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.

Monday, October 24, 2016

October 24, 2016

International Trade

Imports are down 40% from last year

Despite reports by the Port Authority that in August-October 1,562,426 tons of food from Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica and Colombia have arrived here, Felix Jiménez, President of the Puerto Cabello Chamber of Commerce called this insufficient to supply demand because imports have dropped 40% as compared to 2015. He says high costs have also made products inaccessible to consumers. Eduardo Quintana, President of the La Guaira Chamber of Commerce says increased imports are an attempt to fill store shelves, but have failed “each day there are more people rummaging through garbage for food”, He adds that 90% of all imports go to state agencies, and only 10% to the private sector. Quintana added that “the private sector is importing food at the request of some governors. That is not the solution. The situation will not be solved unless there is production”. Bolipuertos has reported that in two months they have received: 465,010 tons of wheat; 362,074 tons of yellow corn; 293,637 tons of rice; 150,000 tons of white corn; 120,000 tons of sugar; 19,994 tons of soy flour; 16,300 tons of barley; 5,932 tons of white beans; 4,177 tons of powdered milk; 2,994 tons of black beans; 1,404 tons of coffee; 880 tons of frozen beef; 930 tons of processed pasta; 198 tons of pasta; 979 head of cattle. More in Spanish: (El Nacional:


Cargo that has arrived at Puerto Cabello:

  • 30,000 tons of sugar for state agency CASA
  • 2,948 tons of white beans
  • 880 tons of black beans
  • 418 tons of beef
  • 222 tons of whole milk
  • 220 tons of pasta
  • 110 tons of medication
  • 396 tons of sanitary napkins
  • 308 tons of toilet paper, all consigned to state agency CASA
More in Spanish: (Agencia Venezolana de Noticias;


Over 830 tons of food and basic products arrived from Jamaica arrived at El Guamache port in Margarita Island, including pasta, sugar, milk, cooking oil, white rice, sanitary napkins, soap, cosmetics, and other personal care products. More in Spanish: (Bolipuertos,; Agencia Venezolana de Noticias;


Venezuelan economic aid to Nicaragua down 10.9% first half 2016

Venezuela’s oil loan-centered cooperation with its traditional ally Nicaragua fell by 10.9% during the first half of 2016 as compared to the same period last year, according to the Central Bank of Nicaragua (BCN). The drop followed a 43.8% decrease in 2015 from 2014, when Venezuelan cooperation hit US$ 661.9 million, according to official numbers. Venezuelan cooperation funds, which have added up to US$ 4.65 billion since Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega took office in January 2007, are administered outside domestic budget laws, a move criticized by many here. (El Universal,


Logistics & Transport

AVIANCA has restored service to Venezuela after plane incident

AVIANCA has restored service to Venezuela It had suspended after its Boeing 787, which was flying from Madrid to Bogota with 248 passengers on board, was harassed by a Venezuelan military plane, nearly resulting in a mid-air collision. The crew of the Colombian airliner contacted Bogota to report the proximity of another aircraft, which was following it so close that the Traffic Collision Avoidance System was activated in the AVIANCA aircraft. Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas discussed the incident with Venezuelan counterpart Vladimir Padrino and Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez said President Maduro had ordered an investigation into the matter. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos issued a statement calling for calm and said all was settled. (Latin American Herald Tribune,; Bloomberg,; Reuters,; and more in Spanish: Noticiero Venevision:;


Low cost COPA airline to service Caracas

COPA Airlines will launch a low cost airline called WINGO that will include Caracas in its service route, along with Cancún (México), Havana, Aruba, Punta Cana (Dominican R.), Mexico City, San Andrés (Colombia), Panamá, Quito, and Cartagena. More in Spanish: (El Mundo,


Oil & Energy

PDVSA gets US$ 2.8 billion of US$ 7.1 billion in holders to extend

State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) today announced that the offers to exchange its 5.250% Senior Notes due 2017 and 8.50% Senior Notes due 2017 for new 8.50% Senior Secured Notes due 2020 secured by 50.1% of CITGO has closed. As total consideration to be paid for the validly tendered Existing Notes pursuant to the Exchange Offers, PDVSA will issue an aggregate principal amount of approximately US$ 3,367 million of New Notes on the Settlement Date, subject to rounding adjustments as set forth in the Offering Circular and as adjusted for any delays in processing tender instructions. Investors tendered approximately US$ 2,799 million of the US$ 7.1 billion of the 2017 bonds, which is approximately 39.43% of the aggregate principal amount outstanding.  "The Company intends to waive any conditions to the Exchange Offers," PDVSA said, meaning that they were accepting less than the 50% they were requiring. Last week, oil giant ConocoPhillips filed a lawsuit against PDVSA and CITGO trying to block the use of CITGO as collateral, calling it a "fraudulent transfer" to avoid their creditors. CRYSTALLEX -- owed US$ 1.4 billion -- has also alleged the same fraud in its suits against Venezuela, PDVSA and CITGO. Venezuela and PDVSA must pay US$ 1.8 billion this month and US$ 3 billion next month in debt interest and maturities. Half of the US$4 billion in PDVSA 8.5% of November 2, 2017, must be paid this November 2 unless the swap is successful in reducing that number. (Latin American Herald Tribune:


Maduro on whirlwind Mid East tour to try to bolster oil prices

President Nicolas Maduro has so far visited Azerbaijan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in a whirlwind tour aimed at bolstering international oil prices. He met with Azeri President Iham Aliev; and Iran’s President Hasan Rohani, who declared his nation will support any measure that aims for “stabilizing oil markets, fair price and equitable quotas for producers”. He then travelled on to Saudi Arabia where he held a meeting with Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Nayef, which Maduro called “positive” and said he was “more optimistic than ever, we are closer to an agreement than ever”. Maduro then moved on to Qatar, where he was met by Economics Minister Sheik Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani. His travelling party includes his wife, Cilia Flores; Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez, Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino; Information Minister Ernesto Villegas, and the Secretary of the Presidency, Admiral Carmen Melendez. Maduro says he will also attend the OPEC meeting scheduled to be held in Vienna on November 28-29th to seek an agreement. More in Spanish: (Agencia Venezolana de Noticias;; Noticiero Venevision:;


Hooded gunmen threatened Venezuela congressional committee investigating PDVSA US$11 billion missing

A half-dozen hooded gunmen tried to break into the offices of the comptroller committee at the National Assembly on Friday, according to the chairman of the opposition-led committee, who said the incident was likely politically motivated. The committee had issued a report accusing PDVSA of corruption, saying about US$ 11 billion in funds went missing from the state-run oil company while Rafael Ramirez was at the helm from 2004-14. "What a coincidence," said committee chairman Freddy Guevara in a statement. "Armed 'colectivos' arrived to threaten the personnel just two days after we denounced big corruption cases in PDVSA," added Guevara, in reference to pro-government militant grassroots groups denounced by opponents as thugs. (Reuters,


Venezuela oil price slips after 3 weeks of gains

The price Venezuela receives for its mix of medium and heavy oil slipped slightly after 3 straight weeks of gains as OPEC nations continue discussions over an oil output cut. According to figures released by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining here, the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending October 21 was US$ 43.03, down 6 cents from the previous week's US$ 43.09.
According to Venezuelan government figures, the average price in 2016 for Venezuela's mix of heavy and medium crude is now US$ 33.81 for the year to date. (Latin American Herald Tribune,



Coffee growers refuse to turn over 50% of their product to government CLAP system

An assembly of coffee growers held in Trujillo state have roundly rejected a government order that would force them to sell 50% of their products to government sponsored Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP) at controlled prices. The local mayor asked the Maduro regime to reconsider. More in Spanish: (Ultima Hora Digital,


Economy & Finance

Supreme Tribunal here asked to rule if Venezuela and PDVSA can pay bonds in bolivars

A writ was introduced before Venezuela’s Supreme Justice Tribunal (TSJ), asking the court to rule on whether the Central Bank or troubled state oil company PDVSA can pay bondholders in the local currency, Bolivars, instead of in U.S. dollars The writ specifically mentions three issues of “bonos Bolivar-dollar” -- PDVSA 16, PDVSA 17 and PDVSA 17N -- bonds that were issued during the presidency of Hugo Chavez in the local Venezuelan bond market, priced and sold initially in Bolivars, but then resold in exchange for U.S. Dollars in the secondary markets. The Supreme Tribunal was also asked to decide on the debt of the Republic. All in all, Venezuela and PDVSA have US$ 70 billion in U.S. dollar bond debt, with US$ 3.3 billion due to be paid in the next week.  Between now and the end of 2017, Venezuela and PDVSA must pay US$ 15 billion in U.S. dollar bond interest and maturities. All PDVSA contracts with bondholders specifically say that they are signed under the laws of New York state and will be paid in US dollars. The writ was lodged by a corporation called XT46. Oil Minister and PDVSA President Eulogio Del Pino called the action “sabotage”. International analysts have two theories on the move: One is that PDVSA is behind the action in order to scare bondholders into a swap; and another believes some third party made the move in order to lower the price of the bonds. Bond conditions specify that the only way such bond payments can be made in another currency is through the consent of 100% of all bondholders. (Latin American Herald Tribune:; and more in Spanish: (El Nacional:


Politics and International Affairs

National Assembly accuses Maduro of staging a coup, opens proceedings to depose him, replace Elections Council

Venezuela’s opposition-led Congress, consistently undermined by the executive and judicial branches since taking control about 10 months ago, upped the ante on Sunday. The legislature approved a series of actions in response to last week’s decision by the National Elections Council (CNE) to halt an opposition signature drive after four provincial courts called it fraudulent and issued rulings putting a halt to the effort. Four ruling party governors, alleging fraud but presenting no public evidence, had requested injunctions from the courts earlier Thursday. The country’s powerful ruling party vice president, Lieutenant Diosdado Cabello, went even further, saying that opposition leaders should be jailed. In response, the legislature voted to:

  • Charge the Maduro regime with perpetrating a coup d'etat and declare that the constitutional order has broken down
  • Ask international organizations for help in defending the Venezuelan people
  • Call on the Venezuelan armed forces to disobey any order which is unconstitutional or goes against human rights
  • Bring formal charges at the International Criminal Court and all other relevant organizations against judges and members of the National Elections Board responsible for suspending the recall referendum process, along with officials responsible for politically persecuting the Venezuelan people
  • Start immediate proceedings to name new Supreme Court judges and members of the National Electoral Council
  • Urged Venezuelans to stand up in defense of the constitution.
  • Convene again on Tuesday, October 25th, to begin proceedings that will determine the status of the Presidency of Venezuela within the Constitution.

Julio Borges, leader of the opposition majority bloc, also said that the opposition would bring a political trial against President Maduro "to get to the bottom of his role in the break with democracy and human rights here". Hector Rodríguez, pro-regime minority leader in the Assembly, says the opposition has made “mistakes in contempt” of established powers, and said that the halt in recall procedures were just what his side expected. The session was tense and angry, with both government and opposition lawmakers giving fiery speeches. Analysts say the resolutions passed on Sunday are largely symbolic and unlikely to have much effect as the government and the Supreme Tribunal have so far sabotaged any attempts by the opposition to push through bills which President Maduro opposes. The opposition will likely look abroad for help in laying pressure on the government, in particular to the regional body Organization of American States (OAS). OAS head Luis Almagro has previously threatened to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which could lead to sanctions being imposed on Venezuela. (BBC News:; Bloomberg,; El Universal,; The Wall Street Journal:; and more in Spanish: El Nacional,; Noticiero Venevisión,; El Universal,


Pro-Maduro mob attacks National Assembly in session for debate over Maduro’s removal

The four-hour extraordinary session of the National Assembly in Caracas, was interrupted for about 30 minutes after government supporters breached security and threatened lawmakers on the National Assembly floor, A mob of dozens of pro-Maduro armed supporters dressed in red and screaming pro-regime slogans burst into the National Assembly while legislators were debating ways to depose President Nicolas Maduro from office. They met no resistance from the National Guard in charge of security at the Congress. Once inside the Chamber, they scuffled with legislative security personnel as some pro-regime legislators tried to calm them down. Downtown Caracas mayor Jorge Rodríguez suddenly appeared on site and ordered them to back off. The session was suspended for half an hour while they withdrew and the session reconvened under National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup. At least two people were wounded. The interruption was described in very different ways by the two rival sides. Opposition lawmaker Julio Borges posted a video of the protests and called it "an attack on Venezuela's parliament". Government lawmaker Diosdado Cabello on the other hand defended those who had interrupted the session, saying they had only been protecting the legitimate government and would do so another 1,000 times. He also accused the National Assembly of carrying out its own coup d'etat. (BBC News:; and more in Spanish: Infolatam:; El Nacional:


Opposition calls for nationwide protests after recall bid halted

Venezuela’s MUD opposition alliance has called for nationwide demonstrations on Oct. 26 to protest the electoral authorities’ decision to suspend a presidential recall referendum campaign. “That day will be the start of a nationwide mobilization. We’d already warned (this would happen). On Wednesday, we’ll take Venezuela from end to end, every corner of the country. I hope to see the people mobilized to restore the constitutional order,” former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said at a press conference along with the MUD’s other top leaders.
Capriles, who spearheaded the campaign to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro, said Wednesday’s “Takeover of Venezuela” would not be like the Sept. 1 mass demonstration in Caracas when hundreds of thousands of anti-government marchers withdrew at 1:00 p.m., but instead would be carried out in all 23 states as well as the nation’s capital. Capriles has said they could take protests right up to the Miraflores Presidential Palace. (Latin American Herald Tribune,; Bloomberg,; Reuters,


Maduro calls for peace and dialogue after recall process halted, says the right is trying to take over power

In a broadcast from Azerbaijan, President Nicolas Maduro called on Venezuelans, and particularly his opponents, to preserve peace and dialogue following a decision by the National Elections Council to suspend a scheduled voter signature drive aimed at triggering a recall referendum against him. He said that “no one should go crazy”. He later sent a video message from Saudi Arabia, where he was discussing global oil prices. In it he said, "The revolution will continue to win despite the constant pretentions of the right which is trying to take over power by unconstitutional means." (BBC News:; and more in Spanish: (Infolatam:


Women march after Venezuela referendum halted

Led by women dressed in white, several thousand Venezuelans marched through Caracas on Saturday in the first of what the opposition hopes will be growing protests against the quashing of a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro. The opposition coalition, seeking to end 17 years of socialism here, says this week's suspension of its drive for a plebiscite against the unpopular leader shows Venezuela has abandoned democracy. They called on the Armed Forces to restore constitutional rights. (Reuters,


Local court bans opposition leaders from leaving the country

A local court in Valencia has banned Henrique Capriles Radonski and seven other opposition leaders from leaving the country, the former presidential candidate. The ban also applies to Secretary-General of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), Jesus Torrealba. The order is addressed to the chief of the country’s immigration agency, SAIME, Juan Carlos Dugarte. Besides Capriles and Torrealba, the other opposition leaders included in the order are Ramon Jose Medina, Jose Luis Cartaya, Oscar Antonio Barreto, Ricardo Francisco Sucre, Luis Ernesto Aparicio and Arnoldo Gabaldon. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


Lopez rejects dialogue overture by Panama’s Torrijos after recall suspension

Imprisoned Voluntad Popular leader Leopoldo Lopez received former Panamanian president Martín Torrijos in his cell to discuss a dialogue between the regime and its opposition here. He later tweeted that dialogue “is not possible after the recall referendum was suspended, robbing the people of the right to express themselves”. He called on all Venezuelans to take part in the takeover of the entire nation called up by the opposition Democratic Unity coalition (MUD) this coming Wednesday. Torrijos is again in Venezuela, along with Spain’s former President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, on behalf of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and at the invitation of the Maduro regime, to try to set up talks between both sides here. A representative of Pope Francis I is expected to join the efforts. Lieutenant Diosdado Cabello, Vice President of the ruling PSUV party and considered the number two man within the Maduro regime, says that they “are expecting the arrival of a Papal representative” to join the efforts. He added that the Maduro regime would not accept any preconditions to sit down to talks, and that the visitors would not operate as intermediaries but simply as facilitators. The opposition insists it will not sit down to talks unless the Constitutional right to a recall referendum is guaranteed. More in Spanish: (Infolatam:; El Universal,


OAS Secretary General says Maduro is no longer legitimate, calls for "concrete actions" on Venezuela

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, says “only dictatorships strip citizens of their rights, ignore the legislature and hold political prisoners”, and adds that President Nicolas Maduro has “lost all of his original legitimacy after depriving the Venezuelan people without electoral rights”.  He called on nations in the region to act within Article 20 of the Inter American Democratic Charter, and “take specific steps to defend democracy in Venezuela”. Almagro made his statements after the National Electoral Council (CNE) here suspended the process of the collection of signatures to convene a recall referendum, an action he regarded a breakdown of the democratic system. (Latin American Herald Tribune:; and more in Spanish: (El Nacional:


Twelve major OAS member nations express concern over halting of recall process; Bolivia slams Almagro.

Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, México, Peru, the United States and Uruguay have issued a joint statement expressing deep concern over a decision by the National Elections Council here to “postpone the 20% voter signature drive required to call a recall referendum” against President Nicolas Maduro. They asked that the issue soon be resolved in a “peaceful way”, and said the move to stop the recall “hurts the chances of starting a dialogue” to find a peaceful way out and find lasting solutions that promote democracy, social stability, full respect for human rights, separation of powers, and stronger institutions. For his part, Bolivian President Evo Morales criticized OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro for his “interventionist conduct”, called him an “imperial puppet”, and said his nation would “continue defending the Venezuelan people”. More in Spanish: (Infolatam:; and more in Spanish: Noticiero Venevisión,


Chairman of Roman Catholic Bishops Conference calls on Venezuelans to avoid violence

Monsignor Diego Padron, Chairman of Venezuela’s Roman Catholic Bishops Conference (CEV) says that the people of Venezuela have “suffered a hard blow”, but calls on a halt to any action that leads to violence, “because we know that the result of violence is more violence”. He said the CEV had not yet met to consider the recent move by the National Elections Council, but “is convinced the nation can move forward under any circumstance”.  He added that “the people must remain united in the knowledge that these evils can be overcome”. More in Spanish: (Infolatam:


Uribe says Venezuela should not be involved in Colombian peace process

Colombia’s former President Álvaro Uribe called Venezuela an “incorrigible dictatorship” which should be suspended from the OAS and UNASUR and all international organizations, and should no longer continue involved as a facilitator in Colombia’s peace talks with the FARC guerrilla. He called on the Venezuelan military, police and judges to defend democracy. More in Spanish: (Noticiero Venevision:


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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