The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Migration Agency (IOM) announced today that they have appointed Eduardo Stein to the position of Joint Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants in the region.

The announcement came via a press released from the UNHCR, which you can find here

According to the statement, Stein’s position entails that he will:

… work to promote dialogue and consensus necessary for the humanitarian response, including access to territory, refugee protection, legal stay arrangements and the identification of solutions for Venezuelan refugees and migrants

Stein is a Guatemalan politician who served as vice president of the country from 2004 to 2008. A profile of Stein on a Northwestern University page describes him in the following way:

Colleagues describe Stein as a straight-talking independent politician and diplomat who has devoted his career to emphasizing regional approaches to socioeconomic and political issues in Central America. A widely respected negotiator, he spent 11 years as a technical adviser to the Central American peace process that resulted in peace agreements in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The same profile credits Stein “helping broker the 1996 Peace Accords in Guatemala”, which brought an end to 36 years of civil conflict in the country.

Stein is also a member of Inter-American Dialogue, a public policy think-tank out of Washington, D.C. that focuses on Latin American issues, as well as the Global Leadership Foundation, a group of political leaders who provide confidential consultancy to “support political leadership and good governance around the world”. 

Economist Warns of China Default in 2019

Alejandro Grisanti, an economist and founder of the Ecoanalitica firm, spoke today on a variety of topics during a radio interview on Union Radio.

Grisanti spoke at length on Venezuela’s financial relationship with China, which has invested $50 billion in the country over the past decade. Maduro was in China earlier this week, where he claims to have secured an additional $5 billion in funding from Beijing

According to Grisanti, Venezuela’s financial situation is so precarious that it might begin to default on Chinese debt as early as next year. He said

We cannot discount the possibility that in 2019 Venezuela will not have the capacity to pay China, and that China will suffer the same fate as bond holders right now [because] their debt cannot be paid, and so in the end we’d have a Venezuelan default with China. 

Grisanti referenced the fact that Caracas has already defaulted on billions of dollars of debt owed to bond holders. 

Grisanti also said that one of the reasons why Maduro traveled to Beijing this week was to personally request that Chinese officials give Venezuela a two-year grace period in the repayment of $9 billion in debt. According to Grisanti, the Chinese refused:

What we understand is that Venezuela went to ask for a two-year grace period (…) [which] represents 9 billion dollars that Venezuela would not have to have paid in the next years if China had agreed to the grade period. However, they did not accept [the request]. 

The economist also said that when Beijing declined the two-year grace period request, Maduro asked if they would grant a six month reprieve from Venezuela’s debt obligations. This request, Grisanti said, was also refused. 

Grisanti also said that China is Venezuela’s last financial lifeline, given the continued decline in oil production. 

On the details of the financial agreements between the two countries, Grisanti said:

It’s shocking how the agreements between China and Venezuela are so opaque, so lacking in transparency. China never ends up announcing the interest rates properly, [or] the conditions on the loans or what they’re for.

There are lots of programs with China: for example, there’s the supposed bus factory, and in the end it’s [become] obvious that Venezuela is not producing buses. 

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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