Venezuelan Daily Brief

Published in association with The DVA Group and The Selinger Group, the Venezuelan Daily Brief provides bi-weekly summaries of key news items affecting bulk commodities and the general business environment in Venezuela.

Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30th, 2011

Economics & Finance

BOFA-MERRILL LYNCH says Venezuela issues most debt in Latin America
The Chavez Administration has resorted to borrowing abroad to increase the government's cash flow to boost the economy. In its latest report on Venezuela, Bank of America Merrill Lynch states that this year the country issued US dollar denominated bonds for U$D 7.2 billion, which is 46% of all debt placed by the major economies of Latin America.  The financial institution forecasts that in 20012 Venezuela will continue to be Latin America’s largest issuer of foreign debt to cover its fiscal deficit, due to the policy of increased spending in the midst of an election year. (El Universal, 12-29-2011;

FITCH projects expanded credit and liquidity in the Venezuelan banking system
In a report analyzing tendencies within the Andean region’s banking system FITCH says Venezuela will continue increasing credit. “FITCH expects that the overall portfolio will continue to expand in real terms during 2012 as the expansive fiscal policy supports economic growth". More in Spanish: (El Universal; 12-29-2011;

Government held banks increase financing to Government up to 106%
The Finance Ministry is relying more on state controlled banks as a source for public spending. The Ministry sells bonds and Treasury bills on a weekly basis to these banks in order to increase cash availability. The Bank Superintendent reports that bond and bill portfolios increased by 106% from November 2010 to November 2011, from VB 24.388 billion to VB 50.255 billion. The main activity of government held banks is to purchase financial instruments from the Ministry. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 12-30-2011;

Chavez creates Advisory Council on arbitration, expropriations
President Hugo Chavez created councils to advise the government on international arbitration cases and the expropriation of assets here. Chavez, who has seized assets from 1,045 companies since coming to power in 1999 according to Venezuelan manufacturing association CONINDUSTRIA, will receive a monthly report from the boards, according to two decrees published in the Official Gazette. (Bloomberg, 12-27-2911;

Chavez claims 2011 GDP will be close to U$D 300 billion
According to President Chavez, 2011 GDP will be close to U$D 300 billion, up from less than U$D 100 billion a decade ago. He also claims per capita GDP is over U$D 10,000, up from U$D 4,000 during the same period. More in Spanish: (AVN, 12-29-2011;á-este-año-cerca-300-mil-millones andávez-pib-cápita-supera-10000-dólares-al-cierre-2011)


PDVSA's accounts receivable mount to U$D 10.7 billion
Energy agreements are hitting the finances of the Venezuelan oil industry. Financial statements from the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) for the first half of 2011 show that the accounts receivable stood at U$D 10.7 billion. The report underlines that such accounts are related to PDVSA's oil supply agreements with other nations. But these obligations have soared up from U$D 7.4 billion at the end of the second half of 2010. (El Universal, 12-28-2011;

Chavez: Venezuela will be world’s top oil exporter
Venezuela, which has the world’s largest certified reserves of petroleum, will become the top oil exporter within the next 10 years, says President Hugo Chavez. He has recently said: “We will reach (exports of) around 10 million barrels (per day) in the next decade”. The Andean nation was the globe’s No. 1 oil exporter from 1925 to “nearly 1970” and remains among the leaders, “but the Arabs – Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran (sic) – surpassed us,” Chavez said. (Latin American Herald Tribune, 12-28-2011;

Shortages of basic food items hits consumption in 2011
Poor food supply hit Venezuela throughout 2011. AS in previous years, Venezuelans had to spend more time and money to buy the basic basket of foodstuffs. Products with controlled prices were the most seriously affected. Essential food items such as powdered milk, edible oil and beef were hard to find during most of the year. Other items such as coffee, precooked corn flour and margarine were scarce during the second half of 2011. According to economic research firm DATANÁLISIS, the shortage index ended this year at 24.8%, according to their latest survey, compared to 8% in January this year. (El Universal, 12-28-2011;

FAO reports food inflation lower in region, persists in Venezuela
According to the UN’s FAO general inflation remained stable in Latin America for the fourth consecutive month in November, as foodstuffs slowed slightly from the previous month. Annual foodstuff inflation in Latin America fell from 8.4% in October to 8.2% in November. The same reports says the annual food prices inflation increased by a percentage point in Chile, Panamá, Perú, Uruguay and Venezuela. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 12-30-2011;

International Trade

Venezuela buying more weapons from Russia
Russia has approved credit worth U$D 4 billion to Venezuela to reinforce its military mainly in weapons. "Without the Russian readiness it would have been impossible for us to reach the training level and equipment we have now," says President Hugo Chavez, and adds that Venezuela will continue receiving air, land and sea defense equipment from Russia next year. According to Ígor Korotchenko, director of the Center that analyzes international weapons traffic, (TsAMTO), Venezuela took first place as a buyer of Russian army weaponry during 2011. Russian press agency RIA NOVOSTI reports that this year Venezuela boughtT-72B1 combat vehicles, BMP-3M infantry combat vehicles, BTR-80ª armored vehicles, artillery, missile launchers, anti-aircraft systems and other equipment. (Bernama, 12-29-2011; and more in Spanish: El Universal, 12-30-2011;

Chavez says Chinese banks to extend U$D 8 billion in financing
President Hugo Chavez said that Chinese banks will provide U$D 8 billion worth of loans next month for development projects, adding to the more than U$D 30 billion in financing since 2007 that is being repaid in oil. The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China will lend Venezuela U$D 4 billion, while the China Development Bank Corp. will loan another U$D 4 billion, renewing a bilateral investment fund, Chavez said today on state television. Bilateral trade between China and Venezuela will be about U$D 17 billion in 2011 and may reach U$D 20 billion next year, and Venezuela has increased its imports of household appliances from Qingdao Haier Co. and heavy machinery from XCMG Construction Machinery Co. using the credit line. (Business Week, 12-27-2011;


Chavez muses on US Latin America cancer plot, US calls comments “horrific”
President Hugo Chavez has questioned whether the US has developed a secret technology to give cancer to left-wing leaders in Latin America. Treated for cancer this year, Chavez spoke a day after news that Argentina's president had the disease. Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and her predecessor Lula have also had cancer. Chavez said this was "very strange" but stressed that he was thinking aloud rather than making "rash accusations". "Would it be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it?, Chavez asked in a televised speech to soldiers at an army base. He said the Central Intelligence Agency was behind chemical experiments in Guatemala in the 1940s and that it’s possible that in year to come a plot will be uncovered that shows the U.S. spread cancer as a political weapon against its critics. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the comments "horrific and reprehensible", and said they were not worthy of further response. (BBC News,;; Bloomberg, 12-28-2911;; and Reuters,

Iranian president to visit Venezuela, Cuba
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to visit Venezuela and Cuba as part of a four-nation Latin America tour in the second week of January 2012, an official said Wednesday. Ahmadinejad will also visit Nicaragua and Ecuador on the trip, his international affairs director, Mohammad Reza Forghani, told the official news agency IRNA. (AFP, 12-28-2011;

The following brief is a synthesis of the news as reported by a variety of media sources. As such, the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Duarte Vivas & Asociados and The Selinger Group.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27th, 2011

Economics & Finance

Expansive spending policy may hit 2012 inflation projection
The government will increase public spending during 2012 while authorities have estimated the annual inflation rate at between 20% and 22%. Analysts, however, believe that higher spending will impact this target. José Guerra, Director of the School of Economics at the Central University says "the (inflation) goal can’t be met because of the projected spending." Economist Orlando Ochoa believes that the expansionary spending policy will hamper the inflation goal. Analysts believe prices will behave very similarly to what they did in 2011. (El Universal, 12-26-2011;;

New U$D 4 billion loan from the China-Venezuela Fund
President Chávez announces that a new U$D 4 billion loan will be signed with the China-Venezuela Fund in February 2012. This will bring the total to U$D 8 billion, almost half of which will go to housing projects and to the central region railway project that will join Cúa-Tejerías-La Victoria-San Juan de los Morros. More in Spanish: (Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, 12-26-2011;; El Universal,

Firing freeze extended to 31 December 2012, business says competitiveness is hurt
President Chavez has signed a decree that extends the existing freeze on firing to 31 December 2012,  for all workers except management and temporary workers. FEDECAMARAS Vice President Jorge Roig says the continued freeze is bad for employment quality and hurts competitiveness, with a “vicious circle”, where employers cannot dispense with less productive workers and hire new ones. More in Spanish: (Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, 12-26-2011;órroga-inamovilidad-laboral-hasta-31-diciembre-2012; El Universal;

FEDECÁMARAS President says socialist plan is displacing the private sector
FEDECÁMARAS President says “There is here a political design to avoid sufficient strength in the private sector to balance the Government; that is they prefer multinationals, businessmen from other countries, with the State as the key economic agent, with a very much weakened surviving business community”. He says economic policy for the past 4 years has limited space for private business. More in Spanish: (El Universal;


REPSOL, ENI agree to invest U$D 1.5 Billion in Perla gas field, along with PDVSA
State-owned energy giant Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) has signed a gas-supply contract with Spain’s REPSOL-YPF and Italy’s ENi that will speed development of the “Perla 1” gas field, one of the world’s largest. PDVSA President Rafael Ramirez, has said - in a joint press conference with the heads of REPSOL-YPF, Antonio Brufau, and ENI’s Paolo Scaroni, that the three companies have signed “a contract for the supply of gas” from the Cardon IV block, where Perla 1 is located, to the PDVSA’s natural gas subsidiary, PDVSA Gas. Ramirez claims the contract gives a clear “economic signal” as to the company’s plans to “bring the gas to shore as soon as possible.” (Latin American Herald Tribune, 12-23-2011;; The Washington Post,

Venezuelan oil drops to U$D 103.89
Venezuela's oil basket slipped to U$D 103.89 this week. Oil prices fell earlier in the week and rose later in international markets, currently in turmoil from the debt crisis which is rocking European and world markets. Figures released by the Venezuela Ministry of Energy and Petroleum show the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending December 23 fell to U$D103.89 from the previous week's U$D 104.39. (Latin American Herald Tribune, 12-23-2011;

International Trade

Trade with Colombia increased 25% in ten months
The Venezuela-Colombia Economic Integration Chamber (CAVECOL) says binational trade has increased 25% after intensive meetings and bilateral agreements between both nations; and there is still pending a joint definition of terms for the Partial Agreement signed last month by Presidents Hugo Chavez and Juan Manuel Santos, which should be ready by year end. The expected definition includes the number and description of tariffs and the list of sensitive products, as well as sanitary and conflict resolution rules. The Chamber says that from January to October this year trade rose to U$D 1.753 billion, which is 25% over the same period in 2010. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 12-27-2011;

Logistics & Transport

New seaport projected in Puerto Cabello
The Bolivarian Port Authority (BOLIPUERTOS) has announced that construction of a new and modern maritime terminal will begin in Puerto Cabello during mid 2012. The project is estimated to have an initial cost of VBF 520 million and has been assigned to the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC). Official information says the first stage will be completed in 2014, and the final stage in 2030 in order to raise port capacity. The new port is projected to receive PANAMAX and POST PANAMAX ships and diminish loading and unloading times. More in Spanish: (Notitarde, 12-27-2011;


Chavez again takes to airwaves, gives out houses
President Hugo Chavez made his second live television appearance this week, this time to give out homes as part of a housing drive ahead of next year’s elections. “I’m at the head of this housing mission, it’s a personal challenge,” he said. “We can’t let our guard down.” (Bloomberg, 12-24-2011;

Keller y Asociados polling firm: Chávez is "doing very badly" in polls
Alfredo Keller, head of the Alfredo Keller y Asociados polling firm, says that President Chavez is "doing very badly" in polls. This is the reason why the Venezuelan president is promoting a campaign based on giving money and tightening the love-hate-love" knots with his followers. "Chavismo has tumbled to a third of the population. It has lost touch with the rest of the citizens. We are talking about Chávez's populism. Love for the checkbook has failed to work as effectively as in the past. Chavismo is no longer as fervent as before. Today, it is merely an estimate," said Keller in an interview. (El Universal, 12-26-2011;

Chavez denies fear of being replaced
President Chavez publicly denied that the decision to nominate Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro as Governor of Carabobo, and Executive Vice President Elías Jaua as a candidate to be Governor of Miranda state is a strategy to avoid either one becoming consolidated as a substitute. He said: “The opposition is saying I want to get rid of Jaua and Nicolás (Maduro), that I am sending them to the slaughterhouse. I am not getting rid of anyone because they are tanks that I am deploying around the nation…. I am sure they will win the Governorships of Miranda and Carabobo.” More in Spanish: (El Nacional, 12-26-2011;

The following brief is a synthesis of the news as reported by a variety of media sources. As such, the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Duarte Vivas & Asociados and The Selinger Group.

Friday, December 23, 2011

December 22th, 2011

Economics & Finance

BCV chief discards devaluation; experts say it is inevitable
Central Bank (BCV) President, Nelson Merentes denied any devaluation of the official exchange rate, currently pegged at VB 4.30 to the U$D. "That is out, it makes no sense," he said, adding that " income is guaranteed and well balanced with expenses." He also denied the possibility of increasing the currency allocation for individual Internet purchases, and said economic growth will be around 5% by the end of 2011. (El Nacional, 12-22-2011;; El Universal,; and more in Spanish: Tal Cual,; El Mundo,

Tariffs may apply on sensitive products from Colombia
Luis Alberto Russian, President of the Venezuela-Colombia Economic Integration Chamber reports that although the presidents of both countries have signed a Partial Agreement, Andean Community will continue to govern trade between the two countries until January 22 until details are worked out between negotiators from both nations. It is being suggested that Venezuela apply tariffs on “sensitive” products coming from Colombia. (El Universal, 12-22-2011;

BCV says Cost-Price Law should be applied to 50 products
The Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) has recommended that the Government apply the Law on Costs and Fair Prices to 50 products, including beef, dairy, perishable items, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items. The statement was made by Bank President Nelson Merentes, who said that "we have suggested focusing on the most driving forces of inflation” … as an approach and then extend it "to other products”. (El Mundo, 12-22-2011;

ECLAC: predicts Venezuelan economy is to grow 3% in 2012
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) lowered its estimate of economic growth for the region to 3.7% in 2012, after having projected an economic growth of about 4%, due to an adverse external environment. Due to the adjustment, ECLAC estimates that Venezuela will record a 3% GDP, while in previous reports it projected a 3.5% growth. (El Universal, 12-21-2011;

2011 real official expenditure up 67%
The government initially projected a U$D 47.44 billion budget for 2011, but due to commitments made during the fiscal year, the Venezuelan National Assembly has allocated 67% in additional funds than originally appropriated. Additional loans approved by the Venezuelan Congress came to U$D 32.02 billion. As a result, Venezuela's budgeted expenditures are now at U$D 79.5 billion. (El Universal, 12-21-2011;


Production for seven agricultural items plummeted in 2011
The National Federation of Agricultural Producers (FEDEAGRO( says Venezuelan agriculture did not recover in 2011. Weather, price controls, legal and personal insecurity, land seizures, input shortage s and the steady increase in production costs hit agriculture this year. The Federation reported that domestic agriculture continued "a downward trend noted in previous years" and recorded a significant fall in seven basic food staples. The year-end balance supplied by the farmers association states that the production of corn took a 23.68% plunge. (El Universal, 12-22-2011;

Chavez claims Venezuela will boost oil output to 3.5 Million BPD
President Chavez now claims Venezuela will boost its production of crude to 3.5 million barrels per day in 2012.
We are at 3 million, fluctuating there – a little more, a little less – there we are at 3 million. Now, in 2012, as a result of all the efforts we have made, we should make a leap to 3.5 million,” he said during a Cabinet meeting broadcast on state television. He also predicted Venezuela’s oil output will reach 4 million bpd in 2014, adding that no more than five countries in the world have “the capacity to increase production at a pace like this.” (Latin American Herald Tribune, 12-20-2011;

International Trade

MERCOSUR sets up committee to study Venezuela's deferred entry
The presidents of MERCOSUR (the Common Market of the South) set up a high level committee to seek a way to carry out Venezuela's entry into the bloc - which has been halted for five years by the Paraguayan Senate. President Chavez travelled personally to the latest MERCOSUR Summit in Uruguay in order to seek an expeditious way to overcome legal barriers based on the group’s democracy requirements, but came away empty handed as the matter was handed over to a special panel to be appointed by MERCOSUR heads of State. (El Universal, 12-21-2011;; and more in Spanish: El Nacional;


Noam Chomsky pleads with Hugo Chavez to free judge
Hugo Chavez's long-time supporter Noam Chomsky has issued a renewed appeal to the President to free a judge who was controversially jailed two years ago. Maria Lourdes Afiuni, 48, is currently under house arrest in Caracas.  Chomsky, a linguistics professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, urged Chavez to "correct an injustice". Afiuni is a cancer patient who underwent an abdominal hysterectomy while in jail. Afiuni's troubles began on 10 December 2009 when she granted bail to Eligio Cedeño, a businessman and banker who had been jailed on charges that he had evaded currency controls and, on release, fled to the United States. Her ruling triggered a furious public reaction from Chávez, who took to the airwaves claiming the judge deserved 30 years in prison and suggesting that in another era she would have been hauled before a firing squad. (The Guardian, 12-21-2011;

The following brief is a synthesis of the news as reported by a variety of media sources. As such, the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Duarte Vivas & Asociados and The Selinger Group.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 20th, 2011

Economics & Finance

International reserves drop 4.4% in 2011
Although oil prices have risen 40% to an average U$D 100.87, there is no growth in currency availability at the Central Bank for exchange needs and foreign debt payments. International reserves have dropped by 4.4% during 2011, and on December 15 were pegged at U$D 28.198 billion. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 12-20-2011;

55% of debt held abroad
Official figures from the Ministry of Finance and Planning show that July-September 2011 total central government public debt was up to U$D 78.598 billion dollars, which is an increase of 8,68%, over June this year. More in Spanish: (El Mundo, 12-20-2011;

Private sector wage purchasing power remains stagnant
The private sector has begun to recover after two years of recession, but worker purchasing power, after subtracting the effect of inflation, on average recorded only a small improvement of 1.4%, during 3Q 2011 as compared to 3Q 2010, according to Central Bank figures. Jose Guerra, director of the School of Economics, Central University of Venezuela, believes that "the private sector comes from a long recession; this means that companies sell less and in a context of high inflation is very difficult to improve the wages in real terms." (El Universal, 12-19-2011;

Bank Superintendency approves Caroni, Guayana merger
The Banking Superintendency approved the merger of Banco Caroni C.A. and Banco Guayana, according to a resolution published in today’s Official Gazette. Banco Caroni’s assets now represent 1.7% of the total in Venezuela’s banking system, making it the country’s 10th largest bank, according to data on the Superintendency’s website. (Bloomberg, 12-16-2011;


Coal processing plant expropriated 

The Government has ordered the expropriation of the Grafitos Del Orinoco carbón products industrial processing plant in the Industrial Area of Matanza, at Puerto Ordaz in Bolivar state. The plant processes such products as anthracite and liquid graphite. More in Spanish: (El Nacional, 12-20-2011;; El Universal,

Venezuela mortgages its oil to China for U$D 30 billion
China increased its claim on Venezuela's oil production this week with an additional U$D 4 billion in loans, bringing to U$D 30 billion the total owed by the nation, which is secured by future Venezuelan oil production. To repay the debt, Venezuela now sends about 410,000 barrels of crude a day to China, or half the average 806,000 barrels per day that Venezuela sent to U.S. refineries in September, the last month for which Department of Energy figures are available. The country's average production is 2.3 million to 2.4 million barrels per day. Planning and Finance Minister Jorge Giordani said this week that China does not get a discount on the oil it receives. If true, that means Venezuela is receiving the loans without paying any financing costs or interest rates. Apart from the loans, China has signed deals totaling U$D 40 billion to invest in energy projects through 2016, including an oil production and refining project called Junin in the oil-rich Orinoco Belt in eastern Venezuela. (Los Angeles Times, 12-16-2011;

Venezuelan oil slips to U$D 104.39
Venezuela's weekly oil basket slipped to U$D 104.39 as oil prices fell in international markets as hopes dimmed for a rapid resolution of the debt crisis rocking Europe and world markets. According to figures released by the Venezuela Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending December 16 fell to U$D 104.39 from the previous week's U$D 107.47. (Latin American Herald Tribune,

Rusoro may turn to arbitration to resolve Venezuela gold mining dispute
Rusoro Mining Ltd. (RML) said it may file a claim against Venezuela in an international arbitration court if negotiations to resolve the nationalization of its assets aren’t resolved within six months. Rusoro, a Vancouver-based gold mining company, said a 90- day period to form a joint venture with the government following the nationalization of the gold industry in September has expired. The company hasn’t been told about the status of the venture or any possible compensation. (Bloomberg, 12-17-2011;

Ferrominera Orinoco closes year producing 17 million tons of iron ore, still beneath break even
According to union sources, Ferrominera Orinoco will close this year producing 17 million tons of iron ore. This is an increase of almost 2 million tons above last year but still below break even, which requires producing over 20 million tons. More in Spanish: (El Mundo, 12-20-2011;

International Trade

Chávez visits Uruguay to push for Venezuela´s entry toe MERCOSUR
President Chavez says he feels well enough to attend the MERCOSUR summit meeting in Uruguay, where the Foreign Ministers of Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay and Uruguay seek ways to circumvent a veto by Paraguay’s Congress on Venezuela’s admission into MERCOSUR due to compliance issues with the group´s democracy requirements. Before departing for Montevideo, Chavez said increased trade within South America is key to meeting the challenges of the global financial crisis. More in Spanish: (Últimas Noticias, 12-20-2011;; El Nacional;; El Universal, and Agencia Venezolana de Noticias;ávez-propone-aumentar-mercado-suramericano-para-enfrentar-crisis-económica-mundial)

Trade rules with Colombia remain undefined
An inside source that withheld its identity says that despite an agreement signed by the Presidents of both nations at the close of November, specific customs rules remain undefined. Meetings last week “were not very fluid” and no agreement was reached on several instances. Colombia wants no tariff on products involved in bilateral trade from 2006 to 2010, while Venezuela expects preferential tariffs to be applied to 90% of products exchanged during the same period. More in  Spanish:  (El Universal, 12-20-2011;

Subsidized food ends up in Colombia as contraband
Products subsidized by the Venezuelan Government and sold at controlled prices through MERCAL and PDVAL goes to Colombia border towns "in large trucks at late hours and it is not known which authorities allow this”. Venezuelan made powdered milk, corn oil, and precooked flour are sold in their original packaging and at prices up to six times greater than in Venezuela. Currency exchange rates favor Colombia, making the deal even more lucrative. More in Spanish:  (El Nacional, 12-20-2011;

Venezuela receives another 60 tons of textiles from Bolivia
A second shipment of 60 tons of textiles from Bolivia, arrived in Venezuela last week. Huáscar Ajata, Bolivia's Vice Minister of Trade and Exports, reported that the shipment includes more than 100,000 units of clothing and 30% of it was prepaid by Venezuela. The rest of the shipment (70%) remains to be paid, Bolivian media reported. (El Universal, 12-19-2011;

Trade with Ecuador grew 20%
Trade between Venezuela and Ecuador grew by U$D 300 million this year, compared to 2010, says Ecuador's ambassador to Caracas, Ramon Torres. The increase is due to the development of new forms of trade in place after Venezuela withdrew from the Andean Community (CAN), says Minister of Commerce, Edmee Betancourt. Bilateral trade in 2010 was U$D 1.5 billion. (Últimas Noticias, 12-19-2011;

Venezuela and Cuba sign 47 cooperative agreements for 2012
Oil and Mining Minister Rafael Ramirez reports that both nations signed 47 agreements for cooperation during 2012, fo a total of U$D 1.6 billion. Agreements were reached for joint programs on education, agriculture, transport, trade, culture, environment sport, health and electricity. More in Spanish: (AVN, 12-20-2011;ón-para-año-2012)


Obama: "Venezuela ties to Iran and Cuba have not served its interests", Chavez calls him a “total fraud”
The US Head of State answered in written form to a questionnaire forwarded by El Universal daily in Caracas. President Obama highlighted that his government is worried to see undermined public powers in Venezuela and the ties of the Venezuelan government to Iran. He also advocated more cooperation between the United States and Venezuela. "In Venezuela, we have been deeply concerned to see action taken to erode the separation of powers." "I look forward to the day when our governments can work more closely". Obama’s replies drew immediate sharp rebukes from both Chavez – who called the US President a “total fraud” - and his supporters, demanding he “mind his own business” and leave Venezuela alone. (El Universal, 12-29-2011;; Reuters, 12-19-2011;; The Washington Post,; More in Spanish: AVN;ávez-“obama-es-fraude-total; El Universal,

Chavez rolls back seizures as shortages hurt re-election bid
President Chavez is enlisting Mexico’s Gruma SAB, French retailer Casino and other international companies to boost supplies of milk, corn flour and cement as shortages threaten to dent his bid for re-election in 2012. He is rolling back policies that have allowed him to expand control over the economy. He is forging alliances with corporations he previously accused of price-gouging.  He now says: “In the past, socialist models that nationalized everything were forced to later ease their policies.” “We’re moving towards a flexible model, our historic creation.” Colombia-based Forsa SA, which produces aluminum molding for construction, has agreed to a joint venture to produce materials for housing projects. Healso invited Cemex SAB to re-invest in the country after paying the Monterrey-based company $600 million this month to resolve a three-year dispute over compensation for assets seized in 2008. (Bloomberg, 12-16-2011;

Venezuela honors Simon Bolivar with new coffin
President Chavez has unveiled a new coffin containing the remains of 19th Century South American independence hero Simon Bolivar. The mahogany coffin, encrusted with diamonds, pearls and golden stars, was revealed at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of Bolivar's death in 1830. The president claims him as the inspiration for his "Bolivarian" revolution, though some historians say Bolivar would not agree with Mr. Chavez's socialist policies. (BBC, 12-18-2011;

The following brief is a synthesis of the news as reported by a variety of media sources. As such, the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Duarte Vivas & Asociados and The Selinger Group.