Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

Venezuela: last on property rights

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Hugo Chavez, who expropriated millions of acres of farmland (along with private properties and businesses) left an enduring legacy:
Venezuela ranks last in Property Rights Index
Lorenzo Montanari, the executive director of the Property Rights Alliance (PRA), said the survey measured the “consistency of property rights in 97 countries” and assessed three aspects: political legal environment, physical property rights and intellectual property rights

The IPRI study, which you can read here, corroborates the fact that

there is a positive, strong, and significant relationship between the strength of property rights protections and a country’s economic performance as measured by GDP per capita.

Mike Birds writes that Venezuela’s Decision To Import Oil Is The Perfect Example Of Just How Screwed The Country Is

In other Venezuelan news, Leopoldo López refused to appear before a court hearing on Tuesday, demanding the government respond to a UN resolution calling for his release.

Judge Susana Barreiros scheduled the hearing while the court was not in session, having suspended proceedings indefinitely on October 14. López’s lawyers regarded the suspension as an attempt to delay the court’s response to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, which requested López’s immediate release on October 8.

After Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called on the Venezuelan government to free Lopez, Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Spain.

Lilian Tintori, the wife of opposition leader Leopoldo López, learned that he could be transferred from Ramo Verde military prison to another jail.



Venezuela to appeal ICSID Exxon decision

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Living up to its reputation as possibly the world’s worst-managed economy, the Venezuela government is appealing the US$1.6billion settlement against Exxon by the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID.

Just to put things in perspective,

Exxon had originally wanted $20 billion out of the deal; arbitrators awarded it just $1.6 billion, $600 million of which had already been paid.

The country must honor ICSID rulings to avoid default of sovereign bonds; by having the ICSID provisionally stay the enforcement of the award, Venezuela buys time.

Francisco Toro speculates,

One of two things is going on here. Either the super-fancy and well-worth-top-dollar New York Law Firm representing Venezuela at ICSID, Curtis Mallet-Prevost, has persuaded Ramírez they can get an even better settlement on appeal or the government is now so strapped for cash they’re willing to try any delaying tactic to avoid having to pay up right away.

I don’t know which one it is.

I don’t either, and considering how Nicolas Maduro opened his campaign by saying he talked to Chavez, who is now a bird , maybe he (and his cohorts) went by Chavez’s 2012 promise that Venezuela will not recognize World Bank ruling in the Exxon case.

All you can be sure of is that law firm Curtis Mallet-Prevost will make money out of this, and, as I said last month, that Venezuela has no intention to pay Exxon.



The return of the Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, October 27th, 2014

LatinAmerAfter skipping a week because of unpacking, the Carnival’s back, while the unpacking’s not finished.

Brazil and Uruguay held presidential elections yesterday. Voters went for the same old, same old.

ARGENTINA
Life terms for Argentina jail crimes
An Argentine ex-police chief and ex-interior minister are among 15 people given life sentences for involvement in a torture centre in the 1970s.

BRAZIL
Why is Dilma Hiding Business Deals With Cuba?

Boa sorte, Brasil

Brazil poll shows Neves leading election, at odds with major surveys

Dilma Rousseff’s dizzy spell live on TV after presidential debate
Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, was briefly taken ill on Thursday at the end of a bruising political debate with presidential rival Aecio Neves

In Brazil’s Election, a Stark Vote on the Nation’s Economy

CHILE
Bomb That Killed Man in Chile Meant to Blow Up Prison Guard Building

COLOMBIA
Alexander Beltran Herrera, US judge sentences Farc commander
A US judge has sentenced an ex-Colombian rebel to 27 years in prison for his role in the kidnapping of three American citizens in 2003.

Marcos de Jesus Figueroa, alias “Maquitos Figueroa,” Colombian Drug Lord Captured in Brazil Wanted for 100 Murders

COSTA RICA
Solís a Trojan Horse for Socialism in Costa Rica
Relationships Bloom with Trade Unions, University Students, Chavistas

CUBA
Religious persecution disguised by Castro regime as a crackdown on “criminal” activities

Cuban Ladies In White, other activists arrested as they support political prisoner Sonia Garro

Must-Read: Are Cuba and Brazil Partners in Human Trafficking?

Cuban Docs Should be Banned from Ebola Fight, Restrict US-Cuba Flights

Quote of the day: “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.”

ECUADOR
HRW Criticizes Correa for Applauding Police Abuse During Protests

HONDURAS
Just Say No to Presidential Reelection in Honduras
Too Many “Necessary” Men in Latin America

MEXICO

Mexico’s Burgeoning Wine Scene
Mexico may be best known for its beer and tequila, but that’s slowly changing as its wines are finding their way onto restaurant wine lists and specialist shops.

Amado Yáñez shows up at the burn-out unit (in Spanish):

PANAMA
If Panama’s Anti-Corruption Hunt Continues, Miami Should Watch Out

PARAGUAY
Report Oil Found in Paraguay; Gov’t Cautious

PERU
Health Care Workers in Peru Go on Strike

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico needs a financial control board

URUGUAY
POLL NUMBERS!!! Uruguay election this weekend

Uruguay Leader’s Party Fights to Retain Rule After Vote
President José ‘Pepe’ Mujica popularity isn’t enough to guarantee victory for the center-left Broad Front coalition that has ruled for a decade, according to polls and political analysts.

VENEZUELA
Dakazo 2 and Technocrats

How Bad Are Things In Venezuela? It’s Rationing Food – And Importing Oil

Venezuela seizes warehouses packed with medical goods, food

The 61% Devaluation That Venezuela Told No One About

The week’s posts and podcast:
Elections: No change in Brazil, Uruguay

Friday afternoon tap dancing priests

Argentina: Creeping to the edge

Venezuela: Mileposts on the highway to hell

Cuba: NYT goes Duranty on ebola

Venezuela: Happy Halloween! Hugo Chavez M&Ms

Immigration: Obama to allow in 100,000 Haitians with no visas

At Da Tech Guy’s blog:
What may be the most consequential election of the decade

Mexico: The death of #Felina

The curious incident of the Carnival Magic in Belize UPDATED

The Synod and the Pope-A-Dope

In Silvio Canto’s podcast:
The elections in Brazil with Monica Showalter of Investor’s Business Daily.

Posts from the prior week:
In transit, again

Venezuela and the falling oil price UPDATED

Venezuela wins U.N. Council seat

Eichmann’s true nature: 2 reviews of “Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer”

Mexico: #Ayotzinapa backlash in Mexico Bronco

Could Mexico become the next Russia?



Venezuela: Mileposts on the highway to hell

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Reading news about Venezuela brings to mind AC/DC lyrics,

Dont stop me!

I’m on the highway to hell
On the highway to hell!
Highway to hell!
I’m on the highway to hell

And I’m going down..all the way
I’m on the highway to hell

Fingerprints for food


Venezuela Readies 2015 Budget
Venezuela’s finance minister assured lawmakers that the country was poised to handle sliding oil prices and wouldn’t default on its debt, while proposing a 35% increase in the 2015 budget.

Venezuela, which depends on oil for 96% of its export revenue, has seen the price for its crude slide to $77.65 a barrel, the lowest since late 2010 and a drop of $15 since late September.

A scarcity of dollars has spurred shortages of basic goods in the import-dependent country and made investors increasingly nervous. Oil rich but cash strapped, Venezuela carries a total of $67.4 billion in debt issued by the government and state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, also known as PdVSA.

The country’s budget deficit registers at 16.9% of gross domestic product, government figures show, above the mark of countries like Greece and Spain during the eurozone debt crisis. Venezuela’s foreign reserves fell below $20 billion earlier this month for the first time since 2003.

Despite Riches, Venezuela Starts Food Rationing
Government Rolls Out Fingerprint Scanners to Limit Purchases of Basic Goods; ‘How Is it Possible We’ve Gotten to This Extreme’

At the blogs:
Venezuela: Is Default Truly A Four Letter Word?

The pain from the China loans

The situation is quite simple. Because of the loans we signed with China – them paying in advance for future shipments in oil – the drop in oil prices means Venezuela doesn’t just sell each barrel for less money, it also has fewer barrels available to sell to the market. Venezuela’s downturn is therefore made all the worse by the ridiculous conditions the geniuses at PDVSA signed on to.

In other words, a bad situation is made worse, and the hit in our fiscal income is all the larger.

Sing it, guys!



Venezuela: Happy Halloween! Hugo Chavez M&Ms

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

The M&Ms w Chavez image the cyanide pills. Savage capitalism. #F*ckThat I believe that coffee thing but this

How appropriate that, in keeping with a country doomed by the ghoulish chavista policies, someone came up with Hugo Chavez M&Ms in time for Halloween. Jaime Bayly had them,

Bayly says they are made in the USA, and calls it “a triumph of capitalism”. I find it vomitive.

As I understand it, Mars Corp. will personalize M&Ms, so apparently it doesn’t matter whose picture you send them as long as they get paid.

On the other hand, a bunch of dictator-themed M&Ms would be perfect for a house of horrors. You could do a Pol-Pot, Stalin, Marx, North Korea Kims, Fidel Castro assortment for a Communist theme.

In Venezuela, only the well-connected chavistas will be able to afford them, though. Everybody else will be standing in line trying to scramble a day’s rations.

Venezuela and the falling oil price UPDATED

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Venezuelan oil revenues prop up not only the Maduro government but also Cuba, and other countries receive Venezuelan oil through Petrocaribe.

Venezuela Vulnerable to Oil’s Fall
Fears among investors grow that Caracas could default its debt, as crude’s decline exacerbates the country’s recession and widespread consumer shortages.

Oil exporters from Russia to Iran are suffering with the lowest crude oil prices since June 2012. But few are as vulnerable as Venezuela, where a free-spending populist government had already been grappling with a recession, widespread shortages, and massive protests earlier this year.

Analysts expect that the Venezuelan barrel—heavier and more expensive to process than Middle East oil—will have fallen below $80 when officials announce this week’s price on Friday, which would be the lowest since late 2010. Last Friday, Venezuelan officials said their country’s crude had fallen to $82.72, nearly a $10 tumble in a little over a month.

Years ago I estimated that the chavistas need a minimum of $75/barrel for their agenda.

We’ll see what happens if it goes down to that number.

UPDATE:
Steve Hanke on Oil Price Blues (Read: Dangers) for Some

If oil prices stay below $90 per barrel for any length of time, we will witness massive fiscal squeezes and regime changes in one or more of the following countries: Iran, Bahrain, Ecuador, Venezuela, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq, or Libya. It will be a movie we have seen before.



Venezuela wins U.N. Council seat

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

I told you on October 13:

it’s very likely Chavez’s daughter Maria Gabriela Chavez will soon be sitting next to an American diplomat at the United Nations Security Council.

Sure enough, today:

Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola and New Zealand won seats on the United Nations Security Council on Thursday for two years from Jan. 1, 2015, while a run-off vote between Spain and Turkey was taking place to decide who gets the fifth available spot.

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly elected Venezuela with 181 votes in favor

Somewhere in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin is laughing.

The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentine Government Blasts “Speculation” by Grain Exporters

Argentina Creditors’ Lawyers, Mediator to Meet
A court-appointed mediator will meet next week with lawyers representing Argentina and its holdout creditors, the mediator said Friday

BOLIVIA
Morales confident he will win Sunday’s election in all nine Bolivian districts
At an event to mark the closing of his campaign ahead of Sunday’s elections, a self-assured Evo Morales told Bolivians that he will win all over the country and will even take the opposition’s bastions of support in the east.

Bolivia’s election
Happily Evo after
A third term for a “non-stick” leader

BRAZIL
Number of Attacks in Southern Brazil State Rises to 100
The wave of violence, which has left at least three people dead and 41 buses destroyed, has spread to 31 cities in Santa Catarina, whose authorities say the attacks are ordered by a criminal gang from Argentina.


Brazil’s Election Shows How The Left Thrives On Welfare Dependency

The Key Proposals Of Brazil Presidential Hopeful Aécio Neves

Brazil Suspected Ebola Case Tests Negative
A West African man held in isolation at a Rio de Janeiro hospital on suspicion of bringing the deadly Ebola virus to South America has tested negative for the disease, the Health Ministry said Saturday.

CAYMAN ISLANDS
Former Cayman Premier Acquitted

CHILE
Experts Lower Chile’s Growth Forecast to 1.9%

COLOMBIA
Colombia Authorized Guerrilla Leader’s Trips to Cuba

Hours later, President Juan Manuel Santos said that he personally signed off on the trips, which he described as “part of the process, normal.”

Washington Post reporter: White House spin on Cartegena is “demonstrably false”

CUBA
CASTRO’S MOMUMENT
The Castro Legacy: Untold Thousands of Watery Graves

World Bank Touts Cuba’s Communist Education as Exemplary
All the Better to Indoctrinate Students, Exiles Contend

Cuban: I’d Rather Die Trying to Reach Freedom, Than Live on My Knees Living in Tyranny

ECUADOR
El escándalo uruguayo

A Raúl Sendic, candidato vicepresidencial de Uruguay, junto a Tabaré Vásquez, por el movimiento izquierdista Frente Amplio, del presidente José Mujica, le salpicó la “maldición“ del petróleo. Un cuestionado convenio de canje de crudo por derivados entre Ancap/Trafigura/Petroecuador que involucra USD 6.400 millones, empezó a pasar las primeras facturas, en medio de la campaña electoral. El escándalo ampliamente cubierto por la prensa uruguaya, hace referencia al libro Ecuador Made in China, y a una carta remitida al gobierno uruguayo y a varios legisladores de ese país.
. . .
La referida cláusula del Convenio señala que Ecuador proveerá hasta 36000 barriles diarios de crudo, sin embargo en el contrato firmado el mismo día en Montevideo, se estableció la entrega de hasta 100000 barriles diarios, con lo que se violó el Convenio. Incluir un volumen de 100000 barriles día notificaba al más ingenuo que el crudo no estaba destinado a la refinería uruguaya, cuya capacidad máxima, cuando está operativa, es de 50000 barriles día, y de un crudo diferente al ecuatoriano. Al respecto, la Contraloría abona con conclusiones que dejan sin respuesta a los autores del Acuerdo: “se contrató con Ancap, sin que existan estudios técnicos que demuestren los beneficios para el país de una contratación directa”, señala en organismo.

Feminists Weigh In for Chevron in Racketeering-Oil Pollution Case

The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund urged the appeals court to rule for Chevron on a highly technical but critical issue. You read that correctly: The nation’s oldest women’s-rights legal advocacy organization, a left-leaning group that helped enact the landmark 1994 Violence Against Women Act and represents victims of sexual harassment and spousal brutality, supports the multinational oil company in its struggle against a crusading lawyer who claims to represent the impoverished and oppressed.

O’Reilly Discusses WFB’s Reporting On Ecuador PR Firm Paying Liberal US Celebrities

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador tries to rein in crime with community policing

IMMIGRATION
FUSION TV LAMENTS ‘UNDOCUMENTED’ WOMEN HAVING HARD TIME GETTING ABORTIONS IN TEXAS

MEXICO
Mexico Arrests Alleged Head of Juárez Drug Cartel
Federal police arrested alleged Juárez drug cartel leader Vicente Carrillo Fuentes in the northern city of Torreón on Thursday, Mexican officials said.
His Arrest Is Seen as Symbolic Amid Police Scandal

Iguala, Mexico and police crimes

NICARAGUA
Russia ban opens opportunities to Iran, Nicaragua

PANAMA
Panama’s National Assembly Ratifies Trade Pact with Mexico

PERU
The Man Behind Peru’s Culinary Ascent
Chef Gastón Acurio Built an Empire With 44 Restaurants in 13 Countries on Ceviche, Guinea Pig and Ethnic Influences

Divide and bribe
Corruption and political fragmentation threaten Peru’s democracy

PUERTO RICO
No More Dunkin’ Donuts for Puerto Rico
Island’s Franchisee Fails to Make Payments, 18 Stores to Close

TRINIDAD TOBAGO
Trinidad and Tobago Mulls Postponing Carnival over Ebola Fears

URUGUAY
Uruguay Welcomes First Group of 42 Syrian Refugees

VENEZUELA
Wouldn’t it be better if they had done this while Maduro was speakinVenezuela: Exxon wins $1.6 billion settlementg at the UN? UN urges Venezuela to release dissenter leader Leopoldo López
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations (UN) described as illegal the actions of the Venezuelan authorities in the proceedings against the political opposition leader for the events of February 12

Venezuela: a land of political killings and gang turf wars
Politician Robert Serra was murdered in his home
The grisly murder of a young politician and killing of a pro-regime militia leader in police shoot-out signal a bloody power struggle for the legacy of Hugo Chavez, writes Phillip Sherwell

Miami Venezuelans vs. Mary Landrieu

The week’s posts and podcast:
Why Venezuela should not have a seat at the UN Security Council

Could capitalism save the Arabs?

Mexico: Government paying its citizens to avoid deportation from U.S.

Venezuela: Exxon wins $1.6 billion settlement

No More Che Day

4 ISIS Terrorists Arrested in Texas

Mexico: 43 students missing since September 26

Brazil: Aécio’s plan is the economy

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Why bother covering up the Cartagena, Colombia, prostitution scandal?

Ecuador’s “dirty hand,” and Mia Farrow’s greased palm

Podcast:
US-Latin America stories of the week.

Venezuela: “Underperformance” doesn’t begin to describe it

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Even when the Venezuelan government has not allowed its own numbers to be verified for almost a decade, and stopped reporting various standard economoic indicators several years ago (practices which all started during Chavez’s administration), the numbers that it does report confirm The Economist’s appraisal of the country as Probably the world’s worst-managed economy.

Right now the government,

facing deteriorating economic conditions at home, is quietly slashing imports to cover foreign debt payments amid a severe hard-currency crunch.

Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff write on Venezuela’s Spectacular Underperformance 

Maduro, of course, rules over a major oil-exporting economy that is so badly mismanaged that real (inflation-adjusted) per capita GDP today is 2% lower than it was in 1970, despite a ten-fold increase in oil prices.

The relevant reality now is the long-term plight and dwindling standard of living of the average Venezuelan citizen. Over the past 45 years, as Venezuela’s real per capita GDP fell, US per capita GDP roughly doubled and Chile’s per capita GDP nearly tripled. And neutral observers project that 2014 will be even worse for Venezuela – not surprising, given the chaos of the country’s policy fundamentals.

Venezuela repeatedly has defaulted on the moneys it owes on pharmaceutical imports, food, airlines, oil suppliers and joint-venture partners; Reinhart and Rogoff ask

historically there have been many external defaults without domestic defaults, the converse is not true: nearly all domestic defaults are “twin defaults” that also involve external creditors. Will the Venezuelan case be different?

In other words, the two things go hand in hand, and it’s only a matter of time before Wall Street bond-holders are treated like foreign airlines.

However, Francisco Toro points out that

in the technical sense that’s relevant in market terms, Venezuela is not in domestic default.
. . .
This is the crux of the Great Venezuela Macro Debate of 2013-2014: to what extent can the government’s patent inability to meet its obligations be ascribed to a basic inability to pay, and to what extent is it just the Nth insane distortion you get when the government makes it illegal to pay a penny more than 77 cents for a $10 bill?

So, while we split hairs on exchange rate misalignments and the like, Venezuela undoubtely becomes a land of political killings and gang turf wars.

Related: Venezuela: The Left vs. reality



Why Venezuela should not have a seat at the UN Security Council

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Mary O’Grady explains,
THE AMERICAS
A Test for Obama on Venezuela at the U.N.
Cuba’s pawn wants a seat on the Security Council. We should work against it, as we did in 2008.

De facto control of Venezuela by Cuba ought to trouble all peaceable nations. Cuba violated a U.N. embargo on arms shipments to North Korea in 2013 when it put a load of weaponry on a North Korean vessel headed for Asia. The Venezuelan National Guard is a partner of Colombia’s drug-trafficking terrorists. Numerous terrorism experts warn that Venezuela is working closely with both Iran and Hezbollah to make trouble in the West and that the country has become a transit point for Iranian agents seeking to gain a foothold in the Americas.

Permanent members Russia and China would gain a reliable ally on the Security Council by adding Venezuela. It is true that the U.S. has veto power to block dangerous moves by a member. But Venezuela could influence the discussion agenda and would undoubtedly employ Cuba’s legendary propaganda tactics to do so.

Symbolically the elevation of Venezuela to the council would be a win for U.S. foes, and Venezuela knows it.

I don’t see the Obama administration doing anything about it. Instead, I say it’s very likely Chavez’s daughter Maria Gabriela Chavez will soon be sitting next to an American diplomat at the United Nations Security Council.