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, October 3, 2014

October 03, 2014

International Trade

New cargo arrivals reported at Puerto Cabello

  • Over 35,000 tons of sugar from ED & Man Brasil for C.A. Azúcar, Moliendas Papelón and Central El Palmar
  • 10,000 tons of wheat from Superior World Trade for Molinos Carabobo
  • 6,000 tons of rice from Guyana Rice Development Board for Corporación de Abastecimientos y Servicios Agrícolas (CASA)
  • Over 755 tons of vehicle parts from Ica International Automobile for Corporación Automotriz ZGT, C.A.
  • Over 83 tons of äpparel from Amazon Zona Libre Panamá for Inversiones El Wilmar 14. Also, over 36 tons of household items and 13 tons of underwear.
  • 13 tons of sandals of various kinds from La Estación Suo Buonoco INC for Veneteca.
  • Over 2 tons of Christmas lights from China Panda for Comercial Meliza
More in Spanish: (Notitarde;;


300 containers with medicines held up at La Guaira port

It is reported that 300 containers carrying medicines, surgical supplies and medical equipment have been held up at La Guaira port due to a debt of over VEB 200 million by the Ministry of Health with the Port Authority (BOLIPUERTOS).  The imports come from agreements with Argentina, Brazil and Cuba. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;



Sugar cane farmers protested outside the government's Pío Tamayo Sugar Mill in El Tocuyo demanding that management pay pending debts for molasses from the 2014 sugar harvest that ended in June. One hundred and thirty small sugar cane farmers are involved. (Veneconomy,


Economy & Finance

Recession looms over Venezuela, official data under wraps

Venezuela has kept its economic growth figures under wraps this year but empty store shelves, closed factory gates and idled construction projects tell their own story – the economy is contracting and some sectors are in deep trouble.

Private industry groups estimate that the construction and manufacturing sectors - both crucial to broader growth - shrank as much as 10% in the first half of the year. Retail sales chamber CONSECOMERCIO says sales fell about 50% during the same period, the result of weaker consumer sentiment and tight currency controls that have forced a sharp decline in the availability of imported goods. (Reuters,


Industry calls for urgent steps to reactivate domestic production

Venezuela's Industrial Confederation (CONINDUSTRIA) says local industry needs urgent steps to be taken in order to overcome the drop in production and guarantee employment. They say price controls and difficulties in obtaining inputs have paralyzed production and led to closing companies. More in Spanish: (Notitarde;; El Universal,; El Nacional;


Maduro warns abandoned companies will be "occupied", Capriles says no one will invest under such conditions

After two major companies announced they would cease operations here - one of them CLOROX - President Nicolás Maduro said the government will occupy companies that take this kind of decision. "Socialist formula: Abandoned company, company taken over by the workers, with the support of the revolutionary government", he said. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles retorted by rejecting Maduro's threats against business and said no one will invest here in such conditions. "What should we do with all of the nonperforming state companies?...This model will never work if speeches are used to threaten". More in Spanish: (El Universal,;


Venezuela-Exxon arbitration ruling due this week

The World Bank arbitration tribunal will give its final award ruling this week on a multibillion- dollar claim by Exxon Mobil Corp against Venezuela over the 2007 nationalization of two oil projects, legal sources said on Tuesday. "The final ruling will be delivered to the parties on Thursday, Oct. 2, according to a notification they received last week," one of the sources told Reuters. Another source said lawyers for state oil company PDVSA had left the country to await the ruling, although it was not immediately clear where they will receive the document. The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which is deciding the case, formally has until the end of October to meet a 90-day deadline for a ruling following the close of proceedings on July 28. Pro-opposition Venezuelan daily El Nacional cited a PDVSA source this week as saying Exxon would be awarded between US$ 700 million and US$ 1.2 billion for the takeover of its Cerro Negro heavy oil project and its smaller La Ceiba. Venezuela is facing about 20 cases at the World Bank tribunal after a wave of nationalizations under the late President Hugo Chavez's socialist government. (Reuters,


Maduro's bill to regulate use of foreign currency in electronic transactions will be considered by the National Assembly’s Committee on Administration and Services. The law will regulate the offer of goods and services in Internet to “guarantee the offered services are real and to prevent swindles.” (Veneconomy,; El Universal,


Red tags will be attached to imported products, says Fair Prices Superintendent Andrés Eloy Méndez on Wednesday. He said this would refute the idea that CENCOEX does not authorize dollars for imports. The tag will also state whether the product was imported at Bs.6.30:$ or at Bs.12:$. (Veneconomy,



Elections Board selection may go to Supreme Court, opposition seeks international mediation

As government and opposition legislators are deadlocked over naming the committee that will nominate 3 new members of the 5 member Elections Board, key government representatives are saying they will ask the Supreme Court to declare a legislative vacuum and make the nominations itself. National Assembly President, Lieutenant Diosdado Cabello said "He who laughs last laughs best".  There will be two votes taken on naming the committee and if the required two thirds are not reached they plan to send the matter to the Supreme Court, as they did in 2003. The opposition hopes the South American Union (UNASUR), and particularly the three nations involved in promoting dialogue - Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador - will mediate in order to guarantee a balanced committee. More in Spanish: (El Universal,; El Nacional;


Special Report: The rise of Venezuela's military

Early this September, during a shakeup of his cabinet, President Nicolás Maduro made a surprising pick. Rodolfo Marco Torres, his nominee for vice president for the economy,  was a former brigadier general in Venezuela’s army. Torres is not alone. Now, military men hold several key portfolios, including defense, electricity, food, industry, interior and justice, and transportation -- not to mention finance. Eleven of Venezuela’s 23 states are headed by former army officials. Military men (both retired and on active duty) also serve in the country’s National Assembly, staff its diplomatic missions abroad, and head its tax and import agencies. These days, the Venezuelan state’s every move bears the army’s fingerprints. These days, every move of the Venezuelan state bears the army’s fingerprints. The military’s political involvement seems poised to grow still further because of Maduro’s crumbling public support and the country’s accelerating political and economic crises. It now appears possible that the army could be called upon to dispel antigovernment rallies. Opposition politicians also fear that the military would not accept opposition political victories, a pressing question given that Maduro’s fading popularity could allow them to win control of the National Assembly in the upcoming congressional elections scheduled for the end of 2015. Before Chávez took office, the Venezuelan military regularly received high marks in surveys measuring armies’ professionalism and impartiality, partially as a result of four decades of civilian rule. These rankings have since plummeted, and top officers stand accused by foreign law enforcement officials of shady dealings in the drug business and contraband. So widely acknowledged is the army’s involvement in the Venezuelan black market that critics have taken to calling it the sun cartel, after the stars that dot the generals’ uniforms. Maduro fears the loss of the army’s backing, which would be a blow he would not likely survive. How long this tenuous equilibrium will last depends in large part on the military’s willingness to shore up the government. For the moment, Maduro and the army’s top brass need each other to survive. But if the opposition wins the congressional elections in 2015, all bets will be off, and the military may have no choice but to abandon the president or take control. Either outcome stands likely to plunge the country further into turmoil. (Foreign Affairs,


Opposition leader blames President for protest deaths

Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, on trial for political unrest, has denounced President Nicolas Maduro and Interior Minister General Miguel Rodriguez to the public prosecutor’s office for two deaths during protests earlier this year. “Leopoldo filed a complaint against President Maduro and the Interior Minister Rodriguez Torres on the grounds that the public prosecutor’s investigation reveals that the ones actually responsible for the deaths of Bassil Dacosta and Juan Montoya is the President,” says Lopez’s lawyer, Juan Carlos Gutierrez. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


Lawmaker Serra's murder blamed on far right

President Nicolas Maduro has blamed "ultra-right" opposition groups in the country and in neighboring Colombia for the murder a governing party lawmaker. Robert Serra, 27, and his partner Maria Herrera were found dead at their home on Wednesday night in Caracas. Maduro says the authorities are near to revealing the suspects' identities. Herrera and Serra, one of Venezuela's youngest lawmakers, were reported to have been stabbed. "Terrorist groups encouraged by sectors of Venezuela's ultra-right and Colombian paramilitary groups are behind this [effort] to bring violence to our country," President Maduro said. Speaking at Serra's funeral, he said the investigation was "advanced", adding: "I think we're close to giving a strong blow to this criminal gang and assassins." Serra was a member of the National Assembly for the Socialist Party and well known for delivering passionate speeches. The killings came 10 days after President Maduro announced he would expand a plan to disarm civilians. (BBC)


Venezuela is the worst Latin American country to get old in and one of the worst globally, according to the 2014 Global Age Watch. Venezuela ranked 76th out of 96 countries on the list. The best country to get old in the region was Chile (22nd) and the five top countries were Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada and Germany. (Veneconomy,


Venezuela responds criticism by US newspapers

In two letters, Venezuela's chargé d'affaires to The United States, Maximilen Sánchez Arveláiz rejected the views voiced by The Washington Post and The New York Times where they questioned the government of Nicolás Maduro.
The diplomat lambasted the NY Times editorial, published on September 21, in which Venezuelan authorities are accused of persecuting political leaders, particularly Leopoldo López who is currently held in jail. In reference to the editorial of The Washington Post published on September 21, which elaborated on Venezuela's aspiration to a seat at the UN Security Council, Sánchez wrote that Venezuela is a "decisive advocate of peace, and that its commitment to regional stability and strong support to Colombia in its peace process speak for themselves."
(El Universal,


Opposition requests help from the Vatican on behalf of political prisoners

Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin was given a document signed by over one million people here, requesting help from the Holy Seed to achieve "fair treatment of political prisoners" here. The information was disclosed by Nelson Maldonado, vice-president of COPEI opposition party and a promoter of the initiative. (El Universal,


Government vows legal action after Twitter suspends official's account

The government has said it will take legal action against Twitter Inc, the U.S. social media site, for apparently suspending the account of a ruling party governor. The microblogging site on Wednesday suspended the account of Tareck El Aissami, an Aragua state governor and former Interior and Justice Minister (@TareckPSUV), according to Information Minister Delcy Rodriguez. "We're going to take legal action against Twitter's abusive and illegal practice," Rodriguez wrote on Twitter late Wednesday. (Reuters,


HRW opposed to seating Venezuela on UN Security Council

José Manuel Vivanco, Director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch says Venezuela does not deserve a seat on the UN Human Rights Committee, despite strong Latin American and Caribbean support in the upcoming October 16th election. He said the country is in the hands of an autocratic regime that cannot contribute to the defense of human rights; He says the support this government has received is disappointing in the middle of "the worst human rights crisis in Venezuela in many years." More in Spanish: (El Nacional;



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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