Reuters published an article today in which it cites sources linked to the country’s oil industry claiming that Venezuela’s oil production machine is only working at one third of its capacity. If true, the claim would both partially explain the chronic shortages of food, medicine and other basic necessities in the country, since over 95% of Venezuela’s foreign income comes from oil sales.

In the article, Reuters claims that Ivan Freites – a union representative who has had access to internal PDVSA documents – revealed that the Amuay refinery, the country’s largest, is operating at only 40% capacity. Only three of its five oil refining units are operational.

Freites also revealed that the nearby Cardon refinery operates at 38.7% of capacity, while the refinery at El Palito has been completely offline since October.

Freites also suggested that the PDVSA – which is run by the Venezuelan government – appears to be in complete denial over the cause of the crisis at its plants, which stems for a chronic lack of maintenance and repair parts of malfunctioning and out-of-service equipment. Freites claimed that PDVSA blames production problems on sabotage by the country’s enemies.

Cabello: Don’t Mess with the Family

PSUV vice-president and National Assembly deputy Diosdado Cabello spoke for the first time on the drug trafficking conviction of Efrain and Francisco Flores, first lady Cilia Flores’ nephews, during his television show last night.

Cabello said that he believes that the opposition focusing in on the case is nothing but an attempt to discredit Maduro personally, and suggested that it was unethical to even discuss the matter. Cabello explained by saying:

The right wing does not respect ethical codes, or the fact that the family cannot be touched…

Cabello’s name came up during the trial. Last week, the jury in the case heard a secret video recording showing Francisco talking about Diosdado Cabello as being the most powerful man in Venezuela, fueling long-standing suspicions that Cabello is the head of a powerful drug cartel known as the Cartel de Los Soles.

On the overall nature of the case, Cabello said that he considers that Efrain and Francisco have been kidnapped by U.S. justice, saying:

[Even if] there is guilt, the individuals would be responsible [as opposed to Maduro or Cilia Flores]. But I don’t think that they are guilty because I think that those boy have been taken hostage.

Maduro Celebrates 54th Birthday With Music, Dancing

Maduro celebrated his 54th birthday last night with a party at the MIraflores Palace in Caracas. The party included musical guests who serenaded Maduro throughout the night.

Below, a 24-minute video showing part of last night’s festivities. While the video is too long for me to translate, it contains some scenes that are worth watching even for non-Spanish speakers, including Maduro dancing with his wife, Cilia Flores, to music played by a Puerto Rican band.

Below, the video:

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