Cargo that has arrived at Puerto Cabello:
- Over 86,000 tons of yellow corn from Bugen Latin America, Cargill Agrícola S.A. and Desa Industries for Alimentos del Centro C.A. (Alceca), El Tunal C.A., Ienca Inversiones C.A., Productos Balanceados and Granja Alconca
- Over 48,000 tons of wheat from Goubin Grain for Pastas Sindoni and Molinos Venezolanos
- 37,000 tons of red wheat from Bunge Latin America and Terra World Trade for Molinos Carabobo S.A. and Molinos Nacionales C.A. (Monaca).
- Over 2,000 tons of black beans from Panamericana for state agency CASA.
- Over 1,200 tons of butter from Fonterra Limited for CASA
- Over 600 tons of personal care products from Procter & Gamble for its subsidiary in Venezuela
- Over 385 tons of white beans from Panamericana for CASA.
US-Venezuela trade fell 8% during 2014
Last year trade between Venezuela and the United States closed at US$ 41.5 billion, a decrease of 8% from US$ 45.2 billion in 2014, according to the Venezuelan American Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Venezuelan exports to the US were US$ 30.2 billion, US$ 1.7 billion less than in 2013. 95.9% of that total were oil exports (US$ 29 billion). Venezuelan imports from the US were US$ 2.8 billion, a 12.28% increase over 2013, when purchases were US$ 2.5 billion. More in Spanish: (El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)
Trade with Colombia contracted 19.4% in 2014
Trade between Colombia and Venezuela in 2014 was US$ 2.153 billion, 19.4% less than the previous year when it was US$ 2.673 billion dollars, according to the binational chamber CAVECOL. More in Spanish: (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/150218/comercio-con-colombia-se-contrajo-194-en-2014)
Logistics & Transport
Couriers tell clients tax on shipments over US$ 300 will be charged at SIMADI rates, as per instructions from the main Customs authority at Maiquetía International Airport. MAIL BOXES informed clients via mail. More in Spanish: (El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/economia/politicas-publicas/couriers-notifican-que-impuesto-de-envios-mayores-.aspx#ixzz3SHIFecc9)
Economy & Finance
Venezuela, the country with four exchange rates
Venezuela can simultaneously be the world’s cheapest and most expensive country because of its multiple exchange rate systems. A dinner at an upscale restaurant, including drinks, can cost as little as US$ 6 per person or as much as US$ 160, depending on how you do the math. Figuring out the tip isn’t any easier. The creation of a new alternative exchange rate this month, which led to a 70% devaluation, has left foreign companies operating in Venezuela with a dilemma. Do they try to pull their money out at the new weaker exchange rate or hold on, waiting for the stronger rate they were promised by the government. (Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-19/venezuela-the-country-with-four-exchange-rates)
Maduro claims SIMADI could service up to 5% of FOREX needs, will not accept it as indicative
President Nicolás Maduro has expressed full confidence in the three tiered FOREX system just established and says SIMADI could "cover 5%" of foreign currency needed for international transactions. He added he would "not allow SIMADI to be an indicative" of foreign exchange parity. More in Spanish: (El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/economia/politicas-publicas/maduro--simadi-podria-llegar-a-atender-el-5--de-la.aspx#ixzz3SHL2Q0OV; Agencia Venezolana de Noticias; http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/ejecutivo-tomará-medidas-ante-quienes-pretendan-usar-dólar-simadi-como-marcador-economía)
Central Bank sells US$ 4.2 million to banks and exchange offices
The Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) sold US$ 4,214,000 dollars to universal banks and exchange offices via an auction sale of US dollars, in order to supply the market of retail foreign exchange operations.
The resulting foreign exchange rate at the special auction sale held on Thursday was VEB 171.62 per US dollar.
As many as 23 financial institutions were sold dollars in the auction, the BCV informed. (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/150219/central-bank-sells-usd-42-million-to-banks-and-exchange-offices, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/150219/venezuelas-central-bank-holds-auction-sale-for-retail-forex-market; http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/150218/simadi-forex-rate-stands-at-veb-17205)
International reserves now up to US$ 23.247 billion
Venezuela's Central Bank reports that on 18 February international reserves were US$ 23.247 billion, up US$ 2.062 billion from the previous Friday. More in Spanish: (El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/economia/banca/reservas-internacionales-se-recuperan-y-se-ubican.aspx#ixzz3SHLLuQ1M)
Venezuelan supermarket owner fights state takeover
The U.S.-based owner of a supermarket chain taken over by Venezuela's socialist government hopes to recover his business despite accusations of hoarding goods to inflate shopping lines. State food company PDVAL took temporary control of the 35-store "Dia a Dia" (Day to Day) chain earlier this month as part of a crackdown by President Nicolas Maduro's administration on businessmen accused of fomenting an "economic war." The company's executive director, Manuel Morales, and external lawyer Tadeo Arriechi are in jail on charges of "boycott" and "economic destabilization," along with two FARMATODO pharmacy executives also seized in nationwide inspections and raids. (Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/19/us-venezuela-supermarket-idUSKBN0LN1NV20150219)
Basic food basket up to US$ 1,953 in December
According to the Labor Union Center for Documentation and Social Analysis (CENDA), the basic food basket in Venezuela rose to VEB 12,306.09 (US4 1,953.34) in December 2014. (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/150219/food-basket-hits-usd-1953-in-december-in-venezuela)
Politics and International Affairs
Government forcibly arrests the mayor of Metropolitan Caracas, HRW calls for his immediate release
Venezuelan intelligence agents arrested the mayor of the country's capital after raiding his office Thursday, sparking a fierce outcry from opponents of President Nicolas Maduro's government. Metropolitan Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, a prominent opposition leader, was forcefully taken from his offices by a group of over 60 hooded individuals from the SEBIN intelligence service agents bearing heavy weaponry and taken to their headquarters in Plaza Venezuela in Caracas. His wife, Mitzy reports: "They destroyed the doors, there was no room for mediation. (My husband) was asking them to please stay calm and was asking what was going on. Abruptly, pushing and shoving, and without saying a word a gigantic, enormous contingent of agents, who were all over the place on the sixth-floor office where he works part of the day, took him away." Several shots were fired in the vicinity to discourage a growing crowd as the arrest took place. He was taken with no visible warrant or legally mandated presence of representatives of the attorney general and people's defender, and appears to have been charged for conspiracy for having signed a public document on guidelines for a transition, jointly with López and Maria Corina Machado. His attorney, Omar Estacio, decried his detention. Ledezma was "virtually kidnapped," Estacio said, calling it "a violation of the most fundamental principles of Venezuelan law and international law." Opposition leaders, including Henrique Capriles and María Corina Machado immediately congregated at SEBIN headquarters demanding his release. Machado called the sequestering "a desperate action by the dictatorship against a true democrat". COPEI party leader Roberto Enríquez demanded respect for the constitution and said "otherwise, the government should take off its mask and declare a state of siege". In a televised address, President Nicolás Maduro claimed Ledezma was captured by order of the Attorney General's Office and will be prosecuted, "so that he answers for all of the crimes committed against the peace, security and constitution of our country." Maduro repeated accusations that his government had blocked a U.S.-backed opposition coup plot that included plans to attack the presidential palace with a military jet. "Enough already with vampires who conspire against peace," he said. Ledezma had previously been accused by two chavista leaders, National Assembly President Captain Diosdado Cabello and PSUV leader Jorge Rodríguez, of being the brains behind the alleged coup attend, along with opposition legislator Julio Borges, María Corina Machado and former Ambassador Diego Arria. Word of Ledezma's detention spread rapidly on social media. Human Rights Watch Americas Director José Miguel Vivanco termed the detention "arbitrary" and says "absent any evidence of a crime, the mayor should have never been detained and should be immediately released....The government of Venezuela is responsible for the life and physical integrity of opposition mayor Antonio Ledezma". The Venezuelan Mayors Association called the detention "illegal". (CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/19/americas/venezuela-caracas-mayor/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=%2AMorning%20Brief&utm_campaign=2015_MorningBrief_New_America_PROMO.2.20.15; Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-19/venezuela-opposition-mayor-antonio-ledezma-detained-by-police; El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150219/intelligence-agency-arrests-caracas-metropolitan-mayor-antonio-ledezma; and more in Spanish: El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/; El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/noticias/maduro---ledezma-sera-procesado-por-todos-los-deli.aspx#ixzz3SHJrIb2J; El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150220/maduro-antonio-ledezma-sera-procesado-por-la-justicia, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150220/el-sebin-detuvo-a-ledezma-tras-allanar-oficina-de-su-partido; http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150219/hrw-pide-la-liberacion-del-alcalde-ledezma-tras-su-detencion-arbitrari)
State Department terms Maduro's charges baseless and false
In an official statement, the US State Department replied: "The allegations made by the Venezuelan government that the United States is involved in coup plotting and destabilization are baseless and false... The United States is not promoting unrest in Venezuela nor are we attempting to undermine Venezuela’s economy or its government... Venezuela’s economic and political problems are the result of the policies of the Venezuelan government. The Venezuelan government should stop attempting to distract attention from the country’s economic and political problems and focus on finding real solutions through democratic dialogue among Venezuelans. The government should also consider the statements by 36 individuals and entities, including the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, UN Committee Against Torture, Amnesty International, the OAS, and European Parliament, calling for the release of Leopoldo Lopez, who now is entering his second year in prison, and others held for participating in peaceful protests in 2014. We regret that the Venezuelan government continues to blame the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. The Venezuelan government needs to deal with the grave situation it faces. " (US Department of State, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/02/237650.htm)
Bill Clinton demands immediate release of Leopoldo López
On his twitter account, former US President Bill Clinton says: "Leopoldo López and the political prisoners in Venezuela should be released without delay." At the same time, Lilian Tintori, wife of the jailed opposition leader has reported a group of over 30 guards tried to forcefully remove her husband from his cell, to apparently take him away from the Ramo Verde military prison to another jail. (Twitter: https://twitter.com/billclinton/status/568605975286026241; and more in Spanish: El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)
Government legislators seek removal of lawmaker Julio Borges' immunity
Legislator William Fariñas, head of the Defense and Security Committee of the National Assembly says pro-government deputies would request the Supreme Tribunal of Justice to remove the parliamentary immunity of opposition deputy Julio Borges, due to his alleged involvement in a coup plot denounced by President Nicolás Maduro. According to Fariñas, "there is enough evidence against Julio Borges. (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150219/pro-govt-deputies-to-ask-for-removal-of-lawmaker-julio-borges-immunity)
Spain terms Venezuela's pressure on Spanish companies "intolerable"
Spain's Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism, José Manuel Soria, says it is "absolutely intolerable" for Venezuela to pressure Spanish companies to intercede against what Nicolas Maduro's regime believes to be a campaign by Spanish media against them. Soria was referring to a meeting by Venezuela's Executive Vice President Jorge Arreaza and Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs for Europe, Calixto Ortega, with the main Spanish companies operating in Venezuela, such as TELEFÓNICA, ZARA, REPSOL, BBVA, MAPFRE, MELIÁ, IBERIA y Air Europa. Ortega denies the government had "threatened" the companies and stressed that Caracas intends to have "kind" bilateral relations with Spain and boost investments. According to Ortega, the meeting was intended to "report on the fierce communicational campaign" some Spanish media "particularly ABC and El País" have been waging against Venezuela. He added that the representatives of the companies were given dossiers with news clippings from Spanish newspapers "as evidence." Spanish media have amply reported that the Chávez and Maduro regime have paid the Political and Social Studies Center, run by the leaders of the Spanish PODEMOS party, over EU 7,000 per month each as advisors to the Venezuelan government. Venezuelans living in Madrid, Spain have called for a march against PODEMOS and for democracy from Plaza España to Puerta del Sol for next Sunday, March 1. Its goal is to tell Spaniards emerging party PODEMOS is being financed by Venezuela and is based on “Chavista principles.” (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150219/venezuelan-govt-denies-threats-against-spanish-companies; Veneconomy, http://www.veneconomy.com/site/index.asp?ids=44&idt=42820&idc=1; http://www.veneconomy.com/site/index.asp?ids=44&idt=42819&idc=1; http://www.veneconomy.com/site/index.asp?ids=44&idt=42817&idc=2; and more in Spanish: El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/economia/internacional/espana-califica-de-intolerable-la-peticion-de-vene.aspx#ixzz3S5e6J3ib; El Nacional; http://www.el-nacional.com/)
Government calls Insulza statements "perverse, ill intentioned and deceitful"
Venezuela's Ambassador to the Organization of American States, Roy Chaderton, says statements by OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza that the economic and social situation in Venezuela "is very critical", are "perverse, ill intentioned and deceitful". He said Insulza "follows the line of a media dictatorship which fabricates horrors about Venezuela". More in Spanish: (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150218/gobierno-tacho-de-perversas-las-opiniones-de-insulza)
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.