Venezuelan Daily Brief

Published in association with The DVA Group and The Selinger Group, the Venezuelan Daily Brief provides bi-weekly summaries of key news items affecting bulk commodities and the general business environment in Venezuela.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

January 19, 2017

Oil & Energy

PDVSA claims operations at Venezuela oil terminal 'recovered' after oil spill
Shipping operations at one of three docks of Venezuela's main crude exporting port have "recovered" after a "minor" oil spill occurred over the weekend, state oil company PDVSA said on Wednesday, without saying how big the spill was. A spill occurred while loading a vessel bound for India at Jose port's eastern dock and also affected other tankers close to the very large crude carrier (VLCC) Nave Quasar, chartered by India's Reliance Industries, which is among PDVSA's main customers. It receives crude from the Orinoco Belt, and in some cases pays for that oil by shipping refined products to Venezuela. (Reuters:


Economy & Finance

Maduro announces 20 new exchange houses to open on border, failure predicted
President Nicolas Maduro has announced that 20 new government-backed foreign exchange houses will open on the border between Colombia and Venezuela, in order to try to bring down the bolivar’s parity on the parallel market. Most observers, including the president of the country’s principal business organization, FEDECÁMARAS, predict the move will fail to bring curb Venezuela’s currency devaluation as it is not an in-depth solution to the problem, nor the solution business hopes for. FEDECAMARAS President Francisco Martínez says: “Exchange houses should exist throughout the nation and should exist to trade any currency in the world. You cannot open some exchange houses and say you have found the solution to all problems”. He adds that the Maduro regime is responsible for current inflation. More in Spanish: (Noticiero Venevision:;

Hyperinflation renders Venezuela a nation of broke millionaires
Venezuela may now be the country in the world with the most millionaires. There is, however, a caveat. That money isn’t worth much anywhere else in the world. Amid rampant inflation, widespread shortages of everything from toilet paper to medicine and a failing economy, the Venezuelan government recently introduced three new bank notes into the market ranging from 500 to 20,000 bolivars. But while somebody in Caracas can now carry 1 million bolivars in his billfold, in terms of U.S. currency those 50 bank notes are only worth only about US$ 300 on the country’s black market and one bill is valued at less than US$ 6. “That won’t get you very far,” Chris Sabatini, a professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, told “It’s like the government has almost given up. They are just adding zeros to the end of these bills and they don’t mean anything … There’s going to come a time when they’re going to run out of space on the bill for all those zeros There is clearly no strategy in Venezuela but to surrender,” Sabatini said. Despite government assertions that the new currency is meant to combat smuggling, many Venezuelans appear are skeptical. Since global oil prices plunged in 2015, Venezuela hasn’t had the funds to import basic goods such as food and medicine, creating acute shortages and stirring anger toward Maduro. Adding to the overall misery are a drastic rise in violent crime, especially in the capital city of Caracas, rolling blackouts and widespread and often bloody protests against the government. There have been casualties and deaths on both sides of the protests and accusations from the international community of human rights abuses and political oppression. “The pressure that Venezuelans face every day is tremendous because of all the uncertainty,” Sonia Schott, the former Washington, D.C., correspondent for Venezuelan news network Globovisión, told “Nobody knows what will happen the next day.” (Fox News:


Politics and International Affairs

Maduro calls for "mediation" in conflict with Parliament, but again attacks legislature
President Nicolas Maduro says “I want the dialogue to process this conflict in which the National Assembly has entered, as it has been sequestered. We need to get it back. Venezuela needs a new AN” He said he would ask the former presidents who act as mediators in government-opposition talks “to deal with the situation of the Parliament (...) for the conflicts and conspiracies to cease.” Maduro insisted that he maintains the call to the opposition to take part in the government-opposition talks. “We offer our hands to all sectors. We are still reaching out to these sectors that are why we ratify the dialogue, which is why the former presidents are here.” At the same time, he claimed the opposition-led National Assembly has “self-destructed” and called for a new legislature. (El Universal,; and more in Spanish: Noticiero Venevision:; Infolatam:

Maduro reneges on pledge to free opponent Lopez
President Nicolas Maduro is backing out of a pledge to free opponent Leopoldo Lopez now that President Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of a Puerto Rican independence activist whose release the embattled socialist has long promoted. In 2015, Maduro said he would release Lopez the day that Obama freed Oscar Lopez Rivera. When asked Wednesday at a press conference about that pledge, Maduro said he'd been joking. He also went one step further and accused Lopez of being a CIA spy not worthy of being compared to Lopez Rivera, who was serving out a long sentence for his role in a violent struggle for the U.S. island territory's independence. Lopez is serving a 14-year sentence for allegedly inciting violence against the government during a wave of anti-government unrest. (Associated Press:

Opposition to march on January 23rd, demanding elections
Julio Borges, Speaker of the National Assembly, has announced that the opposition will march toward all Nation Elections Board headquarters, in Caracas and at all state capitals, demanding a schedule for elections this year. January 23rd marks the anniversary of the overthrow of dictator General Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958. Borges says: “January 23rd is the best date on which we can show the Venezuelan people how it was done 60 years ago, a united Venezuelan people, a determined Venezuelan people, a fearless Venezuelan people that are fighting for their freedom will march to the National Elections Board this January 23rd and show that we will united achieve change in this country.” Former presidential candidate and Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles, along with the Executive Secretary of the Democratic unity opposition coalition, Jesús Torrealba, and all major opposition political groups have also made the call to march next Monday. More in Spanish: (Noticiero Venevision:

 January 23rd: Will Venezuela become Trump’s first big foreign crisis?

The embattled government of Nicolas Maduro called for a counterdemonstration on January 23rd against an opposition march calling for elections, scheduled on the 59th anniversary of the toppling of the last military dictatorship in Venezuela -- setting the stage for another big street confrontation in the oil rich country only three days after Donald Trump’s Inauguration. In calling for the “chavista” demonstration, pro-Maduro lawmaker Captain Diosdado Cabello said the march would be both “happy” and “combative” while also ruling out general elections, a recall against the President or even the possible end of the Bolivarian Revolution started by Hugo Chavez in 1998.
There will be no general elections here. What there will be here is revolution and more revolution,” Cabello said Tuesday during a press conference. “On January 23rd we will be in the streets, with certainty the revolutionary forces will be there, once again defending the revolution”. Cabello said the “chavista” march would include the opposition-dominated National Assembly in its path, making a street confrontation almost unavoidable. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


OAS meets Venezuelan opposition legislators

The Organization of American States (OAS) mission in Caracas met with Venezuelan opposition congressmen. The deputies who marched to their headquarters to ask that the OAS demand of the Venezuelan government that it respect the right of Venezuelans to vote, and to publish in the upcoming days the election schedule of 2017.
We reaffirm that the only solution in Venezuela is to vote. The best dialogue is 20 million Venezuelans talking through vote,” said National Assembly Speaker Julio Borges at OAS headquarters here.
(El Universal,


Congressman Luis Florido says pressure will be intensified

Deputy Luis Florido has been ratified as chair of the Foreign Policy, Sovereignty and Integration Committee of the Venezuelan National Assembly. He announced that they are ready to begin and consolidate a process of world parliamentary union to “press the Venezuelan Government and rescue democracy.” “We will intensify the national and international pressure for the rescue of democracy; we will continue acting firmly in this historical fight of the Venezuelan people. Parliamentary diplomacy around the world will deepen with a clear strategy in defense of Venezuelans aiming to block the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro,” says Florido. (El Universal,


Machado: The remarkable dignity of Venezuela's women

It was barely mentioned in the recent U.S. presidential elections, but Venezuela is suffering the consequences of being under the boot of one of the most atrocious and enduring Socialist dictatorships of our time. In fact, at the end of the first U.S. presidential debates, Venezuela received a minute of attention when Hillary Clinton mentioned a former Venezuelan beauty queen to spite Donald Trump, the former owner of the Miss Universe Organization. Interestingly, Venezuela leads in winning Miss World contests and is second in Miss Universe pageants.  And while Venezuelan women are particularly beautiful, they have also proven to be extremely valiant and resilient. Mothers across the country are struggling and forfeiting their own well-being to feed their babies. Today, as the health system collapses in Venezuela, giving birth to a child can frequently become a ruthless calamity. Hospitals, destitute of 90% of the medicines they routinely use, are congested and have no choice but to stop relying on modern emergency procedures. Many surgery rooms are dysfunctional and many hospitals are literally struggling not just to save lives but to stay open. Clean water and electrical shortages are frequent, not to mention the scarcity of basic detergents to clean hallways and hospital rooms. Mothers have had to give birth on the steps of hospitals due to overcrowding. Diseases, which were once kept in check – and in some cases, had vanished in Venezuela, such as Malaria and Diphtheria – are reappearing at alarming rates due to the lack of preventive measures threatening both mothers and their newborns in hospitals and throughout the national health system. Premature births and miscarriages, which are expected to diminish as countries develop, are increasing exponentially in Venezuela, often due to maternal malnutrition during pregnancy. The serious economic crisis, the hardships and expenses of finding traditional contraceptive methods are forcing many desperate women in Venezuela to contemplate being forced into sterilization. Some of them are doing this at an early age, relinquishing their hopes of becoming mothers. Over the past few weeks, there have been many reports about Venezuelan women bartering anything, including selling their hair at the Colombian border in return for basic supplies. Many Venezuelan women have resorted to abandoning their children because they feel they have no other choice. In the best scenarios, they might desert their children leaving them with a relative, or a neighbor.  There is also the option of state agencies and charities, which have seen a surge in the number of parents begging for help.  Yet in some extreme cases, mothers simply abandon their children on the streets of our towns and cities. Last month a baby boy –a few months’ old– was found inside a paper bag in a relatively affluent area of Caracas.  A few weeks later a malnourished one-year-old baby was found abandoned in a cardboard box in the eastern city of Ciudad Guayana. Moreover, more and more Venezuelan women are resorting to prostitution. A recent report revealed that the border city of Cúcuta has become a center for prostitution. Teenage girls can make more money in a weekend in Cúcuta from prostitution than they can in a year on the minimum wage in Venezuela. Many lactating mothers are malnourished because they cannot find basic foods, or pay the black market prices, not to mention things like essential vaccines. One frequently sees long lines of mothers with their screaming babies in their arms waiting in front of a supermarket or a pharmacy. Sometimes they spend four or five hours in a queue. They are waiting for milk or diapers. The moment the word is spread (and it spreads like wildfire) that a lorry-load of diapers or milk has been seen arriving at a given address, there is mayhem.  By the time you arrive at the address, if supplies have lasted, the chances are you can’t even afford to buy your quota of what you require at government controlled prices.  For Venezuelan women, it is permanent crisis mode. Yet the women of Venezuela are courageous and resilient. You will find them at every demonstration, at every protest.  Women of all ages standing bravely, often in the line of fire, for their freedom; for their dignity. Article by María Corina Machado, is one of the current leaders of the movement for democracy in Venezuela, former member of the National Assembly of Venezuela and leader of Vente Venezuela. (Fox News:


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.