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.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

October 08, 2019

International Trade

Passport maker De La Rue flies in turnaround specialist

De La Rue has appointed turnaround specialist Clive Vacher as chief executive as the banknote and passport maker contends with a series of setbacks. Vacher takes over immediately from Martin Sutherland, whose departure was announced after a May profit warning, but faces significant challenges alongside new chairman Kevin Loosemore. De La Rue’s share price has more than halved since the profit warning, with the company also taking a one-off hit for non-payment from Venezuela and an investigation led by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office. Vacher was previously CEO at semiconductor business Dynex Power and has held senior positions with industrials Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and General Dynamics. De La Rue is emphasizing Vacher’s credentials in business transformation and operational turnarounds, which may prick up the ears of all shareholders, said Russ Mould of investment broker AJ Bell, referring to activist investor Crystal Amber Fund. (Reuters,


Oil & Energy

EXXON MOBIL bars use of oil tankers linked to Venezuela: sources

EXXON MOBIL Corp this week banned the use of vessels linked to oil flows from Venezuela in the last year, putting new pressure on the U.S. sanctioned country and on global crude freight rates. The decision by world’s largest publicly traded oil producer to ban the Venezuela-linked tankers should affect about 250 vessels. (Reuters,


PDVSA flooding Cuba with stranded oil

At least three Venezuelan fuel tankers are heading towards Cuba, part of a flotilla meant to free up domestic storage space while defying a US campaign to cut off Venezuela's oil supply to its political ally. Up to 3mn bl of refined products and heavy crude that Venezuelan state-owned PDVSA is dispatching to Cuba in the first half of October should help partially alleviate a critical storage deficit that has forced down Venezuelan production toward 500,000 b/d. The storage shortage is a domino effect of US sanctions that are scaring away most buyers, with a few exceptions such as Russia's state controlled ROSNEFT and Spain's REPSOL that takes supply in exchange for its domestic production.  Although Venezuela has long supplied Cuba with oil under preferential terms, the wave of new shipments — equivalent to 200,000 b/d in the first half October — quadruple the volume that PDVSA had been delivering in recent months. Cuba has about 160,000 b/d of oil demand, with roughly 50,000 b/d covered by domestic production. The shipments should help the Cuban government to ease oil shortages that are crippling the island's transportation and electricity generation. But some are also likely to be resold, a PDVSA official said. (Argus:


Brimming storage and no buyers: Venezuela’s oil production tanks

Venezuela’s oil production took another hit in recent days, as the country struggles with brimming storage tanks and no buyers. PDVSA slashed output in the Orinoco Belt to just 200,000 bpd, according to Bloomberg, after averaging roughly double that for much of this year. The lack of space in storage forced production cuts, including at joint venture projects, where output has been more stable. Sources told Bloomberg that the SINOVENSA blending facility would be idled for at least a week. Output had held up in recent months. While monthly totals bounce around from month to month, Venezuela’s production was stable at 750,000 bpd from April on. However, after months of relatively stable output, production began to slide again in August, falling to 712,000 bpd, according to OPEC’s secondary sources. Venezuela may now be on the verge of another decline. According to Bloomberg, the country only exported 495,000 bpd in September, and in the last week production fell to 510,000 bpd following the temporary shutdown of upstream heavy oil operations. Worse, the industry is in disrepair. Widespread pillaging, a worker exodus, lack of equipment, and a lack of capital plague oil operations. Luis Pacheco, who sits on the PDVSA board appointed by Guaidó, estimates that the industry needs US$ 120 billion in order to turn things around. There is almost no chance of even a faction of that without a change in the political context. (Oil Price:


Venezuela detains local head of oil joint venture with China: sources

Venezuelan authorities have arrested the president and two other officials in a corruption investigation at state oil company PDVSA’s SINOVENSA joint venture with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), oil sector and intelligence sources said on Saturday. The three detainees, in the latest round-up in the struggling and graft-plagued oil sector, are Venezuelan. The detention of SINOVENSA President Alberto Bockh in eastern Anzoátegui state on Thursday was confirmed to Reuters by five PDVSA sources, an intelligence source and another person in the local oil sector familiar with the case. It was unclear what the precise accusations were against him and the other two detained SINOVENSA employees. (Reuters,


Oil-rich Venezuela and Russia come to aid of ally Cuba, but its energy woes persist

A flotilla of shipments from Venezuela gave Cuba some respite this week from crippling fuel shortages in the wake of tougher U.S. sanctions, while Russia’s prime minister pledged during a visit to the island on Friday to help develop its energy sector. But support from two of its closest allies looks unlikely to resolve Cuba’s energy problems and the government has extended many of the energy-saving measures it had introduced over the past month. Havana warned on Sept. 11 it had not secured enough shipments of refined fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, for the rest of the month due to sanctions imposed by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump in retaliation for its support for Nicolas Maduro. In response to the shortages, Cuba swiftly deepened austerity measures it had introduced since an economic meltdown in Venezuela, its principal supplier, choked off its energy imports. (Reuters,


Inside Look at Venezuela’s Oil Belt

Five decades ago, Venezuela pumped 3.7 million barrels of oil a day. Now, it’s only producing a little over 700,000 barrels a day. Bloomberg’s Jessica Summers and Lucia Kassai discuss the collapse of the nation’s oil industry, the theft that goes on at Orinoco field, the lack of security and what it will take for a recovery. (Bloomberg,


Economy & Finance

ADOBE Is cutting off users in Venezuela due to US sanctions

ADOBE is shutting down service for users in Venezuela in order to comply with a US executive order issued in August that prohibits trade with the country. The company sent out an email to customers in Venezuela today to let them know their accounts would be deactivated and posted a support document further explaining the decision. In the document, Adobe explains: “The U.S. Government issued Executive Order 13884, the practical effect of which is to prohibit almost all transactions and services between U.S. companies, entities, and individuals in Venezuela. To remain compliant with this order, ADOBE is deactivating all accounts in Venezuela.” Users will have until October 28th to download any content stored in their accounts and will lose access the next day. To make matters worse, customers won’t be able to receive refunds for any purchases or outstanding subscriptions, as ADOBE says that the executive order calls for “the cessation of all activity with the entities including no sales, service, support, refunds, credits, etc.” The news is not only disastrous to designers and freelancers who rely on the company’s software like PHOTOSHOP and ILLUSTRATOR, but to NGOs and media outlets that will no longer be able to use software like INDESIGN, ACROBAT, and READER. The ban will also affect all free services like BEHANCE, ADOBE’s portfolio site, which requires a Creative Cloud account. It’s an unfortunate situation that highlights a downside of ADOBE’s subscription-based model — users lose access to the company’s products immediately as soon as the option to pay for them is removed, no matter how long they’ve been a customer. ADOBE says it’ll continue to monitor the US sanctions for more developments, but until then, accounts will remain deactivated. (Financial Times: The Verge:


Maduro’s top envoy to Japan blasts freeze of bank accounts

The Maduro regime's ambassador to Japan rebuked a Japanese bank for effectively freezing his and other diplomats' accounts out of concerns that their use ran afoul of U.S. economic sanctions recently imposed on the country. The accounts, frozen since September, concern five with SMBC Trust Bank belonging to the ambassador, his wife and other diplomats. Ishikawa said that the accounts could not be used for Internet banking as well as withdrawing and transferring money via ATMs. In response to his inquiry, a bank official told Ishikawa that the accounts were frozen as a result of economic sanctions by the Trump administration against Nicolas Maduro’s regime. A senior official with the bank's Hiroo branch later visited the embassy and explained that their dollar accounts were frozen because of concerns that certain transactions ran against President Donald Trump's executive order signed Aug. 5. Ishikawa is a second-generation Japanese Venezuelan born to Japanese parents. His wife is Japanese, and they have four children with Japanese nationality. A bank official notified Ishikawa on Oct. 3 that his yen account would be reactivated, but not his U.S. dollar account. (The Asahi Shimbum:


Politics and International Affairs

Russia boosts military ties with Maduro

Russia’s deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov met with Venezuela’s embattled incumbent Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on Saturday as the two countries boosted their military ties in Moscow’s apparent sign of continued support for the embattled dictator who is resisting an intense Western pressure to quit. The meeting between Borisov and Maduro was held in the framework of the high-level intergovernmental commission (CIAN) between Caracas and Moscow, Russia’s official news agency reported. Maduro thanked Russia for the military cooperation between the two countries, saying his nation had a solid defense grid to resist any outside aggression. He said that the two sides also renewed their agreements on the military-technical area during the meeting between the leaders. He also indicated that the two countries have made progress in advancing agreements on the exploration of oil and gas. (Latin American Herald Tribune,; Reuters,;


Venezuelans Find Medical Refuge in Colombia

The Arauca pier is already busy before sunrise. Hundreds of people arrive in boats from Venezuela to get medical attention, and to be sure they do, they must be among the earliest to stand in the long lines that quickly begin to form. One of the first buildings they come across in the city, which is the capital of Arauca province and is only separated from Venezuela by the swiftly flowing Arauca River, is that of the Colombian Red Cross. From 4:00 am, when the humidity and heat of the area are not yet so fierce, dozens of people, many with babies in their arms, line up outside the medical center waiting for the doors to open at 7:00 am with hopes of being among the 120 to be assigned their turn. Some have cardiac problems, others suffer respiratory illnesses and there are also pregnant women who, despite their pain, know that this is the only way to get good medical care. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


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, September 10, 2019

September 10, 2019

International Trade

115,811 tons of bulk cargo have been offloaded at Puerto Cabello from the BOSPHORUS PRINCE and BULKTEC, including 58,677 tons of soy paste, plus 32,000 tons from MV EUROSKY, and over 30,000 tons of White corn aboard the WESTERN LUCREZIA, according to the local port authority. The port also reports receiving 4,952 tons of goods from the AS FABIANA, CFS PALAMEDES, PERITO MORENO, MAERSK WISMAR, MV VICTORIA, CONTSHIP RAY, NIKOLAS and AS ANGELINA. More in Spanish: (Bolipuertos,


Oil & Energy

Iran, Venezuela supply cut tightens heavy oil market

India's NAYARA Energy Ltd, part-owned by a consortium led by Russian oil major ROSNEFT, is scouting for ultra-heavy oil amid tightening supply following U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, its vice-president said on Tuesday. "Iran and Venezuela have taken 3.5 million barrels per day (bpd) out of the market," said Ashutosh S Deshpande, referring to the impact of sanctions restricting supplies from those countries. (The Economic Times:


Economy & Finance

The Bank of Spain denies being used by Caracas to move money

The Bank of Spain denied being used by the Government of Venezuela as a tool to move its money, as published by the Bloomberg agency, which accused Caracas of using the Spanish central bank to avoid the sanctions that prevent it access to commercial banking services. "The account referred to in the news only allows transfers to be made with origin and destination at the Central Bank of Venezuela. It has been open for years and is one of the accounts that several central banks have opened at the Bank of Spain," Bank of Spain sources explained. According to the sources consulted, the account balance is "relatively small" and "had no significant variation in the last year" "Basically, it is being used to pay the usual operating expenses of diplomatic relations between the two countries and by supranational organizations to send funds to their offices in Venezuela, since they cannot use the commercial banking channel," they add from the Bank of Spain. On September 9, Bloomberg published that President Nicolás Maduro "had found an ally in the Bank of Spain" after "an increasing number of banks around the world refused to move their money." It added that: Venezuelan central bank officials are telling contractors that going through the Bank of Spain is an option to make and receive payments outside of the country, while warning that it may still take at least a month to clear transactions due to increased scrutiny, one of the people said.(MBS News:; Bloomberg,


Maduro regime tries to reinstate price controls

Nicolás Maduro has issued orders to his economic affairs authorities to return to price controls in “concert” with agribusiness and agriculture. Ricardo Cusanno, who heads FEDECAMARAS, the nation’s largest business organization, warned the move would only bring about increased scarcity. More in Spanish: (El Universal,


Venezuela’s Central Bank withdrew the PETRO as an accounting unit from its portal

The Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) decided to withdraw the Petro’s contribution as an accounting unit from its portal. In this regard, the economist and academic of the Metropolitan University Luis Oliveros told CRIPTONOTICIAS: “PETRO as an accounting unit does not exist. It was something that never existed. It was an attempt at something from the government and, as usual, it didn’t work.” He added that “without an attack on the fiscal disaster, there is no way out of hyperinflation.” The exclusion of the contribution of this asset issued by the government of Venezuela on the BCV portal has generated expectations regarding a possible wage increase, which currently stands at Bs. 40,000, which implies that this buys less than 0.00025 BTC. (Our Bit Coin News:; and more in Spanish: El Nacional,


Politics and International Affairs

Colombia to tell UN that Venezuela harbors terrorists

A reportedly leaked Venezuelan intelligence report indicates that Nicolás Maduro's socialist regime is harboring Colombian rebels inside Venezuela, allegations that dovetail with evidence Colombian officials say they will present this month to the United Nations. Bogota-based SEMANA magazine on Sunday published a report that it said was based on Venezuelan documents showing how a top military official under instructions from Maduro ordered generals to provide support to a so-called "Red Group" at "training zones" inside Venezuela. The allegations come against the backdrop of rising tensions between the two countries after Colombian President Ivan Duque accused Maduro of providing safe haven to the former chief negotiator of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, who announced he was rearming. One of the alleged documents, dated Aug. 9, is signed by Adm. Remigio Ceballos, the second highest-ranking Venezuelan military officer, and directed to regional military commanders. In that document, relaying what he said are direct instructions from Maduro, Ceballos orders his subordinates to avoid entering into conflict with a so-called "Red Group at training zones" inside Venezuela. He also instructs members of the national guard in four states to provide training and logistical support to the rebels. According to the report, "Red Group" is a code word used by Venezuelan security forces to describe guerrillas from the National Liberation Army and FARC, both of which are classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union. Ceballos posted a message on Twitter saying the documents presented by SEMANA were a falsification. Maduro's minister of communications, Jorge Rodriguez, appeared on Venezuelan state TV alleging the supposedly leaked documents were fakes. But Foreign Minister Carlos Trujillo said the news report coincides with information his government has collected showing that Maduro has repeatedly violated a U.N. Security Council resolution from 2001 banning support for terror groups. He said Duque will present the evidence when he addresses U.N. General Assembly this month. "The Maduro regime now favors and protects terrorist organizations from its territory so they can commit crimes against Colombia," Trujillo said in an interview Monday. The allegations triggered Maduro to deploy anti-aircraft missiles and order military exercises along Venezuela's western border with Colombia that are set to begin on Tuesday. Overall, Colombian authorities estimate as many as 1,000 ELN rebels — or around 40% of the group's fighting force — operate from Venezuela, where they plan attacks like the January car bombing at a Bogota police academy that killed more than 20 mostly young cadets. (AP:


Maduro convenes Defense Council to address Colombia’s ‘war-mongering’ behavior

Nicolas Maduro has convened a National Defense Council to discuss Colombia’s alleged attempts to send terrorists and turncoat officers to Venezuela to disrupt its military infrastructure. In a televised address on Monday, Maduro pulled no punches as he went on yet another verbal offensive against Colombia and its president, Ivan Duque, accusing his government of plotting attacks on public infrastructure, as well as on civilian and military sites. Maduro further insisted that he has evidence to support his claims about Colombia’s nefarious plans to topple his government and impose Venezuela’s interim president Juan Guaido. Maduro said that that the Colombian authorities have been responsible for a total of 42 acts of aggression against Venezuela over the past three months. Some of these were aimed at undermining Venezuela’s missile defense shield and radar systems. In order to infiltrate the country’s defense infrastructure, Colombia allegedly recruited Venezuelan army officers, who, Maduro claimed, are “selling their nation.” Last week, Maduro declared an "orange alert” over a Colombian threat and deployed missile defenses to the border. He also raised the alarm over a potential false-flag attack that could be used by Duque as a pretext to start a full-fledged armed conflict and enlist support from the international community. Earlier that week, Venezuela presented satellite images purporting to show ‘terrorist’ training camps on Colombia’s territory. The Venezuelan military will begin a two-week series of exercises today along the Colombian border. Though the rhetoric is bellicose, the exercises are not infrequent– these are the third such drills this year. The Maduro regime is likely posturing and attempting to show that it still has support from and control over the country’s military, a key source of power. (RT:; Foreign Brief:


Maduro may push anti-Trump petition at UN, US believes

Nicolas Maduro may present a petition against US President Donald Trump at the United Nations despite opposition charges that the signatures have been gathered through threats to withhold food aid, US diplomats say. Maduro, who remains in charge in Venezuela despite a half-year US-backed effort to remove him, has not yet announced if he will head to New York for the annual UN General Assembly later this month. "Our diplomats have been hearing that Maduro plans to present a petition against President Trump, signed by millions of Venezuelans, at UNGA, if he actually attends," a US official said. The Maduro government has been gathering signatures among Venezuelans as part of its "No More Trump" campaign. But the opposition says that the Maduro government has gathered the signatures through extortion over desperately needed nutritional assistance. Videos recently posted showed what appeared to be Venezuelans refusing orders to sign in exchange for receiving the aid, known locally as a CLAP box. The US State Department described Maduro's effort as a "starvation petition" and said it was evidence that he could not win a fair election. (France24:


Washington pushes EU for tougher sanctions on Venezuela

President Donald Trump’s envoy on Venezuela has attacked the EU as “unhelpful” and guilty of “miscalculation” over its failure to impose tougher sanctions on Nicolás Maduro’s regime.  Elliott Abrams urged the 28-member European bloc to crack down on figures linked to the regime in Caracas who were using the continent as a “kind of resort area” to buy property, bank money and go clubbing.  Mr. Abrams’ remarks during a visit to Brussels on Monday underscore the growing pressure Washington is exerting on the Europeans to help unseat Maduro’s regime, which it accuses of corruption and fomenting a humanitarian crisis.  “The Europeans are making a real miscalculation here,” Mr. Abrams warned at an event hosted by The German Marshall Fund of the United States, arguing that imposing additional Venezuela sanctions could “push the regime towards compromise”. “We do think the reluctance on the part of the EU has been unhelpful.” “A far greater number of people from the regime are now using Europe as a kind of resort area: they send their families here, their wives, their mistresses and their children, their bank accounts are here,” Mr. Abrams said. “We have repeated information about the mansions they buy, the nightclubbing of their teenage children. That should not be happening.” An EU spokesperson said the bloc would “continue to work with all the relevant actors in the region and the international community to support a peaceful and truly Venezuelan-owned solution to the crisis”. The spokesperson added that any additional sanctions would be against individuals only and targeted to avoid any harm to the wider population. Josep Borrell, the EUs new foreign policy chief set to take office in November, has expressed frustration to aides over failed efforts to build a consensus in the bloc over the recognition of Juan Guaidó as interim president. Instead, some states — including Spain — have offered recognition, while others have withheld it. (Financial Times:


Guaidó to ask OAS to call out Rio Treaty against the Maduro regime

An emissary of Venezuela’s interim president Juan Guaidó in Washington said Monday that he's garnered an 11-nation majority to impose measures aimed at ousting Maduro under the 19-member Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, a defense pact that could provide political cover for greater international involvement in Venezuela's crisis. Venezuela's opposition-run National Assembly led by Guaidó approved the country's return to the treaty in July, and Gustavo Tarre, Guaidó's representative to the Organization of American States, said signatory members will vote Wednesday to call for a minister-level conference so they can assess available options in the coming days. (Foreign Brief:


Rubio supports steps taken to invoke Rio Treaty in support of Venezuela

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued a statement following the announcement that the Organization of American States (OAS) has begun the process of invoking the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, also known as the Rio Treaty, in support of the restoration of democratic order and the rule of law in Venezuela. The measure comes following Interim President’s Juan Guaidó’s request that the democratically elected National Assembly approve Venezuela’s return to the Inter-American Treaty. “I welcome the OAS’s intention to invoke the Rio Treaty to counter the Maduro regime’s menace. It is time for all of the democracies in the region to stand in support of the Venezuelan people and denounce any attack by the Maduro regime as an attack against all members. I applaud the leadership of U.S. Ambassador to the OAS Carlos Trujillo and Venezuelan Ambassador to the OAS Gustavo Tarre Briceño, who have tirelessly worked in support of the cause of freedom from tyranny in Venezuela.” Rubio is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. (Rubio:


Killings, torture still going on in Venezuela: U.N. rights chief

The United Nations’ chief human rights official said Monday that millions of Venezuelans continue to suffer rights violations, including dozens of possible extrajudicial killings carried out by a special police force. Non-governmental organizations report that the Special Action police force carried out 57 suspected extrajudicial killings in July alone within Caracas, Michelle Bachelet said in an oral presentation on Venezuela to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Bachelet’s latest presentation followed a scathing written report issued in early July that drew a government backlash. It found a “pattern of torture” under the regime of Nicolás Maduro and citing violations like arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence and enforced disappearances. Bachelet’s latest presentation, which also received pushback from powerful figures in Maduro’s government, noted some areas of progress, while pointing to more cases of human rights violations and declining conditions as more than 4 million Venezuelan have fled a country beset by hyperinflation that leaves monthly minimum wages equal to US$ 2. While Bachelet said she had called for officials to dismantle the feared Special Action police force, the unit has actually received ongoing support from the highest levels of the government, she said. Bachelet raised concern that groups that collaborated with her in the earlier report have since come under criticism and threats by senior officials. “Reprisals for having cooperated with the United Nations are unacceptable,” she said. “I urge the authorities to take preventative measures.” The only way to overcome Venezuela’s human rights crisis is for Maduro’s government and the opposition led by National Assembly President Juan Guaidó to return to negotiations overseen by Norway, Bachelet said, and renewed her offer to support all such efforts. Some Latin American countries and activists are urging the Geneva forum, whose 47 members include Venezuela, to establish a U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Venezuela at the three-week session. (The Washington Post:; VOA:; Daily Mail:; Reuters:


Venezuela opposition parties back Guaido as congress chief in 2020

Venezuelan lawmakers from small opposition parties on Friday said Juan Guaido should continue as head of congress in 2020, waiving their option to lead the legislature under an informal agreement to rotate leadership between parties. The announcement ended speculation of an opposition rift over the 2020 legislative term, which under a 2016 agreement within the opposition would have fallen to a group of 17 small parties. Guaido in January declared President Nicolas Maduro a usurper and assumed a rival interim presidency that has been recognized by more than 50 countries, and the opposition is keen for him to remain in the post. (Reuters,


Maduro rejects talks with opposition over alleged envoy's remarks

President Nicolás Maduro says that he won't resume talks with the opposition until it rejects alleged calls by a top supporter in Britain to "drop the topic" of Venezuela's longstanding claims to an oil-rich part of neighboring Guyana.

Maduro's comments late Friday came after his chief prosecutor opened an investigation against Vanessa Neumann, the top envoy in London for opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is recognized as Venezuela's rightful president by the U.S., United Kingdom and four dozen other nations. But Maduro last month broke off the talks taking place on the Caribbean island of Barbados over the opposition's support for tougher U.S. sanctions to punish companies from third countries that do business in Venezuela. Both Guaidó and Neumann have dismissed the claim as false. (Bloomberg,


Russian diplomat claims US undoubtedly pulling strings to form a Guaido government

The decision by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to form his own government is another ploy to legitimize dual power in the country and create a pseudo-legal reality, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday. "We see this decision as another dangerous endeavor to legitimize dual power and create a pseudo-legal reality that leads to the further polarization of Venezuelan society, and delays the search for a compromise solution, which Venezuela needs so much in order to improve the humanitarian situation and return to the path of sustainable development. There is no doubt as to who orchestrated Guaido’s statement," she specified. According to Zakharova, that was predictable, given the fact that many of Guaido’s so-called ministers had long been on the payroll *of organizations sponsored by US NGOs. (TASS:


5.5 magnitude earthquake in Venezuela

A 5.5 magnitude earthquake occurred 18 kilometers from the town of Araya, near the coast of Venezuela. No injuries or damages were reported as a result of the quake. Shock waves were observed at a depth of just 5.9 kilometers in the sea, more than 200 kilometers from Caracas. (Novinite:


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.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

September 05, 2019

International Trade

Venezuela bans agricultural imports from Colombia for fear of Fusarium

Venezuela's Institute of Environmental Health (INSAI) published a statement of transboundary phytosanitary risks in which they propose preventive measures to prevent the spread of the Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cuban tropical 4 race fungus or Foc R4T in the plantations of musaceae. The measures include the temporary prohibition of the entry of propagation material of any plant species, or any means that transports soil or traces, as well as banning imports and import procedures for any agricultural product from Colombia. They also suggested that the officials of INSAI and the Territorial Agricultural Committees intensify phytosanitary surveillance in the border states, Barinas, Trujillo, Falcon, Lara and Merida; deploying at least 40 agronomists and military personnel in border areas of Zulia, and increasing the number of technical personnel in ports and airports to inspect ships, aircraft, and luggage from Colombia. Finally, they recommend fumigating the vehicles entering Venezuela with 20% quaternary ammonium or a similar disinfectant, and reinforcing the National Program for Prevention, Detection, Management, and Control. (Fresh Plaza:


Oil & Energy

SINOVENSA works halted on PDVSA arrears

Chinese contractor HUANQIU Contracting and Engineering has suspended a project to expand Venezuela's SINOVENSA crude blending plant because of overdue payment. SINOVENSA is a joint venture led by Venezuelan state-owned PDVSA with a 51% stake, and China's state-owned CNPC with 49%. The plant is one of the few oil-processing facilities in Venezuela that has sustained operations despite a host of problems, including US sanctions that impede the supply of spare parts, power outages and equipment breakdowns and theft. SINOVENSA produces 16ºAPI Merey crude by blending extra-heavy crude from the Orinoco heavy oil belt's Morichal district with domestic light grades. The production is exported, mainly to China. In a 3 September letter seen by Argus, HUANQUI's senior executive in Venezuela Liang Qiang notified SINOVENSA project manager and CNPC official Zhao Xiongfei that construction of "complementary works" associated with SINOVENSA's capacity expansion from 105,000 b/d to 165,000 b/d would be suspended immediately pending full payment of two invoices totaling US$ 52 million issued in November 2018 and February 2019 . (Argus Media:


CITGO Petroleum cash builds, with dividends to parent frozen

CITGO Petroleum Corp, the U.S. refining arm of Venezuela’s state oil company, is accumulating hundreds of millions of dollars in cash it may not be able to pay out as dividends for at least a year, according to a new report by ratings firm S&P Global. The refiner had US$ 1.36 billion in cash at June 30 and should generate another US$ 1.4 billion in funds from operations over the next 12 months, the report said. S&P last week raised CITGO’s stand-alone credit profile to BB from BB-minus, reflecting its stronger liquidity. Some Venezuelan politicians were expecting Citgo, as the county’s largest foreign asset, to help finance Congress chief Juan Guaido’s interim government. The United States and most Western countries have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, although President Nicolas Maduro retains control of state-run Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., known as PDVSA, and the nation’s military. (Reuters,


Economy & Finance

Gold reserves fall to 75-year low as Guaido seeks to restructure debt

Venezuelan gold reserves have fallen to a historic low, Venezuela’s Central Bank revealed last week. According to official data, the value of gold bars held in the Central Bank vaults have declined to US $4.62 billion, down 18.5% from US$ 5.67 billion at the end of 2018. Venezuela currently has 102 tons of gold reserves, but a third of the total is being held by the Bank of England, which has refused to repatriate it back to Venezuela. In January, opposition leader Juan Guaido wrote a letter to the Bank of England asking it not to return the gold to Venezuelan coffers. In the subsequent seven months, the National Assembly president has repeatedly tried to seize power and form a transition government. Most recently, Guaido announced Tuesday that his office will contract US law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP as lead counsel for negotiations to restructure Venezuela’s foreign debt. (Venezuela Analysis:


Venezuela's Armed Forces Bank slams MASTERCARD for halting card service

A Venezuelan bank run by the troubled country’s military on Wednesday slammed MASTERCARD for cutting off service to the bank’s credit cards following U.S. sanctions against the government of President Nicolas Maduro. The measure is another sign of how U.S. sanctions are affecting the functioning of Venezuelan state institutions. But the practical impact is limited because the bank is small and hyperinflation has reduced use of credit cards, whose credit limits rarely keep up with price increases. MASTERCARD also halted services to state-run Agricultural Bank. Phone numbers published on that bank’s website were disconnected. (Reuters:


Politics and International Affairs

Maduro deploys air defenses to Colombian border amid attack fears, orders military exercises

Nicolas Maduro is deploying missile defenses along Venezuela’s border to ward off a potential attack launched under false pretenses, he announced after declaring an “orange alert” over the Colombian threat. Maduro ordered the deployment of Venezuela’s missile defense system and commanded the military to patrol the Colombian border for two weeks starting on September 10, without specifying any details. Earlier he declared an “orange alert against the threat of aggression of Colombia against Venezuela” on Tuesday, two days after Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez presented satellite photos charging Colombia with harboring terrorist training camps. The maneuvers are set to take place in the states of Zulia, Tachira Apure and Amazonas, which make up the 2,219 kilometers (1,379 miles) of Venezuela’s shared border with Colombia. In addition, Maduro said he lamented the rearmament of a dissident group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla, adding that Venezuela has always wanted peace to be achieved in the civil conflict that has been raging on in the neighboring country for more than half a century. Meanwhile, the US Air Force has completed its first deployment to Guyana in over a decade, having sent 600 service members on a four-month humanitarian outreach mission with an eye toward forging a lasting alliance with the country’s military. (RT:; Latin American Herald Tribune,; Reuters,


Maduro’s military exercises on border a 'threat': Colombia Minister

The Maduro regime's planned border military exercises are a direct threat to regional stability, Colombia's foreign minister said on Wednesday, as the neighboring countries renewed their frequent verbal sparring over security. Nicolas Maduro late on Tuesday ordered the armed forces to be on alert for a potential attack by Colombia and announced military exercises on the border, after a group of former guerrilla commanders said they would rearm. Former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas last week announced a rearmament in a video that Colombian authorities believe was filmed in Venezuela, spurring concern of a worsening of the Colombian armed conflict and expansion of armed groups in Venezuela. "It is a threat that reflects the consistent bad actions of a (Maduro) government which creates crisis situations," Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo told journalists. "It's a threat that doesn't just have to do with Colombia, but with the stability and the tranquility of the region." "The dictatorial regime (of Maduro) favors the presence in its territory of terrorist organizations, not just Colombian ones, but from other parts of the world," Holmes added. (The New York Times:; Reuters,


Ivanka Trump visits Venezuelan migrant camp in Colombia as US increases aid

Ivanka Trump visited a migrant camp in Colombia on Wednesday as part of an official U.S. delegation, as Washington boosts humanitarian assistance for the millions of people who have fled Venezuela’s collapsing economy. The Trump administration will increase assistance by US$ 120 million to provide emergency food and health care to Venezuelans throughout the region, according to State Department officials. That brings the total donated by the U.S. to address the crisis since 2017 to US$ 376 million, they said. Ivanka Trump, who is an adviser to her father, President Donald Trump, visited Cucuta on Wednesday -- a Colombian border city that is the first destination for many migrants leaving Venezuela by land. She was joined by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. Sullivan and Ivanka Trump are making diplomatic visits to Colombia, Paraguay and Argentina this week. In Cucuta, they met with Julio Borges, who is International Affairs Commissioner for interim president Juan Guaido, who has been recognized by the U.S. and more than 50 other countries as Venezuela’s rightful head of state. Sullivan reiterated the U.S.’s support of Guaido, saying “we are determined to not yield in our commitment.” Ivanka Trump paid tribute to the female Venezuelan leaders, calling them “warriors.” She also met with Venezuelan women who had crossed into Colombia, some seeking health care they couldn’t access in their home country. Colombian Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez visited the migrant center with the American delegation. When asked whether the U.S. is doing enough, Ramirez said: “I have to say sincerely the U.S. government is the one doing the best, but it never is enough.” Ramirez urged European nations to match U.S. sanctions on the Maduro regime. (Bloomberg:; Reuters,

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.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

August 29, 2019

International Trade

Over 4000 tons of food and general cargo have arrived at Guanta port

The local port authority reports that 4303 tons of food and general cargo have arrived at Guanta in 249 containers aboard the CFS PALAMEDES. Cargo includes wheat flour, spaghetti, packaged beans, tuna, along with oil industry equipment and tires. More in Spanish; (Bolipuertos,


Oil & Energy

China helps Venezuela boost oil production

China has financed the construction of a new oil blending plant in Venezuela that will boost the country’s flagging oil production by 120,000 bpd, IHS Markit reports, citing an investment of US$ 3 billion, provided by China’s CNPC, PDVSA’s partner in the SINOVENSA venture that will operate the new plant.  SINOVENSA is 49% owned by the Chinese state giant and 51% owned by PDVSA. It currently produces 100,000 bpd in the Orinoco belt. The crude is a medium grade of the Orinoco super heavy that’s then mixed with light crude to make the Merey blend, which, along with other medium grades, are in high demand among Asian refiners. The latest news suggests that China has no intention of changing course about Venezuela no matter what the U.S. decides to do in response. And it seems it is not the only one: India, according to IHS Markit shipping data, still buys Venezuelan oil in defiance of U.S. warnings. The average import rate since June has been about 450,000 bpd. That’s a solid part of Venezuela’s total production, as calculated by OPEC secondary sources. For July, the figure stood at 742,000 bpd. (Oil Price:



Venezuela's trees suffer as firewood replaces scarce cooking gas

Chronic shortages of natural gas in the country with the world’s largest oil reserves now mean that cooking fuel is increasingly coming from trees. The growing use of firewood has triggered alarm among activists who say discussions of environmental problems are often eclipsed by diatribes about runaway inflation, economic collapse and a protracted political stalemate. Fires and home construction in the last 40 years have deforested about 10% of Henri Pittier Park, said Enrique Garcia, director of the ecological group Let’s Plant. In addition, he said, the collection of firewood in urban areas can cause respiratory problems from smoke, rising temperatures in cities and increased risk of landslides in poor communities where houses are often built on unsteady terrain. Wood stoves are now a common sight across Venezuela because of the shortage of gas. Tanks used to store, and transport propane are in disrepair for lack of maintenance. In some cases, people burn trash next to a tree to dry it out so the tree can be cut down and used for cooking fuel. Authorities are broadly ignoring legislation that prohibits cutting down trees without permits. Some cities have so little tree cover that those in search of firewood must walk for miles. (


Economy & Finance

Venezuela’s cash reserves shoot up from PDVSA despite sanctions

PDVSA’s sales to China just netted Venezuela a cool US$ 700 million, increasing its reserves to US$ 8.8 billion. Most of the US$ 700 million was in the form of the Chinese yuan and comes from back payments made to PDVSA for its crude oil deliveries to China. The payments had been delayed due to the US sanctions on Venezuela and PDVSA, as both parties struggled to come up with a way to send and receive payments in the face of those sanctions. Venezuela has also sold some crude oil for euros cash via intermediaries. It has also sold gold for euros as well as it tries to make up for lost oil revenue. It took out eight tons of gold in April for sale abroad. Venezuela has seemingly abandoned the dollar trade for its crude oil for fear of running afoul of the US sanctions on the Latin American country. This push away from digital transactions will make it more difficult to track where money is coming from and where it’s going to. (Oil Price:


GAZPROMBANK completes transfer of stake in sanctions-hit lender

GAZPROMBANK said on Wednesday it had completed its handover of a stake in Russian-Venezuelan lender EVROFINANCE MOSNARBANK, which was placed under U.S. sanctions, to Russia’s state property management agency. The United States announced sanctions on EVROFINANCE MOSNARBANK in March for its dealings with Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA). (Reuters,


Maduro official says remittance platform for Petro is ready to use

National Superintendent of Cryptoactives Joselit Ramírez has announced that crypto remittance platform Patria Remesa is live and functioning. Additionally, Ramírez highlighted his confidence in the platform’s safety, as well as how the Venezuelan cryptocurrency El Petro (PTR) allegedly hedges against economic depreciation. Given the Venezuelan government’s history of not delivering on promises related to the PETRO, COINTELEGRAPH advises readers to approach Ramírez’s announcement with skepticism. (Cointelegraph,


Politics and International Affairs

U.S. offers amnesty to Maduro, if he leaves power

A top American diplomat said the United States would not prosecute or otherwise seek to punish Nicolás Maduro if he voluntarily left power, despite bringing his country to the verge of economic collapse and humanitarian disaster. Elliott Abrams, the State Department’s special envoy for Venezuela, said he had seen no indication that Maduro was willing to step down. But his offer of amnesty was a message to Maduro after both countries’ leaders described high-level talks that Abrams unequivocally said did not happen. “This is not a persecution,” Abrams said of Mr. Maduro on Tuesday evening in an interview. “We’re not after him. We want him to have a dignified exit and go.” He added: “We don’t want to prosecute you; we don’t want to persecute you. We want you to leave power.” The Treasury Department last year accused Maduro of profiting from illegal drug trafficking in Venezuela but did not recommend charges. The softer, if pragmatic, appeal sharply contrasted with the eight months of sanctions, international isolation and threats by the Trump administration of military intervention against Maduro and his loyalists, who are accused of hoarding power and manipulating elections last year. Opposition leaders in Venezuela have not offered immunity to Maduro, whom they accuse of prospering in a corrupt government that has left many Venezuelans without food, electricity or medical supplies.  The notion that we are negotiating is just flat-out wrong,” Abrams said. “And the notion that there is a pattern of communication is wrong. There are intermittent messages and I think people would find the very occasional message sent from Washington to be completely predictable: ‘You need to return to democracy. Maduro needs to leave power.’” The comments are likely to soothe Venezuela’s opposition leaders, who have privately said Trump’s statement risked sidelining their own negotiations. A delegation headed by the opposition’s chief political negotiator, Stalin González, traveled to Washington last week to press American officials on the Trump administration’s policy in Venezuela. Abrams said he did not currently see any value in talking directly to the Maduro regime. Abrams maintained on Tuesday that the United States would not lift sanctions against Venezuela unless Maduro steps down. Abrams said the Trump administration would not support new national elections with an incumbent — either Maduro or Mr. Guaidó — on the ballot. If either man wanted to run for the presidency, Abrams said, he should first leave office to prevent concerns about election tampering by the government. And he predicted that Guaidó would formally close the negotiations by Oct. 1 to prevent them from dragging on without resolution. “It’s pretty clear that he has not yet reached the conclusion that it is hopeless,” Abrams said, adding: “He may reach that conclusion tomorrow.” Any offer of amnesty by the United States would have limits. A White House official has previously told The New York Times that the Trump administration would be unable to remove any federal drugs charges that several of Maduro’s top confidants and relatives face. (The New York Times:


US Department of State announces the opening of the Venezuela Affairs Unit (VAU), under the leadership of Charge d’Affaires James Story. The VAU is the interim diplomatic office of the U.S. Government to Venezuela, located at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota‎, Colombia, and has been established with bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress.  The VAU is continuing the U.S. mission to the legitimate Government of Venezuela and to the Venezuelan people.  The VAU will continue to work for the restoration of democracy and the constitutional order in that country, and the security and well-being of the Venezuelan people. The VAU interacts with the government of interim president Juan Guaidó, the democratically elected National Assembly, Venezuelan civil society, and the people of Venezuela.  The United States welcomes the support of the Government of Colombia, which is a further demonstration of its steadfast commitment to democracy and peace in the region. The United States stands with interim President Juan Guaidó, the National Assembly, and the people of Venezuela as they seek to regain their democracy. (State Department:; VOA:; Reuters,


Venezuela's Guaidó names shadow cabinet to help oust Maduro

Venezuela’s interim president Guaidó named a new shadow cabinet on Wednesday, launching the latest phase of his campaign aimed at forcing Nicolas Maduro from power.  The new team — including heavyweight opposition figures Leopoldo Lopez and Julio Borges — will be dedicated to preparing for a transitional government and new elections, said Guaidó, who claimed presidential powers in late January as head of the National Assembly, saying Maduro's election last year was a fraud. Guaidó's so-called interim government functions more tangibly outside of Venezuela than at home.  Guaidó said he's calling on his political mentor Lopez to serve as general coordinator, though Lopez has lived in the Spanish ambassador's home in Caracas for protection since launching a failed military uprising with Guaidó on April 30.  Opposition lawmaker Borges, who lives in exile in Colombia, will oversee Guaidó's foreign relations, and other members of his team will deal with economic development, asset recovery and human rights. (VOA:ó-names-shadow-cabinet-help-oust-maduro)


Venezuela condemned by OAS for 'systematic' rights abuses

The Organization of American States passed a resolution Wednesday condemning "grave and systematic" human rights abuses in Venezuela and demanded an independent investigation. The regional security body, which comprises every country in the western hemisphere but Cuba, passed the resolution by a 21 to 3 vote. Seven members abstained and three were absent for the vote. The resolution echoed charges of torture, extrajudicial killings and force disappearances made last month against Venezuela's leftist regime by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet. It condemned "the grave and systematic violations of human rights in Venezuela, including the use of torture, illegal and arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances and the denial of the most basic rights and necessities, especially those related to health, food and education." It also called for "an independent, exhaustive and credible investigation" to bring the perpetrators to justice and demanded that Venezuela grant "immediate and unhindered" access to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The resolution was presented by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United States, Guatemala, Paraguay and Peru. (France24:


Maduro says dialogue only way to overcome political deadlock

Dialogue is the only means to overcome political deadlock in Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro told Xinhua in an exclusive interview. He said he has proposed the idea of a "permanent negotiating table" between the ruling socialist party and the opposition, as dialogue has resumed after the government side briefly walked away from the talks to protest stepped-up U.S. sanctions. "I have proposed creating a permanent mechanism for dialogue, a permanent negotiation table, which is capable of withstanding any storm, any difficulty, any situation -- dialogue, dialogue for peace," he stressed. Maduro said he has also proposed that the two sides discuss the main problems facing Venezuela and "seek agreed-on, shared solutions." "I can report that we have resumed contact with the government of Norway, there have been several meetings, we have resumed contact with the representatives of the Venezuelan opposition," Maduro said. He expressed optimism that "in the next few days, we will announce good news about the dialogue process." "They have done us harm -- and that's how I am denouncing it to the world -- they have done great harm to the quality of life, to the living standards of the Venezuelan people, but we are in a condition to continue moving forward despite these attacks," said Maduro. (XINHUANET:


Venezuela's political crisis talks 'not working,' says Guaidó

Venezuela's interim president Juan Guaidó admitted on Wednesday (Aug 28) that talks with the Maduro regime aimed at resolving the country's political crisis "aren't working." The two sides are deadlocked with Guaidó demanding Maduro's resignation and the government insisting the United States lift sanctions that it blames for the country's crippled economy. "At the moment there's no date to restart the mechanism mediated by the kingdom of Norway until we achieve something concrete to approach a solution," said Guaidó. He said that if the government is using the talks simply to boost its image "that serves no purpose for the Venezuelan people." (Channel News Asia:ó-11850808)


Cuba asks Canada to help end U.S. sanctions on Venezuela

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez urged Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday to help end U.S. sanctions on Venezuela in their third meeting since May on this country’s political and humanitarian crisis. Canada, a neighbor and NATO ally of the United States, also has long-standing good relations with Cuba, raising hopes it could serve as a mediator in the Venezuelan crisis. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called on Canada in June to do more to engage directly with Cuba over what he called its “malign influence” on Venezuela. The Canadian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Rodriguez and Freeland agreed that senior officials would stay in contact and continue to exchange views over Venezuela. (Reuters:; Bloomberg,


Venezuelans Enter Ecuador from Colombia via Secondary Route

About 1,400 Venezuelans crossed over the weekend from Colombia into Ecuador via the San Miguel Bridge, a secondary route linking the two countries, before new visa rules took effect, officials said Monday. The Venezuelans waited under the hot sun to enter Ecuador before the new visa requirements took effect on Monday.
EFE reporters confirmed that hundreds of Venezuelans waited at a CEBAF binational border service processing center in San Miguel, a city in Putumayo province. The Colombian immigration service said more than 11,000 Venezuelans left the country over the weekend, heading into Ecuador via the Rumichaca International Bridge, the main binational border crossing. Colombian immigration service officials told EFE that 103 people arrived after midnight in San Miguel with plans to enter Ecuador, which started accepting applications for humanitarian visas on Monday. Officials from the two countries started talking about allowing the Venezuelans to enter Ecuador and 83 have been admitted so far. (Latin American Herald Tribune,


U.S. to pay for thousands of doses of HIV drugs for Venezuelan migrants

The United States said on Wednesday it will provide thousands of doses of HIV medication to treat Venezuelans in Colombia as part of regional efforts to manage care for millions of migrants fleeing the crisis-hit nation. U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar told Reuters about the decision in a phone interview following a meeting this week of health officials from 10 countries in the Colombian border city of Cucuta. The officials agreed to various measures meant to help the more than 4 million Venezuelans who have left home amid widespread shortages of food and medicine. (Reuters,


Venezuelan migrant who sings for tips gets shot at stardom after chance meeting

When Mexican singer Mario Domm overheard a Venezuelan migrant crooning Domm’s own song in exchange for coins outside a restaurant in Bogota, Colombia, he was moved to tears by the young man’s powerful voice. Now Domm is helping the singer, 22-year-old Alexander Beja, pursue his dream of musical stardom. Beja is one of 1.4 million Venezuelans now living in Colombia, after fleeing a deep political and economic crisis in their home country that has caused long-running shortages of food and medicine. The young singer arrived in Colombia last year and began to sing regularly on the streets of northern Bogota, in hopes of earning what money he could. On the day last month when he was overheard by Domm, Beja was singing a tune called “Venezuela.” “He had a voice like a bazooka,” said Domm, who founded the pop group Camila in 2005. “He has to use it.” (Reuters,


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.