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, January 7, 2016

January 07, 2016

International Trade

3,500 tons of food arrived at Maracaibo’s port, for state agency CASA. The shipment was transferred from Puerto Cabello, and started by offloading 143 containers of cooking oil, rice, beef, liquid and powdered milk. More in Spanish: (Bolipuertos,



Oil & Energy

Saudi-Iran split hampers chance of OPEC agreement to cut oil output

The possibility of reaching an agreement within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on oil production cuts to increase price is now dismissed as Saudi Arabia and Iran cut diplomatic ties.
Several OPEC delegates told Reuters they now saw no chance of any improvement in relations between OPEC members, which have been already very low over the past months.
(El Universal,




Government declares all petrochemical sector assets of public interest

The government has now included all assets involved in petrochemical projects as public domain, particularly those involved in transforming basic products such as methane, ethanol, propane, butane, and others, into such basic products as ammonia, methanol, ethylene, propylene, and others.  More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,



Economy & Finance

US$ 1.5 billion debt payment due in February

Venezuela faces an important debt payment early this year. According to the 2016 payment Schedule, the nation must pay up US$ 1.5 billion when the Sovereign 2016 bond comes due next month. Total debt payments for this year add up to US$ 9.930 billion in capital and interest, More in Spanish: (Notitarde;; El Mundo,; Ultimas Noticias,


Investment Banks fear Central Bank will increase government financing

Several investment banks are reporting that recent decrees by President Maduro will lead to increased Central Bank financing of government expenditures by printing more money. The new decrees strip the National Assembly of all power over the Central Bank, particularly the obligation to provide macroeconomic data and naming and approving members of the institution’s board of directors. BARCLAYS Capital says it is probable the regime will continue feeding inflation. Bank of America emphasizes that the new decrees allow the Central Bank to continue financing the government déficit, which is banned by the Constitution. (El Mundo,; Ultimas Noticias,; El Nacional,


New Parliament to focus on economic matters

The newly-sworn in National Assembly, with the opposition holding the supermajority, will launch a debate on whether the way the economy has been managed since the beginning of the government of late president Hugo Chávez in February 1999 should or should not be turned around. The two latest moves by the President, including a set of economic laws enacted via the enabling law and an announced Decree on Economic Constitutional Emergency, are counter to the legislative agenda suggested by the opposition. Regime opponents have rejected recently enacted laws and other economic legislation currently in force. (El Universal,


Latin America to stagnate due to Venezuela, Brazil, World Bank says

Latin America’s economy will stagnate in 2016 as commodity-dependent countries such as Brazil and Venezuela drag down the entire region, offsetting a positive performance in Mexico, the World Bank forecast. Output in Latin America and the Caribbean will be flat this year, down from a 2.1% growth forecast last June, according to the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects report released Wednesday. That’s due to a weaker outlook for South America, particularly Brazil and Venezuela. South America is forecast to contract 1.1% in 2016, versus the 1.7% growth the World Bank expected in mid-2015. (Bloomberg,



Politics and International Affairs

Maduro reshuffles Cabinet as Venezuela showdown intensifies

President Nicolas Maduro has named two university academics to major economic posts in a Cabinet reshuffle that was announced as a showdown intensified between his government and a new opposition-led legislature. In a lengthy speech to the nation, the socialist leader named Rodolfo Medina – whom he described as “the Evo Morales of economics” - as finance minister and Luis Salas to head a new ministry for economic productivity. He also ratified Eulogio Del Pino as head of state oil company PDVSA and oil minister. "I have decided to create this team so right now they start a new dynamic of work with the people, of permanent actions to confront the grave situation Venezuelans face," Maduro said. He also replaced Jorge Arreaza, son-in-law of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, as executive vice president with state governor and Socialist Party stalwart Aristobulo Isturiz. Arreaza was made minister for universities, science and technology, plus a vice-president for social matters. Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez was ratified in her post. Miguel Perez Abad was appointed commerce minister, while Jesus Faria was named head of the new foreign trade and investment ministry. Maduro also created ministries for food production and lands, fishing and urban agriculture. (Reuters,; Bloomberg,; More in Spanish: El Universal,


Maduro’s keeps 8 military officers in his Cabinet, names orthodox communists in economic area and creates six additional ministries


Executive Vice President, Aristóbulo Istúriz, former Anzoategui state governor

Vice President for Political Sovereignty, Delcy Rodríguez, who remains as Popular Power Minister of Foreign Affairs

Vice President for Economic Matters, Luis Salas, also Popular Power Minister of Productive Economy, newly created

Vice President for Planning and Knowledge, Ricardo Ménendez, remains as Popular Power Minister of Planning

Vice President for Social Development and Revolution in Missions, Jorge Arreaza, former Executive Vice President, also Popular Power Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology

Vice President for the Development of Territorial Socialism, Isis Ochoa.


Popular Power Ministry of Agricultural Production and Land (newly created), former Tourism Minister, former Captain Wilmar Castro Soteldo.

Popular Power Minister of Fishing and Aquaculture (newly created), Admiral Ángel Belisario.

Popular Power Minister of Urban Agriculture (newly created), Emma Ortega.

Popular Power Minister of Nutrition, General Rodolfo Marco Torres, formerly Finance Minister.

Popular Power Minister of Communes and Social Movements, Isis Ochoa, remains unchanged

Popular Power Minister of Communication and Information, Luis José Marcano.

Popular Power Minister of Culture, Freddy Ñáñez.

Popular Power Minister of Defense, Chief General Vladimir Padrino López, remains unchanged

Popular Power Minister of Education, Rodulfo Pérez.

Popular Power Minister of Electric Energy and President of CORPOELEC, General Luis Motta Domínguez, remains unchanged

Popular Power Minister of Banking and Finance, Rodolfo Medina

Popular Power Minister of Industry, Miguel Pérez Abad.

Popular Power Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Jesús Farías.

Popular Power Minister of Youth and Sports, Melvin Maldonado.

Popular Power Minister of Women and Gender Equality, Gladys Requena, remains unchanged

Popular Power Minister of Oil and Mining and President of PDVSA, Eulogio del Pino, remains unchanged

Popular Power Minister of Indigenous People, Clara Vidal, remains unchanged

Popular Power Minister of the Social Process of Labor, Oswaldo Vera.

Popular Power Minister of Internal Affairs, Justice and Peace, Major General Gustavo González López, remains unchanged

Popular Power Minister of Health, Luisana Melo.

Popular Power Minister of the Penitentiary Service, Iris Varela, remains unchanged

Popular Power Minister of Tourism, Marleny Contreras, remains unchanged

Popular Power Minister of Transport and Public Works (newly created), Luis Sauce.

Popular Power Minister of Housing and Habitat, General Manuel Quevedo, remains unchanged.

Popular Power Minister of Ecosocialism and Water, Ernesto Paiva.

Popular Power Minister of Frontiers, Gerardo Izquierdo Torres, remains unchanged

Popular Power Minister for the Presidential Office, Jesús Salazar

Head of the Capital Government District, Daniel Aponte.


National Assembly swears in 3 disputed opposition legislators

The newly inaugurated National Assembly swore in three opposition deputies who had been disqualified by the country’s Supreme Court after elections last month, setting up a confrontation with the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro. As opposition lawmakers chanted “We’re 112!” in reference to their elected two-thirds legislative majority, pro-government deputies protested the installation and said any laws approved with the votes of the disputed lawmakers would be unconstitutional. “The government won’t recognize or enact any law that this assembly approves,” former National Assembly president and pro-government deputy Diosdado Cabello said in a press conference. “This parliament has become illegal,” he said, adding that the National Assembly would be cut off from all funding. (Bloomberg,


New Venezuelan Parliament looks to put an early end to Maduro mandate

The new Venezuelan Parliament, or the National Assembly with opposition majority, plans to put an end to the mandate of President Nicolas Maduro before 2019, said Assembly president Henry Ramos-Allup during the first parliamentary session Tuesday. In an inflamed and noisy session, which opened at a time of complicated political cohabitation in the country, Ramos-Allup swore himself in as the new National Assembly president before stating that in six months the new assembly will decide on the "constitutional, democratic, pacific and electoral way out" of the current government. The options include the official announcement of a presidential recall referendum, which can be brought into effect in July when Maduro completes half his term, constitutional amendment, voluntary resignation of the government and the establishment of a new Constituent Assembly. At the same time, Ramos-Allup called upon the Maduro regime to dialogue “to solve the needs of Venezuelans”, adding that “Venezuelans want dialogue”. He said that “civilized societies either dialogue or kill each other”.  (Latin American Herald Tribune,; and more in Spanish: (El Universal,


Venezuela opposition supporters revel in new Congress

Cameras zoomed in on First Lady and lawmaker Cilia Flores as an opposition legislator accused Venezuela's government of handing out diplomatic passports to drug traffickers, an allusion to her two nephews on trial in the United States on cocaine smuggling charges. Another opposition legislator stood up and accused his ruling Socialist Party counterparts of stealing money destined for cancer medicines and food, both of which are running short in the crisis-hit country. For Venezuela's frustrated opposition supporters, the first session of the National Assembly on Tuesday was a delightful spectacle. The Democratic Unity coalition took control of Congress for the first time in 16 years on Tuesday in a rowdy session that included slogan-chanting and heckling. At one point, Socialist Party deputies walked out over the alleged violation of parliamentary rules. While the opposition-led Congress has few powers to overhaul President Nicolas Maduro's suffocating economic controls, it plans to use its new perch to pile pressure on the government. Tuesday's session, the first since Democratic Unity won two-thirds of seats in elections in December, was just a taster of much more significant challenges to come, the dominant bloc says. "Where did they spend Venezuela's money? We're going to question all the ministers. And if we have to dismiss them, we will!" said opposition lawmaker William Barrientos after the session. Venezuela's buzzing social media tracked the sometimes tense session. And for the first time in years, journalists were present. The Socialist Party had banned reporters from accessing the floor to interview lawmakers, a measure the new opposition leadership dropped. (Reuters:


President Maduro challenges the new National Assembly to call a referendum to revoke his mandate. After pro-regime legislators walked out of the first session of the new, opposition controlled National Assembly, President Nicolas Maduro challenged the recently elected legislators to call a referendum to revoke his mandate and let Venezuelans decide. More in Spanish: (Infolatam:


Cabello says the National Assembly has become illegitimate by contempt of the Supreme Tribunal in swearing in 3 legislators from Amazonas state. Former National Assembly President Captain Diosdado Cabello said the group would denounce the current National Assembly for contempt and added that “no law they pass will be valid” He added: “We have here a working Supreme Tribunal, what may become paralyzed is the National Assembly because, I believe, they will not receive a penny from now on”.  More in Spanish: (Infolatam:


Borges set forth opposition legislative agenda

Lawmaker Julio Borges, who heads the opposition legislative caucus within the newly installed National Assembly, has officially set forth the group legislative priorities, as follows: 1.- Amnesty Law on behalf of political prisoners and exiles;

2.- Law to give ownership title to government housing plan beneficiaries; 3.- Law to provide food stamps and medicine for the elderly; 4.- Law to promote Domestic production. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,


Regime rejects alleged US meddling in legal action against election result

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Delcy Rodríguez, described a request by the United States to resolve an action admitted by the Venezuelan Judiciary contesting the election of four deputies in a "transparent" manner as "meddling". Following the opening of the new Venezuelan Parliament, John Kirby, spokesperson for the US Department of State, stated that Washington was concerned over the "controversy surrounding the inauguration of some elected representatives," and called for "a resolution of this dispute in a transparent manner that reflects the preferences of the Venezuelan voters." Kirby’s comments were in response to a letter sent by Sen. Robert Menendez to President Barack Obama Monday asking for measures to ensure the government of Nicolas Maduro respects the election results in Venezuela. (El Universal,; Latin American Herald Tribune,; El Universal,


Rubio: Maduro does not intend to accept parliament vote outcome

Republican presidential contender Senator Marco Rubio says "there is growing evidence" that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro "has no intention of accepting the results of the legislative vote" held last December 6 in Venezuela.
Rubio asked US President Barack Obama to punish those who try to "sabotage" the result of the parliament in Venezuela, which put an end to 17 years of chavezism hegemony in the National Assembly.
(El Universal,


European Union ready to strengthen relations with Venezuela

The European Union says the new National Assembly “will be the key for democracy in Venezuela”, and says it is “important” that the legislature “should be able to comply with all of its constitutional prerogatives, those which respect the vote of the people”. It says it believes the new situation here opens up opportunities for closer relations that can lead to agreements on key matters. More in Spanish: (El Universal,


Brazil calls for dialogue in Venezuela

Brazil’s Foreign Ministry has issued a statement saying it “trusts” that the voting will of the Venezuelan people is “respected” and that “the constitutional functions and prerogatives of the National Assembly are to be preserved and respected”. It also called for both sides to “maintain and perfect dialogue and harmony”. More in Spanish: (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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