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, March 29, 2013

March 29, 2013

Economics & Finance

BARCLAYS: Undisclosed SICAD exchange rate indicates strong devaluation
Venezuela's Planning and Finance Ministry reports that the first FOREX auction through the Ancillary Foreign Currency Administration System (SICAD) was U$D 200 million allocated to 383 corporate bidders, at an unknown exchange rate, which has led BARCLAYS Capital to suggest there has been a strong devaluation of the local currency, for the second time in 47 days. Official reports have not revealed criteria for selecting beneficiaries, nor have they disclosed whether allocations went to public and private companies alike. (El Universal, 03-28-2013;;; Bloomberg,; Reuters,

Fitch Affirms Venezuela’s IDRs at ‘B+’
Fitch Ratings has affirmed Venezuela’s ratings as follows: Long-term foreign currency (FC) and local currency (LC) Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at ‘B+’; Short-term FC IDR at ‘B’; Country Ceiling at ‘B+’. The Rating Outlook is Negative. (Latin American Herald Tribune, 03-26-2013;; Reuters,

PDVSA cuts funding to welfare programs
Based on the 2012 report compiled by state-owned oil company PDVSA, the oil giant allocated fewer funds to welfare programs commonly known as missions. The Great Housing program was the only exception. According to the annual report, resources for social, agriculture and community programs fell by 22%, from U$D 15.3 billion in 2011 to U$D 11.9 billion in 2012. Resources to community programs were cut 71%, from U$D 585 million in 2011 to U$D 170 million in 2012. (El Universal, 03-28-2013;

Food manufacturers, distributors may see protests over shortages

Food manufacturers and distributors may see a wave of labor union protests in the coming days, and possible temporary closures ordered by the government, as shortages of staple foods become increasingly acute. Scarcity of basic foods has now climbed to its highest level since May 2008, according to Venezuela's central bank, which monthly calculates a scarcity index based on the availability of 17 different items in a range of shops. The Central Bolivariana Socialista de Trabajadores, CBST, which groups some 1,500 labor unions and which is politically affiliated to the government of interim President Nicolas Maduro, accuses supermarket chains of hoarding foods and speculating with prices; most economists attribute shortages to government-imposed price and exchange controls. Earlier this week members of the CBST demonstrated in various cities around the country, with the main protest target being Empresas POLAR, the country's largest privately-owned industrial conglomerate, although its operations in Caracas and Barquisimeto were not affected. The CBST plans to extend its protests to 12 of the country's 23 states. Another potential target in the foods sector is CARGILL. Although the protests are unlikely to immediately cause major disruptions to operations, they could prompt government institutions such as the tax collection agency, SENIAT, and the consumer protection agency, INDEPABIS, to carry out more spot inspections of businesses, leading to temporary closures and fines. In February INDEPABIS shut down at least five nationwide department stores chains. (LATIN-IG:

International Trade

Uruguay has requested to join the regional SUCRE currency, a move that will bring it into greater cooperation with the leftist ALBA, despite the fact it is not a member of the alliance yet. The regional currency system, the Unitary System of Regional Compensation (SUCRE) is used by Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela. (Veneconomy, 03-26-2013;


Political expert says Maduro is weakened
"The main challenge for Henrique Capriles Radonski is to make people realize that should they act as in the last presidential election of October 7, 2012. In the event of a turnout of seven million people for the opposition, winning the election of April 14 is plausible," according to Ángel Oropeza, a political expert and professor at Central University of Venezuela (UCV). He adds that pro-government voting has been be lower whenever deceased President Hugo Chávez was not running.  "History is against Chávezism; a part of the pro-government vote is tied to Chávez's figure," he says. (El Universal, 03-28-2013;

Election in Venezuela escalates with disqualifications on both sides
Everything counts in Venezuelan electioneering heading for the Presidential election on April 14, first to be held in the absence of deceased President Hugo Chávez, which is a face-off between acting President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski. (El Universal, 03-28-2013;

US former official: Washington warned Chávez about assassination in 2002

In an article published on Americas Forum, Otto Reich, former Assistant Secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, stays the US alerted late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez of an alleged plot back in 2002. Following accusations of acting President Nicolás Maduro, Reich denied Washington's involvement in the death of the Venezuelan leader, who died from cancer on March 5. "Despite the hostility that characterized the US relationship with Chávez, it is not only false to accuse the United States of killing Chávez, but the truth is that we likely prevented his assassination on more than one occasion," Reich remarked. (El Universal, 03-27-2013;

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, March 26, 2013

March 26, 2013

Economics & Finance

Venezuela launches first auction of new FOREX system
Venezuela offered U$D 200 million to local businesses yesterday in the first auction of a new foreign currency system that will bring another partial devaluation of the Bolivar. The government devalued the fixed rate of the local bolivar currency from 4.3 to 6.3 against the dollar last month. Monday's formal launch of the previously-announced Complementary System for Foreign Currency Administration (SICAD) sets up a parallel mechanism for businesses unable to cover all their dollar needs at that rate via state currency board Cadivi. (Reuters, 03-25-2013;; AVN, 03-25-2013;; El Universal,

SICAD is doomed to fail
According to financial analysts, the SICAD system is doomed to failure since it calls for compulsory use of letters of credit in order to access FOREX, and due to the insistence by Finance and Planning Minister Jorge Giordani in having the Central Bank pay foreign exporters directly. Experts say the procedure is not possible since letters of credit are regulated internationally and establish that banks undertake these obligations on behalf of clients, not third parties such as the Central Bank. Within the international system payments must be made within a set time frame, and any delays on the part of SICAD would make the Central Bank liable. Businessmen report the entire system is complicated because "purchase orders must be made through a pro forma invoice", along with a certification by the national importers registry (RUSAD) and another certificate that planned imports are not domestically produced. In addition the company must register electronically with the Finance and Planning Ministry and fill out customs information in items to be imported, all of which must be presented overnight.  More in Spanish: (Tal Cual, 03-26-2012;; El Nacional;

CANTV turned VEB 1.8 billion profits over to the Government for social programs. Last week a group of workers from the national company delivered a check for this amount to acting President Nicolas Maduro. More in Spanish: (AVN, 03-26-2013;

Economy shows signs of slowdown
After the Venezuelan economy gained 5.5% in Q4 2012, authorities predicted vigorous growth would take place this year, but actual results are flashing warning signs. Automotive production for the first two months this year has dropped 53.5% from the same term in 2012; and the banking sector is also showing weakness.
Data from consulting firm Softline Consultores shows that overall loans through the end of February have increased 1.2%, versus 2.5% for the same period in 2012.
(El Universal, 03-23-2013;

Lack of industry limits growth
Figures from the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) indicate that 96% of the country's income stems from oil activity, and that manufacturing rose a mere 1.8%, lagging behind commerce, telecoms, and financial institutions. (El Universal, 03-25-2013;

Venezuela’s minimum wage now ranks 10th in Latin America, well below Argentina ($600), Costa Rica ($500), Panamá, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Colombia ($400), and Honduras and Brazil which exceed Venezuela’s ($325), says Primero Justicia national coordinator Julio Borges. He explains that the comparison that really matters is what is called “the buying power” in each country and there “we are doing much worse”. (Veneconomy, 03-25-2013;

Officials claim unemployment is 7.6%

According to the National Statistics Institute (INE) 1,027,994 were out of the labor market in February, either because they lost their jobs or because they failed to find their first job. This is a 7.6% unemployment rate, a drop of 1.6% from 9.2% (1,210,964 people) in February 2012. (El Universal, 03-25-2013;


PDVSA revenue slips on domestic fuel sales, net profits down 6.1%
State oil company PDVSA's 2012 revenue slipped 0.2% from the year before despite an increase in oil prices as the company sold more fuel on the subsidized domestic market, the oil minister said Friday. The nation's fuel subsidy leaves the cost of gasoline and gas oil for power generation at less than 10 cents per gallon, which creates consistent losses for the state oil giant. The company paid U$D 43.9 billion to finance social programs and a development fund created by the late Hugo Chavez. Under his leadership, PDVSA evolved from a profit-oriented company into the financial engine of anti-poverty efforts. "This is not a company designed to generate profits. This is a national company. We're not here to provide benefits to private individuals," Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, who is also PDVSA president, said in comments to reporters. The oil giant's revenues were U$D 124.75 billion in 2011, with average oil prices at U$D 101.06 per barrel. 2012 income was US$D 124.45 billion. Net profits tumbled 6.1%, from U$D 4.49 billion in 2011 to USD 4.21 billion in 2012 (Reuters, 03-22-2013;; Latin American Herald Tribune,; El Universal, 03-23-2013;

Oil Ministry reports 1.4% hike in oil output
Increase in oil and gas output was reported in 2012, According to a report submitted by the Ministry of Oil and Mining to the National Assembly oil and gas output increased in 2012. The preliminary report (since operating and financial results from the audit on Pdvsa are not disclosed) indicates Venezuela's oil output averaged 3.03 million barrels per day in 2012, 1.4% above the 2.99 million recorded a year earlier. The Ministry claims "production levels are in keeping with the 364,000 bpd cut in output agreed by OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) to stop the drop in prices and bring them up again." (El Universal, 03-25-2013;

SIDOR production down 50% in 2012

Workers at the SIDOR Orinoco steel plant have stopped work there for the past five days, and have paralyzed the entire production chain. Liquid steel production in 2012 was 1510220 tons, 50% less than had been budgeted for the entire year, according to the annual report by the Ministry for Industries. The report says the drop was due to "lack of equipment and spare parts, delays in special maintenance, lack of working capital, and continuous labor stoppages". More in Spanish: (El Nacional, 03-26-2013;

International Trade

Maduro proposes ALBA-MERCOSUR economic alliance
Acting President Nicolás Maduro is calling for broadened economic integration, exchange and complementariness mechanisms among member states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA) and the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR). (AVN, 03-25-2013;


Electoral Council, UNASUR agree on attendance for election
The National Electoral Council (CNE) has entered into an agreement with the Union for South American Nations for their attendance during Presidential elections to be held next April 14. The agreement was signed by the principal director of the Council, Tibisay Lucena, and the pro tempore president of Unasur's Electoral Council, Francisco Tavara Córdoba. (El Universal, 03-25-2013;

HR advocate says 4,500 people killed in Venezuela under Nicolás Maduro
Lawyer and human rights advocate Alfredo Romero says some 4,500 people have been killed in the first 100 days of acting President Nicolás Maduro's government. He charged this is the result of inefficiency and anarchy due to the government's lack of political will to cope with crime, one of the main problems facing Venezuelans. "Twenty security plans have been implemented, yet violent crime continues escalating. This will go on as long as anarchy prevails in the legal system, and hatred and death are encouraged," Romero outlined. According to the United Nations Report on Human Development and Violence, Venezuela is in the top-five list of violent countries in the world. (El Universal, 03-23-2013;

Paris refuses to name location after "Hugo Chávez"
The Paris Mayoralty refuse to name a location there after Hugo Chávez, after the proposal was made by Communist aldermen and their allies. More in Spanish: (Tal Cual, 03-26-2013;

A study shows "chavismo" polarizes Latin America
A study by Spain's International Perspectives Institute shows Latin America, in general, does not support the continuation of support for the system established by the late Hugo Chavez, but reflects deep divisions within Latin American public opinion in this matter. According to the study there is "intense and general" support for the movement in Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua; and "general rejection for it in Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Panama and Paraguay. Polarization is not as strong in Brazil and Mexico. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 03-26-2013;

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, March 22, 2013

March 22th, 2013

Economics & Finance

Business decries limited access to U$D
Despite the creation of an ancillary Foreign Currency Administration System (SICAD), many companies will not be able access U$D through this device, according to FEDECÁMARAS First Vice President Jorge Roig, who points out the in order to use SICAD companies must have been previously enrolled in the Register of FOREX Users (RUSAD), which excludes most commercial operations, mid size and small business, and individuals. The new system seems a minefield due to the large number of obstacles along the process -hurdles that may lead to higher inflation. Economist Ángel García Banchs says the new system will bring few benefits to importers and corruption will undermine controls, and adds: "There is no better business in Venezuela than to get dollars at VEB 6.30 and sell them above this price".(El Universal, 03-21-2013; and; and more in Spanish: Tal Cual;

Maduro threatens U$D ‘speculators’ with jail time
Acting President Nicolas Maduro says the government is investigating cases of foreign exchange corruption and threatened “speculators” with jail time. “We’re investigating, and we’re going to pursue them,” Maduro said on state television. “We hope to have those responsible for dollar speculation soon. We want to see them in prison.” A shortage of dollars here has deepened since February, when 32% devaluation went into effect and the separate central bank- administered currency market was shut down. While the government sells dollars for priority imports at 6.3 bolivars, those who can’t access the system pay as much as 24 bolivars per dollar on the black market, according to Dolar Today, a website that tracks the exchange rate on the Venezuelan border with Colombia. (Bloomberg, 03-21-2013;

Socialist economic model is said to be "exhausted"
The so-called 21st Century Socialism is an "experiment" with very bad results, says former Argentinean Economy Minister Ricardo López Murphy. "I have this feeling that it will be quite challenging to understand the reasons that, despite great favorable circumstances to Venezuela, led to a poor economic performance," López Murphy said. "Severe" foreign exchange restrictions despite high oil revenues; destruction of added value; erosion of net worth in key state-run industries; "collapse" in production, and rampant indebtedness are just some of the effects of the model promoted for several years by the late President Hugo Chávez, says López Murphy. (El Universal, 03-21-2013;


Four new oil tankers arrive
Four new oil tankers for PDVSA's fleet arrived in Venezuela's eastern state of Anzoátegui on Wednesday. The tankers were received by acting president Nicolas Maduro, who inspected the vessels, along with Oil and Mining minister Rafael Ramirez , Anzoátegui governor Aristóbulo Isturiz, Chief of Staff minister Carmen Melendez. "The idea is to manage 40% of our production, of our exports with our own fleet," said Ramirez during the inspection. (AVN, 03-21-2013;

Pernambuco Refinery forges ahead with or without PDVSA
PETROBRAS Chief Gracia Foster said the Brazilian State oil company will conclude the Abreu e Lima Refinery in Pernambuco “with or without the promised support of Venezuela because it is vital for its management and business plan.” She says she has requested a meeting with PDVSA Chief Rafael Ramírez. (Veneconomy, 03-20-2013;

RUSORO Mining files UD 3 billion claim against Venezuela
RUSORO Mining Ltd, backed by Russia's Agapov family, said on Thursday it had filed a statement of claim against the Venezuela state and is seeking U$D 3.03 billion in compensation over the nationalization of its gold assets in Venezuela. The claim was filed at the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID, under the provisions of Canada-Venezuela bilateral investment treaty. (Reuters, 03-21-2013;

ALCASA and BAUXILUM fell short of 2012 production goals
State owned aluminum companies ALCASA and BAUXILUM fell short of their production goals for 2012. ALCASA processed 55,585 metric tons, which is 86% of their planned 64,653 MT. At the same time, BAUXILUM met only 49% of its plan that is 807,324 tons out of 1,650,000 tons planned. More in Spanish. (El Universal, 03-22-2012;

International Trade

Brazil's AMBEV says exit from Venezuela limited to plant closure
Cia de Bebidas das Americas SA, Latin America's largest brewer, plans to limit its exit from the Venezuelan market to closing a plant and will market its products here through a local partner. The company, known as AMBEV, plans to sell some of its brands through Cerveceria Regional, with which it announced a strategic alliance in 2010, according to an emailed statement on Thursday. AMBEV is part of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, the world's biggest brewer. (Reuters, 03-21-2013;

Brazilian firms root for Chavez's man in Venezuela vote
If Brazil's business leaders could vote in Venezuela's election next month, they would cast their ballots for Hugo Chavez's political heir, acting president Nicolas Maduro. They never supported the anti-capitalist bluster of Chavez, who died of cancer last month, but they hope to hold on to lucrative contracts for food exports and construction projects that he signed with Brazil's former leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his successor, Dilma Rousseff. "In the near term, a Maduro win would be best," said Jose Augusto de Castro, head of Brazil's Foreign Trade Association. (Reuters, 03-21-2013;

Sino-Venezuelan company plans to export vehicles into MERCOSUR
ZGT Automotive Corporation in Aragua state, a joint venture by China's ZGT and the Venezuelan government, expects to increase production of CHERY X1 and TIGGO vehicles and export them to MERCOSUR. ZGT Operations Vice President Harold Maison says they have produced 13,980 vehicles in 18 months and plan to export their vehicles to Latin America. More in Spanish: (AVN;

Logistics & Transport

Three additional airlines to service Barcelona airport in Anzoátegui state
The terminal's coordinator, José García, has announced three additional airlines will service Barcelona airport in the Eastern state of Anzoátegui, starting within the upcoming months. The airlines are RUTACA, ESTELAR and LASER. Service to the terminal is currently provided by CONVIASA, ASERCA and AVIOR. More in Spanish: (AVN, 03-22-2013;


Venezuela plot claims are ‘outlandish allegations,’ U.S. says
The U.S. State Department said today claims by Venezuelan officials of U.S.-based plots to destabilize the country are “unsubstantiated and outlandish.” Venezuela’s government has stepped up its anti-U.S. rhetoric after former President Hugo Chavez’s death from cancer March 5 triggered snap elections scheduled for April 14. His handpicked successor, acting President Nicolas Maduro, said he has evidence that former U.S. officials are plotting to assassinate opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski as a way of inciting a coup. Foreign Minister Elias Jaua yesterday suspended talks with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson after U.S. officials were expelled from Venezuela. Maduro accused them of seeking to destabilize Venezuela by meeting with military officials. (Reuters, 03-21-2013;; El Universal, 03-21-2013;; The Washington Post,

US-Venezuela diplomatic communication suspended
Communication channels established to improve relations with the United States have been temporarily suspended after "attacks" by Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, on Venezuela's election system, says Foreign Affairs minister Elias Jaua. "I hope there will be a correction and US meddling ceases," added the Minister, recalling that the commissioner to keep the communication channel with Mrs. Jacobson was Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Roy Chaderton Matos. (AVN, 03-20-2013;; El Universal,; Latin American Herald Tribune,; Fox News,

Pro government gangs attacked student march en route to Elections Council
Student demonstrations marching to the National Elections Council in order to present demands for transparency and equity in upcoming Presidential elections on April 14t, were blocked by pro government gangs who attacked the march with sticks and stones, and wounded 7 students. More in Spanish: (El Nacional, 03-22-2013;

Southern Command: Caracas may have to restate foreign policy if Maduro wins
The US Southern Command believes Nicolás Maduro can become the new Venezuelan president and that the Chavista line will continue at least in the near future. However, the Venezuelan government might reconsider the practice of "buying friends" with oil, according to John Kelly, Chief of the US Southern Command. "Expectations are that the Vice-President (Maduro) will win the election of April 14 and things will be business as usual, at least for the time being. Who knows within five years," the military chief answered a question as to his estimate of Venezuela's future after the demise of President Hugo Chávez during a hearing held on Wednesday in Washington, says DPA. (El Universal, 03-20-2013;

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, March 19, 2013

March 19, 2013

Economics & Finance

Limited SICAD exchange system officially announced
Finance and Planning Minister Jorge Giordani has announced the creation of a Complementary FOREX System (SICAD), which will tender foreign currency to companies already registered within the existing system. He made it clear these companies will not access currency; payments will be made directly by the Central Bank to foreign suppliers. Registered companies that require FOREX for their business must submit requests to local banks, which in turn will send all requests to the Central Bank. Authorities will then decide which companies can enter a FOREX tender, and which cannot. Giordani told media: "At no time will authorized companies have access to currency", in order to obtain "absolute transparency" and they monitor operations to check that requests "match imports, in terms of quality, quantity and price". No base exchange rate was set, other than VEB 6.30 per U$D. More in Spanish: (El Universal, 03-19-2013;

Economist Francisco Rodríguez says GDP to drop 3.6% and inflation will exceed 33% in 2013, with high and increasing shortage levels. He said the Venezuelan economy is behaving pretty much like Communist economies before the fall of the Berlin Wall, when governments decided they would not allow price increases but as costs increased products ended up vanishing. (Veneconomy, 03-18-2013;

Private employers in Venezuela down 44.5% in 12 years
Data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) shows a steady shrinkage in the number of private employers, who have dropped 13.6% in the last 12 months and 44.5% over the last 12 years. The number of private employers has plummeted from 672,642 in 2001 to 373,204 today, according to the INE. (El Universal, 03-18-2013;

Rating agencies FITCH and MOODY's will not change Venezuela status before elections

The agencies, which have a negative outlook on Venezuela's future, are awaiting results of the April1 4th election to select a replacement for President Chavez. Both agree the nation will face a very difficult transition. Shelly Shetty, who directs Latin American sovereign risk rating at Fisk is saying "the scope of political and social instability is lower, but the risks are now due to concerns over governance in a post-Chavez era". More in Spanish: (El Universal, 03-19-2013;


Venezuela to request cutback in OPEC oil production
Venezuela is producing 2.8 million BPD, 5.7% under the quota assigned to it by the oil cartel, and according to analyst Rafael Quiroz Serrano, when OPEC meets again at Vienna on 31 may, a number of nations including Venezuela, Qatar and Kuwait, will request a slight cut in oil production.  More in Spanish: (El Mundo, 03-19-2013;

Russia obtains Venezuelan oil for pennies per barrel
Russia's ROSNEFT and Venezuela's PDVSA, both state owned, have joined to work an oil field with reserves estimated at 40 billion barrels. The Russians will have 40% of the project, worth U$D for a project they estimate will produce 400,000 barrels per day. Oil expert Victor Poleo says: "It is very attractive to ROSNEFT to acquire or have access to reserves at an extremely low price. That 40% will bring them 16 billion barrels at a unit cost of U$D 0.10 per barrel." More in Spanish: (El Mundo, 03-19-2013;

Oil income dependency increased over the past decade
Despite the largest and longest oil price boom of all time little has been done to improve the country's economic independence and Venezuela increasingly relies on oil prices. As the domestic industry ails, constantly increasing demand can only be satisfied through imports paid for with petrodollars from the oil industry (El Universal, 03-16-2013;

International Trade

Schlumberger to reduce Venezuela work on unpaid bills
Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB), the world’s largest oil-services company, is reducing work in Venezuela because of trouble getting paid by state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA. “We are temporarily reducing activity due to our previously highlighted collection issues,” Chief Executive Officer Paal Kibsgaard said at the Howard Weil Energy Conference in New Orleans today. “We have decided to only recognize revenue in line with our collections in the first quarter.” (Bloomberg, 03-18-2013;

Logistics & Transport

Port workers face lowered income due to fewer imports
A 1000 workforce at shipping agencies, plus 2000 temporary workers at La Guaira port are facing lower incomes due to a drop in imports and exports during the Q1 2012, according to Hugo Mijares, who heads the National Association of Customs Brokers. He says imports have fallen off due to delayed FOREX supply by CADIVI. Eduardo Quintana, President of FEDECÁMARAS in Vargas state says "the terminal looks forlorn since the start of the year. Spaces that were packed in December are now somber and with no work."More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


Maduro "grief" support is volatile
According to a DATANÁLISIS poll quoted by BARCLAY's Finance Services is showing a 14.4 point gap between official candidate Nicolás Maduro (49.2%) and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles (34.8%). The study shows Maduro rose a mere 2.8% in telephone the poll conducted on March 11-13. BARCLAY's points out that although a 14 point lead appears significant, "Maduro's popularity is volatile and depends on the emotional support he received from Chavez." More in Spanish: (El Universal, 03-19-2013;

Maduro charges US plans to kill opposition leader
Acting president and ruling party presidential candidate Nicolás Maduro has charged that two former US officials - Roger Noriega and Otto Reich - are planning the assassination of opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski in order to blame his regime. In turn, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Monday “the United States categorically rejects allegations of any U.S. government involvement in any plot to destabilize the Venezuelan government or to harm anyone in Venezuela.” (El Universal, 03-18-2013;; The Washington Post,; Fox News,

Election Board head rejects US states, calls them "intrusive and disrespectful"
Election Board Chairperson Tibisay Lucena, termed statements by  Roberta Jacobson, US Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, as "sad". Jacobson had said it would be "a bit difficult" for "fair and transparent elections" to take place in Venezuela on April 14th. "We strongly reject the unfortunate statements of Ms. Roberta Jacobson, for their interventionist and disrespectful nature," says Lucena. (AVN, 03-17-2013;

Venezuela election rivals clash over crime
Moments after he registered to run in Venezuela's April 14 election, acting President Nicolas Maduro vowed to go on foot, unarmed, into the toughest slums of Caracas and ask the gangs there to lay down their guns. Maduro and his opponent, Henrique Capriles, have clashed over a top campaign issue: the daily murders, armed robberies and kidnappings that make the country one of the most dangerous in the world. (Reuters, 03-18-2013;

Henrique Capriles vows to reverse economic moves in Venezuela
Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles has pledged to adjust the minimum wage upwards by 40% and reverse the economic package approved by acting president and ruling party presidential candidate Nicolás Maduro. (El Universal, 03-18-2013;; Reuters,

"Capriles must bring Maduro down to earth"
DATANALISIS President Luis Vicente León says the core of this campaign is that while acting President Nicolás Maduro strives to incarnate the late President Hugo Chávez, in a semi-religious magic context in order to act as proxy for the absent leader; it is up to his opponent, Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles Radonksi, to bring down Maduro to his earthly level, which is not precisely the best. (El Universal, 03-16-2013;

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.