Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

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.

Venezuela: Exxon wins $1.6 billion settlement

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Back in 2005, then-dictator Hugo Chavez started to expropriate assets in Venezuela’s energy, mining and telecommunications industries under the pretext of development and sovereignty.

Energy companies were given until late-2007 to accept proposed contract and compensation terms from Chavez’s government or risk having their assets seized.•

Exxon and ConocoPhillips rejected the terms, and Exxon took Venezuela to the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID. The ICSID ruled for Exxon, which Chavez promptly, and predictably, rejected. At the time there were 20 other cases against Venezuela at the World Bank’s tribunal, all triggered by the wave of state takeovers.

Now Exxon Wins $1.6 Billion Settlement for Venezuela Seizure

The ICSID award includes $1.4 billion for expropriation of the Cerro Negro project, $179.3 million for expropriation of the smaller La Ceiba project and $9 million in compensation for production and export curtailments, ICSID said. It will incur compound interest of 3.25 percent dating back to June 2007.

In a similar complaint, the ICSID ruled Sept. 23 that Venezuela must pay $740 million to Spokane, Washington-based Gold Reserve Inc. (GRZ) for taking its Brisas gold and copper project in 2008. Gold Reserve said on July 23 that it was seeking $2.1 billion for the nationalization.

About 28 cases filed by mining and oil companies remain unresolved at the ICSID, including those filed by Phillips 66 and Highbury International AVV.

Venezuela calls it “a favorable end for the republic,” (h/t Caracas Chronicles)

Which tells you Venezuela has no intention to pay Exxon. The thing is, the country must honor ICSID rulings to avoid default of sovereign bonds. The only certain outcome in the short term is that a lot of lawyers are going to make a lot of money.

Just don’t expect any payments any time soon.

The Top Gear Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, October 6th, 2014

The Top Gear lads got ‘chased by thousands and ordered out of country’

“When we saw people on Twitter getting upset we took the plate off. But they still attacked us so we made a break for it to our hotel in Ushuaia.

“The mob just descended on the hotel and encircled us. State representatives came and ordered us out of the country.”

Here’s the car that caused the fracas,

Video of the police escorting them.

ARGENTINA
Barcelona star Lionel Messi to face tax evasion trial
Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi is to face trial for alleged tax evasion, a Spanish judge has ruled.

Argentina central bank governor resigns amid economic woes
Argentina’s central bank governor Juan Carlos Fabrega has resigned after less than a year in office.

BOLIVIA
Bolivian Couple Arrested in Argentina Accused of Killing Their Daughter

BRAZIL
With election Sunday, Brazil deals with oil scandal
With election Sunday, Brazil deals with oil scandal
Corruption charges in a refinery project complicate the race for the ruling party
.

They include corruption, political machinations with the state-controlled oil company, and delays and overspending on a multibillion-dollar oil refinery that Brazil needs desperately.

CARIBBEAN
20141004_AMC803PetroCaribe and the Caribbean
Single point of failure
Venezuela’s financing programme leaves many Caribbean countries vulnerable

CHILE
Extreme skiers Auclair and Fransson die in Chile avalanche
Police in Chile have found the bodies of two extreme skiers who had been missing since an avalanche struck a mountain in southern Chile on Tuesday.

COLOMBIA
Colombian Attorney General Says Conflict Cases Could Be Shelved

Prince Charles and Camilla to Visit Colombia and Mexico

Who will save Bogota?

CUBA
Keep Cuba out of hemispheric summits

Prosecutors seek 5-year prison term for Cuban opposition activist Ciro Alexis Casanova

Fraternal Relations, Part III

ECUADOR
The Dark Side of Green Justice
Review: ‘Law of the Jungle’ by Paul Barrett

HAITI
Former Haiti president Duvalier diesJean-Claude Duvalier
Haiti’s notorious former ruler Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier has died of a heart attack in the capital Port-au-Prince, reports quoting official sources say.

JAMAICA
Jamaica Gets Help Preparing for Possible Ebola Cases

MEXICO
Leader of Cartel Is Captured
The leader of one of Mexico’s largest cartels, Héctor Beltrán-Leyva of the Beltrán-Leyva gang, has been captured, the authorities said Wednesday night, giving President Enrique Peña Nieto another high-profile victory against organized crime.

Indeed, How Dare We Leave Andrew Tahmooressi Behind?

PANAMA
Is Panama’s President Being Coerced by Cuba’s Regime?

1,400 Cops Occupy Unruly Panamanian Prison

Panama President Demands That Judge Explain Growing Wealth

PARAGUAY
Rutherford B. Hayes: An OK President but a hero in Paraguay

Hayes agreed to negotiate a long-held border dispute between Argentina and Paraguay, and the decision gave the nation 60 percent of its land.

PERU
Spanish Speleologist in Hospital after 12 Days in Peruvian Cave

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Offers Itself as a Gateway to U.S. Market, Official Says

VENEZUELA
Venezuela Oil Price Continues Tumbling
Venezuela’s Ministry of Energy and Petroleum reports that the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending October 3 fell to its lowest price since January of 2011. The Latin American Herald Tribune notes that the Ministry continues to post an inaccurate average for the year and reduced the average price for the whole of 2013 by $1.41 without explanation

Venezuela: Lawmaker Killed in His Home, Police Say
A day after Robert Serra, a rising star in Venezuela’s governing party, was stabbed to death in his home, officials said Thursday that it was a carefully planned murder.

The week’s posts and podcasts:
Brazil: Aécio goes to the runoff

Argentina: Top Gear fracas

Brazil: More of the same?

En español: El Alcalde de Iguala en la UdQ

Argentina: Hoping it’s hit rock bottom

Cuba: Risky business

Taxes, and a book

Brazil: Dilma up in the polls

En español: Últimas noticias del idiota iberoamericano

Venezuela: Why the military won’t rise up

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
I’m a tax exile, and proud of it

And now for something completely different: A book on Cuban history

The week’s podcast:
Let’s chat with Alina Garcia-Lapuerta, author of “La Belle Creole”

Venezuela: Why the military won’t rise up

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

While El Puma and a few others call for Venezuela’s military to rise up against the Cuban-run dictatorship, there’s a big reason why that’s unlikely: perks.

Perks, and the likelihood they already are running the country:

New Cars for the Army as Venezuelans Line Up for Food

The market with everything from subsidized meat to baby strollers, along with loans, new cars and apartments, are perks provided to the armed forces as the economy contracts, poverty rises and President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity sinks to a record low.

The benefits help ensure the loyalty of the military, while siphoning reserves away from the poor who have seen wage growth fall behind inflation, according to analysts, citizen activists and academics.

Since Maduro came to power 17 months ago, the armed forces have created their own television channel, housing program and bank, the only military-owned one outside Iran and Vietnam. A third of Venezuela’s 28 ministers and half the state governors are now active or retired officers, mostly companions of former paratroop commander and late President Hugo Chavez.

This echoes the Cuban model, where most businesses that cater to tourists are own by the military. In fact, Venezuela is now a military regime:

The rise in prices is not the only kind of inflation affecting Venezuela. Bloomberg reports that “its military now has between 4,000 and 5,000 generals” for a ratio of one general for every 34 servicemen (in the United States the ratio is one general per 1,490 servicemen). As expected, generals enjoy higher salaries and many other benefits. Moreover, the intelligence community believes that high-ranking army officers control most illegal activities in Venezuela, from smuggling to drug trafficking. In other words, military men are profiteering from the status quo.

Juan Cristobal Nagel:

Count the Armed Forces alongside Wall Street and China as the three groups Maduro will never default on. That´s why it pains me to read simplistic stuff such as García Mora’s latest, where he wonders out loud when the country will finally break.