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.

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