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, June 30, 2016

June 30, 2016

Oil & Energy

PDVSA production down 30% in 6 years, oilfields decline, needs US$ 70-80 price for investments

Venezuela’s crude oil production has shrunk around 30% over the past 6 years according to official data from state oil company PDVSA and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Production fell from 3.12 million barrels per day to an all-time low of 2.18 MBD, some 900,000 barrels, around 30%. In May, PDVSA denied a drop in production this year but did not provide details on pumping. Last week, at a public ceremony, President Nicolas Maduro himself urged Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino “to start raising the nation’s oil production during next semester”. Eudis Girot, Executive Director of the United Oil Workers Federation, reported the industry is producing only 2.4 MPD, one million barrels less than in 2008. He says “the company has been abandoned, our drills are in broken down deposits, our own fleet is destroyed”. Oil expert Victor Maldonado says “if there are no resources there is no investment, which is key to developing the industry”. ECOANALITICA Director Alejandro Grisanti says “Venezuela is not getting US$ 500 million every month, or US$ 6 billion per year”, due to the drop in production. At a recent meeting Oil Minister Del Pino admitted investments to meet global oil demand require prices between US$ 70-80 per barrel. He says half of the investments scheduled for 2016 were deferred due to low prices, adding “that will obviously impact production”.  He also admitted there is a 20-25% “natural decline” in oilfields which forces them to “replace 600,000 BPD, simply to maintain (current) production”. More in Spanish: (Panorama:;


Venezuela’s oil output decline accelerates as drillers go unpaid

Venezuela’s oil output, already the lowest since 2009, is set to slide further this year as contractors scale back drilling after the cash-strapped country fell more than US$1 billion behind in payments. This nation’s oil production, which generates 95% of export revenue, will decline by about 11% to 2.1 million barrels a day by the end of the year, BARCLAYS estimates. Output is falling largely because oil-services companies aren’t being paid, according to the International Energy Agency. (Bloomberg,


PDVSA says it has made financing deals with WEATHERFORD, HALLIBURTON

State oil company PDVSA says it has signed financing agreements with services firms HALLIBURTON and WEATHERFORD, PDVSA's president said on Wednesday, following chronic payment difficulties for companies working here. PDVSA has more than US$ 20 billion in outstanding bills to providers, which has led some companies to slow work. The company's access to hard currency has tumbled along with the price of oil, and Venezuela is struggling with triple-digit inflation, a severe recession and heavy bond payments this year and next. "This morning WEATHERFORD signed a financing agreement with us, HALLIBURTON signed yesterday," Eulogio Del Pino, who is also the country's oil minister, said in a speech broadcast on state television. (Reuters,


US Supreme Court to hear Venezuela oil rig dispute

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to weigh Venezuela's bid to block a lawsuit filed by an American oil drilling company that claims this country unlawfully seized 11 drilling rigs six years ago. The high court will review a May 2015 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that allowed one of the claims made by Oklahoma-based HELMERICH & PAYNE International Drilling Company to move forward. The company sued both the Venezuelan government and state-owned oil companies under a U.S. law called the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, saying among other things that the property seizure violated international law. (Reuters,; El Universal,




Venezuela seeks additional partnering with South Korea’s POSCO

Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Jesús Faría is in South Korea seeking to expand relations with POSCO, that nation’s largest steelmaker and attract investments to Venezuela. POSCO made an US$ 245 million investment in the Puerto La Cruz (Anzoátegui state) refinery’s deep conversion process. More in Spanish: (Agencia Venezolana de Noticias;



Economy & Finance

Central Bank seeks US$ 1 billion from Latin American Reserve Fund

According to sources at the Latin American Reserve Fund (FLAR), Venezuela’s Central Bank (BCV) requested a US$ 1 billion loan, but received only US$ 400 million, drawn against the BCV’s own reserve with the institution. The same source reports that in order to get a billion-dollar loan the agreement would require approval by Venezuela’s National Assembly, in order to comply with FLAR rules which requires clear guarantees. This is not the first time the BCV seeks financial aid from international institutions. For over a year it has been drawing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as engaging in gold swaps through foreign banks. BCV authorities are concerned about the drop in international reserves, which are now at an all-time low of around US$ 12 billion. More in Spanish: (El Nacional:


Companies have reduced operations by 80% due to lack of FOREX

FEDECAMARAS President Francisco Martinez, head of the nation’s largest business federation, reports that scarce foreign exchange has led 90% of all Venezuelan companies to reduce operations by almost 80%, since it is impossible to acquire “raw materials, intermediate goods, machinery and spare parts”. He says political confrontation is hindering economic progress and called for inclusive talks between the government and the private sector, “with measurable, tangible” results for the population. More in Spanish: (El Nacional,


Venezuela received only US$ 1.591 billion foreign investments out of US$ 167.5 to Latin America

According to the 2015 World Report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Venezuela received only US$ 1.591 billion in direct foreign investment during 2015, out of US$ 167.5 billion that was directed to Latin America. Most of the amount reported for Venezuela are funds held back from repatriation due to currency controls. More in Spanish: (El Universal,; El Nacional,



Politics and International Affairs

Obama urges Venezuela to respect democratic process, pursue recall, release prisoners

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged the Venezuelan government to respect the democratic process and the rule of law, including allowing the release of political prisoners. "Given the very serious situation in Venezuela and the worsening plight of the Venezuelan people, together we're calling on the government and opposition to engage in meaningful dialogue and urge the Venezuelan government to respect the rule of law and the authority of the national assembly," Obama said at a news conference with the leaders of Canada and Mexico.  "Political prisoners should be released, the democratic process should be respected and that includes legitimate efforts to pursue a recall referendum consistent with Venezuelan law." (Reuters,


China invites opposition parliamentary leader Julio Borges to talk

Julio Borges, head of the opposition majority coalition in Venezuela’s National Assembly is in China to talk about the economic crisis and challenges of change in Venezuela. The five-day visit will allow him to brief Chinese experts on the country’s current situation. He is a guest of the Chinese Association for International Understanding (CAFIU), an organization attached to the Chinese ruling party. He arrived in China on Monday, to share his vision over the economic crisis and take part in high-level meetings over, among other things, the future in Venezuela. Members of opposition umbrella group Unified Democratic Panel (MUD) backed the visit and regarded it as an open path and a clear signal of the world’s expectations around the country’s situation. Borges is a leader within the Primero Justicia party, along with former Presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski. (El Universal,


Pro-government forces threaten to abolish Parliament, Cardinal calls idea “desperate”, and a “coup d’etat

Didalco Bolivar, a former governor of Aragua state, announced that a coalition of all pro government parties called “Great Patriotic Pole”, is considering a motion requesting that the Supreme Tribunal “abolish this National Assembly….and call for new parliamentary elections”. He claimed the legislature is violating the Constitution, betraying the Fatherland, usurping duties, and abusing its authority in foreign policy. Previously, President Nicolas Maduro had also accused Parliament of usurping duties and treason. Bolivar also said the recall referendum could not be called this year, claiming it has been called ahead of time, and accused the opposition of fraud. Venezuela’s Cardinal Jorge Urosa called the move “desperate”, and said “I think this has no head or tail, it would be a coup d’etat against the will of the people expressed on December 6, when an overwhelming majority of the Venezuelan people voted in the direction the National Assembly is now taking. More in Spanish: (Infolatam:; El Universal,


….and regime then appears to backtrack

Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, a member of the pro-government PSUV party, then said “isolated voices, such as those calling for the abolition of public powers, will not have any kind of support nationally, because they are individuals----what Venezuela now needs is cooperation between public powers”. He added that “radical and extremist voices will have no success in Venezuela at this time…success will come to consensus proposals that lead to an effective solution”. The leader of the pro-government faction within the National Assembly, Hector Rodríguez, said they are not shirking the possibility of a recall referendum since it is a part of the Constitution and said the opposition has the right to use all means possible. He added that the population is more concerned with scarcity and inflation than it is with the proposed referendum. Speaking later, President Maduro called on his supporters to make it a priority to “defeat” and “denounce” the National Assembly during the second semester this year, and called the legislature “a hindrance to development, and we must all take it on as such”. He made reference to the proposal for abolition. More in Spanish: (Infolatam:;; Noticiero Venevision:


Ramos Allup slams regime for clinging to High Command, announces review of TSJ justices

National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup says it is “worrisome” that the Maduro regime should depend on the military High Command and the Supreme Tribunal’s Constitutional Chamber to cling on to power. He rejected military coups and repeated that the democratic system has been altered here. He said the Maduro regime had been “given notice” that he is being fired; and added: “They know they’re in their final days, and they’re going to pay, whether they’re civilians or soldiers,” he said, adding that “when this comes about, which will be soon, they are going to have to answer to the courts for their evil deeds”. He also announced that the legislature will revoke the decision – which he termed unconstitutional – through which current justices of the Supreme Tribunal were appointed. He said that if this happens they will call for a new nomination process. (Latin American Herald Tribune,; and more in Spanish: (Noticiero Venevision:


PSUV says managers who do not fire employees who petitioned for Maduro’s recall must be fired

Lieutenant Diosdado Cabello, vice president of the pro-government PSUV party has announced that his party will demand that all those who hold management positions within government and do not fire employees who have signed a petition for a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro, must also be fired. He also said the opposition must be forced to collect 4 million signatures in one day and with 20% of all polling machines. “We are not going to make it easy for them. No. I swear we won’t. And we will do whatever we have to do”. More in Spanish:


Workers fired, students deprived of scholarships, for signing recall petition

200 employees of the SENIAT tax authority reported to the National Assembly that they were fired for having signed the petition for a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro. The pro-government Zulia state has suspended scholarship benefits of 200 students, according to reports confirmed by authorities at four public and private universities there. (El Nacional,; El Universal,


Maduro’s nationality discussed at the National Assembly

Pro government legislator Victor Clark claims the Colombian government has reported “no information was found relating to a birth certificate or identification card” that could indicate that President Nicolas Maduro is a Colombian national. Clark read out a response by Colombian Foreign Minister María Angela Holguin to a request by National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup. Ramos Allup retorted that Clark had read an incomplete response since that first notice was followed by another document sent to the Colombian National Registry requesting information on the nationality of Maduro’s parents, which would raise the issue of dual citizenship. (El Universal,;


Foreign Minister Rodriguez and Ernesto Samper visited Surinam’s Bouterse

UNASUR’s pro tem president, Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez, and Ernesto Samper, Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations, have travelled to Surinam to meet with that nation’s President Dési Bouterse, and said they would call a meeting of the organization to discuss the situation there within the next few days. More in Spanish: (Noticiero Venevision:


Paraguay regrets MERCOSUR the union’s chair may go to Venezuela

Paraguay’s Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga has said his nation regrets that the Foreign Ministers of Argentina and Uruguay announced that the pro tem chair of MERCOSUR would go to Venezuela, as scheduled, without consulting Paraguay or Brazil. “I deeply regret this information has been put out unilaterally by two fellow foreign ministers”, he said. More in Spanish: (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.


Friday, June 24, 2016

June 23, 2016

International Trade

Venezuela’s government owes shipping companies over US$ 1 billion for unreturned containers

International shipping companies operating here report it has been impossible to recover containers and government is welching on payments: “There are between 4,000-6,000 containers in the hands of government agencies, some of them for over a year. The use and delay in returning these assets has generated a US$ 1 billion debts, which keeps growing by the day”, says Eddy Meayke, President of Venezuela’s Shipping Line Association. Se reports Venezuela has become an insolvent and high risk client, which is leading shipping companies to set conditions for service here. “They will demand cargo is prepaid, with a warranty for the cost of the container and average delays”, he said.  Meayke also reported a 60% drop in cargo volume to Venezuela. José Modica, President of Venezuela’s Exporters Association, reports that lack of containers has hindered exports, which have gone through their worst year in a decade, and that out of 3,000 exporting companies here in 2010, only 773 remain. More in Spanish: (El Nacional:


Trade Minister claims Venezuela will exceed 2015 export figures

Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Jesús Faría claims that “the government is making progress with an export-oriented industrialization model.” He says that this model can replace imports, boost exports and create jobs, as well as provide conditions for the country’s political stability and independence. (El Universal,



Oil & Energy

PDVSA unit eyes up to US$ 600 million to overhaul Aruba refinery

CITGO Petroleum, the U.S. unit of Venezuela's PDVSA, will likely invest about US$ 400 million to US$ 600 million to overhaul Aruba's refinery under a 25-year lease with the Caribbean island's government, a top PDVSA official said on Wednesday. CITGO earlier this month signed the agreement to reactivate the 235,000-barrel-per-day refinery, which would help process this nation's extra-heavy crude. The previous operator, Valero Energy Corp, idled the refinery in 2012 because of its low profit. "We're eyeing investments in the refinery that would be more or less between US$ 400 (million) and US$ 600 million," Jesus Luongo, vice president of refining, trade and supply, said in an interview on the sidelines of an oil workers' rally in support of the leftist government of Nicolas Maduro. (Reuters,


Russia’s ROSNEFT to build LNG plant in Venezuela

Russian oil firm ROSNEFT and Venezuela’s PDVSA have signed an agreement on the basic terms of a joint venture for the extraction, preparation and monetization of gas fields of Patao, Mejillones and potentially of Rio Caribe. Venezuelan Petroleum and Mining Minister Eulogio Del Pino said that PDVSA and ROSNEFT might sign documents on the establishment of a joint gas project in Venezuela within two months, possibly in July, during a Venezuelan visit of Igor Sechin on May 22-24. “We will certainly implement the extraction [of gas] offshore in Venezuela and will definitely put an LNG liquefaction plant there," Sechin said in an interview. (PRIME BIZ NEWS:



Economy & Finance

China denies meeting with opposition over Venezuela’s debts

China has denied reports that it held talks with opposition representatives, seeking assurance that Venezuela’s large debt to Beijing is repaid if President Nicolas Maduro leaves office. Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said those talks “absolutely do not exist”, in reference to a report published by the Financial Times. She added that bilateral mechanisms between both nations “are functioning well”, and expressed trust that Venezuela’s people “will have the wisdom and capacity to deal with their internal affairs”. More in Spanish: (El Nacional:


Is Venezuela close to boiling point?

Has the crisis in Venezuela hit a point of no return? A growing number of analysts seem to think so. The country’s dire economic situation — marked by rampant inflation, chronic shortages of basic goods and rolling power blackouts – has deteriorated in recent weeks, with violent food riots erupting across the country. Yesterday a gunman opened fire at the country’s central bank. “Venezuela is on the brink of economic and social collapse,” Capital Economics said in a note earlier this month. “There is a high chance of a sovereign default and a removal of the president over the next eighteen months.” “The worst part of this story is that Venezuela hasn’t hit bottom yet – the only light at the end of this tunnel seems to be from another of a series of oncoming locomotives,” said Russ Dallen, managing partner at Caracas Capital Markets. (Financial Times:



Politics and International Affairs

U.S. in new talks with Venezuela amid worsening crisis, Shannon meets with Maduro

A senior U.S. diplomat is in Venezuela to jumpstart dialogue between the normally hostile governments as the socialist-run nation is torn apart by daily food protests and a campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro. Thomas Shannon, a career diplomat with extensive experience in Latin America, flew to Caracas after weeks of looting and hunger riots in Venezuela. The riots led to hundreds of arrests and several deaths; and as Venezuela unravels, U.S. officials are increasingly concerned about the risk of further bloodshed and a humanitarian crisis that could spill across its borders and undermine President Barack Obama's legacy in a region where he made history by reopening relations with Cuba. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Shannon, who now serves as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, hopes to foster dialogue about the social, economic and political challenges facing this country.  The visit comes as the Organization of American States is set to meet later in the week in Washington to debate the mounting crisis and weigh sanctioning Maduro for allegedly stamping out political dissent in violation of regional commitments to democracy. Socialist-run Venezuela has for years had tumultuous relations with Washington, and a similar rapprochement led by Shannon stalled last year over the jailing of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. Despite a harsh exchange of words at a summit in the Dominican Republic last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez agreed to re-start talks in an effort to reduce tensions. Shannon steps into the quagmire with an uncertain outcome. A procession of visits he made last year to Caracas yielded no tangible results, setting low expectations that this trip could result in a breakthrough on releasing political prisoners and calls for the referendum to move forward. The opposition held talks with Maduro two years ago after bloody anti-government protests swept the nation, but that dialogue eventually dissolved without bearing fruit. Today, government opponents are taking a different tack, organizing around a recall referendum they hope will lead to Maduro being removed from office this year with one of their own potentially to replace him. After meeting with Shannon, President Nicolas Maduro said: “I have confirmed to him in a long conversation our interest that sooner rather than later we can build an agenda of respect, a positive agenda between the United States government and the revolutionary and Bolivarian government that I lead”. The discussions went on for nearly two hours. (Reuters,; El Universal,; Latin American Herald Tribune,


…but Maduro again threatens to radicalize “the revolution

President Nicolas Maduro has threatened to “radicalize the revolution” is Venezuela is suspended or there is an intervention as a result of today’s scheduled meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States on applying the Hemispheric Democratic Charter in the case of Venezuela. “If someday the forces of the imperial right wing approve in any instance a plan to expel Venezuela, suspend, exclude or intervene in Venezuela, rest assured that I would not hesitate to take the most radical steps I need to take to radicalize the Venezuelan revolutionif they commit the mistake of messing with Venezuela, I will call on national union, for all patriots to defend peace, sovereignty and integrity of this sacred land”. More in Spanish: (El Universal,; Agencia Venezolana de Noticias;


… Capriles tells Shannon “there is no dialogue” in Venezuela, and Lopez says recall takes precedence over talks

Two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles met with the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas Shannon, and told him that “there is no dialogue” in this country. “I told Mr. Thomas Shannon, with whom I had the opportunity to talk to a couple of hours ago, that in Venezuela, there’s no process of any dialogue,” said Capriles. “Maduro wants to deflate concerns of our sister countries and the governments of Latin America. Since the Latin American governments are aware that the social unrest in Venezuela, for which Venezuela has no solution, will also have an impact on their countries,” added Capriles, also the governor of Miranda state. Imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez wrote from his jail cell that “the Democratic Charter will facilitate the process so that the dialogue that currently does not exist in Venezuela can, in the first place, take place and that it can also be effective and have an agenda and clear time frames”. He added that “no talks can be above the constitutional right our people have to a recall referendum on Nicolas Maduro this year 2016”. (The New York Times:; Latin American Herald Tribune,; El Universal,; and more in Spanish: (El Universal,


Capriles reports that 98% of required recall signatures have been validated, denounces government sabotage

Capriles spoke as thousands of Caracas residents stood in a warm drizzle waiting to verify their signatures on a recall petition by having their fingerprints taken. The weeklong verification drive began Monday and is the first of a series of steps in the byzantine recall process. People in the lines said they were glad to wait and see the recall as the best way to remedy the shortages and triple-digit inflation that are forcing many here to skip meals. Members of the opposition say the recall drive and food riots have caused the government to tighten control over critics. Human rights groups say intolerance for dissent has led to the jailing of dozens of people they consider of political prisoners. Over the weekend, officials arrested two opposition activists who had been traveling outside of Caracas to participate in the validation process. On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch denounced the arrests and called on authorities to produce a legal rationale for holding the men or release them immediately. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles has reported that by the second day of a 5-day period, 156,968 signatures, almost 98% of those required, have now been validated as demanded by the National Elections Council (CNE). Jesus Torrealba, Executive Secretary of the Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition has charged that the regime and the ruling PSUV party have started to “actively sabotage” the process of validating signatures in a petition to start a recall referendum process against President Nicolas Maduro. He specifically accused regional officers of the National Elections Council (CNE) for a deliberate slowdown in Nueva Esparta, Carabobo, Aragua and Anzoátegui, along with other obstacles to voter movement. He accused regional director Joe Uzcategui of holding up the process in the island of Margarita for several hours. At the same time, Capriles accused President Nicolas Maduro of instructing the National Elections Board to slow down the validation of signatures for a petition to carry out a recall referendum against the President. He repeated his charge that the CNE was carrying out a deliberate slowdown in procedures. “They assigned 300 machines nationwide for more than 1.3 million people”, placing faulty equipment in faraway locations, and accused the 4 members of the pro-government faction that dominate the 5-member council of planning the delays. He warned election officials that to deny constitutional and human rights “has administrative and penal consequences”. He says the National Guard is there to safeguard the Constitution, not Maduro’s interests. More in Spanish: (Infolatam:; El Universal,;


OAS Almagro calls for "content and timing" in Venezuela talks

Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro has called for an agreement on “mediators, content and timing” so that “distrust does not hinder” talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition. “A successful dialogue entails agreement on mediators, content and timing that generates mutual trust,” Almagro made his statement after a meeting of the OAS Permanent Council, which received Spain’s former President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to elaborate on the situation of international mediation in Venezuela. Zapatero, who heads a group of 3 former presidents proposed by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to broker talks here, warned that any talks in Venezuela will be “long, hard and difficult”. He defended the group’s “full impartiality”, and said talks must produce “results, facts”, and said the UNASUR group was only in a “preliminary stage”, and called their efforts a “preventive peace process”. Opposition leaders here have seriously questioned the impartiality of Zapatero, and Leopoldo Lopez Sr., father of imprisoned leader Leopoldo Lopez Mendoza, says the former Spanish president “is a negotiator” on behalf of President Nicolas Maduro, and that his work is “unacceptable” because human rights are not negotiable. Zapatero has ignored opposition calls for a recall referendum to oust Maduro, which is a right established in Venezuela’s constitution.(El Universal,; and more in Spanish: Infolatam:; Factor MM:


Congress Speaker, opposition legislators travel to OAS Permanent Council

Henry Ramos Allup, President of the National Assembly, and Luis Florido, head of the legislator´s Committee on Foreign Policy, are in Washington to attend the special meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), where participants will discuss a report by the OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro on Venezuela’s situation. Upon arriving in Washington, Ramos Allup said “conditions are necessary in order to have talks, but the government does nothing, provides no demonstration, and the country’s situation becomes more serious by the day”. (El Universal,; and more in Spanish: El Universal,


U.S. hopes for 'group of friends' to help Venezuela

Washington has high hopes for an Organization of American States meeting on Venezuela on Thursday, which could lead to the formation of an alliance of interested nations to help resolve its crisis, a top State Department official said. "Tomorrow's meeting is in our view a very important meeting," Annie Pforzheimer, acting deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, testified at a House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. "We could see the formation of something like a 'group of friends' from the OAS member states who would... try to work with the parties in Venezuela and urge them to pursue sustainable solutions there," she said. (Reuters,


 Chavista” leader claims Maduro’s resignation is being negotiated

Former Caracas Mayor and legislator Juan Barreto, a long-time supporter of the late President Chavez, says several pro-Chavez groups have asked President Nicolas Maduro to avoid an election that could cause them a severe defeat if it is lost by 80%. He says Maduro’s resignation is being negotiated in order to avoid the disappearance of the “Chavista” movement. In a radio interview, Barreto added that Maduro does not agree with resigning, but is considering it; and said greater doubts would arise if the National Elections Board does not cooperate with citizens in considering opposition suggestions aimed at improving the process. The information was denied by Congressman Diosdado Cabello, First Vice President of the ruling PSUV party, who said “Juan, you are wrong. You have been misinformed. No one is negotiating Nicolas Maduro’s departure. Whoever wants to desert, let him desert. But that is not the case”. More in Spanish: (Tal Cual:; El Nacional,


Venezuela’s Cardinal says the recall process must proceed in order to have talks

Venezuela’s Cardinal Jorge Urosa says that in order to have talks between the regime and the opposition there must be mutual respect and compliance with the Constitution, which provides for recall procedures against public officials. He says that government and the Elections Board are under the duty to quickly carry out a vote. More in Spanish: (El Nacional,; El Universal


Mexican senators request firm stance on Venezuela

The Mexican government must take an “assertive” stance on the collective defense of democracy and protection of human rights in view of the social, political and economic deadlock in Venezuela, according to the National Action Party (PAN). In a letter to Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto, and in light of the “disruption of democratic order” in Venezuela, a number of senators of the conservative party said enforcement of the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS), is “indispensable and urgent”. “Mexico needs to speak up to request the release of political prisoners in Venezuela and call upon the country’s authorities to resolve the partial rundown of services and (violation of) basic rights to food, public security, and law enforcement millions of Venezuelans are suffering” senator Laura Rojas emphasized. (El Universal,


Bolivia’s Morales accused OAS SG Almagro of promoting US intervention in Venezuela

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has accused OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro of promoting “planned US intervention against Venezuela”, and has called him an “infiltrated agent of the empire”. More in Spanish: (Infolatam:


Maduro in Cuba taking part in the Colombian cease fire agreement


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, June 21, 2016

June 21, 2016

International Trade

Up to a week can go by without ships any ships docking at the La Guaira port

Eduardo Vargas, President of the Vargas State Chamber of Commerce, reports the drop in imports is now at 85% and says that a week can go by without any ship arriving at La Guaira port. He said the government is buying the scarce amount of merchandise arriving “to make it seem that they are importing enough to supply local markets”. He says the government is importing with no planning and according to the most acute scarcity, because they have neither the operational or financial ability to meet demand. More in Spanish: (El Nacional;



Logistics & Transport

LUFTHANSA suspends service to Venezuela

German airline LUFTHANSA has suspended all flights to Venezuela due to the economic situation and its inability to exchange local currency into dollars. More in Spanish: (Notitarde;



Oil & Energy

Oil tanker diverted from Venezuela to Aruba under investigation

A ship carrying 260,000 fuel barrels from state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) illegally diverted from its route to reach Aruba. The ship had set off from the Amuay refinery at the Paraguaná Refining Center (CRP) (north-western Falcón state) to the Carenero port (north-central Miranda state). The information was confirmed by Vice-Admiral José Goncalves, a captain at Las Piedras port in Paraguaná. He explained that the vessel failed to comply with an order of departure signed by the Paraguaná Harbormaster’s Office, a document under which the journey was to leave directly for Carenero. According to unofficial information, the PDVSA-chartered ship identified as “Port Said” departed from Paraguaná on June 15 and had to arrive in Carenero the next day. However, the vessel reached this port on June 17, that is to say, one day later because it went to the island. (El Universal,


Venezuelan pleads guilty in U.S. over PDVSA bribery scheme

A Venezuelan businessman pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges stemming from what the U.S. Justice Department called a large, ongoing investigation into bribery at Venezuela's state oil company. Roberto Rincon, 55, pleaded guilty in federal court in Houston to two counts including conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act over his role in a scheme involving officials at Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA). Rincon, who was president of Texas-based TRADEQUIP Services & Marine, was arrested in December along with another Venezuelan businessman, Abraham Jose Shiera Bastidas, for conspiring to pay bribes to PDVSA officials to secure energy contracts. The guilty plea, ahead of a trial set for next week, was the sixth in what the Justice Department said was an ongoing probe involving PDVSA, the exclusive operator of oilfields in the economically struggling OPEC country. An indictment filed against Rincon in December alleged that five PDVSA officials received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes made through wire transfers, mortgage payments, airline tickets and, in one case, whiskey. From 2009-14, more than US$1 billion was traced to the conspiracy, with US$ 750 million to Rincon, a Venezuelan citizen who lives in Texas, according to court documents. In pleading guilty, Rincon admitted that he and Shiera agreed to the pay bribes to ensure their companies were placed on PDVSA bidding panels, enabling them to secure lucrative energy contracts, prosecutors said. (Reuters:




Maduro says he is willing to support POLAR’s productivity

President Nicolas Maduro has indicated he is willing to support the POLAR’s groups efforts to increase productivity.  Addressing the group’s CEO Lorenzo Mendoza, he said: “if you want to talk and produce, I am ready for you to produce whatever you need to produce”. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,



Economy & Finance

China seeks to renegotiate Venezuela loans

China is renegotiating billions of dollars of loans to Venezuela and has met with the country’s political opposition, marking a shift in its approach to a nation it once viewed as a US counterweight in the Americas. Venezuela is facing one of the worst crises of its 200-year history, with a collapsing economy and political deadlock stoked by the oil price slump. China, which is Caracas’s biggest creditor and has loaned the country US$ 65 billion since 2005, has already extended the repayment schedules for debts backed by oil sales. Beijing has also sent unofficial envoys to hold talks with Venezuela’s opposition, in the hope that if President Nicolas Maduro falls his successors will honor Chinese debts, sources on both sides of the negotiations told the Financial Times. Its recognition of Maduro’s fragile position and the rising clout of the opposition, led by Henrique Capriles, is another sign that the diplomatic noose is tightening around Caracas’s socialist government. “One fact we shouldn’t overlook is that Venezuela really doesn’t have the money,” said Guo Jie, a Latin America expert at Peking University. “I think there will be a rational solution for both parties, be it loan repayment extension or a loan restructuring.”  José Guerra, an opposition member of the legislature’s finance commission, confirmed the talks. "It is true that some [opposition] lawmakers and consultants have met with the Chinese…Both sides want a close-up," he said. One aim of the talks was to “maintain a relationship [looking] probably at a post-Maduro era," he added. BancTrust, a Latin American investment bank, said a Chinese debt restructuring could free up cash equivalent to about 650,000 barrels of oil per day, thereby “alleviating [national] cash flow needs… [which] might help the government to improve staple goods supply.”  One Chinese oil industry insider, who believes it is in the country’s long-term interests to accept “looser” conditions, said: “Certainly the terms of the [Sino-Venezuelan] debt will have to be renegotiated. But there’s no way it could be totally overturned.” (Financial Times:


Venezuela 2016 default likely, PDVSA may go first, Moody’s says

Venezuela is “highly unlikely” to have enough hard currency to fully make its debt payments this year, although a default isn’t inevitable, according to a report from Moody’s Investors Service. State-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, which has large payments due this year, is likely to default before the sovereign, the credit ratings company said. That, in turn, could imperil government finances to the point it won’t be able to make payments either, according to the report. Moody’s said there is a non-negligible probability that a credit event for both could be avoided, although a default is more likely than not. Venezuela’s debt is the most expensive in the world to insure against non-payment using credit-default swaps, after the tumble of the price in oil, which makes up about 95% of the country’s export revenue, eroded its hard currency reserves. The International Monetary Fund predicts its economy will shrink 8% in 2016, while inflation rate will reach about 480%. (Bloomberg,


Venezuela says oil at US$ 50 enough to avoid PDVSA default

Crude prices around US$ 50 a barrel are enough for Venezuela’s state oil producer to avoid a default on its debt, says company president and national oil minister Eulogio Del Pino. The company’s average production cost is around US$ 12 a barrel, he said. Petroleos de Venezuela SA will be able to make payments on its dollar bonds due later this year, Del Pino said. PDVSA, as the Caracas-based company is known, has interest and principal payments totaling US$ 1.4 billion in October and US$ 2.8 billion in November, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. "We are working to pay that," Del Pino said, noting that "we have been paying all of our debts" during what he called "the longest cycle of low prices that we have had." Crude’s rally from a 12-year low at the start of the year to near US$ 50 a barrel is helping boost Venezuela’s ability to repay debt. Still, prices are well short of the US$ 121.06 a barrel the country needs to balance its budget, according to RBC Capital Markets. Venezuela, which depends on oil for 95% of its export revenue, remains the country most at risk of failing to pay its debt in the world, according to credit-default swaps. The company is currently sending about 300,000 barrels a day to China, Del Pino said, confirming that there had been talks with the Asian country about renegotiating some of its debt. “We are in that process to talk with our friends, the Chinese,” he said “We’re talking all the time. We’re monitoring the price, the conditions to bring the oil to China. That’s something that is all the time under discussion.” (Bloomberg:


The bolivar has devaluated 67% year to date

A few days ago the SIMADI FOREX system went above VEB 600/US$ 1, up to VEB 603.32/US$1, which amounts to a devaluation of 67% year to date, according to published Central Bank data. More in Spanish: (El Nacional,



Politics and International Affairs

Venezuelans face long lines to validate recall vote signatures, almost one third collected despite obstacles

Supporters of Venezuela’s opposition who are petitioning for a recall referendum on the rule of President Nicolas Maduro faced long lines in the capital, Caracas, Monday as they began a process that required them to appear in person to validate their signatures. Thousands of petition signers from central Miranda state began lining up in the El Hatillo municipality of greater Caracas at one of the 125 centers set up nationwide by the National Electoral Council, or CNE. By 1:30 p.m. local time, only about 530 of the 4,000 people in line had been able to validate their signatures, with many older and disabled people expressing frustration at the slow pace of validation. “The process has been really complicated,” said Miguel Castejon, an opposition member of the Primero Justicia political party who was helping coordinate the process at the center, said in an interview. “We have only two machines for all these people.” In the Capital District, for instance, 97,000 people are to validate their signatures, yet there are only 23 fingerprint scanners provided by the electoral authority. At the regional CNE headquarters located in Plaza Venezuela, east Caracas, a great number of voters have been standing in lines, for there are only 11 fingerprint scanners available. “The validation process was launched nationwide at 8:00 a.m., but we have reports that at 6:00 a.m. people were already lining up to take part,” said the former presidential candidate and current governor of Miranda state, opposition leader Henrique Capriles. As chief promoter of the recall, Capriles said he hopes the electoral authority will comply with the schedule established for the validation process, which is from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day from this Monday until next Friday, June 24. Capriles reported that by the end of the first day 71,557 signatures had been validated, almost one third of the requisite 194,729 needed for launching a recall procedure which would then require almost 4 million signatures in order to officially call for a recall election. (Bloomberg,; Reuters,; El Universal, ;; Latin American Herald Tribune,; and more in Spanish: El Universal,; El Nacional,


Former presidents to report on mediation efforts in Venezuela at OAS and UNASUR

The three former presidents that are attempting to promote talks in Venezuela between the Maduro regime and the opposition will report on their efforts to the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) this week. At the request of Venezuela, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (Spain), Leonel Fernandez (Dominican Republic) and Martin Torrijos (Panamá) will speak to the Organization two days before the body discusses whether or not to invoke the Hemispheric Democratic Charter in the case of Venezuela, as requested by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro. Almagro welcomes the report, saying: “it will be essential to know which obstacles this initiative has encountered, why it has not progressed and which will be the means to overcome the situation”. He has proposed adding the OAS and other former heads of state to the efforts. “If you do not release the political prisoners, if you do not put a date on the recall referendum (against President Maduro), what are you going to talk about?”, he says. The Council of Foreign Ministers of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) was also called together by their Secretariat General to take part in a special meeting next week in Quito, Ecuador, to tackle the Venezuelan crisis. The meeting has been scheduled for June 23, and aims to “assess the progress of the talks between the (country’s) government and the opposition, (a move) promoted by the UNASUR’s Secretariat General”. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles says he hopes the former presidents “will not lie” at the OAS meeting about a political dialogue “that has not taken place, because if they do we will contradict them”.  (El Universal,; and more in Spanish: Infolatam:; El Nacional,  


Lopez says recall referendum is above any talks

Imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo López says there can be no dialogue above a recall referendum to be held during 2016, as is established as a right in Venezuela’s constitution, and asks the international community to support the referendum process. Lopez made his statement through his Twitter account, which is managed by his relatives. He added that talks should be held to discuss the problems of the people, but that human and constitutional rights are “not negotiable”. (El Universal:; and more in Spanish: Infolatam:


Court again suspends appeal hearing for Leopoldo Lopez

The hearing for an appeal by opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who is sentenced to almost 14 years in prison for violent actions that took place after a protest march, was suspended Monday, his defense attorney said. Lopez’s hearing was postponed after one of the designated judges said he was feeling too ill to attend the session, A new date for the appeal was not announced. Suspension of the hearing took place at the same time as a visit by Spain’s former Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardon and Spanish lawyer Javier Cremades, who came to Caracas on Sunday to counsel Lopez’s defense team. (Latin American Herald Tribune,; El Universal,


Kerry announces plans for immediate high-level talks with Venezuela

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has announced immediate high-level talks involving himself, his Venezuelan counterpart Delcy Rodriguez and U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas Shannon, who will be the first to travel to Caracas. Kerry and Rodriguez agreed on the talks during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of an Organization of American States’s General Assembly meeting in the Dominican capital. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


Spain urges Venezuelan government "to encourage" talks with Legislature

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo has told his Venezuelan counterpart Delcy Rodríguez that it is necessary to pave the way for talks between the Venezuelan government and the legislature. He made his remarks in a telephone conversation with Rodríguez during her stopover on Sunday in Madrid. García-Margallo voiced his government’s hope for this initiative may led to an “urgent, substantive, effective and respectful” dialogue between representatives of the Executive and Legislative powers, within the Venezuelan constitutional framework and in accordance with mechanisms therein enshrined. The move includes “the possibility for a recall vote” promoted by the opposition against the term in office of President Nicolas Maduro. (El Universal,


Armed man opens fire in Venezuelan Central Bank, wounding two

An armed man broke into Venezuela’s central bank Monday and exchanged gun fire with security forces before being subdued by police. Central bank President Nelson Merentes said a man opened fire, wounding two national guardsmen before police were able to bring the situation under control. Merentes said there were no fatalities in the attack. Local media earlier reported that an “irregular situation” was unfolding at the bank situated in downtown Caracas, with employees barricading themselves in their offices after an armed man entered the institution’s statistics department. (Bloomberg,; Reuters,; Latin American Herald Tribune,


No food, no teachers, violence in failing Venezuela schools

The soaring crime and economic chaos stalking Venezuela is also ripping apart a once up-and-coming school system, robbing poor students} of a chance at a better life. Officially, Venezuela has canceled 16 school days since December, including Friday classes because of an energy crisis. In reality, Venezuelan children have missed an average of 40% of class time, a parent group estimates, as a third of teachers skip work on any given day to wait in food lines. Many students have fainted from hunger and administrators tell parents to keep their children home if they have no food. And while the school locks its gate each morning, armed robbers, often teens themselves, still manage to break in and stick up kids between classes. "This country has abandoned its children. By the time we see the full consequences, there will be no way to put it right," Movement of Organized Parents spokeswoman Adelba Taffin said. The annual dropout rate has doubled, more than a quarter of teenagers are not enrolled, and classrooms are understaffed as professionals flee the country. As many as 40% of teachers skip class on any given day to wait in food lines.  Classrooms with puddles are used as emergency toilets now that the bathrooms have no running water. Students play dice on the cracked asphalt of the yard, trading insults and piles of bills.  Venezuela now has the highest teen pregnancy rate in South America. The favorite make-out spot for students is behind a pile of 30,000 unopened textbooks that block the auditorium stage. The government delivered the books at the start of the year, but teachers decided they were too full of pro-socialist propaganda to use. The supplies they really want are not available. In chemistry class, students can't perform experiments because they have no materials. The new cafeteria never opened because there was no food or cooking gas. (The New York Times:


Peru prosecutor says Chavez, Brazil firms may have funded Humala

A Peruvian prosecutor said Thursday that late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and two Brazilian construction companies may have bankrolled President Ollanta Humala's campaigns before he took office in 2011. Prosecutor German Juarez has been investigating first lady Nadine Heredia, the co-founder and current president of Humala's party, for her possible involvement in undeclared campaign contributions. He asked a judge to bar her from leaving Peru. Humala has denied taking money from Chavez. Humala's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday. Heredia has said she has no intention of leaving Peru and is cooperating with investigators, whom she describes as under pressure from political foes. Another informant alleged that construction companies ODEBRECHT SA and GRUPO OAS, both tangled in a vast corruption scandal in neighboring Brazil, gave Humala and Heredia hundreds of thousands of dollars and paid the salary of an adviser close to Brazil's Workers Party to help with Humala's 2011 campaign, Juarez said. (



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.