- 88,000 tons of white corn and rice, at Puerto Cabello, aboard the ERHAN, AEC ABILITY II and the
- y UBC TARRAGONA
- 557 containers bearing oatmeal, beef, beans, white rice, vehicle tires, toothpaste, corn flour, wheat flour, milk, medicine, shampoo and diapers, arriving from Colombia on the NIKOLAS, at Puerto Cabello.
- 140 tons of fertilizer for state agency AGROPATRIA, aboard the SUDKAP, at Puerto Cabello.
- 2477 pieces of steel tubing, aboard the QING HUA SHAN, also at Puerto Cabello
- 6,101 tons of food packages for the government’s CLAP food distribution program have arrived at La Guaira port in 289 containers aboard MV VIKING MERLIN from Veracruz – México. Food items received include pasta, rice, beans, cooking oil, canned tuna, and powdered milk.
- 2.878 tons of food, medicine and personal care products arrived at La Guaira port aboard the CONTSHIP PRO from Jamaica, and the MELBOURNE STRAIT, from Curazao. The products received include rice, milk, pasta, tuna, beans, kits for dialysis, disinfectants, cosmetics, detergents, soap and children’s products.
The Trump administration’s ban on new Venezuelan debt could scare off so-called vulture investors by making it nearly impossible for the country to restructure its obligations. That means in the event of default -- which investors view as pretty much a certainty within the next five years -- the country and its creditors may struggle to come up with an agreement that would assign any value to its outstanding bonds. It also will make smaller debt swaps much more difficult to get done, possibly hastening the day of reckoning. Such restrictions may throw a wrench into the tried-and-true methods of so-called vulture investors, typically hedge funds that swoop into a country’s distressed debt shortly before or in the aftermath of a default with the goal of extracting value from bonds too toxic for most investors. These funds may now demand a much lower price if there’s no regime change that would prompt the U.S. to lift restrictions, largely because of the complications in negotiating a restructuring. Because a default with no hope of restructuring would expose the country to international lawsuits and seizures of its assets, it could increase the chances of a regime change in the aftermath of a missed payment. The same day the new sanctions were announced, Maduro asked holders of Venezuelan bonds to meet with Economy Minister Ramon Lobo this week to discuss the effects of the U.S. sanctions. U.S.-based holders of Venezuela bonds will be hurt the most by the penalties. The additional penalties strengthen Maduro’s argument that his nation is under attack from outside interests, likely pushing him toward lenders of last resort in China and Russia. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control has traditionally interpreted sanctions broadly, so any attempt to circumvent their objective by clever structuring of a debt deal would be risky. The odds of a sovereign credit event over the next five years rose to 96% and Petroleos de Venezuela’s default probability hit 99%. (Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-28/white-house-sanctions-may-scare-off-venezuela-vulture-investors)
Delcy Rodríguez, who heads the so-called National Constituent Assembly (ANC) says the group will begin rewriting Venezuela’s 1999 Constitution this week, focusing primarily on the justice and welfare systems. She announced that the group’s key operating rules have been approved, and that their work will be subject to approval by referendum, More in Spanish: (Noticiero Venevisión, http://www.noticierovenevision.net/noticias/politica/anc-empezara-a-redactar-capitulos-de-la-nueva-constitucion-la-semana-proxima; El Mundo, http://www.elmundo.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/politica/anc-empezara-el-lunes-a-redactar-una-nueva-carta-m.aspx; El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/noticias/politica/anc-aprobo-realizacion-del-referendum-aprobatorio-nueva-constitucion_667240)
The Maduro regime is considering banning messages that promote “hate” and “intolerance” on social media and messenger services, according to Delcy Rodriguez, the president of the country’s all-powerful constituent assembly. Rodriguez told reporters on Monday she is looking to limit messages that fuel bigotry and confrontation between Venezuelans in a so-called anti-hate law, which is currently being debated by the legislative super body, known as the “constituyente”. Rodriguez didn’t provide details on how the government plans to monitor social media and on penalties for offenders. The new assembly will meet again tomorrow. The anti-hate law comes as the government of President Nicolas Maduro has intensified a clampdown on the media, blocking the transmission of Colombian networks CARACOL and RCN last week. In a bid to consolidate power amid a crippling recession, Maduro installed the “consituyente” earlier this month with the mandate to rewrite the country’s constitution. The new legislative body has since bypassed the opposition-led congress and has been targeting the last strongholds of dissent in public institutions. Rodriguez singled out a growing practice among Venezuelan expats of publicly heckling top-ranking government officials on trips outside of the country. The practice, known locally as “escrache”, is filmed on smart phones and is wildly shared on services like Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp. (Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-28/venezuela-eyes-censoring-social-media-in-wake-of-public-shaming)
Venezuela's exiled attorney general, Luisa Ortega, accused the government Monday of hiring contract killers to go after her and other justice officials denouncing alleged abuses committed under President Nicolas Maduro. "I have come specifically to lodge a complaint before the Costa Rican justice ministry and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights," she told a news conference in Costa Rica's capital of San Jose alongside that country's chief prosecutor, Jorge Chavarria. "I have information that the persecution is continuing against me and that the government has contracted hitmen to end my life." Ortega, 59, is a fugitive from Venezuela. She fled with her husband on August 18, two weeks after a new loyalist assembly established by Maduro booted her from office. (AFP: https://www.yahoo.com/news/venezuela-ex-attorney-general-says-contract-killers-set-201550045.html)
1. Sanctions for violators of human rights and looting of public resources will always have our support, in the absence of impartial justice in Venezuela. 2. We will also support and solicit all the world's diplomatic support that contributes to the constitutional and democratic restoration in Venezuela. 3. We urge the entire international community to warn all citizens and companies in their respective countries that they should refrain from carrying out financial transactions or contracts of national interest with the Venezuelan government that are in violation of the National Constitution because they have not been approved by the only Constitutional body to authorize them as the National Assembly. (Latin American Herald Tribune, http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2442371&CategoryId=10717)
On Friday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting Americans from dealing with new debt and equity issued by the Venezuelan government and by its state oil company PDVSA. Beijing says the sanctions won't work. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday at a daily news briefing that: “The experience of history shows that outside interference or unilateral sanctions will make the situation even more complicated and will not help resolve the actual problem”. China and Venezuela have extensive business links; oil being the largest, where the countries have a loan-for-oil deal. Venezuela owes China more than US$ 62 billion and is behind in the oil shipments. (RT: https://www.rt.com/business/401167-us-sanctions-against-venezuela-wont/; Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-venezuela-sanctions-china-idUSKCN1B811D)
Russia accused President Trump's team of trying to set the stage for an invasion of Venezuela, in a condemnation of the latest U.S. sanctions on the Maduro dictatorship. "We are strongly against unilateral sanctions against sovereign states," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Monday. "We will carefully analyze the implications of the sanctions imposed by the United States, and their possible effect on the interests of Russia and Russian businesses. We can already say that they will not affect our willingness to expand and strengthen cooperation with the friendly nation of Venezuela and its people." That was just one salvo in an extended rebuke of U.S. policy, after Trump issued an executive order imposing new sanctions designed to cripple dictator Nicolas Maduro's regime. The Russians suggested that Trump is trying to destabilize Venezuela to provide a pretext for a U.S. invasion of the struggling country. "In these circumstances, the announced sectoral sanctions against Venezuela's financial and oil sectors are clearly aimed at further unbalancing the situation in the country, and exacerbating its economic problems," Zakharova said. Russia has now joined Cuba in defending Maduro and arguing that international powers should allow the new assembly to rewrite the constitution. (The Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/russia-us-setting-stage-for-venezuela-invasion/article/2632759#!)
Congressman Juan Guaidó, Chairman of the National Assembly’s Comptroller Committee, reports that the Venezuelan government has expended around US$ 22 billion on unfinished ODEBRECHT projects that are 11 years overdue. He says that these contracts point to extensive corruption with officials who cannot account for the funds. Guaidó adds that the Committee, along with the exiled Attorney General, are promoting investigations and legal action in Brazil. More in Spanish: (Noticiero Venevisión, http://www.noticierovenevision.net/noticias/economia/guaido-asegura-que-el-gobierno-gasto-22-mil-millones-de-dolares-en-contratos-de-odebrecht; El Nacional, http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/politica/gobierno-malgasto-millardos-dolares-contratos-sobornos_200443)
One of the files that Venezuela’s exiled Attorney General Luisa Ortega has delivered to the CIA and INTERPOL, refers to a case of possible corruption in surcharges on a sale conducted in 2005 by Spain’s former Defense Minister José Bono to Venezuela’s Navy. The operation took place under the administration of former Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who is now leading mediation efforts between the Maduro regime and the democratic opposition. The sale involved the construction of 4 coastguard vessels and 4 ocean patrols, for a total documented cost of 1.207 billion Euros. The Chavez regime in fact paid 1.246 billion euros, a 38.6 million overprice to an intermediary named RABAZVEN HOLDING, which took 3,5% of the total money paid. The shipping company commissioned was NAVANTIA, an 100% publicly owned company and it was Bono who directly conducted the negotiations, as a result of a deal struck by Zapatero and Venezuela’s deceased President Chávez. More in Spanish: (ES Diario: http://www.esdiario.com/amp/702199265/Un-documento-airea-un-posible-caso-de-corrupcion-de-Zapatero-y-Bono-en-Venezuela.html)
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro reports that exiled Venezuelan Supreme Court justices will assist Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, in investigating corruption charges made against President Nicolas Maduro and members of his regime. In 2004, the late President Chavez established an information sharing agreement with the United States designed to share “all cases and information in either country related to drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption, organized crime, illegal immigration, and all that which is inimical to the governments of both nations”, The flow of information was active up through 2007, when Luisa Ortega became Attorney General and no one advised her of the agreement. When she learned of it last year, information was gathered on government figures and business deals starting in 2004 and this is how the Attorney General’s office acquired all the information on ODEBRECHT, through the District Attorney and Federal Court in Brooklyn, N.Y. Information provided included accounts, front men, artificial schemes and cash deliveries for campaigns in each country. She was provided additional information in Brazil, and thus has ample information on Maduro’s imprisoned nephews and hundreds of other cases, including accounts with HSBC, and PDVSA and CITGO contractors. More in Spanish: (El Universal, http://www.eluniversal.com/noticias/politica/almagro-ortega-diaz-magistrados-venezolanos-investigaran-corrupcion_667244; http://www.eluniversal.com/noticias/politica/runrunes_667772)
Let’s leave aside the near unanimous repudiation from U.S. allies in the region and the near-consensus view among analysts that Trump’s unfortunate suggestion of a military option was not only reckless but counterproductive. Instead, let’s focus on whether it makes sense for an over-extended military to use its finite resources to resolve Venezuela’s political turmoil. First, the Pentagon does not consider the Western Hemisphere a theater for planning and conducting conventional military operations. There are simply no military threats or competitors to the U.S. in a region considered to be a “zone of peace.” The 2017 Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) engagement statement highlights as part of its main efforts the need to counter threat networks, prepare for and respond to disasters and crises, build relationships to meet global challenges, and conduct detention operations—none of those involve or foresee direct military intervention in the region. Although it can certainly plan for one, SOUTHCOM is not in the business of planning military interventions or occupations in the hemisphere. There are only two goals for which the military instrument of power could be used: regime change or forcing a change in the behavior or policies of the Maduro government. If the goal is regime change, and assuming U.S. forces will not encounter much resistance, the Pentagon will have to plan for at least a force of 150,000 that can quickly overwhelm any conventional and irregular resistance during the intervention and subsequent occupation. The Maduro government is very likely to collapse almost immediately, leaving no government in place to assume the responsibilities of law and order. As a result, U.S. forces will have to remain until at least stability and a legitimate government is restored. Significant naval, air and ground forces and capabilities will have to be transferred from active theaters that are real threats to U.S. and global security, such as Syria, Iraq, North Korea and Afghanistan. If the political objective is to change the Venezuelan dictatorship’s behavior such that it will allow for elections and the restoration of the rule of law, it will at a minimum require a show of force that still requires the transfer of forces and equipment from much more vital conflict zones. Of course, when you go down this path, one must be ready to use force if the regime doesn’t change its behavior. Surgical air strikes are sure to create chaos, violence among competing political actors and a collapsed state, leaving the U.S. with no other option than to intervene. In short, from a strictly military standpoint, the last thing the U.S. armed forces want, already over-stretched and on high levels of alert in key conflict zones, is to have to plan and execute a military intervention and likely occupation of a country that does not represent a grave threat to U.S. security and that is likely to lead to strong anti-U.S. sentiment across a region where the US military has done much to build goodwill in the last decade or so. The last thing this administration needs is another empty threat. (By Frank O. Mora: The Global Americans: http://theglobalamericans.org/2017/08/military-option-venezuela-not-really-option-u-s-military/)