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.
More in Spanish: (Notitarde; http://www.notitarde.com/La-Costa/Llegaron-mas-de-mil-toneladas-de-alimentos-para-Casa-2125915/2014/03/20/316106; http://www.notitarde.com/La-Costa/Llegaron-555-toneladas-de-carne-congelada-para-Casa-2126475/2014/03/20/316269#!prettyPhoto[galleryNota]316269/0/; El Carabobeño, http://www.el-carabobeno.com/impreso/articulo/96874/-cerca-de-tres-mil-toneladas-de-hojalata-llegaron-desde-panam; http://www.el-carabobeno.com/impreso/articulo/96762/-43-mil-toneladas-de-arroz-llegaron-al-puerto-carabobeo; http://www.el-carabobeno.com/impreso/articulo/96966/-al-puerto-carabobeo-llegaron-carne-y-semillas-de-maz)
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$D 12 billion. This is for aircraft, helicopter, anti-air defenses, LADA vehicles, KAMAZ trucks and a broad swath of products", he said. (INFOLATAM)
Logistics & Transport
Shipping lines, customs agents asked to report their cost structure
The National Institute for Aquatic Spaces (INEA) has asked shipping companies and customs agents to present their cost structure for services rendered in Venezuela. More in Spanish: (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/140319/solicitan-a-navieras-presentar-sus-estructuras-de-costos)
Puerto Cabello port workers say their collective bargaining agreement is 960 days past due
The Board of the Bolivarian Socialist Port Workers Union at Puerto Cabello (SINSOTRABOLPC) will organize a march in Caracas to ask President Maduro to take action on their pending collective bargaining agreement. Discussions on a new agreement have been held up for the past 960 days. More in Spanish: (El Carabobeño, http://www.el-carabobeno.com/impreso/articulo/96875/discusin-de-contrato-de-portuarios-tiene-960-das-de-retraso; El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/140320/personal-de-bolipuertos-reclama-contrato-colectivo)
Government to pay airlines bills for operations this year
In a meeting with 21 international airlines, Water and Air Transport Minister General Heber García Plaza presented plans for developing Venezuela's airport infrastructure, as well as the way Venezuela plans to honor its debt (U$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, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/140319/venezuelan-govt-to-pay-airlines-bills-from-this-year-operations)
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; http://www.el-nacional.com/economia/Pdvsa-Citgo-suministros-EE-UU_0_374962682.html)
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: http://elimpulso.com/articulo/conindustria-advierte-que-se-agotan-inventarios#.Uyw4DPldWSo)
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, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/140320/prices-in-govt-food-network-upregulated-to-prevent-smuggling)
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$D 70 million, overdue for 230 days. More in Spanish: (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/140321/en-riesgo-produccion-de-pastas-de-polar-por-falta-de-materia-prima)
Economy & Finance
Government now says SICAD 2 will start up next Monday, March 24, FOREX supply thought insufficient
Rafael Ramírez, Vice President for Economic Affairs now says the second Ancillary Foreign Currency Administration System (SICAD 2) will start operations on Monday, March 24, "upon testing the system with operators". He said there will be no middlemen in the scheme and that demand "will be satisfied with supply." Ramirez also says there will be no ceiling for FOREX coming into the system and that there is enough to meet market demand. Asdrubal Oliveros, director of the ECOANALÍTICA economic research says that "although income from SICAD 2 operations could be useful, a policy aimed at reducing public expenditure and a reform of the country monetary policy are needed." JP Morgan believes SICAD 2 could gradually flow. The firm estimates oil giant PDVSA would allocate U$D 5-10 billion from its oil revenue...but estimates that bonds already held by public institutions would be U$D 5.8 billion. (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/140320/sicad-2-starts-up-on-monday-march-24; and http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/140320/venezuelas-sicad-2-insufficient-to-meet-public-sector-demand)
SICAD II expected to open high
DATANAISIS President Luis Vicente León expects Sicad II to open at a high exchange rate until the FOREX market stabilizes around VEB 30-35/U$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, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/140320/preven-que-sicad-ii-comience-con-una-tasa-de-cambio-alta; http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/140320/sicad-ii-sera-insuficiente-para-cubrir-deficit-del-sector-publico)
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: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/mayor-city-worker-killed-venezuela-22975379; and BBC News; Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/20/us-venezuela-protests-idUSBREA2J02Y20140320; Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-20/venezuela-police-detain-mayor-where-unrest-originated.html; The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/mayor-of-venezuelan-city-arrested-amid-protests/2014/03/19/b885a672-afcd-11e3-b8b3-44b1d1cd4c1f_story.html; More in Spanish: CNN, http://cnnespanol.cnn.com/2014/03/19/detienen-al-alcalde-de-san-cristobal-venezuela/?iref=allsearch)
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; http://www.el-nacional.com/)
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, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-26599312)
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, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140321/machado-fue-acreditada-por-panama-para-hablar-en-oea 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, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140321/detencion-de-los-alcaldes-preocupa-al-departamento-de-estado)
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, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140321/parlamentarios-del-mundo-acordaron-enviar-mision-a-venezuela)
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, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140321/96-exmandatarios-rechazaron-violencia-en-venezuela)
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, http://www.stratfor.com/sample/geopolitical-diary/venezuela-divided-opposition-complicates-government-negotiations)
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.