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 28, 2014

March 28, 2014

International Trade

Recent inbound cargo at Puerto Cabello:
  • 186,000 tons of aluminum ingots in 7 containers, from AJEROM INOX América Do Sul to a financial institution that has guaranteed the shipment.
  • 50,000 tons of soy and wheat durum from AGP Grain LTD to PROTINAL Zulia and PROAGRO; and from Canada to Fabrica de Pastas La Especial.
  • 16,000 tons of potassium ammonia from Lithuania to state owned CORPORACIÓN PETROQUÍMICA.
  • 6. 517 tons of frozen and chopped meat from JBS, Industrial San Martín and Novaterra for CASA.
  • Over 3.000 tons of red panels from Yokima Trading to PDVSA Industrial.
  • Over 2.000 tons of shampoo, conditioner, razors and mouthwash and 303 tons of sanitary napkins for Procter & Gamble
  • 1. 494 tons of concentrated milk and milk cream from Centrolac and Cooperativa de Productores de Leche for CASA.
  • 921 tons, 554 kgs of roofing from Kingston, Jamaica, for Italpannelli Ibérica S.A.
  • 469 tons of margarine from Bunge Alimentos and JBS
  • 300 tons of electrical appliances in 17 vans, from China's Haier Electronical Appliances to the Intermediate Industries Corporation.
  • 289 tons of sweetened and condensed milk from Macoca
  • 200 tons of milk and creamed milk in 14 vans from Nestlé México to its Venezuelan affiliate.
  • 100 tons of curry powder in bags for Fazlani Exports PVT LTD from Multimerca La Popular C.A.
  • Over 28 tons of butter and creamed milk from Chile, in 3 containers.
  • 16 tons of Isuzu Diesel Engines for Itochu Latin America, S.A. from Banco Venezolano de Crédito.
  • 13 tons 594 kgs of toilet roll brand Jumbo

Curacao seen as a possible substitute for Panama
Antonio López, President of the Nueva Esparta Customs Agents Association, says they are looking to use Curazao and Miami as alternate routes for trade. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,

Logistics & Transport

IATA calls on Venezuela to pay off airlines, minister says airlines will be paid
International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General Tony Tyler has called on the Venezuelan government to establish a plan to pay off almost U$D 3.8 billion it owed foreign airlines at "a fair exchange rate". Some 24 IATA airlines are being hurt by exchange controls here. Tyler says "let us solve the problem of currently frozen funds and set up a plan to free up that money. It does not have to be must be soon." Air and Aquatic Transport Minister General Hebert García Plaza says the government will respect the exchange rate: debts from 2012 will be paid at 4.3 VEB/U$D; debts from 2013 to be paid at 6.3; and that arising in 2014 will come under SICAD I (10.6). More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,; El Universal,; El Nacional;

Economy & Finance

SICAD II balances government books but suppliers, population pay
While the latest exchange rate system pleased bondholders and was seen as a step in the right direction by economic analysts it came at a high cost of the Bolivar-earning population by effectively devaluing the currency 88%. And though economists agreed SICAD II, launched on Monday selling dollars at around 51 bolivars, was a positive move, many said it did not go far enough. Nevertheless, Venezuela’s debt rallied after SICAD II’s launch, with the 9.25% benchmark 2027s rising from 70 last Friday to around 76. “It’s good news for bondholders because it is now easier to balance the domestic budget,” says Russ Dallen, managing partner at Caracas Capital Markets. “Almost all Venezuela’s cash flow is in dollars, but it’s expenditure is in bolivars.” Although it has to be seen as “a move in the right direction”, this budget balancing comes at the expense of companies operating in Venezuela “in good faith”, said Dallen, as well as “creating a hornet’s nest” among the people. The official Bolivar rate is 6.3 to the dollar, while SICAD I – launched earlier this year – offered dollars to a limited number of people at around 11. On the black market, which has now been decriminalized, bolivars had been trading more than 10 times the official rate before SICAD II. Barclays said the mechanism “should increase the government’s revenues and maximize its capacity to sterilize the excess liquidity in the domestic market, helping to progressively reduce the pressures on the exchange rate”. SICAD II also gives international businesses such as airlines the chance to repatriate Bolivar denominated revenues, although they would take a huge loss. Multinationals in Venezuela hold the equivalent of U$D 27billion at the official 6.3 exchange rate, said BofA Merrill Lynch. (Emerging Markets,

Barclays says the government should receive an additional VEB 460 billion through SICAD II
Alejandro Grisanti, an analyst at Barclay's says the government will receive an additional VEB 460 billion - almost 12% of GDP - through the implementation of SICAD II. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,

FOREX supply still seen as insufficient, SICAD II places restrictions
Henkel Garcia, director of Caracas-based consultancy ECONOMETRICA, says it appears SICAD II “is placing some restrictions on the operation of the new platform, which is fueling demand for the ‘black’ dollar again.” SICAD II sold U$D 5 million on the first day and U$D 38 million on the second day of trading, according to ECOANALITICA. Demand for dollars outstripped supply by five times Tuesday. Companies seeking U$D 5 million, for example, were allocated only U$D 3 million. The government needs to sell U$D 20 million to U$D 30 million a day on SICAD II to make it productive, according to Siobhan Morden, the head of Latin American fixed income at Jefferies Inc. (Bloomberg:; and more in Spanish: El Universal:

Fitch Ratings downgrades Venezuela after economic instability
Fitch Ratings has downgraded Venezuela's rating, from "B+" to "B," (speculative rating) with a negative outlook. The rating was reduced one level to B, five steps below investment grade. Venezuela is now rated in line with Lebanon, Ecuador and Rwanda. The downgrade has been attributed to "macroeconomic instability," delays in implementing policies able to address "rising inflation," and "distortions" in the FOREX market. Fitch Ratings forecasts economic contraction of 1% for 2014, following a drop to 1.3% in 2013, down from 5.6% in 2012. Venezuela’s benchmark dollar bonds due 2027 fell 0.36 cent to 76.95 cents on the dollar. (El Universal,

IMF says Venezuela needs urgent steps to straighten out its economy
International Monetary Fund (IMF) spokesman William Murray says Venezuela "urgently" needs to take steps to abate inflation and adjust economic imbalances, and added that the Fund stands "ready to assist the government in improving growth and stability". More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,; El Universal,

4 out of 10 industrial plants are currently paralyzed, around 500,000 jobs lost
A report from the National Industrial Council (CONINDUSTRIA) shows that 4 out of 10 industrial plants "have been forced to shut down" due to government takeovers, unrestrained imports and lack of raw materials. The document estimates some 500,000 direct and indirect jobs have been lost. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;

Inflation will not abate despite SICAD II
Eduardo Garmendia, President of the National Council of Industries (CONINDUSTRIA) says it will be "impossible for inflation to abate this year" due to the recent exchange adjustment under SICAD II. He warned the new rate will impact the cost of raw materials for many areas that are under price controls. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,

Food industry seeks full payment of U$D 2.6 billion government debt
The government owes companies in the food industry some U$D 2.6 billion, says Pablo Baraybar, President of the Food Industry Association (CAVIDEA). He adds that the average delay in obtaining FOREX allocations is 250 days, and some companies are over 600 days past due; and explains that it is difficult to plan imports because it takes them almost a year: 96 days to obtain permits and 240 days to pay suppliers. (El Universal,


President Maduro accepts facilitator for talks
President Nicolas Maduro has agreed to enter talks with Venezuela's opposition with the help of an outside facilitator, a group of visiting South American foreign ministers said Thursday. The diplomats didn't say where the "good faith witness" would come from, but Maduro has said he was open to international observers. He even floated a name: Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, who was the Holy See's ambassador to Venezuela until he was summoned to Rome late last year. Diplomats were still working out the details of the talks. Both sides have said they doubt their counterparts are genuinely willing to negotiate in good faith. Maduro's socialist administration also accepted another of the delegation's suggestions: the creation of a human rights commission that will report directly to the president and look into allegations of abuse by security forces. Vice-president Jorge Arreaza explained that the decision was adopted following the advice of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). "The president immediately accepted the proposal as well as others," the vice-president remarked. (ABC News; and El Universal,

Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador to promote talks, opposition rejects UNASUR as facilitator
The UNASUR designated the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador for the task of promoting peace talks between the government and other political, economic and social sectors in Venezuela. The choice was approved by the government and the Democratic Unity Conference, which has insisted on a third party facilitator for the talks. The opposition leadership said South American Foreign Ministers are not an appropriate party due to economic links with the Venezuelan government, and that a political group is not suitable for discussing human rights violations. MUD Executive Secretary Ramón Guillermo Aveledo insists the facilitator must be a party chosen through mutual agreement. President Nicolás Maduro, rejected opposition "preconditions", but reported that the National Assembly will immediately initiate proceedings to appoint vacancies on the Supreme Court, the National Comptroller, and 3 out of 5 directors of the National Elections Board. Such appointments are a major point in contention with the opposition and require a 2/3 vote in the National Assembly. A source in the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry says some of opposition demands, such as liberating political prisoners, will be "a part of the talks, not a prior condition for them". More in Spanish: (El Universal,; and El Nacional;

US: Venezuela sanctions may be ‘important tool’, Senator Rubio calls for specific sanctions.
The U.S. State Department has issued its strongest response yet to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, saying it would consider imposing sanctions if the administration of President Nicolas Maduro doesn’t reconcile with opponents who have been protesting for nearly three months. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta S. Jacobson said sanctions could become an "important tool" to pressure Maduro. "If there is no movement, no possibility of dialogue, if there's no democratic space for the opposition, obviously we have to think about this, and we are thinking about this," told reporters in Washington. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio has called upon the Senate for specific sanctions on Venezuela. Rubio charged that Nicolás Maduro "and all of his cronies, live a life of luxury". Rubio charged that "it is now known that the Interior Ministry of Venezuela authorized snipers to travel to Táchira state and fire on demonstrators"; and pointed at "pro-government militia groups" that "drive around the city in motorcycles, and they assault protesters, they break in and vandalize their homes, they have weapons that they use to shoot into the crowds and kill or harm people", saying there are "multiple reports that these groups coordinate with the National Guard." Rubio also referred to National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello as "a criminal", and said that in the next few days he will "propose specific sanctions against individuals and companies associated with the Maduro the Assembly President, Diosdado Cabello" and others he said he would come on the floor in the next few weeks and "identify them by name and the properties they own and the assets they hold in our own nation." (The Washington Post,;; and more in Spanish: CNN,; El Universal,

The UK expresses concern over violence in Venezuela
UK Vice Foreign Minister Hugo Swire has put out a statement that the British Government is "deeply concerned" over violence in Venezuela and asks "all parties to take steps to avoid confrontation".  More in Spanish: (El Universal,

France hopes the UNASUR mission can help end violence
The French Foreign Ministry has supported efforts by UNASUR Foreign Ministers in Venezuela, and hopes it will lead to a "constructive" dialogue between key parties. "It must put an end to violence and lower tensions, with respect for human rights and democratic principles, particularly freedom of expression and peaceful protest". More in Spanish: (El Universal,

Germany says Venezuela violates opposition human rights
Martin Schäfer, spokesman for Germany's Foreign Ministry, termed security forces response to protests "disproportionate", and said the Venezuelan government's response was a "violation of human rights". He called for an "urgent" dialogue that can put an end to the escalation in violence. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,

Costa Rican and Guatemalan legislatures are concerned about Venezuela
The Guatemalan House of Representatives has condemned "persecution and repression by the government and government supported groups against political parties, non government organizations and citizens who protest peacefully", and asks they "stop criminalizing dissent, and recognize political and social critics of the government". Costa Rica's Congress has approved a resolution of "concern over increased violence and divisiveness" and expressed solidarity with representative María Corina Machado, Leopoldo López, and San Cristóbal Mayor Daniel Ceballos. (El Universal,

Appeals Court refuses to set Leopoldo López free
A Caracas Appeals Court has rejected an appeal by legal counsel to free opposition leader Leopoldo López, detained in a military prison since February 18th. The decision was made public by the Supreme Court. Lopez is being held on charges of masterminding "intentional arson, public instigation, damages and collusion". More in Spanish: (El Nacional,

Opposition lawmaker returns in challenge to government
Leading opposition lawmaker María Corina Machado, facing accusations of treason during a visit abroad, has returned and vows to fight efforts to remove her from office, setting up a showdown with the government. Lawmakers from the ruling party are pushing to investigate Machado, who has called for President Nicolás Maduro’s government to step down. (Latin American Herald Tribune,; El Universal,

Government jails San Cristobal opposition mayor
The Supreme Court sentenced the opposition party mayor of the city that spawned nationwide protests to a year in jail. Daniel Ceballos, mayor of Tachira state capital San Cristobal near the Colombian border, was stripped of his post after the court yesterday said he encouraged violent protests and failed to remove barricades set up in the city. (Bloomberg,; Fox News,

Maduro arrests 'three plotting generals'
President Nicolas Maduro has said that three air force generals have been arrested for plotting an uprising against his government. He said that the authorities had been tipped off by "young officers". The three generals, who have not been named, had links with the opposition, said Maduro in comments made during a meeting with a delegation of foreign ministers of the UNASUR regional bloc, which was sent to Venezuela to assess the political crisis. "The generals who have been detained have direct links with opposition sectors and were saying that this week was going to be decisive," claimed Maduro, who has previously accused right-wing sectors backed by the United States of stirring up trouble as part of a plot to oust him. (BBC)

Government charges crosswords stoke violence with subliminal message
Crossword puzzles in a local Venezuelan newspaper are calling readers to violent protests with conspiratorial messages, the country’s information minister said today. Delcy Rodriguez called for an investigation of El Aragueño daily from the industrial town of Maracay, 75 miles west of Caracas for putting “encrypted messages” in its puzzles, she said in a post on her Twitter account. She didn’t give any details. (Business Week,

Cabello brother appointed Industry Minister
President Maduro has named Tax Superintendent José David Cabello as the new Industries Minister. He is the brother of National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and replaces General Wilmer Barrientos, who was appointed only 3 months ago. More in Spanish: (AVN,; Ultimas Noticias,; El Mundo,; El Universal,

Guyana claims Essequibo territory is no longer under dispute
After Guyana and Brazil signed an agreement to study hydroelectric potential in the Essequibo Territory, Guyanese Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett was asked about possible Venezuelan opposition to the move - she responded  she could not predict the future but does not foresee any problem because the areas is no longer considered "under dispute". (El Universal,

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 25, 2014

March 25, 2014

International Trade

Inbound cargo at Puerto Cabello:
  • 14.250 tons of wheat from Terra World Trade, Texas, USA for Molinos Carabobo
  • 10.000 tons of degummed crude oil soy bean from Rosario, Argentina for CARGILL de Venezuela.
  • 555 tons of frozen boneless beef from Brazil, in 17 containers, for CASA
  • 24,000 tons of soy, from Georgia, USA, for Agrolucha, Granja Alconca and Avícola La Guásima.
  • 15,998 tons of paper products, ceramics, aerosol and plastics, from Kingston, Jamaica, for several private and public companies.
  • 50 tons of fructose molasses, also from Kingston, for Productora y Distribuidora Venezuela.
  • 224 tons of coaxial electric cable from Transworld 2000 for J.D Senese & Associates, New Orleans, USA
  • 623 tons of bovine and equine hides and skins for Cartagena, Colombia.
Thirteen ships remain at bay, including 4 grain ships carrying 117,000 tons of basic foods - including 20,000 tons of corn, 77,000 tons of soy, and 20,000 tons of rice; another vessel is carrying 11,500 tons of barley.More in Spanish: (Notitarde;;; and El Carabobeño,

Imports from PETROCARIBE nations grew 394% over five years
Venezuela's political and economic alliance with 17 partners in PETROCARIBE has meant a significant dependence on Venezuelan oil by Caribbean and Central American countries within the group, as well growing exports from these nations to Venezuela. Data released by the National Statistics Institute (INE) shows that over the past 5 years, imports from PETROCARIBE nations increased 394%, from U$D 95.45 million in 2008 to U$D 583.2 million in 2013, up 511% in food purchases. Increased imports are mostly food items from countries like Nicaragua, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, including livestock and animal products; vegetal products, animal fat and oil; as well as food industry products. (El Universal,

Oil & Energy

Weatherford is cutting back Venezuela operations
Oilfield services provider Weatherford International Ltd says it is reducing operations in Venezuela. The Swiss-based company, which competes with Schlumberger and Halliburton, said the "serious liquidity situation in Venezuela" is causing it to pare back services it provides here, according to CEO Bernard Duroc-Danner. Weatherford provides drilling and exploration services to the national oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), but Venezuela's currency devaluation and economic instability have caused payment delays, according to Weatherford's annual filing with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission. (Reuters,

Venezuela oil price continues to fall
Venezuela's weekly oil basket stayed below the country's desired U$D 100 per barrel, and continued to slip in the wake of the announced US plans to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to cool off world oil prices that were rising over concerns caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to figures released by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending March 21 was U$D 95.01, down U$D 0.64 from the previous week's U$D 95.65. (Latin American Herald Tribune,

PETROBRAS relinquishes compensation from oil giant PDVSA
Brazilian newspaper "O Estado de Sao Paulo reports Brazil's national oil company PETROBRAS will not claim any millionaire compensation from Venezuela's oil giant PDVSA arising out of the Abreu e Lima refinery joint venture. According to the newspaper, the original deal included sanctions in the event PDVSA failed to provide 40% of construction costs, yet this would only be effective if the parties had signed a final agreement, which never happened. (El Universal,

Economy & Finance

Venezuela new FOREX system sells dollars at 8 times official price
The cash-strapped Maduro regime allowed the Bolivar to weaken 89% on an additional currency market after loosening controls, a move to increase dollar supplies needed to alleviate a record shortage of imports including medicine, food and toilet paper. The Bolivar was sold for 55 Bolivars per dollar, eight times the official price, in the first transaction on the new trading platform, according to three traders including Paul Leiva, from Banctrust & Co. in Caracas. Private bank operators said the price for dollars on the inaugural day of the SICAD 2 system varied between 50 and 55 bolivars, with demand high but offers thin. The government’s official exchange rate used to import medicine and food is 6.3 bolivars per dollar and a second dollar auction system last sold greenbacks at 10.8 bolivars. “This is a devaluation any way you look at it,” says Tamara Herrera, chief economist at financial research firm SINTESIS FINANCIERA. “The government is trying to bring down the black market rate with this new market, with the consensus that the dollar should be trading for about 50 bolivars.” The government is counting on the new exchange mechanism to alleviate pressure on a black market Venezuelans turn to when they can’t purchase hard currency from the government at the official 6.3 bolivars per dollar rate. "Without doubt, it's the biggest monetary adjustment in Venezuela's history," said Henkel Garcia, of private think-tank ECONOMETRICA. Opposition leader Gov. Henrique Capriles said the so-called SICAD 2 exchange system is akin to a massive devaluation and will eat away at the savings of poor families. (Bloomberg,; The Washington Post,; Fox News,; Reuters,;; El Universal,, and


Venezuela death toll rises to 34 as troops and protesters clash
Three more have died from gunshot wounds during protests against socialist President Nicolas Maduro, pushing the death toll from almost two months of anti-government demonstrations to 34. Troops briefly clashed with a small group of protesters who attempted to block a highway in Caracas after thousands of opposition sympathizers marched to demand the release of students imprisoned during the unrest. (Reuters,; Latin American Herald Tribune,; The New York Times; More in Spanish: CNN,

Interior Minister: Military actions will be taken to stop street protests
Minister of the Interior, General Miguel Rodríguez Torres has announced "special military and public order operations aimed at eradicating street protests. Following "a meeting with high ranking military officers to once again launch our security plans. We are taking actions in those municipalities still seized by violence so we can restore law and order". Rodriguez Torres called on Táchira and Mérida residents in southwest Venezuela to condemn protests. (El Universal,

Regime claims opposition lawmaker has lost seat
The head of Venezuela’s congress claims leading opposition politician Maria Corina Machado has lost her seat in the legislature and is no longer immune from prosecution for her alleged role fomenting violence in anti-government protests. Captain Diosdado Cabello says Machado violated the constitution by addressing the Organization of American States last week at the invitation of Panama, which ceded its seat at the Washington-based group so she could provide regional diplomats with a firsthand account of the unrest. President Nicolas Maduro referred to Machado as “ex-congresswoman” on Saturday, a few days after arresting two opposition mayors for allegedly conspiring with the U.S. to topple his 11-month old administration. Cabello made the announcement before complying with the five steps the Constitution set out for removing a legislator. He also said Machado would not be allowed to enter the Assembly, saying she "automatically" lost her seat, and said the charge of "treason" would be added against her. According to the Constitution the full Assembly must first remove Machado's parliamentary immunity; if and when that happens it is only the Supreme Court that can decide whether she is divested of her legislative role. Machado responded in a Twitter message Monday, writing, “Landing in Lima. Mr. Cabello: I am a congresswoman as long the people of Venezuela want me to be.” According to the Constitution the full Assembly must first remove Machado's parliamentary immunity; if and when that happens it is only the Supreme Court - not the President of the National Assembly - that can decide whether she is divested of her legislative role. (The Washington Post; and more in Spanish: El Nacional;; El Universal,

US Embassy in Caracas halts new visas
In a public announcement, the US Embassy in Caracas says that "as a result of the expulsion of several consular officials and Venezuelan government delays in issuing visas for incoming officers, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas does not have sufficient consular staff at present to continue to schedule appointments for first-time tourist (B-1/B-2) visa applicants. Until further notice, we are able to offer such appointments only in emergency situations. If you already have an appointment, please appear at the appointed date and time, because it is unlikely under current staffing conditions that we will be able to re-schedule your interview in a timely manner." (Latin American Herald Tribune,; More in Spanish: CNN,; El Universal,

Kennedy Center condemns Venezuela government abuses
Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center), and Santiago A. Canton, Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights, condemn the ongoing violations against the freedom of expression and assembly in Venezuela. The RFK Center staff is monitoring the human rights situation in Venezuela and is deeply concerned about the deaths during protests, censorship and intimidation against members of the press, and arrests of students and opposition leaders. (Latin American Herald Tribune,

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 21, 2014

March 21, 2014

International Trade

Inbound cargo at Puerto Cabello:
  • 1.077 tons of pork, milk, cream and frozen meat from Puerto Limón, Costa Rica for CASA
  • 27.999 tons 539 Kg of yellow corn from AGP Grain LTD, Louisiana for PROAGRO C.A. y AGROLUCHA C.A.
  • 2.999 tons of crude corn oil from CARGILL Americas, New Orleans for Oleaginosas IND OLEICA C.A.
  • 130 tons of medicine from FARMACUBA for Fundación Oro Negro
  • 3.000 tons of tinplate for PDVSA Industrial
  • Also arrived apple pulp, peaches in syrup and autoparts
  • 43.000 tons of rice paddy from Brazil and Uruguay (EURICOM Brasil Importacao, 24.000 tons and Paso Dragón more 21.000 tons to CASA
  • 328 tons processed rice from ISOTEX, Rotterdam to KAIROS Nutrición
  • 125 tons of cream milk and highly concentrate skim milk from Comercializadora de Maní to Productos Lacteos Flor de Aragua.
  • Over 555 tons of boneless frozen meat, imported by the government Agricultural Supplies and Services Corporation (CASA) from Mexico.
  • Over 600 tons of fresh cheese, milk and cream from Uruguay.
  • 375 kilos of cardboard in 15 vans, for KELLOGG's
13 ships remain at bay with bulk cargo: one bearing 20,000 tons of corn; 4 bringing 78,000 tons of soy, and 2 more with 44,000 tons of rice are awaiting dock space.

Russian weapons giant ROSTEC holds U$D 12 billion contracts in Venezuela

Vasili Brovko, communications manager for ROSTEC in Santiago de Chile says the Russian weapons consortium holds U$D 12,000 in contracts with Venezuela: "We are already executing contracts signed with Venezuela...For now we are handling contracts for U$D 12 billion. This is for aircraft, helicopter, anti-air defenses, LADA vehicles, KAMAZ trucks and a broad swath of products", he said. (INFOLATAM)

Logistics & Transport

Shipping lines, customs agents asked to report their cost structure
The National Institute for Aquatic Spaces (INEA) has asked shipping companies and customs agents to present their cost structure for services rendered in Venezuela. More in Spanish: (El Universal,

Puerto Cabello port workers say their collective  bargaining agreement is 960 days past due
The Board of the Bolivarian Socialist Port Workers Union at Puerto Cabello (SINSOTRABOLPC) will organize a march in Caracas to ask President Maduro to take action on their pending collective bargaining agreement. Discussions on a new agreement have been held up for the past 960 days. More in Spanish: (El Carabobeño,; El Universal,

Government to pay airlines bills for operations this year
In a meeting with 21 international airlines, Water and Air Transport Minister General Heber García Plaza presented plans for developing Venezuela's airport infrastructure, as well as the way Venezuela plans to honor its debt (U$D 3.7 billion) to airlines. "The National Center for Foreign Trade (CENCOEX) has said we will try to pay all bills for 2014 on time, and find a way to negotiate payment of debt contracted in recent years", he said. He added that CENCOEX President Alejandro Fleming has reported that some payments would be made next week on 2014 operations. (El Universal,

Oil & Energy

PDVSA sends CITGO 25% of its exports to the US
PDVSA says it sent an average 847,000 BPD to the United States in 2013, 25% of which was sent to its US affiliate, CITGO. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


Industry warns inventories are running out
Venezuela's Industrial Federation (CONINDUSTRIA) has warned that days are going buy and inventories of raw materials and components are running out with no solutions in sight that can revert scarcities nationwide. As a consequence, week after week consumers are finding it harder to find basic products such as food, medicine, personal care and home cleaning products, spare parts for vehicles, or construction materials. CONINDUSTRIA repeats is urgent for the government to take steps to correct economic policies and rebuilt confidence so that industry can increase production and pay international suppliers. More in Spanish: (El Impulso:

Prices in government food distribution network deregulated to prevent smuggling
Food Minister Félix Osorio says prices of foodstuffs sold through the government's MERCAL food outlet system have risen "gradually" in order to curb outgoing smuggling of subsidized commodities. In the minister opinion, keeping prices without any variation is "gross". He downplayed the claims of production problems in Venezuela and said imports are due to larger demand. (El Universal,

POLAR pasta production is endangered due to lack of wheat
A production report from POLAR shows their pasta processing plant in Zulia state could cease operations in less than a month due to low wheat inventories. They are currently operating with wheat borrowed from CARGILL More in Spanish: Wheat suppliers are owed U$D 70 million, overdue for 230 days. More in Spanish: (El Universal,

Economy & Finance

Government now says SICAD 2 will start up next Monday, March 24, FOREX supply thought insufficient
Rafael Ramírez, Vice President for Economic Affairs now says the second Ancillary Foreign Currency Administration System (SICAD 2) will start operations on Monday, March 24, "upon testing the system with operators". He said there will be no middlemen in the scheme and that demand "will be satisfied with supply." Ramirez also says there will be no ceiling for FOREX coming into the system and that there is enough to meet market demand. Asdrubal Oliveros, director of the ECOANALÍTICA economic research says that "although income from SICAD 2 operations could be useful, a policy aimed at reducing public expenditure and a reform of the country monetary policy are needed." JP Morgan believes SICAD 2 could gradually flow. The firm estimates oil giant PDVSA would allocate U$D 5-10 billion from its oil revenue...but estimates that bonds already held by public institutions would be U$D 5.8 billion. (El Universal,; and

SICAD II expected to open high
DATANAISIS President Luis Vicente León expects Sicad II to open at a high exchange rate until the FOREX market stabilizes around VEB 30-35/U$D. "The higher it is (the rate of exchange), you bring down debt, must pay multinational companies fewer dollars, generate more Bolivares in order to reduce the fiscal deficit and absorb some liquidity". He says success will depend on the amount of available dollars and whether the government lets the market establish supply and demand. (El Universal,;

Banks, brokerage houses and the Public Stock Exchange must post latest referential exchange rate used in operations carried out by with Central Bank (BCV) through SICAD 2. A Central Bank resolution establishes they must also report the percentage or amount of their commissions on operations carried out within the new system. (Veneconomy)


Maduro regime moves swiftly against opposition
President Nicolas Maduro has used the military, legislative and judicial power consolidated during 15 years of socialist rule in a sudden series of blows against opponents who have spent more than a month protesting in the streets, knocking down their barricades and throwing dissident leaders in jail. Thursday dawned with two more opposition politicians behind bars, one of them sentenced to more than 10 months in jail. And pro-government lawmakers had already started trying to put another outspoken critic behind bars as well, moving to strip an opposition congresswoman of her legislative immunity from prosecution. San Diego Mayor Enzo Scarano was removed from his post by the Supreme Court, arrested and on the same day sent to begin a 10 ½-month prison term for failing to heed a court order to have protesters' barricades removed from the streets of his city. San Cristobal Mayor Daniel Ceballos was arrested as well on charges of rebellion and conspiracy. Maduro said in a speech last month that Ceballos would soon join Lopez behind bars for fomenting violence. "It's a matter of time until we have him in the same cold cell," Maduro said. Popular Will leader Leopoldo Lopez has been held for a month on charges of arson and conspiracy. The National Assembly has also voted to start a process to strip opposition politician Maria Corina Machado of her immunity, which could pave the way for her being charged with attempting to destabilize the government. Maduro also threatened Chacao mayor Ramón Muchacho with the same fate as Scarano and Ceballos. Two-time opposition presidential candidate and Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles said through his Twitter account Thursday that Maduro had "thrown gasoline on the fire." "He and only he will be responsible for the situation that unfolds in the country," Capriles wrote. Scarano's lawyer said the mayor was "sentenced without justice, sentenced without accusation." (ABC News:; and BBC News; Reuters,; Bloomberg,; The Washington Post,; More in Spanish: CNN,

Police again clash with anti-government protesters in Caracas, protests held in 6 states
Riot police in Venezuela have clashed with anti-government demonstrators who were protesting against the arrest of two opposition mayors. Hundreds of demonstrators in Caracas, threw stones and sticks at the police. They responded with tear gas and water cannon. The government of President Nicolas Maduro has been the target of near-daily protests over the high murder rate, skyrocketing inflation and shortages of basic goods. He has blamed the violence on "fascist groups". Juan Requesens, a student leader at the protest, said the two mayors were "victims of persecution, abuse, and wrongful arrest". Protests were also held in the states of Carabobo, Trujillo, Anzoátegui, Bolívar, Mérida and Zulia. (BBC; and more in Spanish: El Nacional;

Maduro urges US to join 'peace commission'
President Nicolas Maduro has urged the United States to discuss "peace and sovereignty" in a high level commission mediated by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). Maduro also asked President Obama not to heed US factions that he says want to kill the Venezuelan leader. He said he wanted the head of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, to negotiate with a "high-level officer" of the US administration under the auspices of UNASUR. In a public speech, Maduro said to Obama: "It would be the worst mistake in your life to authorize the assassination of President Nicolas Maduro and fill [Venezuela] with violence,... adding he was a "humble president and bus driver" who like Obama also had "African grandparents". On Friday, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Elias Jaua accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of inciting violence and called him a "murderer". The US Congress is considering sanctions on Venezuela. (BBC News,

OAS General Council closes session for Machado presentation, 22/11
Opposition National Assembly member María Corina Machado, was accredited as Panama's alternate representative at the Organization of American States so that she could speak at their session today. Panamanian OAS Ambassador Arturo Vallarino said "she wants to exhort the OAS to have a more active role in Venezuela". As the session opened, Nicaragua presented a motion to hold a secret session, which was voted 22/11 after a spirited debate. The US, Canada, México, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Perú, Chile and Paraguay voted to hold an open session, the remainder - including Brazil - opted to close the session. Barbados abstained. Machado said in Washington that jail awaits her upon her return to Venezuela, adding, that "I have the right to defend myself in the Supreme Court". National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello has accused her of "homicide and terrorism". Machado said "not a word, phrase or action has come from any of the leaders of the Democratic Unity Conference that can be considered to be inciting violence....all the contrary, because violence favors the government." More in Spanish: (El Universal, and Infolatam)

State Department is concerned over the arrest of mayors
US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki says "the arrest of these mayors concerns us deeply...the Venezuelan government should stop violence against its citizens and opponents who are exercising freedom of expression." She called on Caracas to "free those unjustly held" and "lift restrictions on freedom of the press". More in Spanish: (El Universal,

World Inter Parliamentary Union to send delegation to Venezuela
Opposition National Assembly members Alfonso Marquina y Francisco García, said in Geneva, that the Human Rights Committee of the World Inter Parliamentary Union decided to send a fact finding mission to Venezuela as soon as possible to investigate charges of aggression and violations of human rights against members of the National Assembly. More in Spanish: (El Universal,

96 former heads of state sign declaration against violence in Venezuela
The Madrid Club, comprising 96 democratic former presidents and prime ministers from 63 nations worldwide, has joined a declaration by 4 of its members: Oscar Arias Sánchez (Costa Rica), Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), Ricardo Lagos (Chile) and Alejandro Toledo (Perú) condemning violence in Venezuela and urging the Venezuelan government and all sides to "start a constructive debate, according to universally recognized democratic principles, as established in the Inter American Charter". More in Spanish: (El Universal,

STRATFOR: A divided opposition complicates government negotiations
Following weeks of sustained popular protests, Venezuela's opposition coalition is divided over whether it should negotiate with the government. The parties supporting talks include Primero Justicia, the party of presidential runner-up Henrique Capriles, Un Nuevo Tiempo and Accion Democratica, but the remaining six parties have refused. Staunchly anti-government elements of the opposition such as Leopoldo Lopez's Voluntad Popular party and the student movement have even called for more protests. While the Venezuelan government will probably try harder to convince the opposition to negotiate, any talks between the two sides will be very difficult. The protesters' demands range from alleviating daily scarcities to the complete overthrow of the regime, so even if Maduro can convince some elements of the opposition to negotiate, he probably will not be able to appease all those involved. Moreover, many of the issues that fomented the protests -- inflation, crime and food scarcity -- are long-term structural problems that cannot be solved simply by negotiating. Separately, the government began talks in early March with the industrial conglomerate Polar, national business organization FEDECAMARAS and representatives from nearly 100 national firms. These talks focused on issues of mutual interest, such as alleviating the country's periodic shortages of goods by eliminating policies that bottleneck foreign exchange for the private sector and by streamlining import requirements. If the government can persuade enough opposition members to participate in the talks, it might be able to demonstrate to the United States that it has made enough progress to start discussing bilateral relations. If the government takes the negotiations too lightly, more protests could ensue. (STRATFOR,

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.