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.

Friday, December 4, 2015

December 03, 2015

International Trade


Cargo that has arrived at Puerto Cabello:

  • 30.000 tons of yellow corn for state agency Corporación de Alimentos y Servicios Agrícolas (CASA)
  • 4.664 bundles of steel pipes for state agency PDVSA Industrial
  • 2,500 automobiles from China to be distributed as taxicabs by the government
More in Spanish: (Bolipuertos,;; Notitarde,; El Mundo,


Cargo that has arrived at Bolipuertos La Guaira:

  • Over 230 containers of food, medicine and essential goods from Panamá
  • 10,000 tons of wheat from Canada for CARGILL de Venezuela
More in Spanish: (Bolipuertos,; El Mundo,



Oil & Energy


Iran, Russia reject idea of joint oil output cuts with Saudi Arabia

Oil-producing countries looked unlikely to reach a deal to lift languishing prices at a meeting on Friday after Iran, Iraq and Russia swiftly rejected a surprise proposal that appeared to have been floated by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), was prepared to propose members cut oil output by 1 million barrels per day next year if non-OPEC countries joined in, industry publication Energy Intelligence reported. A Saudi source said later the report was "baseless" but declined further comment and a source at Energy Intelligence said it stood by its story.  OPEC's policy meeting will be held in Vienna on Friday. OPEC also held a rare informal meeting there on Thursday but the Saudis made no proposals, according to ministers and delegates. (Reuters:


PDVSA to lower gasoline, MTBE exports, eliminate diesel imports In December

PDVSA will likely reduce its gasoline and MTBE imports in December while eliminating diesel imports altogether. December gasoline imports are estimated at 50,000 bpd, down from 80,000 bpd in November. MTBE imports should drop by 14,000 bpd to 20,000 bpd if the SuperOctanos MTBE unit starts up in the first week of December as planned, following a planned turnaround. The Cardon refinery should run 250,000 bpd crude, after restarting this week one of 4 crude units following unplanned repairs. Its 25,000-bpd alkylation unit and 45,000-bpd reformer should be in service. The El Palito refinery plans to start the FCC during the first week of December, followed by the alkylation unit. (Energy News Today:





Food scarcity rose from 29.3% to 37.9% over the past 10 months.

The CENDAS think tank reports that 22 out of 58 of the key basic family consumer products have become scarce in stores. Powdered milk, corn oil and meat are among those more acutely scarce, and the number of item is growing. If personal care products are considered the number of scarce items is 51. More in Spanish: (El Nacional:



Economy & Finance


November inflation was 17.8%, 236.3% projected for 2015

The national consumer price index rose 17.8% in November, 5.7% above October, according to sources close to Venezuela's Central Bank, which has been barred from publishing statistics by President Nicolás Maduro. Projected annual inflation for this year is now 236.3%, the highest in Venezuela's contemporary history. More in Spanish: (El Nacional:


All Venezuelan bonds posted in average 2% losses in New York on Monday, in view of the country’s political uncertainty. A Morgan Stanley’s report caused anxiety among bond holders by pointing out the victory in this Sunday’s elections could be by a narrow margin and could go either to the government or to the opposition. (Veneconomy,


CONINDUSTRIA urges National Assembly to legislate on economic matters

Juan Pablo Olalquiaga, President of the Venezuelan Confederation of Industries (CONINDUSTRIA), says that the "economy is priority", and the reason why Venezuelans are calling for a change in the National Assembly , because they are standing in lines and cannot afford the high prices of products which are in short supply on store shelves. For these reasons, he urged the legislature to legislate on economic matters. (El Universal,



Politics and International Affairs


Chavez's supporters face rare defeat in Venezuelan elections

Plagued by rampant crime, unbridled corruption and unprecedented economic contraction, Venezuela elects a new legislature on Sunday, with the opposition on the verge of a decisive victory for the first time in 16 years. But rather than propel the country onto a stabler path, the vote seems just as likely to bog it down into further dysfunction. The gross domestic product of oil-rich Venezuela will shrink 10% this year -- more than that of any country in the world -- according to forecasts by the International Monetary Fund. “In other words, we have performance so negative it’s comparable to a country at war during a time of peace,” said Jose Manuel Puente, an economist at Caracas’ Institute of Advanced Studies in Administration. (Bloomberg,


Venezuela heads for pivotal election, without a referee

U.S. officials and Latin American leaders are awaiting Venezuela’s parliamentary elections this weekend with trepidation, worried that instead of defusing the country’s deep tensions, the vote could instead detonate a new crisis. The ruling socialist party is expected to lose control of the legislature for the first time since the late Hugo Chávez was elected president in 1998. Such a defeat would be an unprecedented blow to the movement known as “Chavismo” that rose to power by electoral means yet views its uninterrupted rule as part of a “revolution” that dismisses, at least rhetorically, democratic norms such as alternating power and divided government. Defiant statements by President Nicolás Maduro and other top Venezuelan officials have offered few assurances to those looking for signs that the government is ready to compromise with the opposition. "They are at a dramatic crossroads,” said a senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Venezuelan government is quick to label any public criticism by foreigners an act of “meddling.” “Chavismo expected it would be the dominant political force for decades, but it has discovered that in democratic societies, people hold leaders to account,” said the U.S. official. “Ideology and the image of Chávez isn’t enough to maintain a hold on power.” The leading polls show Maduro’s United Socialist Party headed for steep losses. But with few international observers expected to monitor the election, anything other than an opposition win is likely to produce charges of fraud. The opposition has little faith in the neutrality of the country’s election officials, and the leading international observer delegation, from South America’s UNASUR bloc, will be headed by a longtime Chávez ally, former Dominican president Leonel Fernández. Brazil pulled out of the delegation last month. The UNASUR group will also lack delegates from Uruguay and Chile.  Analysts have cautioned against expecting a sweeping opposition victory, noting that the country’s electoral map favors rural districts where the Chávez movement is still strong. The government also freely uses state resources to promote its candidates and bring its supporters to the polls. The government can still count on support from fervent Chávez devotees, and Maduro has warned them that any vote for the opposition would be tantamount to a “betrayal” of the late leader’s legacy. Polls suggest a lot of former Chávez followers are not buying it. With as much as 95% of Venezuela’s income generated from petroleum exports and no recovery in sight for oil prices it might not be such a bad thing for Maduro, politically speaking, to share power with an opposition-controlled parliament. If he does not, he will continue to bear full responsibility for the country’s economic debacle. (The Washington Post:


Venezuela’s political crisis: can regional actors help?

Venezuela’s uncertain future hinges on the dynamics surrounding the upcoming parliamentary elections. The authoritarian turn of the government seems to indicate that it is genuinely fearful of losing the elections. Opinion polls show that the government is unpopular and that its support is declining rapidly, even among longtime supporters. Probably mindful of this, the Maduro regime has deliberately harassed the opposition (for example, jailing its candidates and leaders), silenced the media (revoking licenses and threatening the media), and manipulated the electoral process (excluding opposition candidates, threatening voters, avoiding external scrutiny of its actions, and curbing free media reporting). Statements by officials indicating that the government may not recognize the results of the elections, moreover, hint that the government is in no mood to abandon its Bolivarian revolution. The specter of an increasingly massive crisis with unforeseen consequences is hence very real. The potential repercussions of such an outcome are immense and could include intervention by the Venezuelan military, generalized civilian disobedience by a radicalized opposition, or the eruption of severe civil unrest with a concomitant forced migration crisis. External actors have thus far been unable to act in meaningful ways to forestall a serious crisis, with potentially important domestic and even regional repercussions. In particular, major South American governments have failed to build a unified front to pressure the regime to handle the crisis in democratic ways and persuade the opposition to tone down its demands. This would be critical to help move Venezuela toward a national dialogue necessary to foster a legitimate response to its pressing sociopolitical and economic challenges. Powerful nations, in particular Brazil but also Argentina, Chile, and Colombia, will need to put pressure upon ALBA countries to modify their unfettered support of the Venezuelan regime in order to avoid an all-out democratic breakdown. This would require summoning UNASUR’s Council of Heads of State and Government and imposing sanctions against the Maduro regime by invoking both UNASUR’s democratic clause and the OAS’s Inter-American Democratic Charter. Another potential move could be seeking mediation from beyond the region, including from the European Union and the United Nations. (Carnegie Endowment:


REUTERS reports poll showing Maduro's popularity bouncing before election

Venezuela law prohibits publishing opinion polls in the week preceding elections, yet according to a survey allegedly carried out by DATANALISIS and reportedly seen by REUTERS, President Nicolas Maduro's popularity has jumped in the run-up to Sunday's crucial legislative election, but probably not enough to prevent an opposition victory. Maduro's popularity jumped more than 11 points from 21% in October to 32.3% in late November. However, the Democratic Unity coalition, which groups all main opposition parties, remains in pole position, with 55.6% planning to back the opposition, and 36.8% the government, the survey said. "The main uncertainty is not whether 'Chavismo' or the opposition will win, but what type of majority the opposition will obtain," Leon added in an opinion article this week, saying Maduro's popularity bounce would not swing the election.  A whopping 89.5% are unhappy with the nation's situation, DATANALISIS said in its survey of 999 people with a margin of error of 3.04%. But "Chavismo" retains formidable election mobilization machinery, and some aspects of the voting system - such as a bigger weighting of seats in rural areas where government support is stronger - favor them too. The firm's head, Luis-Vicente Leon, said the ruling "Chavista" movement had reaped reward for going on the attack against foes, distributing resources in key districts, and reviving the memory of the popular former president during the campaign. The government campaign has focused heavily on accusations that the opposition will dismantle popular Chavez-era welfare policies. (Reuters:


CNE to announce parliament vote results when "irreversible"

Socorro Hernández, one of the directors of the Venezuelan National Electoral Council (CNE), says she cannot determine the time when the local electoral authority will disclose the results of the upcoming parliament vote on Sunday,  December 6, as Venezuelan laws stipulate that results must be announced when "irreversible." "We cannot determine that (polling stations) will close at 6:00 pm and results will be given two hours later," Hernández said in an interview. (El Universal,


UNASUR will be present in 11 states in the country, according to the Mission’s general coordinator José Luis Exceniy. The 40 electoral mission’s experts will visit: Capital District, Miranda, Zulia, Táchira, Lara, Aragua, Carabobo, Bolívar, Monagas, Portuguesa, and Vargas. (Veneconomy,


European Parliament did not send electoral mission to Venezuela for security reasons

The European Parliament (EP) had plans to send and electoral mission to Venezuela to monitor the upcoming parliament vote on December 6.  However, following an assessment from the European External Action Service (EEAS) on the country security conditions, they gave up. The parliament conference of presidents had agreed, by majority, to send the mission on December 3-7. (El Universal,


IACHR calls for cease in violence during parliament vote in Venezuela

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urged Venezuela to take measures to stop the increase in violence and harassment against some political sectors so that the upcoming parliament vote on December 6 will be held with freedom and security. In a communiqué, IACHR condemned the murder of opposition leader Luis Manuel Díaz during an act of electoral campaign, voicing its "deep condemnation and concern" over the escalation of political violence on the eve of the parliament election. (El Universal,


In Zulia state, 40,708 voters were moved at the last minute from their assigned voting stations as the CNE closed 32 stations due to “deficiencies in the infrastructure,” according to the state’s Regional Electoral Office’s Chief Marianela González. The CNE will inform about the relocation of these voters on Thursday. (Veneconomy,


Leopoldo López demands voting in parliament election in Venezuela, Elections Board says it has no request

Opposition leader Leopoldo López, who was sentenced to a 14-year term in prison, has demanded to exercise his right to vote in the parliament election on Sunday, December 6. His defense counselor Juan Carlos Gutiérrez filed a request before a court in Caracas arguing that López "is not politically disqualified; his sentence has not been enforced because it is not final and the appropriate appeal has been made." The President of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, says that prisoners who have not been sentenced may cast their ballots in the upcoming parliament vote on December 6, provided that jails in which they are held in custody serve as polling stations. "Detainees who are not convicted have, of course, their political rights," she added. Yet when Lucena was asked if imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo López could vote as requested by his counsel she replied she had not received such request. (El Universal,; and more in Spanish: (El Universal,


Venezuelan NGO counts on more than 3,000 volunteers for parliament vote

In reference to the upcoming parliamentary vote on, Helen Aguiar, President of the Venezuelan Electoral Observers Network (ROEV), reports the organization has available over 3,000 volunteers in every state, and that 776 out of those volunteers will be accredited as observers in all the constituencies. Aguiar explained that any individual may directly witness the electoral process, yet limited to what the Constitution stipulates. "Let's remember there are witnesses, observers, escorts and organizations duly accredited. And those who are not (accredited), must not be requested to intervene in the polling stations and encourage violent situations," she stressed. (El Universal,


Cabello says National Assembly will accuse Colombia's President Santos

Captain Diosdado Cabello, President of Venezuela's National Assembly, has announced he will appoint a committee to formally charge Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos and former President Álvaro Uribe with the death of peasants falsely presented as guerrillas in that nation. (Ultimas Noticias,; El Nacional,



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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