Yesterday, Reuters reported that PDVSA had missed making a full bond payment worth $539 million to investors, triggering fears that that state-owned oil company was finally beginning to run out of money. Wall Street registered a payment from PDVSA worth $135 million, leaving $404 million unpaid.
The missed payment came with commentary from JPMorgan analysts, who responded to the event by saying:
We still believe PDVSA will make these payments during the grace period. We highlight that Venezuela has more than $10.86 billion reserves as of November 17th as reported by the Central Bank of Venezuela. However, this highlights the cash difficulties and mismanagement of PDVSA with regards to its liabilities. We intend to provide further updates as soon as they are received.”
Minister of Oil and PDVSA chief Eulogio del Pino reacted to the story on Twitter, saying that PDVSA had in fact made the bond payment in full. del Pino also said:
The news of the PDVSA default that the enemies of the homeland have put out are completely false.
Maduro explained later in the day that PDVSA had in fact made the bond payment ahead of the deadline, but that it had for some reason not called its investors to let them know that they had made the payment. If Maduro’s explanation is true, news of the missed payment might be simply a matter of miscommunication, since investors might simply have assumed that no payment was made since PDVSA did not communicate that fact to them.
Maduro to Sue JPMorgan Over News
Later in the day, Maduro announced that he might take legal action against JPMorgan for reporting the news last night, saying:
Yesterday, some bums — criminals who have the support of the Venezuelan opposition, from sectors from the ultra-right wing, [called] JPMorgan — declared that PDVSA had not made a payment and that it had entered default.
I say this to all Venezuelans listening to me: Isn’t this kind of announcement against an entire country criminal? Isn’t this kind of deceitful, evil ambush against a country that only wants to work?
Maduro made the comments during a new daily radio show which he hosts called La Hora de la Salsa [Salsa Hour]. While the show is primarily a salsa music show, Maduro has taken to use his air time to talk about a wide range of non-salsa related issues.
Maduro also said that his government would sue JMorgan over the story, saying:
I’ve told Minister Eulogio del Pino to consult with our international law firms, and present me with a proposal to take international judicial action against JP Morgan in the name of the Venezuelan people. The least that JP Morgan could do is offer an excuse, ask for forgiveness from the Venezuelan people and say that they made a mistake.
In what has become a mantra for both Maduro and other high ranking officials in the Venezuelan government, Maduro blamed a U.S.-based conspiracy against him as the reason for the news story, saying:
Behind all this is the U.S. Department of the Treasury. They couldn’t handle the revolution. They couldn’t overthrow this revolutionary government all year, so in their desperation they’re attacking our currency and the country’s finances.
Minister of Commerce: 2017 Will be “Year of Economic Recovery”
Minister of Exterior Commerce Jesus Faria, appeared in a televised interview today on the daily Vladimir a la 1 show on the Globovision network. During the interview, Faria spoke on the general state of the Venezuelan economy, and paid particular attention to its future.
Faria said that the Maduro government has successfully implemented policies to weather the economic crisis the country is feeling, and continued by saying:
I don’t deny that there are problems. We’ve lost 75% of our foreign currency [income], but the revolution’s policies have prevented social chaos – a social explosion.
Faria also predicted that next year would be the year of “economic recovery” for Venezuela, although he did not provide any concrete justification for his claim. His prediction is a tall order, given that Venezuela is expected to end the year with the highest inflation rate on the planet – at least 700% – and a GDP contraction of at least 10%.
National Assembly Creates Special Commission to Investigate Flores Case
The National Assembly met today to discuss the case of Efrain and Francisco Flores, first lady Cilia Flores’ nephews, who were convicted to conspiracy to smuggle 800 kilograms of cocaine into the United States last Friday.
After approving a motion rejecting the involvement of high-ranking Venezuelan government officials in the drug trade, the legislature approved the creation of a special commission to investigate the Flores case.
The commission will be made up of opposition deputies Jose Luis Pirela, Ismael Garcia, Teodoro Campos, Ismael Leon, and Jose Trujillo. The commission will be rounded off by two yet-to-be-named PSUV deputies.
The Venezuelan government has yet to acknowledge the Flores’ conviction.
Man Arrested For Stealing Two Ruffles Bags
A day after a 16-year-old boy was arrested for stealing five pumpkins which he claimed he planned to give to his family for sustenance, a man has been arrested in Valencia, Carabobo state for stealing two Ruffles bags.
Below, a picture published by the Valencia Police Department showing the suspect and his loot. The bags are marked “EVIDENCE”:
The picture caused the same kind of outrage that the teenage-with-pumpkins image did, as they are both seen by many Venezuelans as symbols of both the humanitarian crisis in the country as well as the repressive and arbitrary nature of the Venezuelan state.
Simonovis Marks 12th Anniversary in Detention
One of Venezuela’s most famous political prisoners marked his 12th year in detention today.
Ivan Simonovis was the Chief of Civil Security for the Metropolitan Area [Caracas] during the April 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez, and was accused of orchestrating some of the violence that took place during the event. He was arrested in 2004 and finally convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2009, but he has been living under house arrest since 2014 due to health issues.
Bony Pertíñez, Simonovis’ wife, spoke in a radio interview today on what her husband’s arrest and detention meant for the history of Venezuela, saying:
Beyond being a case of personal revenge against Ivan, [the case] became a policy against those who think differently.
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