Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

The criminal #Greenpeace Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Before Greenpeace:

After Greenpeace:

It’s time to put the Greenpeace vandals out of business

ARGENTINA
Why Argentina Must Learn the Virtues of Economic Orthodoxy
Ignore Basic Economic Lessons, Bring on More Crises

BOLIVIA
Bolivia’s YPFB Hit by Corruption, Sexual-Harassment Scandal

BRAZIL
Survivors Recall Genocide of Amazon Tribe in Brazil, the Waimiri-Atroari.

Brazil killer alleges 42 victims
Brazilian police arrest a man who says he killed 42 people in the last decade, which would make him one of the country’s most prolific serial killers

CHILE
Chile Not Facing an Economic Crisis, Bachelet Says

Construction in Chile of world’s largest telescope approved

COLOMBIA
Colombian Government, Rebels Resume Peace Talks

COSTA RICA
Take a Ride on Costa Rica’s Fiscal Train Wreck
Executive Ignores Credit Risk, Overrules Congress for 19 Percent Spending Increase

CUBA
Cuban Regime Arrests Over 100 Activists on Human Rights Day
Police Target Dissident Ladies in White, Independent Journalists

‘Al Capone’ Justice for Fidel Castro

The AP’s Latest Attack: On Cuba’s Independent Rappers

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Abortion stalls Dominican Republic Penal Code vote

ECUADOR
Ecuador Moves to Block Disclosure of U.S. Propaganda Activities
Government attempts to prevent court discovery of documents at its U.S.-based PR firm

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador President to Cuba for Checkup after Falling Ill in Mexico, since that worked so well for Hugo Chávez.

GUATEMALA
Guatemala: Breaking the silence
How do a country and its people come to terms with the atrocities committed during a decades-long, bloody civil war? Dialogue is key here, and that’s a focus of DW Akademie projects in Guatemala.

HAITI
Haitian President May Drop His Premier
To end an impasse and allow for elections, President Michel Martelly said that he would accept the recommendations of a commission that has called for the prime minister to resign.

IMMIGRATION
Adding Insult to Injury: Obama Paying for Illegal Amnesty with Fees Paid by Legal Immigrants

Sheriffs: Obama’s Amnesty Creates ‘Insurgence of Heroin,’ ‘Saloon-Door’ Border Mentality

JAMAICA
Jamaica Approached To Sell PetroCaribe Debt

LATIN AMERICA
Neocolonialism update: Iran expanding its presence in Latrine America

MEXICO
Mexico minister denies home scandal
Mexico’s finance minister defends his purchase of a luxury home, amid reports he bought it from a firm whose parent company won public contracts.

PANAMA
Panama: Cuba to Attend First-ever Americas Summit

PERU
Frantic efforts to save Lima climate change talks
Main talks suspended as delegates from 190 countries admit there is ‘no consensus’, while frantic efforts have begun to reach some token agreement, but few are optimistic of a quick resolution, if any

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico tops list of 25 best Caribbean islands list

URUGUAY
Former Guantanamo Prisoners Leave Hospital in Uruguay

VENEZUELA
The Precise Instant Everything Went to Hell

The Phantom of Miraflores

UK: Journalist’s flat burgled, family threatened

VenEconomy: Drug Trafficking – The Other Pest of the Venezuelan Revolution

Mother of slain beauty queen seeks asylum in the US
María Eugenia Tovar, mother of beauty queen Génesis Carmona, killed during an anti-government protest in February, would not explain the reasons for her decision

US Congress passes sanctions against Venezuelan human rights abusers

The week’s posts:
White privilege, indeed

Mexico: Gulf Cartel run from Texas

Venezuela: Default by September 2015?

Peru: Greenpeace vandalism

Colombia: FARC using al-Qaeda for European drug trade

Uruguay: Gitmo alumni go free

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
U.S. releases 6 al-Qaeda detainees to Uruguay

Time to put Greenpeace vandals out of business



Venezuela: Default by September 2015?

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Casey Breznick posts,

A CNBC report on the prospect of a Venezuelan default cited a Capital Economics report stating that a default could be expected by next September or October when $5 billion in debt payments come due. Only an upswing of oil prices to somewhere around $121/barrel would allow Venezuela to balance its budget, according to some estimates. But with OPEC recently slashing its 2015 production levels to a 12-year low in response to decreasing estimated global oil demand and increasing supply via U.S. shale production, a significant oil price increase in the short-term seems highly unlikely. Bloomberg reports that the implied probability of default—derived from complex financial formulas—in the next five years stands at 93%, the highest in the world.

The Devil’s Excrement looks at Maduro’s New Script,

You may laugh all you want at what he says, but I don’t. He is making a very specific narrative out of all this and I am not sure where it is heading. It may be that he just wants to blame  the US for the intensification of the crisis in the next few months or simply, that he is preparing the ground in case there is no money to pay international investors. There is a one billion Euro payment in March, which looks doable, but there are much larger maturities in October 2015. But investors have so far believed that Venezuela had a “willingness” to pay, and the action in the markets today indicated some people were losing faith.

It did not help that Bloomberg reported today on a meeting with investors at a New York law firm, which actually took place like ten days ago. This meeting actually ended in a somewhat positive note, as many suggested that Venezuela and PDVSA could not get away with a restructuring below current prices for most bonds, as the oil cash flow would not justify it.

Francisco Toro:

It’s not the gobs of debt monetization, the billions of make-believe-bolivars the Central Bank loans PDVSA leading to an uncontrolled monetary expansion and the collapse of demand for real money balances.

It’s not the opacity in public accounts, the drop in reserves, the commercial default, the implosion in the goods markets, or the fact that you need your kid’s birth certificate to buy her diapers.

It’s not the fiscal deficit at 17% of GDP, or oil at $58 per barrel, or the tapped-out Fonden “sovereign wealth fund,” or the fact that the Finance Minister gives every possible public sign that he’s an idiot.

It’s not that the one regime official who announced a semi-reasonable reform that might have stanched the flow got shifted sideways to a non-economic job.

It’s not the Central Bank’s scandalous subservience to the Executive branch, or the fact that it won’t even dare publish basic inflation statistics.

It’s not that PDVSA has missed every production increase target it’s set for itself since 2003, it’s not that its refineries are badly maintained and barely functional, much less profitable.

It’s not that labour laws make it insane for a worker to waste his time working, and unreasonable as well as that is time he needs to spend queueing for basic consumption goods.

It’s not that the investment climate has been so shitty for so long, and the profit repatriation picture so bleak, no one sane even considers putting money into Venezuela.

Nope. It’s none of that. According to Maduro, it’s all a conspiracy, led by some flunkie sitting at a cubicle at Moody’s, someone who for some weird reason has decided to mess with his revolution. That’s why it’s expensive for Venezuela to borrow.

PDVSA 2022 bond in the last three months. It was losing 14% of its value today, with a yield to maturity of 31.4%:



The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 8th, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentina Fines Facebook for Defying Censorship Order
Social-Media Company Permits “Defamatory” Groups, Faces US$77,000 Rebuke

Prosecutor in Argentina Will Look into Hidden Swiss Bank Accounts

BARBADOS
Barbados PM to Visit Cuba

BOLIVIA
Bolivian Authorities Seize Huge Load of Contraband Fuel Bound for Chile

BRAZIL
Corruption Curses Mexico and Brazil

COLOMBIA
Pablo Escobar’s sister trying to pay for the sins of her brother
The sister of the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, Luz Maria Escobar sits by her brother’s tomb
Luz Maria Escobar, the sister of Colombian cartel boss Pablo Escobar, has told how she is trying to make amends for her murderous brother

CUBA
Political Arrests Have Quadrupled in Cuba

GUATEMALA
Guatemalan Populism Meets Its Match in Gloria Álvarez
Education Can Restore Republicanism in Latin America

HAITI
Haiti hit by anti-government clashes
Thousands of anti-government protesters clash with police in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, calling for overdue elections to be held.

IMMIGRATION
Watch: Gowdy’s brutal cross-examination tears apart immigration activist’s ‘racism’ argument

MEXICO
Mexico’s president
Business backlash

Mexico City Police Chief Says He Is Stepping Down

These graphics will show you why Mexicans are saying they’ve had enough
The 43 missing students have come to represent the more than 22,000 people who have disappeared since 2006

NICARAGUA
China’s Nicaragua Canal Could Spark a New Central America Revolution
Many critics thought construction of a canal across Nicaragua never would begin. Now that it’s about to, they ask how it will end—and some are asking for guns to stop it.
Er, it’s not the Chinese government, it’s Wang Jing and his Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. (HKND) – big difference.

PANAMA
Panama Invites Cuba to Summit of the Americas

PUERTO RICO
Opinion: Koch brothers eye Puerto Rico

URUGUAY
Uruguay to take Guantanamo prisonersPresident Jose Mujica 4 December 2014
Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica says his country is set to resettle six prisoners from Guantanamo Bay on humanitarian grounds.

VENEZUELA
Cash-Strapped Chavistas Bankroll Million-Dollar Music Festival
Opposition Blasts ‘Caracas Sound’ as Wasteful Government Spending

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: Peace at all costs?

Venezuela: The oil teat runs dry

Saturday night tango: Matteo & Patricia

Puerto Rico: In search of roast pork

Venezuela: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend?

Cuba: Londoño meets with dissidents

Venezuela: Maria Corina charged; falling oil prices

En español: Unidad de quemados

Venezuela: Oil break-even price?

Colombia: Gen. Alzate resigns UPDATED

Kevin Williamson on Russell Brand’s Che fixation

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Venezuela and the falling oil price

Russia aims at Latin America

Podcast:
Talking about art with artist Adrian Plasencia in Silvio Canto’s podcast



Venezuela: The oil teat runs dry

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

Earlier this week I mentioned that Venezuela needs to sell its oil between $150-$200/barrel in order to break even. While the country’s economy is increasingly dependent on oil revenues since oil accounts for 95% of all exports, Venezuela ships cut-rate oil to Cuba and 13 other countries. For the last year, Venezuela’s had to cut back:

For a decade, the 13 beneficiaries of Venezuela’s largess have depended deeply on the oil to finance social spending and infrastructure, and rewarded Caracas with diplomatic support on the international stage, regional diplomats said in interviews.

Even as Venezuela pledges to continue the program, the country’s oil exports to the countries fell about 20% through October compared with the same period last year, says ClipperData LLC, a New York data tracker. And last year, Venezuela’s cut-rate oil exports declined 15% from 2012, the International Monetary Fund says.

Petrocaribe may become a thing of the past, which curtails Venezuela’s influence at the OAS and the UN,

The program has cost Venezuela $22.1 billion, with Petrocaribe countries accumulating more than $11 billion in debt through 2013, said Mr. Piñon, basing his calculations on PdVSA data.

In return, Venezuela got loyal allies that voted with Venezuela at the United Nations, the Organization of American States and at other regional bodies, diplomats and officials from four countries said.

Let’s hope the US State Department recognizes this as an opportunity, especially as Russia and Iran widen their scope in our hemisphere.

But I doubt they will.



Venezuela: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend?

Friday, December 5th, 2014

There go the family jewels!

Venezuela to Use Diamonds to Boost International Reserves
Central Bank to Also Incorporate Easily Convertible Foreign Currencies

Venezuela, facing default fears amid an economic crisis and falling oil prices, will use diamonds as well as other precious stones and metals stored in its central-bank vaults to boost international reserves, the central bank said Thursday.

It will also incorporate easy-to-convert foreign currencies into its reserves, the bank said in a statement explaining changes to a law regulating its activities. Venezuela’s international reserves have dropped 28% in the last three years to $21.7 billion.

Meanwhile, the monthly minimum salary of 4,859 bolivares equals $31.54 (link in Spanish).

Maria Corina Machado is A living reminder of their failure. When dictatorships have nothing left to lose: Machado on the spike.

Is The White House Planning To Kick Venezuela When It’s Down? Let’s Hope So

“Talk to me, Harry Winston!”

Venezuela: Maria Corina charged; falling oil prices

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

It wasn’t enough to break her nose on the floor of the National Assembly, now Venezuela indicts opposition leader Machado, alleging plot to kill Maduro; she has not been arrested yet.

Watch her response, translated by Global Post,

We know what’s going on in Venezuela.
Our country is collapsing. It’s total chaos. And those clinging to power and are responsible for this situation have decided to respond by repressing and persecuting.
They’re trying to silence everybody, from union members to journalists, tweeters, mayors, human rights defenders, anyone of us who fights for truth.
Today that’s what I’m charged for. They accuse me of a monstrous crime that everyone in Venezuela and the world knows is a big lie.
They charge me because I tell it like it is. Because I tell Maduro every day that he must resign. …
… Because we denounce the corruption and the abuse. Because we accompany the students and workers in their protests and their demands.
They charge me because we are organizing a formidable citizens platform … to carry out the urgent transition to democracy in peace.
Many ask me, why am I turning myself in?
I’ll respond with what I told my own children when they asked me the same question.
I am not turning myself in. I am presenting myself to defend the truth.
What’s the option? Flee, keep quiet, give up?
Our only option is to fight. It’s to confront lies with the truth, because truth always prevails.
The weapon these dictatorial regimes have for remaining in power is the fear they sow in citizens.
… In Venezuela the people are rebelling. We are an enormous majority that wants profound change.
Pain and anguish unite us, but so do our dreams and our democratic convictions.
That’s why it’s time to fight and go forward. My message to all right now is: Rise up, because we are going to succeed.

The trending Twitter hashtag is #YoEstoyConMariaCorina (#IAmWithMariaCorina).

Juan Cristobal Nagel is Live-blogging Maria Corina’s day

—————————————

Earlier today I posted some questions on Venezuela and the falling oil price

Post title changed.

Venezuela: Oil break-even price?

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Tom Bemis looks at Breakevens for most major oil-producing countries (emphasis added)

A widely used measure of the impact of oil prices on major producers’ governments is the fiscal breakeven price. That’s “the average price at which the budget of an oil-exporting country is balanced in a given year,” according to Standard & Poor’s. Estimates of fiscal breakeven prices can vary considerably based on a variety of factors including actual budget expenditures, and differences in oil production forecasts.

In most cases, the oil price necessary to balance the budgets of major oil producing countries is above $100 a barrel in 2015, according to data from Citi Research’s Edward Morse.

Venezuela, already facing serious fiscal woes and rampant inflation, needs oil at $151 a barrel next year to balance its budget, according to the data.

Iran, which has yet to agree to curb development of nuclear weapons and heavily subsidizes gasoline for its citizens, needs oil at $131 a barrel.

And Russia, whose seizure of Crimea and continuing aggression towards Ukraine has raised tensions throughout Europe and inspired western financial sanctions, needs oil at $107 for a chance of getting its finances in order.

Silvana Ordoñez:

Venezuela’s future? ‘Barbarity and people looting’One analyst at Nomura recently estimated that Venezuela may need oil prices to hit $200 a barrel to balance its budget. (The precise figure is difficult to determine, because Venezuela doesn’t disclose as much economic data as other countries do.)

Will The Minister Come Back Empty Handed From China?

It seems as if President Maduro really believed that OPEC would cut production after he sent Ramirez to visit a few countries, including Russia, who happens not to be a member of OPEC. But as most analysts expected, OPEC did not cut production and scheduled the next meeting for next June, bringing a lot of people back to reality, including Maduro. It was only after Ramirez reportedly left the meeting “red faced”, that it sunk in that maybe Plan A was not going to work. Thus, Maduro switched to Plans B and C. Plan B is to “hope” that oil prices bounce back and plan C was to send Minister of Finance Marco Torres to Beijing to see if he can get some money there. Plan D was to name a commission to cut salaries and luxurious expenses. Yeah, sure!

I have been arguing with a bunch of friends about the probability that Torres will come back with a significant loan, which I peg to be around 0.00001, but they seem to think it is somewhat higher. You see, they actually believe that Venezuela has something to offer the Chinese, like oil or oil fields. But the reality is that Venezuela has little to offer at this time and the Chinese know it, so that Minister Torres is very likely to come back empty handed.

Related:
María Corina, and a unified theory of rationed repression



The post-Thanksgiving weekend Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 1st, 2014

LatinAmerYes, I love Thanksgiving Day. No, I don’t go shopping in stores on the weekend.

Now we have that out of the way, let’s look at the week’s stories:

ARGENTINA
Castro Helped the Devil in Argentina

Although they kept it quiet, Argentina’s dictators had a gentlemen’s agreement with Castro. Under the pact, Videla supported Cuba’s bid in 1977 to join the Executive Council of the World Health Organization, a diplomatic feather in Castro’s beret. The quid pro quo was that Havana stump among nonaligned nations to name Argentina to the United Nations prestigious Economic and Social Council. Apparently Cuba’s vote was the 18th and decisive ballot, landing Argentina the coveted UN seat.

Argentina to Snoop Emails from Citizens with Swiss Bank Accounts
Suspected Tax Violators Must Prove Innocence to Authorities

BOLIVIA
ICYMI Beware a Leftist Landslide in Bolivia

BRAZIL
Capping Brazil’s Corruption Gusher

Brazil’s Economy Claws Out of Recession
GDP Expands 0.1% in Third Quarter But Outlook for Latin America’s Biggest Economy Remains Clouded

Drought-hit Sao Paulo may ‘get water from mud': TRFN

CHILE
Chilean Teachers on Strike over Bachelet’s Education Reform
Internal Union Dispute over Benefits May Cause Ruling Party to Reshape Policy

COLOMBIA
Colombia: Farc rebels release two soldiers

CUBA
The Blackest of Fridays Planned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara

Castro’s agents had targeted Macy’s, Gimbels, Bloomingdales, and Manhattan’s Grand Central Station with a dozen incendiary devices and 500 kilos of TNT. The holocaust was set for detonation the following week, on the day after Thanksgiving.

CNN promotes pro-Castro editorials of The New York Times to a wider audience

Silence Enables Violence Against Cuba’s Dissidents

ECUADOR
Ecuador shrimp prices tumble as Chinese buyers hold off

ENTERTAINMENT

Antonio Banderas, Distinguished as Buenos Aires Guest of Honor

IMMIGRATION
White House – Illegal Immigrants Entitled to Social Security and Medicare

Incentivizing the Lawless and Penalizing the Lawful

JAMAICA
Jamaica’s Economy to Show Growth for 2014/15

LATIN AMERICA
The great deceleration
The region’s economies have slowed far more abruptly than anyone expected

Worst off are those countries with populist governments that squandered the windfall from the boom. Forecasters see no let-up in the stagflation afflicting Venezuela and Argentina. Thanks to lack of investment and clumsy macroeconomic management, Brazil’s economy will barely grow this year and faces a fiscal squeeze in 2015. Yet the deceleration goes far wider. The high-flying and well-run economies of Chile, Peru and Colombia are all suffering. The growth rate this year in Chile (2%) and Peru (around 3%) is half that of 2013. Contrast that with sub-Saharan Africa, which is also a big commodity producer and where the IMF expects growth of 5.1% this year and 5.8% next.

MEXICO
As Mexican Border Town Tries to Move On, Some Are Stuck in Limbo

British forensic experts work with Mexican parents to create database of disappeared
As Mexican president announces police revamp following student atrocity outrage, British-funded project aims to identify human remains buried in mass graves across violence-plagued country

NICARAGUA
Andres Oppenheimer: Canal calamity looms in Nicaragua

PANAMA
Alleged Ponzi scammer Quintin Earl Sponagle returned to N.S., to stay behind bars until Tuesday

PERU
Corruption Revives Debate on Peru’s Political Stability

PUERTO RICO
U.S. government warns Puerto Rico of funding loss if transit shuts

URUGUAY
Uruguay’s election
Feeling very mellow
Voters are not in the mood for change

VENEZUELA
Venezuela to charge opposition leader over alleged plot to kill President Maduro
Maria Corina Machado denies any wrongdoing and says the threat is an attempt to silence critics of the government

Venezuela Says 35 Prison Inmates Dead From Overdose
Pressure is building on Venezuela’s government to fully investigate a rising number of deaths at an overcrowded prison, with human-rights activists questioning authorities’ claim of a mass drug overdose by dozens of inmates who stormed an infirmary.

The week’s posts:
Venezuela: AP does Orwell so well

Argentina: Investigate Cristina, get impeached?

En español: Terapia Intensiva 233

Mexico’s failures and immigration

Venezuela: New deal with China

Panama: Legal truble for Carlos Slim

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans

On thankfulness and apple pie



Venezuela: AP does Orwell so well

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. ‘Reality control’, they called it: in Newspeak, ‘doublethink’.

George Orwell, 1984.

AP Report on Venezuela Touts How Chronic Shortages ‘Bury Mindless Consumerism’ (also at Bizzyblog)

It’s amazing how any reporter can cover the deepening economic crisis in Venezuela without saying a word about how the country got there.

But Associated Press reporter Hannah Dreier was up to the task. In a bizarre, sickening November 20 report on how its people are having to get “creative” in the face of chronic shortages of basic goods to get by, she acted as if those shortages — and the over five decades of worse problems in Cuba — somehow just happened.

Dreier also virtually celebrated the fact that conditions in that country can be seen as the fulfillment of a fond “dream” of deceased dictator Hugo Chavez’s dreams

Among Hugo’s “dream” you could count the Bolivarian [un]sanitary napkin.

I suggest Dreier try those.

Venezuela: New deal with China

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

High hopes, we’ve got high hopes . . .

The Chinese pull the chestnuts (temporarily) off the fire:
China Loosens Debt Terms for Venezuela
With Default Threatening the Economy as Oil Prices Tumble, Caracas Gets a Lifeline From Its Biggest Creditor

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.