Conveniently for Nicolas Maduro, whose fledgling presidency has been marred by nationwide shortages of loo paper (amongst a host of other things), someone is about to lend a helping hand.
Less conveniently for Venezuela’s new leader – and for the socialist, anti-imperialist discourse that he touts – that someone is a major US corporation, Kimberly-Clark, which is planning to invest $37m to expand its operations in the Bolivarian republic. Continue reading »
Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s new president, could be forgiven for feeling a bit slighted after his opposite number in China, Xi Jinping, came within a few miles of Venezuelan territory last week but didn’t drop in to Caracas to say hello.
Instead, he spent two whole days in Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela’s tiny Caribbean neighbour. Why? Continue reading »
Venezuelans barely flinched when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged four people linked to a New York-based broker in a scheme that involved bribing a senior official at the state-run Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela (BANDES) last month for sending highly lucrative business their way.
It’s unlikely Venezuelans will even notice that another man, who arranged the bribe payments, was arrested on Wednesday. Continue reading »
It turns out that President Nicolas Maduro thinks that the plan to introduce food rationing in Zulia, Venezuela’s most populous state, is “crazy”.
Regardless of whether he always thought that, or whether, perhaps, the increasingly unpopular president was responding to widespread rejection of the plan, he’s right – it is not the way to put an end to the problem of shortages that has become so acute that someone has even invented an app to help Venezuelans locate specific goods they are having difficulty finding. Continue reading »
More bad news for Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s embattled new president. The latest inflation figures are in, and if the gloomier predictions are to be believed, hyperinflation could even be around the corner.
However you look at it, the situation is worrying. We’re not even half way through the year and prices in Venezuela have almost risen by as much as they did in the whole of last year, with the 6.1 per cent rise in May the highest monthly inflation figure on record. Continue reading »
How Venezuela has changed since Hugo Chavez died. What would the raucously anti-imperialist leader have made, for example, of the photograph taken on Wednesday of Venezuela’s foreign minister looking like a bashful teenager beside his apparently rather aloof US counterpart, John Kerry?
Before long, bankers will probably get a photo opportunity too, this time with Venezuela’s finance minister, Nelson Merentes (pictured), who will soon set off on a roadshow in the US and Europe for the first time in almost a decade. Continue reading »
When is rationing not actually rationing? According to the government of Venezuela’s most populous state, Zulia, it is when restrictions on purchases of certain goods are actually intended to stop smuggling.
It’s true that a lot of contraband is sent from Zulia across its extensive border with neighbouring Colombia (quite a lot passes in the other direction, too, in the form of cocaine). But it’s also true that Venezuela is suffering from widespread shortages of all kinds of basic goods. Continue reading »
Apparently, the economic woes that Venezuelans are suffering at the moment are down to the fact that Hugo Chavez died – so says the new central bank chief, Edmée Betancourt. Well, that’s one way of putting it.
Another way of putting it might be that the late president left the economy in such a mess that no one seems to have a clue what to do about it. Continue reading »
Some honeymoon. Barely a month into his presidential term, and the situation facing Nicolas Maduro is decidedly unenviable.
Try as he might to give a show of strength by visiting powerful allies to the south this week, on the domestic front the situation is looking increasingly shaky, with terrible inflation figures released on Thursday. Continue reading »
It’s hardly reason to rejoice, but the fact that Jorge Giordani’s power over economic policymaking appears to be receding must be seen as a good thing.
After President Nicolas Maduro’s cabinet reshuffle on Sunday night, central bank president Nelson Merentes (pictured) will as Venezuela’s new finance minister now take the lead. But will he be much better? Continue reading »
Henrique Capriles would of course have preferred to win Venezuela’s elections last Sunday. But the fact that his rival Nicolás Maduro only won by a whisker meant that he has emerged greatly strengthened.
Now, however, the ugly wave of violence perpetrated by government opponents that has gripped the volatile Caribbean country since the vote, so far leaving seven dead and 61 wounded, is jeopardising Capriles’ newfound strength. Continue reading »
Venezuelans may be fed up with their country’s stuttering economy, but it doesn’t look like that is going to stop Nicolás Maduro from winning presidential elections on Sunday.
As Venezuelans make up their minds whether to vote for Hugo Chávez’s handpicked successor, or the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, recurrent problems like shortages of basic goods, electricity blackouts and relentlessly rising prices continue to complicate day-to-day living. Continue reading »
If anyone wants Nicolás Maduro to win Venezuela’s presidential elections this Sunday, it is PDVSA, the state oil company – judging by the effort it has made to support the campaign of Hugo Chávez’s heir, or the amount of people at his rallies wearing red caps emblazoned with PDVSA’s logo.
But for all that the big guns at PDVSA, not least its president Rafael Ramírez, may want to maintain the status quo, which is what Maduro is essentially promising, changes may yet be in store for Venezuela’s oil sector if he wins – if he knows what’s good for him, anyway. Continue reading »
On the whole, the Hugo Chávez years went well for Polar, Venezuela’s biggest privately owned company, which did solid business despite all the president’s radical socialist rhetoric.
But with presidential elections due on Sunday, campaigning is always an especially sensitive time, with the food and drink giant last week becoming the object of particularly harsh criticism from Chávez’s successor Nicolás Maduro, a former bus driver who wants to ram it home to voters that he’s on the side of the workers, not their beastly capitalist employers. Continue reading »
Hugo Chavez always had a rather schizophrenic relationship with bankers. During his “Bolivarian revolution” he allowed many to make outrageous fortunes, while others ended up behind bars.
Under his successor Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s acting president, not much has changed yet, with the latest fright taking place on Thursday when a broker that housed the local operations of US-based Oppenheimer & Co was raided by intelligence agents. Continue reading »