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, May 9, 2014

May 09, 2014

International Trade

Incoming cargo at Puerto Cabello
  • 6,000 tons of paddy rice from Guyana for CASA
  • 6,000 tons of paddy rice from Jamaica
  • 31,000 tons of yellow corn for animal feed, from Japan
  • Over 900 tons of pear and apple pulp, from Cartagena
  • Over 300 tons of canned peaches and some 40 tons of frozen peas.
  • Over 2,979 tons of chicken and beef in 17 vans from Argentina to CASA and Banco del Tesoro
  • 1,470 tons of chicken in 46 containers from Brasil to CASA
  • Over 662 tons of chicken in 20 vans from Uruguay to CASA
  • Over 6,000 tons of yellow lard from Trasardet Service and Luzar Trading to Alimentación Balanceada, Agro Consorcio Urograin and Avícola de Occidente. 
  • Over 2,000 tons of cardboard cutouts from Puerto Rico to Cartones de Venezuela
  • 1,559 tons of construction material in 60 vans
  • 256 tons of doors in 15 containers
  • 1,303 prefabricated modules in 45 containers.
  • Two 15-meter external lighting towers for CASA's cold storage facility in Barinas
13 ships remain at bay, 2 carrying rice and one bearing yellow corn; 2 bringing fertilizers; 2 with steel tubing; 1 bringing steel structures; 1 with chemicals; 3 bearing containers and one with cattle. More in Spanish: (El Carabobeño;; Notitarde;;  and AVN,

Logistics & Transport

COPA Air cuts Venezuela flights to reduce Bolivar risk
Panama’s COPA Airlines will cut routes to Venezuela starting this month as it struggles to repatriate funds trapped here. The Panama City-based airline, which has routes connecting the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America, said its owed U$D 488 million by the Venezuelan government, valued at the official bolivar rate of 6.29 per dollar. It didn’t give details on how many flights would be affected. “We’re reducing the amount of bolivars that we’re going to be accumulating to a point that is totally manageable,” Copa’s Chief Executive Officer Pedro Heilbron said on a conference call today. “We’ll only have to worry about the old stuff.” (Bloomberg,

IATA says Venezuela's air connections are at risk
An unidentified industry source reports that 5 more airlines will suspend operations in Venezuela and seek international arbitration due to delays in payment of government debt. "Headquarters are feeling frustrated by what seems to be a new sham by the Venezuelan government, which has been offering to pay airlines since last October but has not made good on any of the promises." More in Spanish: (El Nacional;; El Universal,

Oil & Energy

Venezuela to ration electricity after Colombia cuts gas
The government announced the start of electricity rationing in western Zulia state as well as water rationing in Caracas to reduce demand on the power grid, a day after FORD Motor Co. halted production here. Colombia stopped natural gas sales to Venezuela last week to preserve fuel during the periodic regional dry spell known as El Nino. The energy-saving plan follows measures to ration water in the capital, where residents are struggling with shortages of basic goods including toilet paper and bottled water. The government said it will start rationing electricity and water as drought drains hydroelectric reservoirs and water tanks. The rationing plan will be in place until the wet season starts and water levels stabilize at major reservoirs, Rodriguez said yesterday. (Bloomberg:

Amuay refinery stopped due to steam failure
Amuay workers told Reuters Wednesday that in addition to the fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCC), two of five distillation units had also been stopped due to steam failures. They explained this failure affected the activation process of the FCC. (Veneconomy,

El Palito refinery stops production of high-octane gasoline
Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) reports that the fluid catalytic cracking plant at El Palito refinery is in maintenance shutdown. The unit is responsible for production of high-octane gasoline. "PDVSA informs the national public that maintenance works are being carried out at the fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCC), El Palito refinery, after finding an internal fault in the cyclone system located in the plant regenerator." (El Universal,


Packing and canning material production is paralyzed for lack of materials
José Manuel González, President of the Packing Materials Chamber says glass and aluminum packing industries are paralyzed and not producing containers for food and beverages. "There are no jars for mayonnaise or ketchup. Nor are there cans for soft drinks or malts." The government owes the industry some U$D 230 million. Inventories vary from industry to industry, and flexible packing plants are those with highest stocks, but only until the middle of the month. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;

Ministers met with automotive industry: GM will not stop operations; FORD to resume them in 15 days
Industries minister Jose David Cabello met with General Motors representatives to review and propel automotive manufacturing processes. The meeting was also attended by Road Transport minister Haiman El Troudi. Cabello reported that the meeting also reviewed complexities within the automotive industry. El Troudi says GM will not halt operations and that "Chevrolet will take part in the SICAD 1 auction this week for up to U$D 44 million." He also said FORD would resume operations in 15 days.  (AVN,; and more in Spanish: El Universal,; Ultimas Noticias,;  El Mundo,

Economy & Finance

World Bank panel backs arbitrators in Venezuela-CONOCO dispute
A World Bank panel rejected Venezuela's request to change the arbitrators reviewing a dispute over compensation sought by U.S. oil company ConocoPhillips for 2007 expropriations. The International Center for Resolution of Investment Disputes, or ICSID, in March shot down Venezuela's appeal for a new hearing to contest a 2013 partial ruling that it failed to act in good faith in compensation negotiations with Conoco. (Reuters,

Chiefs for the country’s five economic zones appointed
President Nicolás Maduro announced the creation of an "economic offensive" fund with an initial capital of Bs.3.5 billion. He appointed five of his ministers to lead “the economic offensive” in five zones: Industry Minister José David Cabello (Central Zone), Trade Minister Dante Rivas (Andean Zone), Agriculture Minister Yván Gil (the Plains), Economy, Finance and Public Banking Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres (Western Zone) and Mining and Oil Minister, PDVSA Chief and Economic Vice President Rafael Ramírez (Eastern Zone). He also approved the creation of three strategic economic zones: Puerto Cabello-Morón in Carabobo state, the Orinoco Oil Belt and Jose-Guanta in Anzoátegui state. (Veneconomy,;;; and El Universal,


59.2% disapprove of Maduro's rule, and 59.1% say he must go before 2019
According to a poll by DATANALISIS President Nicolás Maduro's approval rating dropped to 37% in March, the lowest since he took office. An almost identical number, 59.1% say he must leave office before his term ends in 2019. A similar poll taken by DATANALISIS in February had shown his approval rating at 46.8%. Food shortages are the worst problem the population is facing, followed by crime, and inflation. Recent protests have also cut support for the opposition, as blockading streets has increased traffic congestion and scarcities. More in Spanish: (Infolatam)

Venezuela committing systematic human rights abuses, HRW report says
Human Rights Watch said in a new report that dozens of unarmed protesters have been subject to serious physical and psychological abuse during protests that have left at least 41 dead since February. Abuses have included broken bones, denial of medical treatment and threats of rape or death. HRW has documented at least 10 cases serious enough to be considered torture, and that nearly all of the 150 of the victims it found were denied basic due process, and that many were held incommunicado and denied access to legal counsel until minutes before they went to court, often in the middle of the night. "The scale of rights violations we found in Venezuela and the collaboration of security forces and justice officials in committing them shows these aren't isolated incidents or the excesses of a few rogue actors", said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. "Rather, they are the part of an alarming pattern of abuse that is the worst we have seen in Venezuela in years." (The Guardian:

Regime dismantles dissenters' "freedom camps" in East Caracas
Around 3:00 am on Thursday, officers of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) and the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) evicted the protest camps set up by dissenting students for several weeks in Alfredo Sadel Square in Las Mercedes (southeast Caracas), Bolívar Square in Chacao (northeast Caracas), Santa Fe (southeast Caracas) and at the HP Tower, at Francisco de Miranda Avenue (northeast Caracas) where the offices of the United Nations in Venezuela are headquartered. The tents were swept away and dozens of students were detained and taken to Fort Tiuna military base, southwest Caracas, and the headquarters of the National Bolivarian Police in Catia, northwest Caracas. (El Universal,; Reuters,

Armed civilians fight protesters
As Venezuela's civil unrest stretches into a fourth month, the government has relied mostly on National Guard troops to contain protesters. But it also has another, less formal tool: gangs of armed, pro-government civilians. Mobs of civilians on motorcycles have swarmed antigovernment demonstrations, sometimes firing weapons, sometimes swinging bats, and have stormed a university and burst into apartment blocks in search of adversaries, witnesses and rights groups said. José Pinto, head of the TUPAMARO Revolutionary Movement one of the best-known colectivo commanders says the group favors a tough crackdown on protesters, whom he called "bugs." Without uniforms or other identifying signs—members often wear helmets, dark glasses and masks—they are tough to identify. They operate with the explicit encouragement of the country's leaders, including Maduro, who recently called on them to "fight fire with fire" against the government's adversaries. (The Wall Street Journal: )

US 'deeply concerned' about protest-hit Venezuela
The United States is "deeply concerned" at what Secretary of State John Kerry has called "the deteriorating situation" in protest-hit Venezuela. "The serious and worsening economic and social challenges in Venezuela can only be resolved with the input of those people," Kerry yesterday told a conference on the Americas in Washington, saying demonstrators had "legitimate grievances". "We believe the future of Venezuela is for the people of Venezuela to decide," Kerry said. "But make no mistake: we will never stop defending the basic human rights that are essential to any functioning democracy, including the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly." (Business Standard,

U.S. lawmakers want Venezuela sanctions; administration says not yet
U.S. lawmakers are pushing for sanctions on Venezuelans linked to human rights violations, but Obama administration officials insist that acting now would harm negotiations between President Nicolas Maduro's government and the opposition following weeks of violent protests. Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee she shared lawmakers' concerns about human rights violations in Venezuela and a lack of results from the talks. The US government does not rule out the imposition of sanctions on Venezuelan government officers if the situation in Venezuela does not improve. However, despite the poor progress made in the talks between the government of President Nicolás Maduro and the opposition, it would rather wait and see. A bill calling for sanctions to be possibly voted soon was introduced in the US Congress. Maduro has responded by saying "I will respond firmly (to sanctions), I cannot be intimidated by anyone." (Reuters,; El Universal,; and more in Spanish: El Universal, )

Government-opposition peace talks postponed again
Venezuelan authorities and the opposition Democratic Unity Conference (MUD) have again postponed their 5th session of peace talks that began almost a month ago. Vice President Jorge Arreaza says "we have decided to postpone the meeting to next week while we await results from the working groups". This is the second time the meeting has been postponed. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias, )

Have US sanctions begun?
Diosdado Cabello reported that his American visa has been suspended as the result of a claim made by an Air Force retired official before the US government that Cabello had delivered U$D 1 million to terrorist Osama bin Laden in India. (Veneconomy,

Panama's President-elect seeks to restore ties with Venezuela
Panama's President-elect Juan Carlos Varela says he will send a personal envoy to Caracas "within the next few days" to start the process of restoring diplomatic relations suspended since March 5th., More in Spanish: (El Mundo,

El Universal daily in emergency lack of newsprint

SPECIAL REPORT: A few key figures on Venezuela
  • 0.5% economic contraction is the latest projection on Venezuela's economy by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America. It is the worst projection of the 20 economies it measures.
  • 2559 people have been arrested since demonstrations started on Feb. 4 according to the Penal Forum.
  • U$D 16,965 is the real per capita income in Venezuela according to the World Bank, the second highest in Latin America, after Uruguay.
  • 18% drop in non-oil exports in 2012-2013, down to U$D 2.1 billion from U$D 6.816 billion in 2006.
  • 15.8% unemployment under 24 years old in February 2014, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE). There are 2,181,777 active persons 15-24 years old.
  • 29.5% is the March scarcity index on personal care products, according to the Central Bank.
  • 43% salary increase decreed by the government during 2014, while March inflation rate was 59.4%.
  • U$D 12 billion is the government's loss due to gasoline subsidies, says PDVSA.
  • U$D 96.5 was the average per barrel price of oil last week, down U$D 1.2 from the previous week.
  • U$D 18 million were paid by PDVSA to F1 Williams to cancel a contract with Pastor Maldonado. Despite results last season, Williams reported a U$D 15 million profit.
  • 97% completion on the Guanapa thermoelectric plant which will add 50 MW to the electric grid.
  • 1.16% is the final sales price coffee growers receive locally. The remainder goes to intermediaries and salesmen.
  • 5-7%-15.8% is the price cut on MITSUBISHI vehicles, according to the Consumer Protection Agency.
  • 32,25% cut in airline seats available to Venezuelans, since January. 5 additional airlines will cut back starting May.
  • 12% cut in vehicle parts sales nationwide, according to the Auto Parts Industry Federation.
  • 10,485 abandoned cars, 9,651 motorcycles and 539 bicycles were sent to SIDOR in order to produce steel for 32,772 housing units, according to government sources.
  • 53.7 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants is the average in Venezuela, according to the UN, making it the 2nd homicide rate in Latin America, following Honduras.
  • 45 bodies entered the Caracas morgue during the first 3 days in May, and 412 bodies arrived at the morgue in April. The daily average was 13.73.

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.

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