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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 30, 2014

International Trade

Cargo that has arrived at Puerto Cabello:

  • Over 15,000 tons of food (whole milk powder, frozen meat and chicken, coffee, margarine and pork) from JBS for Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícolas (CASA)
  • Over 14,000 tons of yellow corn from Industrial de Aceite for NESTLÉ de Venezuela
  • Over 1,999 tons of soybean cakes from CARGILL Bolivia for a Agro Insumos Lara
  • 1,200 tons of soybean cakes from Industrial de Aceite for NESTLÉ de Venezuela
  • Milk powder from NESTLÉ Argentina for NESTLÉ Venezuela.
More in Spanish: (Notitarde;


National Assembly approved US$ 3.5 billion for food imports in 2014

The National Assembly has approved a total of US$ 3.5 billion for food purchases abroad by the Venezuelan Foreign Trade Corporation (CORPOVEX) during 2014. Another 73,000 tons of imported food are planned to cover some 2 months of imports, including refined soy oil, peas, canned tuna, beans, beef, powdered milk, lentils, margarine, pasta, chicken, wheat flour, raw soy oil, sugar and cattle. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,


350 minibuses and 17 heavy cranes arrived from China, as a part of a 1,500 unit purchase announced by President Maduro during his visit to China in July. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,; Ultimas Noticias,



Oil & Energy

Venezuela's oil price now down to US$ 48

President Nicolas Maduro reports the price of Venezuelan oil has dropped further down to US$ 48 per barrel, US$ 3.26 below last week's average price, and says the drop in prices is due to economic warfare by the US against Russia. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,




SIDOR production at 37.6% of 2014 projection

SIDOR's January to November liquid steel production was 904,042 metric tons, 37.6% of planned production for the year, according to labor sources within the company - which were 2.4 million tons. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


Famous Venezuelan ice-cream store closes over milk shortage

An ice-cream store listed in the Guinness World Records book for its 863 different flavours has become the latest victim of Venezuela's economic crisis. "We are closed during the season due to shortage of milk," the famous Coromoto ice-cream store in the highland town of Merida announced on its Facebook page. Locals confirmed that the shop, hugely popular among tourists for its exotic and strange flavours ranging from beer to beans, had been closed since Christmas Eve. A sign on the door asked customers' forgiveness "for not attending you due to the lack of milk." (Reuters,



Economy & Finance

Maduro to announce new economic steps


More inflation, lower wages

Over the last 12 years, food prices have skyrocketed by more than 2,000%. The price of the standard basic food basket, as measured by the Venezuela's National Institute of Statistics (INE), stood at VEB 284.5 (US$ 45 at the official exchange rate of VEB 6.30 per USD) in 2003. Today, it stands at VEB 5,741 (U$D 909.75), despite price controls on products for mass consumption. (El Universal,


Fitch affirms MERCANTIL COMMERCEBANK's IDRs on downgrade of MERCANTIL Servicios Financieros

Fitch Ratings has affirmed the Long- and Short-term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) of MERCANTIL COMMERCEBANK Florida Bancorp (MCFB) and its main subsidiary, MERCANTIL COMMERCEBANK, N.A. at 'BB/B' with a Stable Outlook. A complete list of ratings follows at the end of this release. Through its ultimate domestic holding company, Mercantil Commercebank Holding Corp. (MCH), the bank is beneficially owned by MERCANTIL Servicios Financieros (MSF), one of the largest financial institutions based in Venezuela. Although the ratings assigned are for MCFB, Fitch also reviews the financials for MCH, which is the domestic holding company for MCFB in the U.S. Fitch's rating action follows the downgrade of MSF and its affiliated bank, MERCANTIL C.A. Banco Universal. (Reuters,



Politics and International Affairs

Elections Board directors sworn in, Lucena reelected president

Gladys Gutierrez, President of Venezuela's Supreme Court of Justice, has sworn in the directors and alternate members of the Elections Board, and Tibisay Lucena has been reelected President of the body. (AVN,; El Universal,; and more in Spanish: El Universal,


Pro government force names Supreme Court justices by simple majority in the National Assembly

A simple majority of the pro government United Socialist Party has named 16 new Supreme Court justices in order to fill vacancies in the Court. The opposition has refused a proposal brought forward by the chair of the committee of judicial nominations, PSUV member Elvis Amoroso, and in view of the failure to reach the favorable vote of the two thirds of the Assembly, pro-government deputies just railed on the MUD deputies and convened a new session –the fourth and last one to address this matter. (El Universal,; Latin American Herald Tribune,; and more in Spanish: (El Universal,; AVN;


Maduro moves Foreign Minister Ramirez to U.N.

President Nicolas Maduro named powerful Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez to a new post as envoy to the United Nations on Friday, saying the appointment would strengthen Venezuela's voice on the world body's Security Council from Jan. 1. Venezuela's socialist government sees its imminent two-year seat on the Security Council as a chance to raise its international profile and counteract U.S. global influence. Ramirez, a long-time former energy minister and head of state oil company PDVSA, has headed the Foreign Ministry since September and has continued to be Venezuela's representative at the oil producers' cartel OPEC. (Reuters,; Latin American Herald Tribune,,


Venezuela assents to designation of new Colombian ambassador

The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed Venezuela's approval of entrepreneur Ricardo Lozano as Colombian ambassador to Venezuela, in the wake of the irrevocable resignation of Ambassador Luis Eladio Pérez Bonilla in recent weeks.(El Universal,


Venezuela's homicide rose again in 2014; 2nd highest in the world after Honduras

A non-governmental group that tracks crime in Venezuela says the country's homicide rate rose again in 2014.

The Venezuelan Violence Observatory estimates that 24,980 killings occurred this year, pushing the homicide rate up to 82 per 100,000 inhabitants. The group says that makes Venezuela the No. 2 country in the world for killings, after Honduras. Last year, the observatory counted 79 killings per 100,000 people. In 1998, the rate was 19 per 100,000. (Fox News,


47 sacks of coke: a charter pilot's run-in with Venezuelan drug lords

There aren't too many places that offer better protection against criminality than an international airport. With all the video cameras, security personnel and scanners, there isn't much room for malfeasance. Furthermore, every passenger is registered, every pilot is scanned and every cleaning lady has undergone a security check. The airport in Valencia, Venezuela's third largest city, is also patrolled by Commando 24 of the Bolivarian National Guard. Passengers are united in their hatred for the unit, with complaints rampant on Internet forums. Some passengers report having been searched up to three times before boarding their flights. The Venezuelan secret service also has agents posted at the city's airport, Arturo Michelena International. Karl Lückert can only smile wryly at the massive security effort. In August 2012, he touched down at Arturo Michelena as the pilot of a private jet for what he thought would be a routine, and brief, stopover. But things turned out differently. So differently that, in subsequent days, he found himself confronted with the choice between losing his life or acting as a drug courier. Indeed, as a consequence of that layover, he was forced to burn all bridges to the life he had led to that point and take on a new identity. Now, over two years later, the man who forced Lückert into the drug trade may soon be facing trafficking charges in a US court. During that night in August, National Guard troops suddenly appeared on the airfield next to Lückert's plane; the pilot recalls staring down the barrels of their machine guns. He yelled: "No! No baggage!" But he then had to watch as the military unit ignored him and loaded 47 white plastic bags from an SUV into his jet. They were filled with cocaine. His co-pilot was threatened with death. The odyssey has been reconstructed with the help of interrogation records, investigation results from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the Lebanese and Venezuelan police and with the pilot's own recollections. (Der Spiegel,


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, December 23, 2014

December 23, 2014

International Trade


Cargo that has arrived at Guanta Port:

  • Over 3,000 of dairy cattle from Brazil.
More in Spanish: (Bolipuertos,


Cargo that has arrived at Puerto Cabello:

  • Over 1,000 tons of black beans from China
  • Over 500 tons of polycarbonated resin
  • Over 200 tons of rolled cloth fabric from Panama to Ágata.
  • Over 27 tons of fireworks from China to Distribuidora Triki-Traki
Plus assorted clothing, shoes, personal care products, cell phones and spare parts for vehicles and motorcycles. More in Spanish (Notitarde;



Oil & Energy


HOVENSA refinery deal rejected over contract breach doubts

The U.S. Virgin Islands' legislature has turned down an agreement that would lead to the reopening of the 350,000 barrel-per-day HOVENSA refinery, after its counsel warned that the would-be buyer might not be able to uphold the contract. U.S. oil producer Hess and Venezuela's state-run PDVSA, owners of the shut refinery on the island of Saint Croix, had hired investment banking firm Lazard to sell the plant. (Reuters,



Economy & Finance


Maduro reports oil prices down to US$ 50 per barrel, guarantees resources for 2015

President Nicolás Maduro reports Venezuelan oil prices are "now at US$ 50 (per barrel) and has been oscillating downward" due to "destructive" techniques used by the United States. He also has "fully guaranteed" budget resources needed to cover 2015. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias:; El Universal,


Venezuela's international reserves down to USD 21.6 billion

Data from the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) show that international reserves have plummeted 8% in a month. Back on November 14, BCV assets fell to US$ 19.4 billion, a number that Venezuela had not reached since the end of 2003. After depositing US$ 4 billion from the Joint Chinese-Venezuelan Fund, assets rose to US$ 23.5 billion on November 19. Yet a few weeks later, reserves have plunged again by US$ 1.9 billion on December 19. Reserves now stand at US$ 21.6 billion, as reported by BCV. (El Universal,



Politics and International Affairs


Key authorities designated by absolute majority, in violation of the Constitution according to the opposition

With only 99 votes at the National Assembly the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has named Tarek William Saab as Ombudsman; Manuel Galindo (current Solicitor General) as Comptroller General. Luisa Ortega Díaz was reappointed Prosecutor General. Assembly member Stalin González, leader of the parliamentary caucus of the opposition Unified Democratic Panel (MUD), has protested that under article 279 of the Constitution, the appointment of those authorities must  be made by two-thirds majority, that is, 110 votes during a plenary session. (El Universal,;


...designation of Supreme Court justices scheduled for Friday

The National Assembly has been called to session on Friday, December 26th, to designate 12 Supreme Court justices and two deputy justices for a 12 year period. Their designation requires a two thirds vote at the National Assembly, according to the Supreme Court Organic Law. More in Spanish: (AVN;ón-magistrados-del-tsj-pasa-segunda-sesión)


...and the Supreme Court will designate Elections Board members

National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello says that under current legislation the Supreme Court will name Elections Board directors after the National Assembly failed to meet the two thirds majority required for their designation. More in Spanish: (AVN;ón-para-elegir-rectores-del-cne-pasa-al-tsj)


Venezuela’s Cuba problem

In a surprise announcement US president Barack Obama and Cuban president Raúl Castro, announced a significant thaw in relations between their respective countries. The move has major implications for Venezuela, Cuba's main ally. The Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, appeared to be caught unawares, right in the middle of a rhetorical campaign against "insolent, imperialist" sanctions passed by the US Congress just one week beforehand. Unlike the decades-old Cuba embargo, the sanctions are targeted at senior Venezuelan government officials accused of committing human rights violations. Now Venezuela faces the prospect of replacing Cuba as the US's main adversary in the region—just as its economy is imploding and its governability is at risk from internal dissent—or capitulating and losing the support of the already-restive domestic left. The timing could hardly be worse for Mr. Maduro. (The Economist,  


Venezuela’s phony olive branch - Miami Herald editorial

As expected, President Obama last week signed legislation imposing sanctions on government officials in Venezuela responsible for violence and human-rights violations in the wake of anti-government protests early this year. It will allow the president to freeze assets and deny or revoke visas of Venezuelan officials. The decision to sign the sanctions bill, after months of resistance by the White House, represents a recognition that this country could no longer ignore the repression in Venezuela and limit its criticisms to stern admonitions aimed at Caracas. It is an action commensurate with the democratic values that America upholds, including the right to self-expression and peaceful assembly. Venezuelan officials should be held accountable for their behavior. In an opinion article in The New York Times last week, Diosdado Cabello, president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, said that the Venezuelan government recently “extended an olive branch” to Mr. Obama by naming an ambassador to Washington and inviting the U.S. administration to name an ambassador to Caracas. He missed the point: Maduro should extend an olive branch to the people of Venezuela, not Washington, allow political opponents like Leopoldo López to leave prison and otherwise start behaving like the leader of a real democracy — which Venezuela once was. Until then, the sanctions should remain in place. (The Miami Herald,


Venezuela rejects European Parliament resolution

The Venezuelan Foreign Office rebutted and labeled as "interventionist" a resolution by the European Parliament (EP), which was adopted by 476 votes, with 109 against, and 49 abstentions, in which the EP stated it is "deeply concerned at the worsening situation in Venezuela and condemns the imprisonment of peaceful protesters, students and opposition leaders." In addition, the EP "urges the immediate release of those arbitrarily detained prisoners." (El Universal,


Opposition is asking Maduro to free political prisoners for Christmas

Rogelio Díaz, Secretary General of the COPEI (Christian Democrat) party has asked President Nicolás Maduro to allow Leopoldo López, Enzo Scarano, Daniel Ceballos and students arrested for protests last February to spend Christmas at home with their families. Freddy Guevara, Political Coordinator for Voluntad Popular has also asked for liberation and is seeking respect for young people who have chained themselves in Altamira square in Caracas. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


Former NBA player Carl Herrera improves in hospital after shooting in Venezuela

The team coached by former NBA player Carl Herrera says his condition is improving following a shooting in Venezuela.

The Gigantes de Guayana team said in a Twitter post that Herrera is no longer in critical condition and is "completely out of danger." Herrera was shot Saturday during an apparent robbery attempt at a restaurant on Margarita Island off Venezuela's Caribbean coast. The country's Interior Relations Minister Carmen Melendez says security forces are on the trail of the attackers. (Fox News,


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, December 19, 2014

December 19, 2014

International Trade


Venezuelan exports to the European Union rose 11% in 2014, overall exports dropped 4.9%

Venezuelan exports to the European Union rose 11% in 2014, according to a report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). General exports fell by 4.9%, with a 15% drop in exports to Asia. Exports to Latin America dropped 6%, and exports to the US contracted by 1%. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,



Oil & Energy


Venezuela’s export barrel averaged US$ 57.53/bbl. this week, down US$ 4.39/bbl, according to a three days late report by the Oil and Mining Ministry. The year-to-date average is US$ 90.50/bbl., well below 2013’s US$ 98.08/bbl. (Veneconomy,





CVG ALCASA contracts with Italian firm to strengthen aluminum production

State owned CVG ALCASA has signed a contract with Italy's PRESEZZI EXTRUXION for the second phase of the extrusion plant for products such as aluminum, hard alloys, copper and tin. Industry Minister José David Cabello says the plan calls for increasing plant extrusion capacity from 23,500 to 40,000 metric tons per year. More in Spanish: (AVN;ó-acuerdo-empresa-italiana-para-fortalecer-producción-aluminio)



Economy & Finance


FITCH downgrades Venezuela's IDRs to 'CCC'

FITCH Ratings has downgraded Venezuela's long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings (IDRs) from 'B' to 'CCC'. The issue ratings on Venezuela's senior unsecured foreign and local currency bonds are also downgraded from 'B' to 'CCC'. The country ceiling is downgraded from 'B' to 'CCC' and the short-term foreign currency IDR from 'B' to 'C'.  Venezuela's downgrade reflects the following key factors: International oil prices have declined sharply in Q4'14 increasing balance of payments pressures in the context of reduced external financing flexibility and rising macroeconomic instability. Venezuela's commodity dependence is high, as oil is expected to account for an estimated 92% of current external receipts and 50% of central government revenues in 2014. Low oil prices will erode the main source of FX for the economy. The capacity of the Venezuelan economy to respond to this external shock is constrained by the relatively low level of international reserves, constraints to their operational liquidity, and limited sources of external financing. International reserves, at US$ 21.4 billion, are about half the level of end-2008 when Venezuela last confronted the sharp oil price decline resulting from the global financial crisis. In addition, operational liquidity of reserves is constrained, as 72% of international reserves are held in gold and most of these are held at the central bank in Venezuela. Nontransparent off-budget FX funds will likely come under pressure, as central bank and extraordinary oil revenue contributions will be curtailed. Venezuela's sources of FX financing are limited, the sovereign does not have direct access to international debt markets, and significant multilateral funding is not expected in 2015-2016; China remains the sovereign's main source of financing. Nevertheless, there is no indication that China will increase its exposure to Venezuela beyond the roll-over of existing facilities. Macroeconomic instability has increased, driven by the inconsistency between FX, and fiscal and monetary policies. Continued rationing of FX, widespread price controls, and monetary financing have fueled inflationary pressures. Inflation averaged 55% in the first eight months of 2014. The spread between the official and parallel exchange rates continues to widen at a rapid pace, thus further fueling inflation and currency pressures. Fitch estimates that the economy may have contracted by close to 4% in 2014 and expects Venezuela to remain in recession in 2015. In addition to lack of transparency in government off-budget funds, transparency and timely reporting of official data for inflation, balance of payments and national accounts has suffered since 2013. Continued deterioration in terms of data provision and/or accuracy of official statistics could not only further dent confidence, but also pose limits to the capacity to assess the overall fiscal and external strength of the sovereign. Venezuela sovereign amortizations average 1.2% of GDP in 2015-16 with external debt repayments at 0.4% of GDP (3.5% of exports), using Fitch GDP estimates. As the state-owned oil company PDVSA faces an average of US$ 3.4 billion (0.6% of GDP) in external bond amortizations, average annual public sector external bond amortizations equal close to 22% of the current level of international reserves. The lagging policy response to address external pressures and macroeconomic imbalances, and the present decline in international oil prices materially weaken Venezuela's capacity to service debt. A high level of political polarization, the social impact of the ongoing economic crisis, marked divisions within the government in terms of economic policy, and the expectation of a heavily contested electoral cycle in 2015 could limit policy adjustments and increase the risk of social unrest. (Bloomberg,; Reuters,; El Universal,; Latin American Herald Tribune,


Venezuela’s GDP now smaller than Chile’s

Venezuela has fallen to sixth place among Latin America’s top seven economies, according to a LATINVEX analysis of new data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). And in four years, it will likely fall to seventh place, behind Peru. The revised data comes as Venezuela’s own government has not published 2014 data on its economy or oil exports. “Non-official data claim a decline in activity in Venezuela's construction, manufacturing, and retail sectors during 2014,” consulting firm IHS said in an analysis. The IMF estimates that Venezuela’s economy will contract by 3% this year, which will be the worst result in Latin America. Meanwhile, IHS estimates that oil revenues fell by nearly US$ 9 billion in 2014 compared to the previous year. Venezuela’s Gross Domestic Product this year is estimated at US$ 226.3 billion in current prices in US dollars. Chile’s GDP is US$ 279.7 billion, which makes it the fifth-largest economy in Latin America.  The IMF’s new and revised figures for Venezuela are 34% lower than in April, when the fund estimated that Venezuelan GDP stood at US$ 342.1 billion. The IMF now also projects that Peru will pass Venezuela in 2018, when Peru’s GDP will likely reach US$ 274.4 billion versus US$ 262.4 billion for Venezuela. (Latinvex,


Venezuela’s 91% default odds mean nothing as funds dig in

Venezuela’s bonds have lost almost half their value since July as traders have become almost certain the nation will default. Stone Harbor Investment Partners, which manages the two funds with the biggest allocations to the country, is undaunted even as losses balloon. The New York-based firm’s Emerging Markets Total Income Fund and Emerging Markets Income Fund each had at least 20% of their net assets in Venezuelan bonds at the end of August, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, the most among 363 debt funds with at least some exposure to the country. Steffen Reichold, a money manager and economist at Stone Harbor, said Wednesday the firm hasn’t made “significant changes” to its holdings. (Bloomberg,


ICSID confirms Gold Reserve US$ 744 million ruling against Venezuela

The World Bank's arbitration tribunal has confirmed a US$ 744 million ruling against Venezuela in the case brought by Canada's Gold Reserve over expropriation of its two mining projects in the nation's Southeastern region. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,; Ultimas Noticias,


Santander does not have to return US$ 150 million for sale of Banco de Venezuela

The Spanish high court has confirmed the ruling that exempts Banco de Santander from paying a US$ 150 million deposit for the unsuccessful sale of Banco de Venezuela. The court thus refused an appeal by Venezuela's Banco Occidental de Descuento on a 2012 decision by the Madrid High Court. (El Universal,


Executives at US Brokerage Direct Access Partners guilty in US$ 60 million Venezuela BANDES kickback scheme

The former CEO and a former managing director of a U.S. broker-dealer pleaded guilty to bribery charges arising from their scheme to pay bribes to Maria De Los Angeles Gonzalez De Hernandez, a former senior official in Venezuela’s government economic development bank (BANDES), in return for trading business that generated more than US$ 60 million in commissions. (Latin American Herald Tribune,



Politics and International Affairs


Obama signs Venezuela sanctions bill, Venezuela complains of rejection by US

President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill imposing sanctions on individual Venezuelan officials who U.S. lawmakers say are responsible for violent repression of opposition protests in the Andean nation. The legislation bars the issuance of visas to the named officials and freezes any financial assets they may have in the United States. White House spokesman Josh Earnest has previously insisted that the administration shares Congress' concerns about the situation in Venezuela, where violence associated with months of anti-government protests left 39 people dead and upwards of 800 injured. The president signed the bill targeting Venezuela a day after he announced plans to restore diplomatic ties with Caracas' close ally Cuba, a move hailed by Maduro as a "courageous gesture." After Obama signed the sanctions bill, the Venezuelan leader took to Twitter to blast Washington for its "contradictory" policy. Even as the U.S. government "recognizes the failure of the policies of aggression and embargo against our sister Cuba ... it initiates the escalation of a new stage of aggressions against the homeland of Bolivar," Maduro wrote. In a New York Times op-ed, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello complained: "We have tried to move toward better relations with the Obama administration, but have been rejected". (Fox News Latino,; El Universal,; Latin American Herald Tribune,; Reuters,; El Universal,,; and more in Spanish: El Universal,


MERCOSUR condemns US sanctions against Venezuela

The heads of state of the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) urged the US government not to apply sanctions against Venezuela, and expressed support for the people facing what it termed new interventionist US intentions in the internal affairs of Venezuela. (AVN,; El Universal,


Washington emphasizes: Sanctions are against individuals, not the Venezuelan people

The US State Department has underlined that sanctions will be applied against individuals who took part in repressing demonstrations that took place earlier this year. "The law includes blocking assets held in the United States by individuals who have perpetrated or are responsible for ordering or directing significant violence or serious human rights abuses against persons involved in anti government protests in February 2014. These sanctions are directed against individuals, not the Venezuelan people".  More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


Obama makes Maduro’s ‘insolent yankees’ a tougher sell

President Nicolas Maduro’s favorite tool to rally popular support has been a blunt one: Yanqui-bashing. That may lose its clout now that President Barack Obama has moved to restore diplomatic ties with Maduro’s principal ally, Cuba. Like his mentor, the late Hugo Chavez, Maduro has whipped up support by alleging the U.S. is conspiring against Latin American sovereignty, and his Socialist government in particular, citing the embargo on Cuba as the primary example of Washington’s bullying tactics toward the region. With that embargo, which he calls a “blockade,” weakening, Maduro may find his talking points sounding antiquated. (Bloomberg,; Reuters,; AVN,


Analysts believe US-Cuba rapprochement has "profound implications for Venezuela"

Analysts believe restored diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States pulls the rug out from under President Nicolás Maduro's policies, and could force him to rephrase his wording. "This announcement moves the floor to Maduro's government regarding its policy towards the United States, and even the internal political discourse, mostly based on the anti-imperialist struggle and condemnation of the US blockade on Cuba," says political expert and dissident "chavista" Nicmer Evans. According to Evans, the US-Cuba rapprochement must have "profound implications for Venezuela." Evans also wonders whether Cuban President Raúl Castro broached the subject with Maduro, who visited Havana last Sunday for a meeting of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). (El Universal,;


Mujica seeks better treatment for Venezuelan political prisoners

Former Uruguayan President José Mujica says that during his recent visit to Venezuela he asked his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolás Maduro to give local political prisoners a good treatment. "In general, I have always asked him (President Maduro) for kindness towards prisoners, especially the political prisoners unfortunately he has to have," he says. After making his statement, Mujica remained silent for some seconds and added: "I do not want to speak any further." (El Universal,



López continues to boycitt trial proceedings, awaits appeal decision

Opposition leader Leopoldo López has for the fifth time refused to attend a hearing as he awaits results of an appeal to a Caracas court for a decision on the UN request to set him free. His trial judge, Susana Barreiros, has ruled that a UN Working Group is not a part of signed treaties and it's request is not binding. More in Spanish: (Infolatam,


European Parliament seeks freedom for political prisoners

The European Parliament, which group’s leftist, center and democratic right wing parties from all Europe, has passed a resolution on "persecution of democratic opposition in Venezuela", and have urged the Venezuelan government to abide by UN rulings that seek immediate freedom for Leopoldo López and all those imprisoned for protesting. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


1.5 million Venezuelans could have migrated abroad

Oscar Hernández, head of the Migration Training Center, says the number of Venezuelans who have migrated in search of new opportunities could come to 1.5 million.  He says their reason for leaving are lack of personal safety and legal guarantees, and adds that according to a study by Venezuela's Central University almost 90% of migrants are college graduates and 40% have graduate degrees. Their main destinations are the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Panama and Ecuador due to their economic stability. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,


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.