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.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

September 17, 2015

International Trade


Border crisis hurts bilateral trade

Gilberto Gudiño, President of Zulia's State Business Union, says closing down land trade with Colombia at the border will cost the nation around US$ 800 million for the remainder of 2015, at around US$ 5-10 daily. He reports around 200 vans with products and supplies for industry have been stuck on this side of the border for over a week, and says border exchange normally includes seeds, detergents and personal care products such as toothpaste, shampoo, mouthwash and soap. More in Spanish: (El Universal,


Venezuela to sign over 10 agreements with Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have set up a "Joint High Level Committee" during a visit to Caracas by Saudi Arabia's Minister of Trade and Industry, Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al Rabiah. The agreements will focus on the areas of petrochemicals, industrial, agribusiness, energy, education, culture, and diplomacy of both nations. (El Universal,



Oil & Energy


Venezuela's OPEC proposal focuses on oil price, not volumes

Government officials claim Venezuelan proposals for a summit between OPEC and non-OPEC producers are advancing, and should focus on bolstering oil prices rather than limiting volumes. The country seeks a fair price for oil that will support economic growth and energy demand, Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino said after a meeting between Venezuelan and Saudi Arabian officials in Caracas. The oil price floor Venezuela is suggesting would be analyzed every quarter, he said. “The minimum, minimum price should be US$ 70,” President Nicolas Maduro said : “Oil at $70 a barrel guarantees investments needed for global energy and economic stability.” (Bloomberg,



Economy & Finance


A PDVSA default could put Venezuela's oil exports at risk

President Nicolás Maduro's regime, overwhelmed by an acute liquidity crisis, has already defaulted on private business, and markets are pointing to the possibility of a sovereign debt default next year if oil prices do not improve. Yet Maduro will do everything possible to meet state oil company PDVSA's obligations, even if it means selling off all remaining FOREX reserves and dooming millions of Venezuelans to starvation. Analysts say a default on PDVSA bonds would strike a devastating blow on Venezuela's distressed economy as it would not only put the company's remaining assets abroad, but also its ability to export the crude oil that generated 95% of the nation's dollar income. BARCLAY's has reported that “Venezuela and PDVSA will probably meet their obligations up to the first quarter of 2016....but without structural reforms the following payments will depend on oil prices and China's willingness to continue, or raise, the level of its exposure in Venezuela". PDVSA must pay out US$ 3.1 billion that are due in late October and early November 2016. More in Spanish: (El Nuevo Herald,



Politics and International Affairs


Maduro to meet with Santos over border crisis

President Nicolás Maduro has announced he will meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos over the ongoing border conflict between both countries. "We got it will take place next Monday in Quito (Ecuador)", Maduro said. Ecuador's President Rafael Correa confirmed the meeting will take place following efforts by himself and Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez. Santos had previously said there could be a meeting after pointing to positive gestures by Venezuelan authorities toward people crossing the common border. (Reuters,; El Universal,; and more in Spanish: Infolatam,


Maduro extends border closure with Colombia

The border closure already extends to 17 more municipalities for a total of 23 across three border states (Táchira, Zulia and Apure), under a state of emergency and strong military presence at all levels, allegedly to avoid "provocations from the other side," as Maduro has insisted. The only border state spared from this outrage so far is Amazonas. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


Arreaza says border decisions are irreversible

Executive Vice President Jorge Arreaza says decisions taken by President Maduro about the Colombia-Venezuela border "are irreversible", and hopes Colombia will "step up and guard its own border". More in Spanish:  (Ultimas Noticias,; El Nacional;


Nearly half of Colombians fear Venezuela war over border crisis: poll

Nearly half of Colombians fear a diplomatic dispute that began last month when Venezuela closed several border crossings and deported thousands of Colombians, could lead to war, a survey showed. 43%  of people in a CIFRAS Y CONCEPTOS poll said they fear the crisis could lead to military conflict between the two countries. 20% percent said they were afraid more Colombians would be expelled from Venezuela. The neighbors could break diplomatic relations, 19% said, while 13% believe Venezuelans could leave their country for Colombia. The countries share a long and porous border plagued by drug trafficking, paramilitaries, left-wing guerrillas and smugglers. (Reuters,


Uruguay: No formal announcement yet on UNASUR meeting to address border crisis

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, which holds pro-tempore presidency of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), has said there is no final decision on a summit of UNASUR Heads of State to tackle the border crisis between Venezuela and Colombia. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez had announced that the UNASUR Heads of State would meet next Monday, September 21, at the request of Argentina, to discuss the border issue, but she would not reveal the place where the meeting would be held. (El Universal,


Guyana starts gold extraction in disputed area with Venezuela

The government of Guyana announced the beginning of gold extraction works in a mine located in region 7, in the Essequibo, northeast Guyana, an area whose sovereignty is currently in dispute with Venezuela. Guyanese President David Granger congratulated Canadian company Guyana Goldfields, the company which was granted the mine concession, during the opening of operations in the Aurora mine. Guyana Goldfields has invested US$ 200 million to start up the mining project in the Aurora mine. The expected output of the mine amounts to an average of 194,000 ounces (6 tons) of gold during the next 17 years. (El Universal,


President Maduro freezes approval of Guyanese ambassador

President Nicolás Maduro has announced that the government of Guyana requested the agrément for its new ambassador to Venezuela, but approval was put on hold following some alleged offensive remarks made by Guyanese Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge against Venezuela. "On the one hand, they (Guyana) ask us to approve their (designated) ambassador, and on the other hand, they destroy us, they attack us, and issue offensive statements against Venezuela and the Bolivarian government. The government of President (David) Granger must come clean," President Maduro said. He remarked that the possibility of normalizing ties between Venezuela and Guyana opened up recently, within the framework of oil alliance PETROCARIBE. Bilateral relations have been strained over the last few months in a new chapter in a historic border dispute over the Essequibo territory. (El Universal,


Guyana-Venezuela border spat takes to Google Maps

The centuries-old territorial dispute has taken a technological turn as anglophone Guyana decries Google Maps' Spanish-language labeling of street names in a region claimed by neighboring Venezuela. The contended English-speaking area, which encompasses two-thirds of Guyana and effectively functions as part of the former British colony, is at the heart of the long-standing dispute, recently revived after an oil discovery off its shores. Roads in the sparsely populated jungle region are known locally by English monikers, but some appear with entirely different Spanish-language names on Google Inc's map service. (Reuters,; Latin American Herald Tribune,


López holds Maduro directly responsible for his personal safety

Jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López has said President Nicolás Maduro and his henchmen will be responsible for "any attack" made against him inside prison, and call for the people to mobilize "peacefully and democratically". He is currently appealing his conviction. More in Spanish: (Infolatam,


European Parliament rejects López' conviction

The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, speaking on behalf of the parliament, rejected the conviction of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, who was sentenced to nearly 14 years of imprisonment last week. Schulz said that the EP would send Venezuelan authorities a note of protest against López conviction. He added he had met a few weeks ago with López' wife, Lilian Tintori, to whom he conveyed his solidarity for an "unfair proceeding". (El Universal,


Venezuela was saved from a 'Pinochet,' leader says after opponent jailed

President Maduro claims Venezuela has been spared a Pinochet-like figure, in an apparent defense of a near 14-year jail sentence handed to opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez after deadly protests last year. "We're vaccinating the fatherland of a 'Pinochet'," Maduro said, referring to former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. (Reuters,


Cuba rejects "smear campaigns" against Venezuela

The government of Cuba has reasserted its "absolute" support of Venezuela over what it described as "smear campaigns" against the administration of President Nicolás Maduro, who currently faces harsh criticism and international rejection following the conviction of opposition leader Leopoldo López. "It is not possible to accept interference or meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs, let alone in the decisions adopted observing procedural guarantees and due process," said Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez. (El Universal,


....and ALBA follows suit

The countries comprising the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America also issued a communiqué warning against an alleged "smear and aggressions campaign" against Venezuela, and remarking they would be "on the alert to threats to the independence and sovereignty of the nation." In addition, the ALBA countries voiced their concern over statements made by several countries concerning recent judicial decisions in Venezuela. They noted that ALBA could not accept "attitudes seeking to interfere or meddle in the internal affairs of a State, coming from other States." (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.


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