Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

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.



The amnesty Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, November 24th, 2014

LatinAmerAs predicted, Pres. Obama granted amnesty to an untold number of illegal aliens. Walter Russel Mead has some thoughts on the subject: Obama’s Big Miscalculation
President Obama’s new initiative is unlikely to succeed politically—in part because Democrats are overconfident that rising Hispanic immigration will deliver them a permanent, left-leaning majority.

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.

ARGENTINA
Fitch Cuts IMPSA, WPEI, and Venti to Default

A more accurate translation is “The Falklands are Argentinian”, Argentina rules all public transport must state: ‘The Falklands are Argentina’
Argentina’s congress passes a law which states that all public transport and stations must display a sign reading “Las Malvinas son Argentinas”

BOLIVIA
Influx of Cheap Peruvian Quinoa Riles Bolivia

BRAZIL
Brazil Probe Sparks Worries Over Olympics
Prosecutors are investigating firms working on Rio’s 2016 Games for their roles in an alleged graft ring surrounding Petrobras.

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.

Petrobras Bonds Decline With Builders Amid Graft Probe

CHILE
Chilean colonels jailed for torture
Two retired Chilean colonels – Ramon Caceres and Edgar Ceballos – are jailed for torturing the father of President Michelle Bachelet in 1973.

COLOMBIA
Colombia Prepares Areas Where FARC Will Release Hostages

CUBA
La máquina de matar: El Che Guevara, de agitador comunista a marca capitalista

Cuba says measures to make food more affordable fall short

Mosque for you? Maybe….. ($$$$$$?)

ECUADOR
Iranian Nobel Laureate to Inaugurate UNESCO Chair at University of Ecuador

Correa Takes on Market Forces with Slew of Employment Prohibitions
“Government of the Worker” to Mandate Wage Ratios, Ban Uncompensated Layoffs

GUATEMALA
100,000 Guatemalans Could Benefit from Obama’s Executive Order

GUYANA
Guyana’s Main Opposition Demands Elections Now

HONDURAS
Four Involved in the Murder of Miss Honduras World and Sister Sent to Prison

MEXICO
U.S. Marshals Service Personnel Dressed as Mexican Marines Pursue Cartel Bosses
Members of U.S. Marshals Service Join Military Operations in Mexico Against Drug Gangs

Mexico Is Fed Up and This Time, It’s Different

Teeth and Bones: Mass Abduction Reveals a Decaying Mexican State

Mexico’s Holy Warrior Against the Cartels
Padre Goyo, with his clerical collar and his bulletproof vest, is an icon for those fighting drugs and corruption. But some in the church think he goes too far.

NICARAGUA
Yeah, right, Nicaragua canal: Construction to begin in December. Heed my advice and don’t be the next Lord Crawley.

PANAMA
The French School Where Panama Canal Pilots Train in Cute Little Ships

PERU
Peru Introduces Measures to Boost Economy
Peru’s government plans to cut taxes and boost government spending to give a shot of growth to the weakening economy.

PUERTO RICO
Opinion: Puerto Ricans will be hurt the most by President Obama’s executive action

Puerto Rico Sees Slight Drop in Unemployment Rate

URUGUAY
Same old, Vazquez Is Favorite to Win Uruguay Presidential Vote

VENEZUELA
Alek Boyd tells us how he was robbed of his lap tops, and only them

Oligarco Works The Fascist Phone Line

Venezuelan Consumers Get Creative Amid Shortages

The week’s posts and podcast:
The Iran-Cuba-Venezuela Nexus

Venezuela: Tweet of the day

Ecuador: Assange granted political asylum

Chile: Blowing up the ATMs

Cuba: The wall

Venezuela: Break-in in London

Countdown to amnesty, continued

Cuba: The Nation’s Valentine’s cruise

Amnesty: I told you so UPDATED

Countdown to amnesty

Keystone XL & Venezuela

Colombia: Government suspends peace talks after FARC kidnaps general

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Amnesty: A slap in the face to all of us, not just to #Fruitpickers and #Bedmakers

Why weren’t taxes an issue in the last election?

Podcast:
US-Latin America stories of the week with Silvio Canto, Jr.



The Iran-Cuba-Venezuela Nexus

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Mary O’Grady writes on Iran’s presence in Latin America, a topic I have blogged about for the past ten years:


The Iran-Cuba-Venezuela Nexus
The West underestimates the growing threat from radical Islam in the Americas.


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.

Venezuela: Tweet of the day

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Venezuela: Break-in in London

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Alek Boyd, who investigates chavista corruption, had his London apartment broken into:

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,

Keystone XL & Venezuela

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Caracas Chronicles (emphasis added):
Keystone XL Isn’t a Threat to the Environment; It’s a Threat to Venezuela

The whole idea that if you stop Keystone XL, somehow less oil is produced and consumed is infantile: the question isn’t “how much?” it’s “where from?” (And if you think exploiting the Orinoco Belt is less environmentally dicey than piping oil through Nebraska, there’s a mountain of coke in Jose I’d like to sell you.)

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.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Dustbury. Thank you!

The falling oil price Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, November 17th, 2014

LatinAmerThe price of crude oil has dropped by 30% in four years, so Iran, Venezuela urge oil price support ahead of OPEC meeting

Iran and Venezuela need higher oil prices to balance their budgets than fellow OPEC members Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab producers.

ARGENTINA
La enfermedad argentina

Outrage as Argentina milks millions out of UK foreign aid budget
DAVID Cameron is today facing demands to block British taxpayers’ cash going to Argentina.

Argentina Cracks Down on Black Market for Dollars

BELIZE
Belize’s 2014 Tourism Boom Breaking Records

BOLIVIA
Why Foreigners Fall for the Evo Morales House of Cards
Statistics Gloss Over Bolivia’s Lack of Development, Bubble Waiting to Pop

BRAZIL
Police Raid Odebrecht’s Offices Amid Corruption Probe

Petrobras Former Executive Among a Score Arrested in Brazil Corruption Probe

Cannibal gang baked victims into pies
Three Brazilians sentenced to prison after being caught murdering two women and using their flesh as the filling in “empadas” which they sold to neighbours

Study: Brazil’s Underground Economy Equivalent to 16.2% of GDP

CHILE
Chile and China
¡Salud!
Food and drink draw two regions together

COLOMBIA
Ex-President Samper Took $10 Million from Cartel, Colombian Kingpin Says

CUBA
3 Cuban activists sentenced to prison on bogus charges

Yoelkis Rosabal, 31, was sentenced to 4 years in prison.

Ricardo Pelier, 28, was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Ernesto Darián Duffo, 24, was sentenced to years in prison.

ECUADOR
Term limits in Ecuador
If you can’t beat ‘em, referendum
A vote could cost President Correa his job—in 2017

EL SALVADOR
25 Yrs After El Salvador Priest Killings, Groups Press For Justice

GUYANA
Guyana: Legislature Is Suspended

HONDURAS
Obama and Honduras, 2009: portent of things to come

IMMIGRATION
I expect that Pres. Obama will issue an executive order for amnesty this week. Here are a few links:
The Missing Immigration Memo
Has Obama asked the Office of Legal Counsel for its legal opinion?

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.

The Next Border Crisis
Column: How Congress can fight Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty

The 150 million adults worldwide who would move to the United States if given the chance will draw the conclusion that their status and future are secure as long as they end up on U.S. soil. Pay the snakeheads and coyotes, avoid the authorities, and fall under the next amnesty. Just as it happened in 1986 and happened again, piecemeal, in 2012 and 2014.

I do not consider it humanitarian to induce people to undertake perilous and uncertain journeys through hazardous territory in the hopes of joining a population that is at best ambivalent about them. I think it is cruel. And it is cruel not only to the immigrants, but also to American citizens, who must cope with the attendant fall in low-skilled job opportunities and wages, rising inequality, economic and social consequences of population density, and erosion of social cohesion. These are all reasons confidence in public institutions is at a low. Obama’s executive order will drive it lower.

Minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras Can Now Apply for Asylum in U.S.

Obama’s Amnesty Will Turn U.S. Into Welfare Magnet

From Drudge: ILLEGALS TAUNT AGENTS AS AMNESTY NEARS…

NYT: BIG Money Behind Push…

CRUZ: ‘DEFIANT OF VOTERS’…

DEPORTATIONS PLUMMET…

Central American Children to be Granted Refugee Status…

NYC Will No Longer Hold Illegals For Feds…

MEXICO
Mexican President’s Reputation Takes A Further Dive Thanks To Reports About A Luxury Home

A Familiar Anger Begins to Boil Again in Mexico

Mexico’s Iguala Massacre: Criminal gangs and criminal government

PANAMA
“48 Hours” investigates American’s death in Panama

PERU
Peru’s Most Wanted Gangster Captured after 4 Months on the Run
Hiding in Colombia, Orellana’s Network Allegedly Committed US$100 Million in Fraud

PUERTO RICO
Hefty Losses Cause US Shipper to Close Door on Puerto Rico
Long-Time Competitors to Acquire Alaska, Hawaii Lines

URUGUAY
Vázquez leads polls ahead of Uruguay’s runoff

VENEZUELA
Cubanization 8.2: Maduro creates snitching hot lines

Venezuela cracks down on peddling diapers: ‘I feel like a drug dealer’
As basic goods grew more scarce on store shelves, authorities targeted open-air black markets that sold everything from coffee, eggs and cooking oil to shampoo, deodorant and detergent.

A broke Venezuela splits its finances in two

The week’s post and podcast:
Venezuela: Oil slide

And now for a surfer saint?

En español: UdQ 199, Los Vándalos del Zócalo

The Monroe Doctrine’s dead, but Putin’s alive and kicking

It’s raining parodies!

Argentina: Jorge Lanata will petition US Court re: Cristina’s US businesses

Mexico: And now, for #Articulo39RenunciaEPN

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
And now for a @BatDadBlake break

Keith Hennessy on Jonathan Gruber’s honesty

Podcast:
Venezuela & US-Latin America stories

Venezuela: Oil slide

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

From commenter Kermit,

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)

Meanwhile, Venezuela Dollar Income Falls 30% on Lower Oil Prices

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.

To rumors of selling refineries, Caracas Chronicles says, Go bold, go big

The Monroe Doctrine’s dead, but Putin’s alive and kicking

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Eight months ago I was blogging about Putin’s quiet Latin America play. Not so quiet anymore,
Russia’s long-range bombers to conduct regular patrols over Arctic Ocean, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico

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].

Almost a year ago to the day, John Kerry put a “Kick me” sign on America; now we have major cities, army bases, ports, and refineries at Russian-missile range.

Change!

Related:
Why Russia Has Reinvaded Ukraine
Aware that America lacks the resolve to impose sanctions, Putin has little incentive to back down.

The #Ayotzinapa students Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, November 10th, 2014

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.

Violent protests and the social media hashtag #YaMeCansé are symptomatic of how Mexicans are fed up with their government’s inability to stop the drug cartels.

ARGENTINA
Factory Explosion Leaves 66 Injured in Argentine City of Cordoba

Argentine Journalist on Trial for Not Revealing Sources

Argentine president Cristina Kirchner admitted to hospital with fever
Cristina Kirchner admitted to hospital for tests after feeling unwell

BELIZE
S&P Switches to Positive on Belize Outlook

BOLIVIA
Concern in Bolivia Over Increase in Sexual Violence Vs. Girls

BRAZIL
Despite Rousseff, extreme poverty grows for the first time in a decade
The number of Brazilians living in extreme poverty grew for the first time in a decade, according to government figures. The Institute of Economic Research reported that the number of people in households with incomes below the poverty threshold of 30 dollars rose from 10.1 to 10.5 million people, which means a 3.7% increase.

Brazil’s economy
After the election, the reckoning

CHILE
Former President Calls for Drug Decriminalization in Chile

COLOMBIA
Colombian Rebels’ Attacks Set Back Nation
Rebel assaults on Colombia pipelines have crimped one of Latin America’s most dynamic economies and raised questions about the outlook for Colombia as a reliable provider of crude to the U.S.

Memorial plaque removed in Colombia
A controversial plaque unveiled last week by Prince Charles in the Colombian port city of Cartagena is removed after local opposition.

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica struggles to manage $1.7 billion in development loans

CUBA
Hiding the Real Cuba

For the 4th time, Castro regime postpones trial of political prisoner Sonia Garro; dozens of activists arrested

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The Dominican Republic pulls out of Inter-American Court of Human Rights

ECUADOR
How China’s Appetite Feeds An Ecuadorian Shrimp Boom
With shrimp consumption booming in China and production falling in traditional exporters like Vietnam, Ecuador is stepping in. It’s the latest food chapter in a globalized world.

IMMIGRATION
Amnesty and Impeachment
Absent the credible threat of impeachment, Obama will pardon millions of illegal aliens.

JAMAICA
Reggae, coffee and sunny beaches: Discover Jamaica
OUR WRITER falls in love with the music, culture and people of Jamaica

MEXICO
Mexico gang ‘admits student deaths’
Mexican gang members have confessed to killing more than 40 students who went missing six weeks ago, officials say – but families are sceptical.

PANAMA
After the Panama Canal Zone

PERU
Putin Welcomes Peruvian President

PUERTO RICO
Murder Rate Down; 2014 May Bring US Commonwealth Its Lowest Number of Homocides in 15 Years

VENEZUELA
Venezuela reaps benefits of Cuban “medical internationalism”

Dengue fever soars by 2,475% in Venezuela’s capital city

Reuters: Bid for Venezuela’s subsidiary Citgo continues
Any deal for Citgo, which could be worth USD 10 billion, could help to reshape the US refining landscape

Idiocy And Airlines In Venezuela

Venezuela shows the biggest global drop in the 2014 Prosperity Index

The week’s posts and podcasts:
Mexico: Remains of #Ayotzinapa students found

He can have my Volvo for US$500,000

Brazil: A petition to the White House

Mexico: 22,000 missing, 43 of them are the #Ayotzinapa students

About last night

Venezuela: $15 smugglers jailed, $3.08 billion a year smugglers go free

Mexico: Iguala mayor arrested

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Why Obama should not be impeached when he grants executive amnesty

Comparing voting in NJ to voting in FL

Podcasts:
Election night extravaganza

US-Latin America issues with Fausta Rodriguez Wertz & Michael Prada