Not only for Venezuela, but also for Argentina (emphasis added),
Last week the president [Maduro] used a $4 billion Chinese credit, traditionally earmarked by the Chinese government for infrastructure projects and held in off-budget funds, to increase reserves to $23.2 billion. China also recently lent $1.3 billion to help Argentina buoy falling reserves, giving President Cristina Kirchner , a close ally of Mr. Maduro, a cushion to help alleviate that country’s cash crunch.
Beijing’s largess may appear irrational given economic policies in Venezuela and Argentina that do not appear sustainable, said Barbara Kotschwar, a scholar who tracks Chinese investment in Latin America at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
“On the other hand,” Ms. Kotschwar said, “they are so invested in Venezuela’s oil industry that they may have calculated that a political crisis would have a negative impact on their return on investment or on Venezuela’s repayment of loans.”
That’s putting it mildly; according to Maduro himself,
Venezuela’s oil revenues, which account for 96% of the country’s dollar income, are down by 35% in the past month
China has risked millions of dollars in Latin America to secure their supply lines, and as analyst Russ Dallen, managing partner at brokerage Caracas Capital Markets, put it, “for the short term, they’re secure.” However, considering that
China last month scrapped the requirement that Venezuela ship at least 330,000 barrels of oil a day as payment for its existing loans
the meaning of “secure” may be more fluid than we believe – and not only for the short term.
In many ways Latinos face less prejudice than Jews or Italians did in the 1880s, and have more opportunities to integrate into American society at large than those earlier generations of immigrants did. The evidence if anything suggests that Hispanic immigrants are more open to the cultural influences of American political and social ideas than were earlier waves. While very few Italian, Jewish or Greek immigrants, for example, converted to evangelical Protestantism, 24% of hispanic adults in America are now former Catholics. Hispanics are a large and varied group, but by and large they are learning English, starting businesses, joining Protestant churches and voting Republican at levels that suggest that they are anything but a permanently alienated racial underclass in formation.
And then there’s the Democrats’ assumption that “Hispanics” are a homogeneous group.
Authorities are investigating allegations that the companies formed a cartel to drive up the value of contracts with state-controlled energy giant Petróleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.BR +11.89% and paid bribes to the Petrobras executives and Brazilian politicians.
The prosecutors’ targets include Brazilian-based multinational construction companies Odebrecht, Queiroz Galvão and OAS, who together are partners in billions of dollars of contracts for the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The West is well aware of the growing presence of Islamic fundamentalism in the Americas, but policy makers may be underestimating the threat. Joseph Humire is a security analyst and co-editor of “Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America,” a book published earlier this year. In an interview in New York last week, Mr. Humire described Iran’s significant progress, over three decades, in setting up operations in the region.
The earliest stages of the process have featured clandestine operatives using mosques to make connections inside Muslim communities and then using those connections to access wealth and gain political prominence. Where these initial forays have been successful, says Mr. Humire, Iran has opened embassies and established commercial agreements that allow operatives to create businesses, which can be used as fronts for covert operations.
In Venezuela and Bolivia, Iran has moved to the next level, developing a military presence through joint ventures in defense industries. In Venezuela, the state of Aragua, where Mr. El Aissami is now governor, is ground zero for this activity.
Havana applauds this Islamic intervention. Since the rise of chavismo, Cuba has supplied intelligence services to Venezuela and its regional allies, notably Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador. Mr. Humire says it has also supplied passport-information technology to allow these countries to process individuals from the Middle East, hand out new documents and maintain the secrecy of true identities. Cuba has used this capacity to exchange information with like-minded nations, including Russia and Iran.
O’Grady’s article goes on to describe the important role the governor of the state of Aragua and former Venezuela interior minister, Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah, plays in building
“a criminal-terrorist pipeline bringing militant Islamists into Venezuela and surrounding countries, and sending illicit funds from Latin America to the Middle East.”
Cuba wants to get aid from Iran. Keep that in mind when Obama ends the embargo with Cuba.
They didn’t take my wallet, money, valuables… mind you they even left behind one of their own rain jackets and a mobile phone. Frankly I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about it. On the one hand, I have to respect the boldness of the men who carried out this action. I have used plural all along on purpose, for there is CCTV evidence of at least three men, totally unrelated to the residents of the building where I live, trying to gain access to it. Neither of them bothered to cover their faces. In fact, one of them spoke to the porter and tried to force his way in, in three separate instances, through the front door of the building, while another stood at a very close distance and laughed at the porter. I have got to interpret their boldness as if they purposefully wanted to send a strong message: “we came to your flat, we broke into it in broad daylight, and we can’t care less about being caught by video cameras or be seen.”
Another part of me is convinced that this is most definitely the work of chavistas. For only chavistas can break into a flat to steal laptops containing sensible information and leave behind so much evidence, such as their own phone. This reminds me of the typical Venezuelan “rambos” that make up the “intelligence” forces in that country: smash first and never bother with details. Guapos y apoyaos sort of attitude. But then, if they could do that, it is evident they are prepared to do anything.
Here are CCTV photos of the suspected perpetrators,
If the Venezuelan government had the bandwidth to think longer term – which it manifestly doesn’t – it would grasp Keystone XL as a key strategic threat. The main reason anyone would want to take Canadian oil to the Gulf Coast is because that’s where the refineries that can handle crappy, high-sulphur, high-tar content crude are. And the whole reason they’re got built there in the first place is to handle Venezuelan crude. This is why KeystoneXL is such an important piece of the North American Energy Independence puzzle: it’s what it takes to shut Venezuela out of the North American market.
Of course, a government that’s long made it positively a policy goal to shift Venezuelan production away from the U.S. may not be able to register that as a threat. Ideology is always going to prevail with them. But that’s only the umpteenth policy mistake the Venezuelan government made today before breakfast.
Even in a post-Keystone XL future where Venezuela doesn’t have access to North American energy buyers, Venezuela will find buyers for its oil, of course. It’s just that it will have to ship that oil further to get it to refineries that will need to be reconfigured (or built from scratch) to handle it, and each part of that costs money: money Venezuela could use for any of the thousand pressing and growing policy problems going unaddressed right now.
The Communist regime in Venezuela finances itself and its parasites, including Cuba, through oil proceeds, all the more reason to approve KXL.
But a Justice-OLC opinion is all the more necessary on domestic issues because the President’s authority is far more limited. He is obliged to execute the laws that Congress writes. A President should always seek legal justification for controversial actions to ensure that he is on solid constitutional ground as well as to inspire public confidence in government.
Venezuela is importing oil as a direct result of its disastrous refinery fires a year ago. What is being imported is light sweet crude to act as diluent when blended with the very heavy crude oil so that it can be pumped from the fields to the terminals/refineries.
Without fully functioning refineries/upgraders, no diluent is being made (kind of like diesel)
Also being imported is diesel and gasoline.
There is severe ship congestion since terminals are not set up to receive the crude oil and refined products. Long waiting times (meaning a lot of extra cost in demmurage to shipowners)
Venezuela’s average oil-export price last week fell to $72.80 a barrel, the lowest in four years, pushing the yield on the country’s benchmark bonds to almost 19 percent for the first time since the global financial crisis. Oil accounts for 97 percent of foreign exchange income, which the country needs to pay about $28.5 billion of bond principal due in 2016.
To defend oil prices, Maduro said he sent the country’s foreign minister to five oil producers, including Mexico and Russia, to drum up support ahead of the Nov. 27 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which Venezuela co-founded. Back in the late 1990s, Venezuela ended a slump in oil prices by cutting production along with other OPEC and non-OPEC producers.
Russia’s long-range bombers will conduct regular patrol missions from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, the military said Wednesday, a show of muscle reflecting tensions with the West over Ukraine.
To remind you,
Earlier this year, [Russian Defence Minister Sergei] Shoigu said that Russia plans to expand its worldwide military presence by seeking permission for navy ships to use ports in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere for replenishing supplies and doing maintenance. He said the military was conducting talks with Algeria, Cyprus, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore.
Shoigu said Russia was also talking to some of those countries about allowing long-range bombers to use their air bases for refuelling [sic].
The week’s top headline is that authorities may have found the remains of the 43 student teachers missing since September. The state of decay of the remains makes it necessary that they will be sent to the University of Innsbruck in Austria, which officials said had the most advanced forensics laboratory, for further attempts at identification.