de sus socios comerciales más importantes, como Estados Unidos y Canadá.

Para muchas generaciones de latinoamericanos, Cuba fue el hogar de algunas de las mejores editoriales de lengua española en el mundo, cientos de periódicos y estaciones de radio de calidad, derechos laborales progresistas, altos niveles de alfabetización y ... Read More

Latin America’s ‘submerging nations’

| November 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

The political leaders and diplomats of Latin America and the Caribbean know more about Cuba and Venezuela than even the keenest observers in Washington. So, they should know better, right?

Then why did the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean at the UN designate Venezuela to take the region’s non-permanent Security Council seat?

And, why are they determined to invite Cuban despot Raúl Castro to the Summit of the Americas in Panama next spring, ignoring the objections of the leaders of the consequential trade partners in the United States and Canada?

For generations of Latin Americans, Cuba was home to some of the world’s best Spanish-language publishing houses, hundreds of quality newspapers and radio stations, progressive labor rights, the region’s highest rates of literacy and nutrition, and a robust middle class.

Then came the Castro revolution. Although some may have been caught up ... Read More

In violent Venezuela, bulletproof everything

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By Patricia Clarembaux

Caracas (AFP) – Venezuela is known for its obsession with beauty contests and plastic surgery. Now, the latest fashion rage is bulletproof clothes and cars to protect against rampant violent crime.

Miguel Caballero, a Colombian designer known for his bulletproof clothing, told AFP that over the past seven months up to 30 percent of his sales are with people sporting his style-meets-safety duds in Venezuela.

The oil-rich country has a huge gap between rich and poor, and sadly, it boasts the world’s second-highest homicide rate.

Costly precautions like protective clothing, armored cars and bodyguards used to be the stuff of presidents and entertainers like pop star Ricky Martin.

But Venezuela is a violent mess. Nearly four kidnappings per week are reported, according to the government, 65 people a day die violent deaths, according to NGOs, and the obsession with survival is spreading everywhere.

Caballero says his customers are Venezuelan ... Read More

Blackout Halts Venezuela’s Largest Refinery

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Ezequiel Minya

Caracas—A power failure temporarily halted Venezuela’s largest oil refinery late Tuesday at the same site of the country’s deadliest oil industry accident in 2012.

State oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, known as PdVSA, said a “strange” malfunction occurred at 9:10 p.m. local time at the Amuay refinery in the northwestern state of Falcon. The facility is part of the Paraguana Refining complex, which has a total processing capacity of 955,000 barrels a day.

A Twitter message posted on the account of Oil Minister Asdrubal Chavez just before midnight said that the blackout had been fixed and power reestablished. The posted messages also promised an investigation into the cause.

A timetable for the facility’s return to operation hasn’t been provided. Calls seeking confirmation from the ministries of energy and information weren’t answered.

Authorities said no “fire or explosions” had occurred and didn’t report any injuries, though they did report that the smoke visible ... Read More

Could Low Oil Prices End Venezuela’s Revolution?

| November 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New Yorker

By Girish Gupta

In early September, the Harvard economist and former Venezuelan planning minister Ricardo Hausmann wrote an essay, published online at Project Syndicate, suggesting that there were sound economic reasons the country might choose to default on a debt payment of more than five billion dollars that was due to investors the following month. The government might thereby spread the challenges of economic recovery among other creditors, he argued. Already, Hausmann said, Venezuela had “chosen to default on thirty million Venezuelans” by failing to pay suppliers and allow importers access to hard currency, and by leaving its citizens short of basic goods and services. Currency controls enacted more than a decade ago have created shortages of basic products, including shampoo, diapers, and insect repellent. Supermarket lines have stretched for hundreds of metres, with thousands of people waiting to shop, and scuffles sometimes break out when products arrive. Annual inflation is at more ... Read More

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister to Visit Venezuela

| November 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Kejal Vyas

CARACAS—Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi will make a rare trip this week to Venezuela, according to people familiar with the matter, as the South American nation’s struggling economy endures a sustained drop in oil prices.

Mr. al-Naimi will hold a private meeting on Wednesday with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramírez, who until recently served as the country’s powerful oil czar and head of state energy giant Petróleos de Venezuela, or PdVSA, diplomats said. The meeting, which Mr. Ramírez requested, will take place on the Caribbean resort island of Margarita where Venezuela is hosting a climate conference, the diplomats added.

Venezuela last month said it wanted to call for a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to discuss the steep drop in the price of the commodity that accounts for 96% of the country’s exports.

The price decline adds a new layer of discomfort for President Nicolás Maduro, ... Read More

Shortages, Inflation Threaten Venezuela Christmas

| November 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By Hannah Dreier

Venezuela is stepping up efforts to combat shortages and rising prices so families can have a merry Christmas complete with 12-cent sacks of sugar and 50-cent chickens.

President Nicolas Maduro announced Friday that he is deploying hundreds of inspectors to enforce the government’s price regulations, which set the cost of everything from milk to toothbrushes artificially low.

“Today we deploy, and in November and December you will see that we have guaranteed a happy Christmas for the people,” he said during televised remarks.

The move is part of expanded effort to combat chronic shortages, smuggling, and runaway inflation that are putting great stress on consumers in the socialist Latin American country. The new initiatives come as Maduro’s approval ratings have plunged into the low 30 percent range, and his party prepares for congressional elections next year.

Maduro recently announced that his administration had taken over warehouses where “bourgeois criminals” were hoarding food ... Read More

Venezuela, with world’s largest reserves, imports oil

| November 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »

By Peter Wilson

CARACAS, Venezuela — For the first time in its 100-year history of oil production, Venezuela is importing crude — a new embarrassment for the country with the world’s largest oil reserves.

The nation’s late president Hugo Chávez often boasted the South American country regained control of its oil industry after he seized joint ventures controlled by such companies as ExxonMobil and Conoco. But 19 months after Chávez’s death, the country can’t pump enough commercially viable oil out of the ground to meet domestic needs — a result of the former leader’s policies.

The dilemma — which comes as prices at U.S. pumps fall below $3 per gallon — is the latest facing the government, which has been forced to explain away shortages of basic goods such as toilet paper, food and medicine in the past year.

“The government has destroyed the rest of the economy, so why not the oil industry ... Read More

Venezuela, Ecuador to present OPEC with plan to defend oil prices

| November 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Brian Ellsworth

CARACAS Nov 1 (Reuters) – Venezuela and Ecuador are working on a joint proposal to defend oil prices that the two countries will present at the next OPEC meeting, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday.

Venezuela was the first country to request an extraordinary meeting of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to discuss the sharp drop in crude prices that began in October, but the idea got little support.

“Our Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez was in Ecuador today coordinating with the government of President (Rafael) Correa, and we are going to take a proposal to OPEC,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast. “We’re working internationally to defend, as we should, the price of oil.”

OPEC meets to review policy on Nov. 27.

The weekly average of Venezuela’s basket of crude and refined products dropped on Friday by $0.11 from the week before, to $75.79 per barrel. The price of benchmark ... Read More

Colombians Jailed in Venezuela for $15 Grocery Run

| November 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By Joshua Goodman

A $15 grocery run has cost two single mothers from Colombia 48 days in jail, along with the threat of a 14-year prison sentence, as a result of a crackdown on smuggling in Venezuela that is ratcheting up tensions and highlighting growing economic distortions between the neighbors.

Jenifer Rojas and Belsy Alvarez were arrested in early September by Venezuela’s national guard walking out of a supermarket in the western city of San Cristobal with bags of rice, pasta, mayonnaise and other staples whose prices are capped in Venezuela and whose sale is restricted to the country’s residents.

Along with the cashier who rang up their purchases, they face charges of smuggling and violating the socialist government’s new law of fair prices, whose penalties include 10 to 14 years in jail.

The Colombian women were let out on parole late Friday while they await trial and must now appear in court every ... Read More

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