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, May 26, 2015

May 26, 2015

International Trade


Inventories of stores at Margarita island free ports drop sharply, according to the Director of the Free Port’s Chamber Hichan Rajab. He reports businesses have seen their inventories fall to barely 5%, as a result of the lack of dollars for over a year. (Veneconomy,



Oil & Energy


Venezuela oil price falls after 8 weeks of gains

Venezuela's weekly oil basket price broke 8 straight weeks of gains as oil prices began to moderate in some well-supplied markets. According to figures released by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending May 22 was US$ 56.28, down US$ 0.72 from the previous week's US$ 57.00. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


The PETROCARIBE 2nd. Technical Symposium is being held at PDVSA’s headquarters in Caracas, to review operational issues and cooperation projects between Central America and the Caribbean countries. (Veneconomy,





China creates international gold fund

China has created an international gold fund that is expected to reach a total value of US$ 16.4 billion. The project, which is being overseen by the Shanghai Gold Market and has attracted investment from 60 countries, will make it easier for member states’ central banks to increase their gold reserves.}The fund will be operated as part of the New Silk Road, an investment project being promoted by China to bolster its trade and financial position in Asia. (Latin American Herald Tribune,



Economy & Finance


LATINVEST: Venezuela: Running on fumes?

Venezuela’s situation continues to unravel at increasing speed as the bolivar tumbled 30% over just the last week, while the country’s international reserves simultaneously hit a new 12 year low, closing at $17.526 billion. (Latinvest,


FOREX operating reserves estimated at low level

Current estimates are that at the end of May operating international reserves are US$ 1.522 billion, which is scarcely enough to cover 23% sovereign and PDVSA debt due in the remainder of 2015, which is US$ 1.615 billion in sovereign bond interest, and US$ 4.865 billion in capital and interest on PDVSA debt. More in Spanish: (El Universal,


Barclays foresees the public sector’s deficit could reach 30 points of the GDP with the current FOREX system, in its report on Venezuela. (Veneconomy,


BOFA estimates parallel exchange rate could reach 600 by year end

No financial institution estimated the parallel rate could go as high as it has during this first semester 2015, but they are recalculating their estimations. Francisco Rodríguez, of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, now says: "If there is no exchange adjustment and the rates of 6.30 and 12 VEB/US$ are maintained, we could have a parallel rate near 600 VEB/US$ by the end of the year". More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


Parallel market soars

An unprecedented jump in the U.S. dollar sold on Venezuela’s parallel market has jolted the social networks. The greenback, as reported by the web pages tracking its movement, climbed 25% to Bs.402 for cash transactions at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. A figure 63.8 times higher than the CENCOEX (Venezuela’s foreign exchange authority) rate of Bs.6.30 per dollar, the lowest in the market; 33.5 times higher than the Bs.12 per dollar of the SICAD I alternative method; more than Bs.200 per dollar on the free rate of the so-called Foreign Exchange Marginal System (SIMADI), which closed at Bs.199.77 per dollar on Thursday, and Bs.87 per dollar higher than the opening value of this week that began on May 18. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


Businesses quietly switch to dollars

As Venezuelan bolivars fall into a tailspin on the black market businesses and individuals are turning to dollars even as the anti-American rhetoric of the socialist administration grows more strident. It's a shift that's allowing parts of the economy to limp along despite a cash crunch and the world's highest inflation. But it could put some goods further out of reach of the working class, whose well-being has been the focal point of the country's 16-year-old socialist revolution. Analysts say the administration likely sees a limited dollarization as the only way to prevent multinationals from leaving the county altogether. The move toward currency substitution doesn't sit well with hardcore government supporters, many of whom cut their political teeth listening to Chavez's tirades against the "dictatorship of the dollar." But outside economists say Maduro would be wise to embrace the dollar outright. Steve Hanke points to the example of Maduro ally Rafael Correa in Ecuador, who has railed against the U.S. during his eight years in office but has so far shown no desire to bring back the old national currency, which the country did away with in favor of the dollar. (Associated Press,


Pro government legislators recommend FOREX unification, report simplification to reduce distortions

Pro-government legislator Germán Ferrer, who is also the national coordinator of the National Association of Social Networks and Organizations (ANROS), has suggested that authorities seek alternatives aimed at foreign exchange unification because foreign exchange rates distort the domestic economy. Jesús Faría, a leading legislator within the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Jesús Faría, member of the National Assembly's Finance Committee, reported that the government is considering a simplification of the foreign exchange system and move forward to a more manageable scheme, including a controlled foreign exchange rate and a floating exchange rate. He ruled out dollarization of the Venezuelan economy. (El Mundo,; El Nacional;; El Universal,;


Venezuela ranks second globally in terms of international arbitration suits against it (38), a result of late Hugo Chávez’ wave of expropriations and nationalizations decreed between 2007 and 2012. This has generated financial commitment for around US$ 6.5 billion although experts estimate the total amount for arbitration rulings could amount to US$ 13 to US$ 20 billion. Out of the 38 cases opened before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), 20 are still pending decisions (52.63%). (Veneconomy,


Credit activity at Venezuelan banks up 89.01%

The net yield (profit) of the Venezuelan financial system recorded a 71.77% surge in the first four months of 2015 over the same term last year, according to SOFTLINE CONSULTORES, which put the indicator at US$ 5.67 billion versus US$ 2.36 billion in January-April 2014. The credit portfolio increased 89.01% over last year. (El Universal,



Politics and International Affairs


Jailed opposition  leaders Daniel Ceballos, Leopoldo López on hunger strike, call for peaceful demonstration

Jailed opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Daniel Ceballos have started a hunger strike demanding the release of all political prisoners and that a date be set for parliamentary elections this year. Patricia de Ceballos, Mayor of San Cristóbal municipality in Táchira state and wife of former mayor Daniel Ceballos, says that he had been on hunger strike for more than 60 hours, and that for that reason he had been taken from Ramo Verde Prison in Miranda state, to the 26 de Julio Prison, which houses common criminals in central Guárico state. López made the a call  for a peaceful march this Saturday in a video leaked from his jail cell in the military prison of Ramo Verde this weekend where he also announced his intention to begin a hunger strike towards the same two goals. His video was first broadcast by government media and later on social media. Caracas mayor Jorge Rodríguez, a leader within the ruling PSUV party, says their intention is to generate violence, while Public Defender Tareck William Saab denied that López is on a hunger strike and in isolation. Lara state governor Henri Falcón expressed support for López and Ceballos, but warned about "not falling for the provocation of violence". Lopez's call is supported by his party, Voluntad Popular and the COPEO Christian Democrat party. (El Universal,; Veneconomy,; and more in Spanish: (El Nacional;; El Universal,;


MUD vows to enact general amnesty, eliminate Enabling Law

Jesús Torrealba, Secretary General of the opposition Democratic Unity Conference, believes the first thing opposition legislators must do upon winning a majority in the National Assembly is to approve an amnesty for all those currently persecuted by the regime. He also says they must repeal the Enabling Law which grants President Nicolás Maduro power to rule by decree. More in Spanish: (El Universal,


Venezuela has asked EXXON to withdraw from the waters off Guyana where it has been exploring for oil as they are part of the disputed area, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodríguez. She claims Venezuela is ratifying its rights over the territorial dispute it has with Guyana. (Veneconomy,; El Universal,


India and Venezuela review bi-lateral agenda, announce presidential visits

The Foreign Ministers of India and Venezuela have met in Caracas to review their bi-lateral agenda and announce presidential visits for the coming months. “We have reviewed the bi-lateral agenda, with big expectations of co-operation in the areas of energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, technology, and the automotive industry. It’s a full agenda for both countries to take to a strategic level,” said Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez. She also spoke of an exchange of visits by the presidents of both countries in the near future. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


Venezuela will have an embassy in “Palestine,” following instructions from Nicolás Maduro, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodríguez. Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Malki, who recently visited Venezuela, then said “Venezuela is Palestine’s most important ally. It is the country that gives without asking for anything in return.” (Veneconomy,


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, May 22, 2015

May 22, 2015

International Trade


Cargo that has arrived at Puerto Cabello:

  • 13,090 tons of beef and chicken from Brazil for state agency CASA
  • 1,768 tons of whole milk powder from Brazil for state agency CASA
  • 1,117 tons of margarine from Brazil, also for CASA

Cargo that has arrived at Maracaibo Port

  • 23,400 tons of wheat for MONACA
Eight ships are currently offloading, two bulk cargo and another containers. More in Spanish: (Notitarde;;; Bolipuertos,



Logistics & Transport


Domestic air carriers to increase fares 400%

Captain Jorge Alvarez, head of the Venezuelan Chamber of Air Transport Companies’ (CEVETA). Venezuelan aeronautics officials authorized AVIOR, ASERCA, LASER, VENEZOLANA, RUTACA and ALBATROS an average 15% increase in domestic routes “immediately and gradually.” The National Tourism Council (CONSETURISMO) says the rate increase is 400%. (Veneconomy,; and more in Spanish:



Oil & Energy


Exxon reports oil find in disputed area in Guyana is "significant", Guyana seeks rapprochement with Venezuela

ExxonMobil reports a "significant" oil find in waters disputed by Venezuela on the Guyana coast. The company says it discovered over 295 feet of sandy oil reserves in the Stabroek area - which is around 120 miles from Guyana in waters claimed by Venezuela. Recently elected Guyanese President David Granger met with the Secretary General of CARICOM and the Brazilian and Venezuelan ambassadors and underlined the importance of PETROCARIBE to Guyana. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,; El Mundo,; Notitarde;; El Universal,


Blackout hits Falcón, Carabobo, Miranda, and Yaracuy states; El Palito Refinery shut down

Venezuela's state-run National Electric Corporation (CORPOELEC) reported that a failure in Planta Centro power substation has cut electricity supply in Falcón state (northwest Venezuela). El Palito Refinery shut down after the blackout, workers told Reuters - but has started operations again. (El Universal,; Veneconomy,; El Universal,; and more in Spanish: El Economista,; El Mundo,; El Nacional;



Economy & Finance


Venezuelan international reserves dropped 26.2% over the last 45 days, as a result of low oil prices, according to a report from BANCTRUST. Reserves went from US$ 24.2 billion at the end of February to US$ 17.8 billion in mid-May. The investment firm’s analysts estimate the cash flow deficit at US$ 10.7 billion, taking into consideration the average price of the Venezuela’s oil export. (Veneconomy,


Parallel exchange rate is soaring

The parallel exchange rate went from 350 to 392 bolívares to the U$ yesterday, and then went past 400 for the first time. ECOANALÍTICA director Asdrúbal Oliveros predicts "this will continue unless the government takes action" (El Nacional;


Pros and cons of dollarization analyzed

A recent report by ODH Análisis Venezuela indicates that dollarizing the economy would end inflation but would imply a severe drop in personal income that would make Venezuela the second lowest in the region after Cuba. Venezuela would go from being the fifth largest economy in Latin America to the 22nd. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


Bonds down after Goldman-Sachs projections on oil

Sovereign and PDVSA bonds dropped an average 2.25 points after a report from Goldman-Sachs on the future price of oil. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,


NOMURA says oil prices are not high enough to cover Venezuelan imports and debt

A report by Asia's NOMURA says current oil prices "are not high enough to finance imports and pay debts". It adds that Venezuela is further hampered by lack of access to financial markets and low foreign direct investment. NOMURA adds - in reference to falling Central Bank reserves - that "the fact that the vaults storing the grandmother's jewels are close to being exhausted does not help". It says the possibility of reform seems remote. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


UN report says Venezuela's economy could grow 1% in 2016



Politics and International Affairs


Parliament head Cabello denies drug accusations - is backed by Maduro, the Supreme Tribunal and legislature

The Venezuelan government's second most powerful figure, Captain Diosdado Cabello, has denied any involvement in the drug trade after U.S. media reports that he and other officials were under investigation for trafficking and money laundering. Stories in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times outlined long-simmering accusations from the United States that the governments of President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, have facilitated cocaine shipments. In an unprecedented move, Gladys Gutiérrez, head of Venezuela's Supreme Tribunal, called press reports lacking "any credible or possible basis" and says the are "seeking to illegitimately discredit Venezuelan institutions". She opened the way to penalize anyone who repeats the information, saying "as we know, when lacking veracity they bring sanctions within our legal system". Concurrently, pro-government legislators at the National Assembly passed a resolution expressing solidarity with Cabello and will join the suit brought by him against local media that have reflected international reports. Lawyers here call the high court's statement unique in Venezuelan history that was made without considering the facts or following a trial, and believe it is tantamount to an anticipated sentence on Cabello's suit against 22 local newspaper executives for publishing the news. (Reuters,; El Universal,; and more in Spanish: El Universal,;; El Nacional;


Spain's Felipe González calls on Venezuela to investigate Cabello, plans visit in June

Spain's former president Felipe González called the reaction by the Venezuelan regime "logical" and said Cabello must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, but added that the government here should react by "carrying out its own investigation to find out what is true". He added that the only way out of the "delicate" situation here is "a dialogue to restore all the conditions for democratic tolerance within the constitution". González was expected to travel this week to Caracas, as part of his initiative to defend detained dissenter leaders Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma; however, he put off his travel until a new trial hearing against López was re-scheduled. (El Universal,; and more in Spanish: Infolatam:


Sanctioned government officials sue Capriles, Táchira Governor disqualifies imprisoned opposition candidate

Internal Affairs, Justice and Peace Minister Major General Gustavo González-López reports that the seven officials sanctioned by the US are suing Miranda’s Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski over "false accusations", and that Capriles “will have to explain in a court of law why he called seven Venezuelan officials of dignity, corrupt and parasites (enchufados).” He was referring to the seven government officials sanctioned by the US government. At the same time, Táchira Governor José Gregorio Vielma Mora said Daniel Ceballos, former San Cristóbal Mayor and recently elected the MUD candidate to the legislative elections in last Sunday’s opposition primaries would have been banned from holding public office for a year, for failing to submit his sworn declaration of property when he swore in as Mayor of San Cristóbal. Capriles responded by saying "it is an honor for me that a group of those plugged in are evading their responsibilities by attacking me" and added "if telling the truth brings on lawsuits, let there be many". (Veneconomy,;; and more in Spanish: More in Spanish: El Nacional;


Opposition favored to win legislature, 87% intend to vote despite distrust of CNE

A study by the Political Studies Center's Electoral Integrity Project shows despair over the nation's situation has increased, as well as mistrust of the National Elections Council, but there is citizens are highly disposed to vote as a way out of the crisis. 87% of those polled plan to vote in parliamentary elections "whatever goes on". 64% distrust the National Elections Council. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


Maduro meets with US special envoy to Colombian peace talks

President Nicolás Maduro has met here with Bernard Aronson, US special envoy to Colombian peace talks, according to Venezuela's Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodríguez. US President Barack Obama appointed Aronson first special envoy to Colombian peace talks held in Havana between the government of Colombia and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). No statements were made after the meeting. (El Universal,


STRATFOR: Disbanding the Venezuelan mafia

Festering within the Venezuelan government are a number of powerful individuals who were propelled into positions of influence during the administration of former President Hugo Chavez and who have used that influence to shape the economy into a mangled instrument that suited their personal interests. Shortages are eventually going to reach a critical point as the country's financial cushion deflates, creating the potential for more serious unrest. If Maduro has any chance of carrying the country through this crisis, he will have to start by dislodging those who are distorting critical parts of the economy through their elaborate corruption schemes. Maduro may not be able to purge powerful figures on his own, but there is a possibility they could be sacrificed as part of a bargain with Washington — beginning the process of routing the government and the economy of its most destructive elements and delivering a message that the criminal networks distorting the economy are not impenetrable. The United States is in no way the whole answer to Venezuela's problems or a substitute for the structural reforms needed to repair the economy, but it may be able to offer Maduro a partial solution. (Stratfor:


Brazil's Rousseff, Uruguay's Vázquez concerned over Venezuela, Insulza decries international inaction

Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, and her Uruguayan counterpart, Tabaré Vázquez, have emphasized that the current crisis in Venezuela needs to be overcome in a peaceful, constitutional manner. Both presidents voiced their "concern" over Venezuela's situation in the context of an official visit of President Vázquez in Brasilia. Former OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza says that organization has not dealt with the case of Venezuela adequately, called it one of the most difficult and painful situations he has had to deal with "because member nations have not wanted to act on it" in order to more openly promote dialogue. "I very much regret that there has been no will to face the situation directly, that we have not paid attention to a country that is clearly going through a crisis, where the international community is not doing all that it could". (El Universal,; and more in Spanish: El Nacional;


Chile's legislature asks Bachelet to withdraw Ambassador to Venezuela

Chile's House of Representatives has passed a resolution asking President Michelle Bachelet to withdraw that country's Ambassador to Venezuela over the situation undergone by several political prisoners here. The vote passed with 66 votes in favor, 26 against and 10 abstentions. More in Spanish: (Diario 2001,


Prosecutor General seeks arrest of those implicated in Bank of Andorra Bank scandal

Venezuela's Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega says her office has ordered the arrest of all those implicated in the Bank of Andorra money laundering scandal, but says she cannot reveal their identity "because they have not yet been caught". Last week Norman Puerta, former head of Venezuela's anti narcotics agency in 2005-2006, turned himself in to local authorities after been sought by INTERPOL for money laundering. More in Spanish: (Infolatam,


ILO will investigate violation of labor rights in Venezuela

Venezuela is on the list of countries that will be examined by the International Labor Organization, after it termed the situation of labor rights here "serious" following reports on unjustified firings, penalizing protest and imprisoned workers. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;


Venezuela, Palestine sign agreements

Venezuela and Palestine have signed important agreements seeking to strengthen ties between both nations, says President Nicolás Maduro. He explained the two countries signed cooperation agreements in areas such as agribusiness. Maduro also called the Palestinian cause the most noble cause humanity could fight for, and said Palestine can always count on Venezuela's solidarity. (El Universal,


Plane from Venezuela carrying cocaine crashes into Caribbean Sea

A plane that took off from Venezuela loaded with cocaine crashed on Wednesday into the Caribbean Sea, off the Colombian coast, as it tried to avoid military aircraft that tried to force the pilot to land, according to the Colombian Air Force. In the area where the two-engine plane HAWKER 800 crashed, off Puerto Colombia, Atlántico Department, units of the Colombian Armed Forces found the body of a man, a Mexican passport, the wreckage of the aircraft, and cocaine packages, Reuters reported. (El Universal,


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.