Thanks to generous subsidies and enormous oil reserves, Venezuela has the cheapest petrol in the world. You can pay for a full tank with the loose change you get from buying an arepa – flatbread made of maize flour, the national staple dish.
Is this about to change? Continue reading »
By Felipe Pérez Martí
In a recent article published in The Guardian, American economist Mark Weisbrot argues that concerns expressed by economists about the condition of the Venezuelan economy are unfounded. He claims that the Venezuelan economy is not headed for collapse, and describes those who say this is so as “Venezuela haters” allied to the opposition.
I served under President Hugo Chávez as Minister of Planning and Head of the Economics Cabinet between 2002 and 2003. I deeply believe in the ideals of the Bolivarian Revolution of creating a just, egalitarian and democratic society in Venezuela, and in Chávez’s commitment to turn these ideals into reality. Continue reading »
President Nicolás Maduro is a fraud, his government is incompetent and corrupt, most ministers should be sacked, the ruling Socialist Party’s ideological discourse is sterile, the national “Bolivarian” project is on a suicide path, and there is a growing risk of a coup from within the administration.
But don’t believe the FT on any of this. These are the words of Heinz Dieterich, a Marxist professor and former mentor of Hugo Chávez, writing in the leftist website Aporrea. Having cleared our throats before Sunday’s municipal elections, what actually is at stake at the vote — in concrete terms? Continue reading »
As beyondbrics was landing on Monday evening, Venezuela’s capital gave it a warm welcome: a massive blackout. A big chunk of the country was without power, including much of Caracas.
Roving the streets of one of the world’s most dangerous cities in complete darkness was quite an experience – even for your correspondent’s seasoned driver, desperately calling family and friends to check if they were doing fine. Continue reading »
Over the weekend Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s president, announced further measures to reinforce his “economic offensive” against “capitalist parasites”. At the same time, your correspondent was on his way to cross the border from Colombia into Venezuela – overland, listening to loud vallenato and merengue in a rusted 1984 Chevrolet Caprice.
And while waiting hours on end to get his passport stamped in the sweltering heat of Paraguachón, he witnessed one of the unwanted consequences of the president’s war on free enterprise. Continue reading »
Rumours have been circulating for a while that capitalist bankers may be cooking up ways of helping cash-strapped, socialist Venezuela. Now details are emerging of how the Bolivarian Revolution is paying generous fees to get its hands on hard currency, without actually running up any new debt, or running down its reportedly-depleted foreign exchange reserves. Continue reading »
Venezuela and North Korea would appear to be good buddies. However, perhaps it is in the south of the Korean peninsula where real partnership lies.
This week Samsung Electronics and the government of Venezuela announced they signed an agreement to form a joint venture to make consumer electronics and home appliances. Given the way electronics retailers have been treated recently, it’s amazing anyone would want to do business with Caracas. Continue reading »
Roll up, roll up, come get your Venezuelan bonds.
That appears to be the message from Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramirez, who said on Tuesday that state-owned oil company PDVSA will sell $4.5bn in bonds this week. Continue reading »
Latin America is home to four of the five most violent countries in the world.
For an area of the world significantly richer per head than Africa and something of a hot spot for investors, this is damning.
The high crime rates are not just limited to drug-ridden basket cases like Honduras and Guatemala, either. In Brazil and Chile, crime is hitting growth, deterring business and swelling government coffers, according to a UN report released on Tuesday. Continue reading »
First, he came for the toilet paper factory. Then, late on Friday, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro seized a national chain of electronic stores as part of his battle against galloping inflation and rampant shortages he blames on an “economic war” coming from right-wing contrarians.
Maduro sent soldiers to “occupy” Daka, (similar to Best Buy in the US), accusing them of unjustified price hikes and said it will force them to sell everything at “fair prices”. Continue reading »
Venezuela keeps fidgeting with its tight foreign exchange controls. Earlier this week President Nicolás Maduro announced the government was restructuring the way it allocates greenbacks in its import-dependent economy.
He said the government was establishing the “National Centre of Exterior Commerce”, an umbrella organisation to oversee the main foreign exchange agency, Cadivi, as well as the country’s forex auction mechanisms. Continue reading »
New inflation data are out in Venezuela and they don’t make for a pretty reading.
Prices rose 5.1 per cent in October, the second highest monthly increase in over three years, according to the the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV). Continue reading »
Christmas comes round pretty quickly each year – too quickly for some, given the proliferation of Xmas ads on TV. But not soon enough, it seems, for Venezuela’s President, Nicolás Maduro. Forget the calendar: over the weekend he wished his followers a “merry early Christmas”, flicking on the lights at the presidential palace and saluting the Three Wise Men.
His decision of advancing Christmas by decree means that workers will receive the first two-thirds of their bonuses and pensions next week, with the remaining in early December, and that the supply of some 50m toys will be guaranteed in a country that is battling shortages. Continue reading »
What to do if you are a president struggling with massive shortages and galloping inflation? You create a Deputy Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness, to try keep people, well, happy.
That is what Venezuela’s President Maduro announced late last week, stating that the ministry co-ordinate all the poverty alleviation programmes installed by his mentor and predecessor Hugo Chávez. Leaving aside the self-declared good intentions, some commentators smell political motives ahead of municipal polls in December already perceived as a plebiscite on Maduro’s rule. Continue reading »