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, February 25, 2016

February 25, 2016

International Trade


Táchira Governor advocates opening up border with Colombia

Lieutenant José Gregorio Vielma Mora, Governor of Táchira state on the frontier with Colombia, believes that the border with the neighboring country can be opened up now that the Oil Minister and PDVSA President Eulogio del Pino has announced that gas stations along the border will sell at international prices. “I believe it is already necessary, since the border should be open during daytime so that we can trade, as Colombia is our ally. Colombia is our natural market for high quality goods at a good price”, he said. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,


Venezuela expects to earn US$ 7 billion from non-oil exports this year

Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Jesús Faría says out that by the end of the year, the government expects to earn a total of US$ 7 billion from non-traditional exports. (El Universal,



Oil & Energy


PDVSA sells stock in joint ventures to raise capital, part of PETROMONAGAS goes to ROSNEFT

State oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has launched a plan to raising financing by selling of its stock in joint ventures and lowering its stake in these companies, reports PETROGUIA, a publication specialized in industry affairs. It took the first step by selling US$ 500-million stock to Russia’s ROSNEFT, which now has raised its stake in PETROMONAGAS (Anzoátegui state) from 16.67% to 40%, According to an industry source, PETROMONAGAS will now be free to sell oil directly instead of being controlled by the Trade and Supply office. The source says negotiations are underway with CHEVRON for an increase of their stake in PETROPIAR, from 30% to 40%; and for China’s CNOC to increase their stake in SINOVENEZOLANA from 25% to 40%. More in Spanish:


PDVSA in talks with banks over debt refinancing

State oil company PDVSA is in talks with international banks over refinancing the company's debt, its president announced, as the country grapples with major bond payments amid an oil price rout. "If the conditions are favorable, of course we're interested," Eulogio Del Pino said about potential refinancing, adding the company was talking to international banks. Del Pino had previously said PDVSA was mulling a proposal to extend payment for bonds that mature in 2016 and 2017 until 2018 and 2019, when the company has a lighter load. Venezuela faces some US$ 10 billion in debt payments this year amid a tumble in oil prices and a brutal recession, leading to speculation of default. (Reuters,; El Universal,


PDVSA says new military company to provide services

A recently-announced Venezuelan military company will provide services to state oil company PDVSA, especially in terms of security in the crime-ridden country, says the company's president. Some industry observers and opposition leaders had speculated the company, CAMIMPEG, was a potential mechanism to shield assets from being seized in the event of a debt default. But PDVSA president and Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino said the company is designed to provide services and support in the country with the world's largest oil reserves. "It will help PDVSA in all the necessary areas. For instance, in border areas, we're going to increase our security, in operational issues where our soldiers are perfectly prepared," Del Pino told reporters. (Reuters,





Venezuela, GOLD RESERVE to settle arbitration dispute with joint venture

Venezuela and Canadian mining company GOLD RESERVE have signed a memorandum of understanding to settle a protracted arbitration dispute over a gold concession through creation of a joint venture here. The deal would see Venezuela and Gold Reserve, which were embroiled in a dispute over the termination of the company's Las Brisas gold concession in 2009, jointly exploit the Brisas and Las Cristinas mines, President Nicolas Maduro said.  The deal's fine print was not immediately clear, although Venezuela said the deal would result in a US$ 2 billion-dollar loan for the crisis-hit country.  GOLD RESERVE's president, Doug Belanger, told Reuters that Venezuela would likely use the mining property as collateral to obtain financing.  The small Canadian miner will receive compensation as part of the deal, Belanger added, although declining to give estimates for compensation or investment.  "We're in agreement to settle. We will be receiving a payment," Belanger said after the signing ceremony in Caracas, adding a final settlement was expected soon. GOLD RESERVE was awarded around US$ 750 million by the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes for the 2009 termination of its Las Brisas concession. Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino said Gold Reserve would have a 45% stake in the joint venture, with the remaining 55% going to the state.  "(This agreement) demonstrates this country's responsibility toward international investors," said Del Pino. (Reuters:


Venezuela exhibits mining potential to domestic and foreign companies

Nelson Merentes, President of the Central Bank, reports that a meeting has been held with local and foreign companies to present them the potential of development of projects in the Orinoco mining area, located in Bolívar state, south Venezuela. Merentes said the meeting was aimed at attracting domestic and foreign investment to boost the mining sector and a new economic model. He said that, in addition to exploitation and exploration, the global financial aspect was tackled "for the business itself" of secondary markets and other phases of mining. During these meetings, President Maduro claimed that Venezuela will soon be certified as holding the world’s second largest gold reserves, holding 4,300 tons; and that agreements have been reached with two Chinese (CAMC Engineering CO. LTD, and the Yakuang Group), as well as one mining company from the Congo Republic, to explore for and mine gold, coltane, and diamonds, among other minerals, with investments of up to US$ 5 billion and a potential of generating some US$ 200 billion. The deal with Canada’s GOLD RESERVE was announced during this same meeting. (El Universal,; and more in Spanish: El Universal,; El Nacional,; Ultimas Noticias,; AVN;;;;


Some POLAR plants winding down, unions protest regime takeover threats

Supply scarcities have led to paralyzing the Polar cleaning products plant for the past six months, with no detergent production. It previously put out 6,500 tons of detergent each month, and 3,500 tons of soap. The report comes from plant labor leader Freddy Baldo, who says “we ask the government to free up FOREX so that we can import sodium sulfate from China or Spain so we can continue producing powder detergent”. Roger Palacios, leader of the union at the Polar tuna plant in Sucre state reports a 680-ton cargo of tuna allowed for production to start up for seven days, but that they are only processing one production line and “could be producing 1500 tons of tuna”. Over 250 leaders of around 24 POLAR unions nationwide joined to reject government threats of taking over the food and beverage conglomerate, which supplies many of the nation’s staples. “We need the government to pay suppliers in order to preserve our jobs. We are 30,000 workers that strive to produce in this country”.  For his part, government party leader Captain Diosdado Cabello, a member of the National Assembly, again threatened the company saying “just try shutting down your plants, Mr. Mendoza, and see what happens”. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,;; El Nacional;;; Notitarde,



Economy & Finance


Venezuela can meet tomorrow’s US$ 1.5 billion debt payment

Venezuela has resources to fully make a US$ 1.5 billion payments due tomorrow on its global 2016 bond, three sources close to government said, though maturities later in the year may be harder to meet. Reeling from recession and low oil prices, the nation paid US$ 10.5 billion of debt last year by reducing imports, withdrawing International Monetary Fund reserves, selling assets and engaging in gold swaps with foreign banks. To guarantee tomorrow's payment, President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government has squeezed imports further since December, despite shortages hurting his popularity. "The problem is not February," said one of the sources familiar with the government's economic strategy. (Reuters,


Ramos Allup says: “The government has two options: Cut spending or more debt

After hearing out the annual report delivered to the National Assembly by Executive Vice President Aristóbulo Istúriz, Assembly president Henry Ramos Allup said: “If at some time they set up an investment system that cannot be paid for bow, unnecessary spending must be cut”. He says the government should evaluate its operations and that of the companies it took over, and adds that the food crisis is due to controls set up by the government: “When the government controls everything, solving problems depends on what steps it can take…No one can deny the government has raised salaries, but those increases have been eaten up by inflation”. More in Spanish: (El Nacional,


Central Bank prepares to issue new bills

Venezuela’s Central Bank (BCV) is preparing to issue new 500- and 1,000-bolivar bills, equivalent to US$ 2.50 and US$ 5 at the highest official exchange rate of 200 bolivars per dollar, according to media reports. The largest current bill in circulation – 100 bolivars – is insufficient to keep up with the country’s high inflation rate, the business daily El Mundo reported, citing BCV officials. The BCV reported last week that Venezuela’s inflation rate hit 180.9% in 2015, the highest in the country’s history and well above the previous record of 103% registered in 1996. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


58,000 shops shut down during 2015

Zulia state business leader Gilberto Gudiño reports that - based on data from the National Statistics Institute – 58,000 shops closed down nationwide. “The numbers could be more dramatic, the truth is the country is doing away with companies”, he said – and added “fewer than 300,000 companies are barely surviving, and in this context 58,000 is a very important number.” More in Spanish: (El Mundo,



Politics and International Affairs


Maduro dooms himself with tepid reforms

With Latin America's most troubled economy heading toward default, there was hope that President Nicolas Maduro might discard half-measures and pull his country back from the edge. Instead, last week he announced policy changes that amounted to an optical illusion. To wit, although he raised the price of the world's cheapest gas by as much as 6,000% (for high octane fuel), he kept the price fixed -- and thanks to government subsidies Venezuelans can still fill up for a world-beating four cents to the gallon. He simplified the confounding, multi-tiered exchange rate system and devalued the bloated national currency, but by not nearly enough: On the street a greenback costs 1,000 bolivars, at least five times the official government rate. So much for Nobel Peace Prize laureate Oscar Arias's warning from the floor of the National Assembly last week that "it's not possible to overcome the crisis by deepening the current model, only by abandoning it." (Bloomberg,


Legislature investigates allocation of US$ 230 billion by FOREX authorities

The National Assembly’s Control Committee will investigate US$ 230 billion allocations by CADIVI and CENCOEX from 2003 to 2014, as it is not publicly known exactly who received this currency, allegedly allocated for food and medicine imports. Congressman Ismael Garcia says that, for example, “during the time General Guiseppe Joffreda, was president of CORPOVEX, funds were allocated through the SICAD I and SICAD II systems, 8’% of which went to public agencies: BARIVEN, CVG International, VESINCA, SUVINCA, CASA and AGROPATRIA, and supplies were not guaranteed”, he said. He also referred to 116,808 tons of food bought by PDVAL in 2009, which were incinerated, with no one investigated. More in Spanish: (Notitarde;; El Nacional,


Maduro seeks Obama conciliatory gesture

Media here is highlighting statements by President Nicolas Maduro, who has asked his counterpart Barack Obama to repeal the decree of sanctions in force since 2015 against the country. “I hope President Obama will reject the sanctions decree against Venezuela and receive the credentials to Maximilien Arbelaiz so that he can show his goodwill towards Venezuela”, Maduro said. On March 9, 2015, the head of the White House signed a decree to punish seven Venezuelan government officials for alleged human rights violations, which means the freezing of assets and a ban on entry into the United States.  The decree, which described the situation in Venezuela as a threat to the United States, sparked outrage in the socialist government, and prompted an international campaign of signatures calling for its repeal.  Receiving the credentials would be a simple gesture (...) We need to talk, understand and respect each other”, added Maduro. (Prensa Latina:


Special UN committee to visit Venezuela over Guyana border dispute

A special committee of the United Nations (UN) will visit Venezuela in the upcoming days to learn the truth about "Venezuela's legitimate claim" over the Essequibo disputed territory, says Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez. (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.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February 23, 2016

International Trade


Imports shrank 18.7% during 2015, according to official data

The Central Bank reports that imports into Venezuela dropped to US$ 38.624 billion in 2015, down 18.7% from US$ 47.506 billion in 2014. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,


Reduced port activity hurts the economy

The Puerto Cabello Chamber of Commerce reports all areas connected to port activity are in critical condition, reducing expenditures. Warehouses, including those controlled by the state, do not have much cargo and there are many paralyzed transportation units due to a drop in merchandise and high operating costs. Customs agents are struggling to meet payrolls and fixes costs; shipping agencies, stevedores, machinery operators and others are in the same situation. More in Spanish: (Notitarde;; El Universal,



Oil & Energy


Venezuela sending new proposals to OPEC, non-OPEC producers; hopes freeze could boost oil prices by $10-$15

Venezuela is sending new proposals to leaders of OPEC and non-OPEC countries to stabilize the oil market, says President Nicolas Maduro, without providing details. The latest move by Venezuela comes days after Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and this agreed to freeze output at January levels if others joined in. Iran welcomed the move but stopped short of pledging to act itself and it is unclear whether the freeze will actually happen.  The four countries have agreed to monitor the oil market through June and could take additional measures if needed, added Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino, who also said a deal to freeze oil production could help buoy depressed crude prices by US$ 10 to US$ 15 dollars a barrel, calling on OPEC and non-OPEC countries to join the agreement. "This (deal) will help reach an equilibrium priceWe estimate that there will be a recovery around the middle of the year of some US$ 10, US$ 15 dollars, it's not convenient that oil return to over US$ 100 because then that produces a cycle of falls." (Reuters,;; Bloomberg,


The global story behind Venezuela's 6,000% gas hike

Already dealing with triple-digit inflation, Venezuelans have just been hit with about a 6,000% hike in gasoline prices and a 37% currency devaluation. Venezuelans will still pay next to nothing for gas, but the move highlights just how badly the country has been hit by a collapse in global oil prices. Now that Iranian oil exports are growing, following the lifting of international sanctions last month, and Iraq is cranking up output, there are fears that the continued oversupply could worsen and push prices as low as US$ 10, even as oil-rich nations look to freeze production and stabilize prices. Capping output probably won't do much to lift oil prices, and it certainly won't be enough to save the Venezuelan economy. The gasoline price hike is expected to save the cash-strapped government US$ 800 million a year in subsidies, the BBC reported. It’s also hoped the currency devaluation will boost demand for Venezuelan exports by making them cheaper for foreign buyers. But analysts say the measures fall well short of what is needed to revamp the economy, which has been severely weakened by years of mismanagement and is now being pushed to the brink of collapse by plunging oil prices. (Global Post:


Venezuela oil price jumps but stays below US$ 25

The price Venezuela receives for its mix of heavy oil jumped 5% this week as prices around the world rose on announcements of agreements in principle between some OPEC members and non-OPEC members like Russia to freeze oil production at January levels. According to figures released by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by PDVSA during the week ending February 19 was US$ 24.03, up US$ 1.20 from the previous week's US$ 22.83. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


ROSNEFT signs agreement with PDVSA to produce gas in Venezuela

Russia's top oil producer ROSNEFT and Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA signed an agreement to set up a joint venture to develop natural gas here, ROSNEFT said. Each firm will have a 50% share in the venture, which with develop three offshore fields. "The gas production at the three fields is expected to be up to 25 million cubic meters per day (9 billion cubic meters a year), providing the potential to develop the world-class, export-oriented pipeline or LNG project", ROSNEFT said in a statement. (Reuters,; Bloomberg,; El Universal,


Venezuela said to consider Aruba refinery to upgrade heavy oil

State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is said to be looking into leasing the Aruba refinery, where it would ship tar-like oil to be upgraded into higher value synthetic crude rather than produce fuels like gasoline. PDVSA, through its U.S. subsidiary CITGO Petroleum Corp., is in talks with the Aruba government to lease the refinery, according to an Aruba government official who isn’t authorized to speak publicly. The plan is being considered as cash-strapped PDVSA doesn’t have the financial resources to build the oil upgraders that it needs to turn its asphalt-like crude into a product that refineries can process. The last upgraders were put into operation in the early 2000s. The country owns four of them in partnership with firms like TOTAL and CHEVRON. (Bloomberg,


The specter of PDVSA bankruptcy is haunting Venezuela

Before 2016 is out, PDVSA may be forced to file for bankruptcy. Bond markets have just about concluded PDVSA will not make its October bond payments. With some PDVSA bonds now yielding north of 130%, it’s a foregone conclusion: barring a dramatic surge in oil prices, PDVSA will default. PDVSA bonds have no Collective Action Clauses, and without “bankruptcy protection”, a corporate default would soon turn disorderly. Different creditors would make bids to seize various bits of the corporation’s assets haphazardly, some might seek to get its bank accounts frozen, soon, the company wouldn’t be able to operate at all. Come October, PDVSA could easily find itself in a situation where it’s impossible for it to transact or operate outside Venezuela’s borders: its shipments and refineries seized, its bank accounts frozen, the legal and financial infrastructure of a large transnational corporation jammed. PDVSA now appears to be actively taking steps to sidestep this fate. The government could try to shield PDVSA’s assets from creditors by just shifting them to a new corporate shell – a military shell in this case. If PDVSA is found to be hiding and transferring assets to avoid debt collection it could even accelerate the maturity of some of the rest of its financial debt. In theory, any transfer done to defraud creditors could be declared void by a judge. The most likely outcome would appear to be a series of enormously complex, costly, long-running legal battles across multiple jurisdictions with contradictory or unenforceable rulings that will leave Venezuela’s oil industry operating under an impenetrable cloud of legal uncertainty long into the future. (Caracas Chronicles:



Economy & Finance


Venezuela’s reserves crash to new 13-year low, gold reserves going to Switzerland

Venezuela’s Central Bank Reserves crashed almost half a billion dollars to a new 13-year low on Friday as the country continued making February payments of US$ 2.3 billion on Venezuela and state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) debt.  According to the Central Bank (BCV), Venezuela’s reserves fell US$ 472 million just on Friday, February 19 to US$ 14.563 billion.  That is the lowest the country’s reserves have been since 2003 when a nationwide strike against then-President Hugo Chavez brought oil production almost to a standstill. Venezuela’s reserves have fallen US$ 1.798 billion in just the 7 weeks since January 1. The latest half-billion withdrawal appears to be the first of several as Venezuela liquidates and/or mortgages its gold to pay the US$ 10 billion that it owes this year in dollar bond debt. Today, Venezuela had to pay US$ 191 million for the huge 12.75% semi-annual coupon on its US$ 3 billion Venezuela 12.75% of August 23, 2022.  On Friday, Venezuela must pay US$ 1.543 billion for interest and the maturity of its US$ 1.5 billion Venezuela 5.75% of February 26, 2016. According to import statistics provided by Switzerland, Venezuela exported 35.835 kilograms of gold to Zurich in January. The valuation of US$ 1.28 billion provided by the Swiss Federal Customs Administration means that it had to be gold reserve quality gold bars of close to 99.5% purity.  In addition, according to the Swiss, Venezuela shipped 23,955 kilograms of gold worth US$ 851.4 million to Zurich from September to December.  According to the BCV, Venezuela had US$ 10.97 billion worth of gold in reserves at the end of November after starting 2015 with US$ 14.5 billion. (Latin American Herald Tribune:


China denies Venezuela relief on debt payments

Concerned over the instability of the Maduro regime, the Chinese government is refusing to agree to a request by Venezuela for a grace period in servicing its massive debt. Sources familiar with the secret conversations say China is instead insisting that Venezuela increase the volume of oil it sends to pay for close to US$ 45 billion the regime has with them through several agreements. The Chinese delegation visiting Caracas said the increase in volume is needed since current oil dispatches do not meet stipulated payment terms due to the drop in oil prices. Besides their concern over the amount of crude Venezuela is sending, the Chinese delegation expressed other concerns: “They asked insistently about the chances for regime change”, reported one of the sources. More in Spanish: (El Nuevo Herald:


A default is becoming hard to avoid

Whenever someone questions Venezuela’s creditworthiness, President Nicolas Maduro, retorts that his government has never missed a debt payment and never will. Creditors are demanding a handsome reward for their trust in that promise. The yield on Venezuela’s dollar bond that matures in 2020 is 37%. Bondholders’ faith will soon be tested. On February 26th Venezuela is due to pay US$ 2.3 billion, mainly to hedge funds and investors that specialize in emerging-market debt. There is little doubt that it will make the payment. After that, the risk of a default on Venezuela’s remaining US$ 64 billion of foreign-currency denominated bonds will rise sharply. In the second half of 2016 the government of Venezuela and PDVSA, the state-owned oil company, are due to pay US $6 billion to creditors. With Venezuela’s heavy oil, virtually its only export, selling for as little as US$ 25 a barrel, the country’s main source of foreign currency is drying up. (The Economist:


Market calls for 'regime change' in Venezuela

Maduro’s recent solution to the crisis was more of a “damn yankee” blame game. And an attempt to buy support from the country’s ever increasing poor population. “President Maduro needs to honestly admit the main sources of the economic crisis as the first step to resolve the crisis. The crux of the problem is the interventionism and regulation with the Maduro administration reluctant to embrace market flexibility,” says Siobhan Morden, a head of Latin America fixed income at NOMURA Securities in New York. “The changes to the economic team and the initial announcements just do not show sufficient political commitment. The worsening economic crisis should increase prospects of regime change.” (Forbes:


Venezuela bond due in a week offers quick gains for risk takers

Traders who buy Venezuela’s bonds due next week may be in store for a 3.4% profit in a week’s time. Holders of the US$ 1.5 billion of sovereign notes are asking for a price of 96.7 cents on the dollar even as analysts say the country has enough money to pay off the securities coming due Feb. 26. It may seem like an attractive bet for anyone willing to stomach the risk. Economists and analysts from BARCLAYS to CITIGROUP agree that Venezuela is skidding toward a default because it depends on oil sales for almost all its hard currency needs and is suffering a dollar shortage. Most predict the country is likely to make good on its obligations next week and stop payments only in October or November when bonds from the state oil company come due. (Bloomberg,


Business says new FOREX system does not promote domestic production

Francisco Martínez, president of the nation’s main business federation, FEDECÁMARAS, says that reducing foreign exchange rates from three to two does not change the situation. He points out that with such a large difference between the two tiers “price distortions are not corrected and more speculation is caused”. Martínez says President Maduro’s recent speech did not answer many questions: “He did not speak about debts to foreign suppliers. We do not know if repayment will be at 6.30 to the dollar, or go up to 10 to the dollar”. If so, he warned, “the impact would create huge losses for companies not able to meet (the new rate)”. More in Spanish: (El Nacional,


Industry warns production is being paralyzed, jobs endangered

Juan Pablo Olalquiaga, president of Venezuela’s Industry Federation (CONINDUSTRIA) warns that closing down companies and production is destroying jobs. Scarce supplies and spare parts is forcing the nation’s industries into growing paralysis. More in Spanish: (Notitarde;; El Nacional,


Government increases controls over marketing and distribution

Cipriana Ramos, president of the nation’s Trade Federation (CONSECOMERCIO) says the government continues to centralize marketing and product distribution nationwide. All they have now done is to create another conglomerate which further concentrates distribution and reduces distribution centers. More in Spanish: (Notitarde;


Maduro signs order raising Venezuela’s minimum wage 52%

President Nicolas Maduro has signed an executive order raising Venezuela’s minimum wage by 52%, effective March 1.
A total of 32 wage increases have been implemented by the government during the “Bolivarian revolution,” Maduro said, referring to his administration and the 1999-2013 administration of late President Hugo Chavez.
(Latin American Herald Tribune,


Central Bank changed inflation measurement rules

Economic experts are warning that Venezuela’s Central Bank made changes to the method used in measuring domestic inflation, altering the “weight” of each control group within the index, and lowering the portion assigned to food and non-alcoholic beverages. The real inflation rate for 2015 would have been 240.4%, as opposed to 180.9% reported by the Central Bank. More in Spanish:  (El Mundo,


Government orders telecom firm to cancel rate hike

Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL), demanded that the mobile telecom firm DIGITEL cancel the rate hike it decided unilaterally to impose on the weekend. “CONATEL demands that the DIGITEL Corporation halt the implementation of the said adjustment ... (until) the corresponding technical analysis (is completed) and the details of the operation can be discussed with the firm,” said a government order sent to Oswaldo Cisneros, the firm’s owner. MOVISTAR, which is owned by Spain’s Telefonica, holds the greatest market share in Venezuela’s mobile phone market with 41.6%, followed by the government’s MOVILNET with 40.8% and the private DIGITEL with 17.6%, according to CONATEL figures. (Latin American Herald Tribune,



Politics and International Affairs


Court injunction against Amazonas legislators has expired

The injunction by the Supreme Tribunal ordering the disincorporation of legislators from Amazonas state for 48 days has expired, with no word from the Constitutional Court on the case. Opposition legislators Julio Ygarza, Nirma Guarulla and Romel Guzamana, have demanded respect for voters in that state and asked for immediate restitution of their legislative powers. He asked institutions involved – the Court and the National Elections Board to take a position. More in Spanish: (El Nacional,


Government and opposition to debate amnesty law

Both the Venezuelan government and the opposition will hold a debate on the draft amnesty and national reconciliation law in a second discussion at the National Assembly. While “chavistas” claim that crimes such as drug trafficking could be pardoned under this amnesty law, the opposition has pointed out that the government "created false arguments to discredit" the bill, which comprises 42 articles. The parliamentarians of the pro-government parliament group have announced that they will take the debate on this draft law to the streets to discuss it with the people. (El Universal,


FOREIGN POLICY: The clock is ticking for Maduro

President Nicolas Maduro says the current economic crisis could last through 2017. What many doubt, however, is whether Maduro himself will be in power to witness an economic turnaround, as the pressures mount for him to step down or be pushed aside. And the president seems at a loss, beset by infighting within his own cabinet and divisions within his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) that have left him scrambling to survive politically. Maduro also faces a revitalized opposition calling for his resignation, soaring crime, a possible debt default, and now, water and power rationing exacerbated by El Niño. The Supreme Court, where PSUV partisans hold a majority, has ruled that Maduro didn’t need legislative approval to declare an emergency. He now has 60 days to take steps to right the economy, and he seems to opt for greater state control he deems essential to blunt an “economic war” allegedly being waged against his government by the country’s business elite, and exiles in Miami and Spain. The opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition, has set a deadline of six months to force Maduro peacefully from office, either by a recall referendum or constitutional amendment that would shorten his term, which is currently due to end in 2019.  The government is at the helm of a sinking ship, refusing to change course, and the opposition is content to stand by and let it happen,” letting the regime “stew in its own juices…. essentially letting the government spend what political capital it has resisting change, in order to push for an end to Maduro’s presidency,” says David Smilde, a sociology professor at Tulane University who has studied Venezuela for over 20 years. The fear of a social explosion may result in an internal coup against Maduro, as PSUV activists and the military high command seek to protect their positions and the riches they have accumulated under 17 years of the movement created by Chavez. “Maduro may be offered up as a sacrificial lamb, [replaced by a] new leader put in place by the PSUV,” Yorde said. “A new government then might try to work with the opposition in a unity government.” (Foreign Policy:


Dissident “chavista” Nicmer Evans says Maduro's model will lead to nothing good

"The difference between the governments of Chávez and Maduro is simply the political actor," says political scientist and member of dissident pro-Chavez "Marea Socialista" party Nicmer Evans, stressing that the socialist model "has never existed" in the country. "Chávez's presidency has undoubtedly an important responsibility for the mistakes that could have been made, yet Maduro received an economy with oil prices at US$ 100, and that remained unchanged for one year," says Evans. "(Before Maduro's term in office) the country was already going through a shortage crisis, but the necessary measures were not adopted to face it, which has led to Maduro's government losing credibility," added the political scientist. (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.