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, May 12, 2016

May 12, 2016

International Trade



Colombia’s FM speaks of possible Maduro-Santos meeting over border issue

Colombian Foreign Minister María Angela Holguín has announced that Colombian and Venezuelan Defense Ministers will meet soon with representatives of the trading community in order to reach agreements that can improve the situation in the border area. She said that based on results there, a meeting could follow between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro. Holguín also expressed concern over the number of Venezuelans crossing the border into Colombia in search of medical care. More in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,


South African pharma company said to be willing to settle in Venezuela

Management of the South African pharmaceutical company ASPEN expressed its willingness to settle in Venezuela to ensure, in the short term, the medicine supply throughout the country, according to the office of Venezuela's Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz, who is visiting Johannesburg, South Africa. (AVN,



Logistics & Transport


Private grain carriers ordered to vacate Puerto Cabello port area

Around 70 grain carriers that operated within the port area at Puerto Cabello have been ordered out, causing drivers to line up in the highway and await an order to enter the area. According to Julio Abreu, leader of the carriers’ union says, “unfortunately there is no infrastructure to hold 2000 vehicles.” More in Spanish: (Notitarde;


Panama Canal sets new water depth restrictions starting June 6th

The Panama Canal Authority has announced that starting June 6th it will apply new restrictions on ship draft, setting the immersion level at 38 feet due to the drought the nation is going through. The step compels the ships to carry around 1,000 tons less, in order to navigate without risks. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,





Pérez Abad announces price adjustments on 50 products

Economic Vice President Miguel Pérez Abad has announced that adjusted price regulations for 50 products will be published this week in order to stimulate production, “considering production, distribution and sales costs”. Milk, precooked flour, pasta, and personal care products – which have not had price adjustments in years – will be included in the list. More in Spanish: (El Mundo:


SIDOR has been idle for the past 116 days

Yunis Hernandez, a labor leader at SIDOR, reports the steel plant has been paralyzed for the past 116 days due to operating problems and no steps have been taken to overcome them. “Officials are hiding behind the electricity crisis to cover up such inefficiency”, he says – and reports that the plants cannot operate for lack of briquettes and spare parts. More in Spanish: (El Nacional,


Central Bank to control Kimberley diamond process certification in Venezuela

The Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) will be the authority in charge of implementing the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) in the country. A new resolution issued by the bank includes regulations over international commercialization of rough diamond and use of KPCS, to control diamond shipments and prevent diamonds in conflicted areas from being traded in the legal diamond market. Executive Vice President Aristóbulo Istúriz predicts that “when the certification process is over we will surprise the world with Venezuela’s reserves in gold and diamonds”. Recent figures indicate the mining area has a probable 7,000-ton gold potential, which would place Venezuela in second place worldwide, after the United States. (El Universal,; and more in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,



Economy & Finance


Maduro to extend “economic emergency” decree for the rest of the year

President Nicolas Maduro has announced that he will extend his “economic emergency” decree for the remainder of the year. “Within the next few days I will renew the economic emergency decree to continue to face problems”. Emergency powers have been in effect since February 11th, after the Supreme Tribunal decided to annul a National Assembly vote – held according to provisions within the Constitution – refusing Maduro’s request for special powers. More in Spanish; (Notitarde;; El Mundo,; El Nacional,


Venezuela extends two-day workweek for state employees to save energy

Venezuela's socialist government has extended a two-day workweek for public sector employees for another two weeks because of a drought that has sapped hydroelectric power generation here. The country's 2.8 million employees already have Fridays off during April and May. President Nicolas Maduro in late April gave them Wednesdays and Thursdays off too, and canceled school on Fridays. Maduro's rivals have called the shortened workweek foolhardy, arguing that sending employees home will not solve the power crunch and halting activity will merely worsen Venezuela's deepening recession. But the ruling Socialist Party said on Monday the measures would last until at least May 27. (Reuters,; Latin American Herald Tribune,



Politics and International Affairs


Opposition march repelled with tear gas, pepper spray

Venezuelan security forces fired teargas and pepper spray at protesters yesterday. The protesters were trying to reach the headquarters of the electoral board, or CNE, demanding that it verify a petition signed by almost 2 million people calling for a referendum to oust President Nicolas Maduro. The protest marches were held in all state capitals nationwide. Senior opposition politicians were caught up in the scuffle. Former presidential candidate and governor of Miranda state Henrique Capriles said he had tear gas sprayed in his eyes. The authorities claimed demonstrators had not requested permission for the march. "Police fired rubber bullets and blocked the road," said the speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup. "We are pulling out because we don't want anyone to get injured," he said. Capriles later wrote that he was in good health and urged Venezuelans to continue pressuring for a referendum. “Caracas is militarized at the moment, but not to protect citizens from violence. Rather, they want to impede access to this peaceful protest,” The Democratic Unity coalition has ramped up its push to oust Maduro, whose term ends in 2019, but says the government-leaning electoral body is intentionally delaying the verification of signatures in favor of the referendum. referendum doesn’t take place before year-end, the constitution states the vice president would take over, rather than hold fresh elections. The CNE has said it began verifying signatures last week and will announce the results this week. Jesús Torrealba, Secretary General of the opposition Democratic Unity coalition (MUD) says “the people will remain in the streets until the recall referendum is achieved”, and announced more demonstrations this coming Saturday. For the recall referendum to be successful:

  • 1% of voters on the electoral roll have to sign a petition within 30 days to kick-start the process. This has taken place.
  • 20% of voters (almost four million) have to sign a second petition in order to trigger the referendum
  • For the referendum to be successful, an equal or greater number of voters than those who elected Mr Maduro would have to cast their vote in favor of the recall. Maduro won the 2013 election with 7,587,579 votes
Under Venezuela's constitution, presidents can be removed from office by means of a referendum once they have served half their term. Maduro took office in April 2013, after defeating Capriles in a closely-fought election. (Bloomberg,; Reuters,;; BBC News:; El Universal,;


National Assembly President says Maduro will not control the legislature

National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup insists that the opposition will continue reporting abroad on the economic, social and political crisis the government has sparked off in the country. “No one will prevent our lawmakers from meeting their roles at international bodies to denounce flagrant violations committed by the government, the Executive, against the Constitution,” the official added. He said: “whatever happens, the government will not control this National Assembly”; and added that “no Venezuelan president had even thought of going over the Constitution with a decree”. Ramos said the opposition’s promise was “not to get rid of the government within six months, but to launch a constitutional and democratic move to oust the current President”. (El Universal,; and more in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,


Venezuela unleashes tanks as 4 killed, 1,200 arrested in anti-crime operation

Police and National Guard killed four suspects Tuesday during a wide raid in Western Caracas that involved tanks and helicopters. “At the request of our people, we have deployed OLP New Phase in 4 areas of Caracas,” tweeted Interior Minister Gustavo Gonzalez as the operation began unfolding. Local media said eight suspected criminals were killed during the operation, but Gonzalez spoke only of four killed when resisting police action. Some 400 vehicles were used during the operation, ranging from motorcycles to tanks and choppers. The purpose of the raid, Gonzalez said was to “eradicate organized crime” and “the paramilitary.” Venezuelan government officials frequently blame the country’s high crime rate on right-wing paramilitary groups supposedly originated in Colombia and affiliated with the local anti-Maduro opposition, a charge the opposition has denied and the government failed to prove conclusively. President Nicolas Maduro says “those groups who want to become pacified can do so within the next 72 hours, this is an operation to pacify those groups engaged in crime”. (Latin American Herald Tribune,; and more in Spanish: (Ultimas Noticias,; Agencia Venezolana de Noticias;;


Violent deaths up to 125 early in May

A total of 125 people were murdered during the first week of May, with 36 deaths recorded in the past three days alone, a number averaging almost one killing every two hours in Greater Caracas. (El Universal,


107 lootings and attempted lootings here during Q1 2016

Venezuela’s Social Conflict Observatory reports 107 lootings and looting attempts have taken place here during the first quarter of 2016. A multitude ransacked a wholesale market in Maracay city after fruitlessly awaiting scarce subsidized products. Three warehouses were ransacked and 4 people were wounded, including three military officers guarding the market, which stored food confiscated on charges of hoarding. Videos on social media show hundreds of people fighting over packages of corn flour, pasta and cooking oil. On Monday a line of buyers flew out of control in Northern Caracas as rice sales opened at a market here. Crowds have blocked highways, protesting the lack of food. More in Spanish: (El Espectador:


Mogherini says situation in Venezuela is “tough

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union, says the political and economic situation in Venezuela is “becoming more difficult day by day.” She said that only political dialogue may help the country overcome the crisis. The official’s remarks came during a meeting at the European Parliament. She said Venezuela has the potential to be among the leading nations in Latin America. In spite of that, she added, nationals are “suffering from violence, a world record of daily murders, and random kidnappings; permanent shortages of food, basic goods, most medicines and medical care.” (El Universal,


Ban Ki-moon upset at comments by Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has deplored recent remarks made by Venezuelan UN Representative Rafael Ramírez over the current situation in the Middle East. Ramírez’s comments came during a UN Security Council meeting to assess protection of the Palestinian people. According to the Israeli mission, the Venezuelan official asked whether a “final solution” was part of Israel’s plans against Palestinians. (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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