Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

Venezuela: Biden asks for release of political prisoners

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Joe Biden was attending Dilma’s inauguration, and he made sure to run into Maduro?
Biden urged Venezuelan to free political prisoners, U.S. says

No, it was Maduro’s people who wanted to approach Joe:

One of Maduro’s aides initiated the contact, approaching the U.S. delegation during the reception that followed the swearing-in of President Dilma Rousseff for a second term.

Maduro told Biden that Venezuela wants “a better relationship with the United States” and the vice president assured him President Barack Obama’s administration was also interested in improving ties.

Biden told Maduro that the most important thing Venezuela needs to do to lay the basis for better relations is to release political prisoners, the U.S. official said.

Of course, by now Maduro knows all he needs to do in these days of smart diplomacy is to take an American hostage, hold him/her for a few years, have the Vatican intervene, and things will go his way no matter what.



Venezuela: Kidnappings and extorsion prior to jailings

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

El Nuevo Herald has a report on how Venezuelan intelligence agents are running kidnapping and extortion gangs:
Agentes de inteligencia venezolanos operan bandas de secuestro y extorsión (my translation)

“This is a very common modus operandi”, explained Anthony Daquín, former advisor to the Venezuelan Ministry of Interior and Justice. “Agents of the Military Counterintelligence Agency and the Sebin [Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional – Bolivarian National Intelligence Service] are running these kidnapping and extortion gangs”.

Their victims are people accused of crimes by chavista courts, and the kidnappings are carried by the same agents of these agencies, usually a day or two prior to the victims being delivered to the prosecutors for trial.

The purpose is to get as much money and assets as possible from the victims, often under torture, prior to being turned in to chavista justice.

The article is available only in Spanish, not yet in the Miami Herald.

Just the other day the NYTimes had Diosdado Cabello writing that “Our government responded with restraint” to the riots. Let’s see if they respond at all to these accusations.

Related:
Welcome to Venezuela, the kidnap capital of the world

Their men in Caracas: the Cuban expats shoring up Maduro’s government
From military advisers to aid workers, thousands of Cubans form an information network across Venezuela’s economy



The last 2014 Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 29th, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentineans Hoard Disappearing Tampons
Fixed Exchange Rate Constrains Import Dollars, Pharmacies Lack Essentials

Argentine president hospitalized for sprained ankle. Not sprained, fractured.

Not sure if this was before, or after she broke her ankle, but it’s the weird photo-op of the week: Argentina president adopts young Jewish boy as godson to prevent him from turning into werewolf
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchhner adopted Yair Tawil as her godson, due to an Argentine folktale that says the seventh born son in a family will turn into a werewolf, and eat unbaptized babies.

BOLIVIA
Venezuela and Bolivia Challenge OAS on Supporting U.S. and Cuba
The OAS permanent council convened to support the rapprochement between the two countries began five hours late due to disagreements over the draft declaration, distorting the image of unity that the majority of the member states wanted to promote

Spanish Tourists Spend the Most in Bolivia

BRAZIL
Providence, Rhode Island is suing the Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras over investor losses due to a corruption scandal.

Unlike other class actions, some of the company’s senior executives have also been named as defendants.

Dilma Rousseff’s Christmas may not be so merry
Humiliation at the World Cup, a flailing economy and an oil scandal made 2014 a tough year for Brazil.

CHILE
Red Alert Due to Forest Fires Still in Effect for Chile’s Valparaiso Region

COLOMBIA
Colombia to Grow Faster Than Peers Even as Oil Tumbles

CUBA
The Geopolitics of U.S.-Cuba Relations

US to pay freed Cuba prisoner $3.2m
American Alan Gross, freed last week after five years in a Cuban jail, is to receive $3.2m (£2m) from the US government.

Americans back normalizing relations with Cuba, but has anyone examined the costs?

Obama, Cuba, and Iran

Cuban dissident voices & Pope Francis’ deaf ears
The wives of imprisoned critics of the Castro regime deserved better

Exiles, U.S. betrayed

The Cuban Archipelago

U.S. ending Cuban sanctions more proof of weakness, say Iranian media

TOP 10 LIES IN OBAMA’S CUBA SPEECH

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominican Charged in Scheme to Sell Massachusetts’ Driver Licenses to Illegal Aliens

ECUADOR
Boston Investment Company Sues Ecuador Over Bond Default

EL SALVADOR
Salvadorian Who Went Missing in War Reunites with Family 32 Years Later

GUATEMALA
The One Latin America Winner From U.S. Economic Boom: Currencies

LATIN AMERICA
Latin America in 2014: elections, football and environmental conflict
US-Cuba relations dominated the news in December, but elsewhere voters seemed resigned to the status quo

MEXICO
Abducted Mexican priest found deadThe coffin with Father Gregorio Lopez’s body is loaded into a hearse
[Father Gregorio Lopez] A Mexican priest who was kidnapped earlier this week is found shot dead in the south-western state of Guerrero.

Merry Christmas but Lest We Forget, MEXICO STILL MOURNS

NICARAGUA
I’m not the only skeptic: Doubts deepen over Chinese-backed Nicaragua canal as work starts

So far the company, the HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd, or HKND Group, of telecoms entrepreneur Wang Jing, has identified only $200 million in funding.
. . .
Supporters point to Monday’s start as evidence that the plan is on schedule. But key feasibility studies on the canal have been pushed back to next April, and excavation work is not due to begin until the second half of next year.

PANAMA
Panama Buys More Time for “Temporary” Price Controls
Sunset Provision Extended, Expanded Product List in the Offing

PERU
Peru evacuates Amazon village after raid by indigenous tribe
At least 39 people taken to Puerto Maldonado as officials search for motive behind latest bow-and-arrow attack by members of Mashco-Piro tribe

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rican Economic Activity Index Drops 2.1%

VENEZUELA
Diosdado’s Crocodile Tears
New York Times Op-Ed Scapegoats United States for Venezuela’s Ruin

Why checks and balances? Check out Venezuela today.

The week’s posts and podcast:
Venezuela: Leopoldo’s letter

Argentina: Top Gear hot water

Merry Christmas!

Confirmed: US Sperm For Spies program

Nicaragua: Where’s the Canal money coming from?

Did Obama give in on Cuba so Uruguay would take 6 Gitmo alumni?

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
The Interview. Yes, The Interview

Last-minute shopping: The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Podcast:
The Opening to Cuba: What do Cuban Americans Think?

Venezuela: Revolución sin leche . . .

Monday, December 29th, 2014

pero con criminales (Revolution with no milk, but with criminals)

Two news items from the benighted Bolivarian revolution:

1. Famous Venezuelan ice-cream store closes over milk shortage

“We are closed during the season due to shortage of milk,” the famous Coromoto ice-cream store in the highland town of Merida announced on its Facebook page.

2. In Venezuela criminals are appointed to the High Court, TSJ

Translation:

1987 murder in Ciudad Bolivar
1989 associated with another murder
1990 manages to go free
1993 secretary in some Caracas court (!!!!!)
1995 becomes lawyer from the Santa Maria U. (one of the easiest universities to get a degree from, little bit more than signing attendance sheet)
2002 defends one of the regime murderers of 2002 April
2003 becomes a minor judge in Caracas (!!!!)
2004 issues arrest order against Simonovis
2005 judge in charge of Anderson case (where he did forgeries)
2007 suspended in March and fired in June
2014 TSJ “justice”.

“You want a criminal lawyer.”

Venezuela: Leopoldo’s letter

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Los Teques prison

Leopoldo López has a Letter From a Venezuelan Jail
I am one of scores of political prisoners locked away because of our words and ideas.

When the current ruling party, the United Socialist Party, first took power in 1999, its supporters viewed human rights as a luxury, not a necessity. Large segments of the population were living in poverty, and in need of food, housing and security. Protecting free speech and the separation of powers seemed frivolous. In the name of expediency, these values were compromised and then dismantled entirely.

The legislature was neutered, allowing the executive to rule by decree without the checks and balances that prevent government from veering off track. The judiciary was made accountable to the ruling party, rendering the constitution and the law meaningless. In an infamous 2009 case, Judge Mary Lourdes Afiuni was imprisoned for ordering the release of a businessman and government critic who had been held for three years in pretrial detention, one year more than allowed under Venezuelan law.

Meanwhile, political leaders—myself included—were persecuted and imprisoned, stifling the competition of ideas that could have led to better decisions and policies. Independent news organizations were dismantled, seized or driven out of business. The “sunshine that disinfects,” and the scrutiny that motivates good decision-making, no longer benefit our leadership.

Venezuela’s current president, Nicolás Maduro, has taken this to a terrible new low.

The odds are that López will remain jailed for as long as the dictatorship remains in power.

Over at the NYTimes, Diosdado Cabello is bellyaching about sanctions, Hectoring Venezuela on Human Rights, and actually says,

Our government responded with restraint,

In other Venezuelan news, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro Names New Foreign Minister
Rafael Ramírez to Become Ambassador to United Nations, Being Replaced by Delcy Rodríguez

Many analysts viewed the shift as a demotion, after he was first removed last year as head of Venezuela’s oil sector following more than a decade. He then became the president’s top economic adviser, before becoming foreign minister this year.

Daniel Duquenal asks,

Why did Ramirez finally fall? Because he was the only one that made a tiny bit of sense inside chavismo. Oh, he was not a bright light, but at least he understood that if you want to make the revolution world wide you need cash; and to get the type of cash revolutionaries will accept you need more than just a printing press. As such, once Giordani was ejected Ramirez set up on the task to convince chavismo that there should be some order put into state finances. After all, he knew better than anyone else the dismal situation looming on the horizon as having been himself the main culprit for the downfall of PDVSA, Venezuela oil company once upon a time golden goose.

Ramirez could risk it as his own power base inside chavismo was rather small even though arguably the one with the biggest potential influence. He could aspire at bringing around some consensus. After all Ramirez had the power of blackmail knowing very well who stole what and when and how much. But he miscalculated the extent of chavismo internecine fights where no one was willing to give an inch or power. So in the end, rather than making some crucial economic decisions they all found it easier to agree in sidelining him. Oh!  They could not fire him outright of course. Chavez almost never did so. Failed operators were sent into the sweet oblivion of an overseas embassy.

But Ramirez is also paying for having “failed” to keep oil barrel at 100 USD. The autistic regime cannot understand the reasons why oil is now below 60, neither Ramirez can, and even less Maduro. But Cuba does and sent Venezuela packing. Which I am sure made  Maduro pass that additional anger on Ramirez… (1)

At least there is a piece of good news for Ramirez there: he has the excuse to bring his family out of Venezuela and never come back if he wishes.

At Caracas Chronicles Francisco Toro looks at other personnel changes and finds Your Christmas Turd, courtesy of Diosdado Cabello and TSJ [TSJ = Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, Venezuela’s Supreme Court].

UPDATE;
Linked to by American Thinker. Thank you!



The “normalized” Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

On Wednesday, December 17, 2014 President Barack Obama read a Statement on Cuba Policy Changes. One could parse the fallacies, starting with “the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba,” when in fact the change is in the relationship with the Communist regime oppressing the people of Cuba. Cuban opposition leaders decry the move, clearly seeing it as a betrayal since the know that engagement won’t automatically promote freedom

Opposition leaders from throughout the island have agreed on four immediate demands to put before the government: the release of political prisoners; the end of repression against human rights and pro-democracy groups; the ratification of international covenants on human rights; and the recognition of Cuban civil society groups.

Nothing in the December 17 Statement refers to those demands.

Apparently 53 political prisoners are to be released; I’ll be most obliged if anyone could send me a link to the list of their names and the date(s) of their release, since I have not been able to find it.

The Liberal Fallacy of the Cuba Deal
Don’t get me wrong: I support the normalization of relations. But believing it can remake the regime in Havana is the worst kind of American exceptionalist fantasy.

The fantasy that U.S. policies and actions can reshape another country has been with us for far too long. The ability of the United States to change any country’s internal economy or politics is extraordinarily limited, as our most recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan show, yet again.

Mariela Castro, Raul Castro’s daughter, clarified,

Change must come from within Cuba: Only Cubans can save Cuba.

As things stand right now, the odds have vastly improved for Cuba to “transition” into a profitable Communist regime, like China’s. Or perhaps, even more likely, the Viet Nam outcome,

The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely.

Obama is trying to cement his legacy. Human rights (and true democracy) be damned.

Obama on video flaunting Cuban cigar hours after capitulating to Cuba


More ABC News Videos | ABC World News

As an aside, the Castro regime has availed itself of santería imagery to instill fear at home (even having members of his entourage pluck dead chickens at the Waldorf Astoria in 1960). Obama’s announcement came on St. Lazarus day, a saint in Cuban santería, as Val Prieto points out. When it comes to symbolism, Obama handed the Castros an ace in the hole.

Roundup:
Drudge:


CASTRO: CUBA STAYS COMMUNIST!

1960 article from The Economist: On The Rocks

Blogs:
In Cuba Policy Debate, Theories Don’t Cut It

Castros Pull It Off, Again? Some Preliminary Thoughts

Will Obama roll out the White House red carpet for Raul Castro?

‘Disturbing to say the least': Something’s VERY wrong with this photo of Alan Gross

Krauthammer: Liberalization Won’t Work in Cuba

Details of the Unilateral Executive Cuba Deal

What Part of Keeping Cuba Isolated Has Not ‘Worked’?

Obama’s New Cuba Policy: Eating With Raul

Rand Paul Rand-splains Cuba to Marco Rubio

Castro’s Hipster Apologists Want to Keep Cuba ‘Authentically’ Poor
The thawing of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba has elicited a lot of patronizing, asinine fretting about the imminent “Americanization” of Cuba.

The WaPo sees the light on Obama and Cuba

Thoughts on Cuba

Odds & Ends: Cuba

Democracy in Cuba is a long-term project. One of the arguments from those who want to lift the embargo is that capitalism will bring democracy to Cuba. What this argument fails to take into account is that Cuban society from an ethics standpoint has de-evolved. Since Castro has taken over, Cuban society has regressed. Through its loss of freedom and the economic rations, the Cuban people have adopted a “survival of the fittest” mentality. In terms of daily life, this means that the Cuban people have to steal either materials, or food, or money in order for their family to survive. Their thought is that the consequences be damned, I have to do this for my family to survive. For foreign companies that want to do build factories and or businesses in Cuba, be prepared to deal with employees who will steal.

The democratic process in Cuba will take at least three generations. The first generation will need to fight for their democratic rights. This will either be a violent or a peaceful revolution. The second generation, once it has secured those rights, will need to have those rights protected through constitutional means. The third and subsequent generations will need to be vigilant in protecting those rights. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, Cuba will have a democracy, if they can keep it. In that democraticization process civil society will need to be re-established. The re-establish process needs to include a religious component.

Boycott Cuba, Conservative Hellhole
Why, again, are we celebrating a country run by elderly, militaristic white Hispanic men?

Cuba’s Maximum Wage, Or What Life Is Like When You Follow Gawker’s Economic Policy

¿Qué Ofrece Raúl Castro?

ARGENTINA
Will the Pope butt in? Argentina calls on Britain to discuss Falklands sovereignty after US and Cuba deal
ARGENTINA President Cristina Kirchner has today called on Britain to discuss the Falklands’ sovereignty in light of an historic deal between the US and Cuba.

BRAZIL

Edição 2405

24 de dezembro de 2014

No es facil

Estados Unidos e Cuba reatam laços diplomáticos – mas é cedo para comemorar

CHILE
Emanuel heading to Chile for holidays, despite possible criticism

COLOMBIA
Colombia Farc truce follows killings
Colombia’s Farc begins an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire, hours after the army said that the left-wing rebels had killed five soldiers.

ECUADOR
Ecuador Ends Environmental Cooperation with Germany

JAMAICA
Jamaica Urged To Take Lead In Renewed Cuba Relations

PUERTO RICO
Cuba’s Tourism Gain Will Be Puerto Rico’s Loss Says Analyst

URUGUAY
Uruguay’s Mujica Shows U.S. Letter De-Linking Ex-Guantanamo Inmates from Terrorism

VENEZUELA
Venezuela is done for; it is not me saying it, it is Raul Castro

Another thing is that the way Raul Castro has dumped Venezuela for the US tourism dollar. Now that Venezuela is bankrupt, the only quick fix available for Cuba is to open its tourism to US visitors, and to Miami Cubans eager to come back and buy back, say, their ancestral home. Raul Castro, for all practical purposes, told us today that Venezuela is done, that he cannot leech much more from it, and that he dumps us without ceremony. We are broke and not even the most idiot of chavistadom can pretend to ignore that for much longer.

But what worries me the most about the whole Raul-Obama deal is that a wind of impunity is blowing through the Caribbean. Thousands of Cuban criminals that supported the Castro horrendous dictatorship are now going to go Scott free. Sure, a couple of them will be somehow sent to trial, scapegoats for decades of tyranny and errors. But it looks like the Castros are now going to die peacefully in their bed while the cult to Che will grow even stronger as throngs of lobotomized US tourists will be driven to the high places of Che crimes.

Current occupant of the White House imposes sanctions on Venezuela, no one pays attention

US-Cuba: A Historic Decision

How Venezuela’s Collapse Helped Thaw Cuban-American Relations
The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez helped keep the Cuban regime propped up, but that’s not possible in an era of low oil prices

The week’s posts and podcast:
Cuba: Raul gets richer

Cuba: Q & A

Cuba: US law and dissidents’ objectives

Ecuador: Selling it to China

Cuba: What is the regime going to do?

Cuba: #AlanGross released – is Obama ending the embargo in exchange? UPDATED THROUGH THE DAY

Argentina: Cristina aims for The People’s Cube

Puerto Rico: NY Yankees’ Jorge Posada scammed out of $11million

Elsewhere

Uruguay: Send more Gitmo alumni!

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Whose “outdated Cold War perspective”?

Brace yourselves: Obama to end the embargo after Gross’s release

Podcast
A look at Venezuela, Cuba and other US-Latin America stories of the week



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.