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 »
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 »
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 »
Even the IndyCar Series now appears to have been hit by Venezuela’s currency jousts, another example of the country’s citizens desperately trying to skirt around the country’s tight foreign exchange controls.
On Friday, officials froze the hard currency allowance to automobile and motorcycle racers who compete overseas while they are being investigated over activities that might be “fictitious or overpriced”. Continue reading »
Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s vice-president in charge of economic policy and current oil minister, has a message for the country’s detractors on Friday:
“A devaluation is not being planned here!” Continue reading »
Cheer or cry? That’s the question some will be asking after Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro removed his pragmatic finance minister Nelson Merentes as vice-president responsible for the economy.
Oil minister Rafael Ramírez (pictured), who also acts as president of the state-run energy giant, PDVSA, will replace him. Continue reading »
Even after its facelift a few years ago, taking off from Maiquetia, Venezuela’s main international airport, is still often a chaotic experience, as long queues form for security reasons or through simple inefficiency.
Now travellers should brace themselves for worse. In his latest battle in an “economic war”, the government of president Nicolás Maduro said at the weekend it would use fingerprint scanners to clamp down on travel scams used to bypass Venezuela’s strict currency restrictions. Continue reading »
Venezuela’s economy is in such disarray that there is now a whopping 660 per cent difference between the official exchange rate and the black market one. As of Tuesday, greenbacks could be sold on the black market in some corners of Caracas for up to 48 bolívars per US dollar, compared with the official rate of 6.3.
To try and stop the bolívar’s plunge, Nelson Merentes, finance minister, said during a televised interview on Monday evening that the government would soon unveil yet another foreign-exchange system. Continue reading »
All in all, it’s been a summer of “no” for many Venezuelans. No chicken, no sugar, no toilet paper and now, no power.
Half of Venezuela was without power on Tuesday, including much of its capital, Caracas. Ironically, the blackout occurred just hours after the government claimed it managed to reduce the country’s chronic power outages by 75 per cent this year. Continue reading »
Some call it “the most complex exchange rate system in the world” – and with good reason.
In Venezuela, there is the official, fixed exchange rate, which for many Venezuelans is a mere fiction; there is the black market exchange rate, which is known as the “unmentionable” rate since it is a criminal offence to do so; and then there is the Sicad rate, a more recent invention that occupies a grey area somewhere in between. Continue reading »
The Venezuelan toilet paper shortage story says a lot about economic management in a country where the greenback fetches five times its official value on the parallel market.
While Venezuelans have struggled to get their hands on everything from loo roll to toothpaste, authorities have been in denial about the grinding liquidity crunch that makes ordinary life – and business life – a daily struggle.
But on Friday, for the first time since March, the Central Bank granted many businesses access to the coveted US dollar – offering up another $200m – via a revamped Sicad, a type of currency auction selling dollars for bolívares. Continue reading »
It seems not even touch screens and a Grammy winning artist can save BlackBerry from a sales slump. Oddly enough though, the Canadian smartphone maker doesn’t blame its losses on Samsung Galaxies or iPhones, but rather Venezuela’s financial turmoil. Continue reading »