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, 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.