Here are a few things I thought are worth mentioning that have been going on in Venezuela.
- The opposition political parties (Accion Democratica, Causa R, COPEI, MAS, Premero Justicia, Proyecto Venezuela, and Un Neuvo Tiempo) signed an agreement of unity including a commitment to 10 points. I don't find the 10 points very interesting nor very significant, however I do find their apparent commitment to unity ahead of this years elections very hopeful. In their agreement of unity these parties are prepared to select candidates by consensus either from polling data or primaries. Lets hope the parties can put their differences and cacique mentality behind them.
- The Venezuelan government has called for the apprehension of ex-supreme court justice Luis Velasquez Alvaray on corruption charges. While I would not doubt he was involved in corruption, one shouldn't forget that this man has all sorts of juicy information on former and current Chavistas, including the shady business deals involving Makarem and Valbuena, yes the owners of PetroTulsa and North American Opinion Research.
- In other legal news Attorney General is bring charges against former Minister of Finance Tobias Nobrega on corruption charges. Again like Alvaray these Nobrega is more than likely guilty, but I can't help seeing how the government choses who to prosecute based on if they considered no longer useful or in Chavez's favor.
- Apparently the Venezuelan government is trying to squeeze as much money it can out of Citgo, since they announced that between 500-700 contractors, responsible for maintenance, were let go at the Louisiana refinery. The duties of those contractors will be added to the 150 full time maintenance workers, this is surly very concerning since maintenance will most likely fall putting refinery in danger, but more importantly people and the environment.
What I find interesting is this quote:
"Citgo wants to send 100 percent of what it makes to Venezuela," said a source. "They're only spending what's needed to meet legal and regulatory obligations."
So Venezuela ships oil to the US, refines it, then ships it back to Venezuela to sell for 14 cents a gallon when the market price in the US is ~$3.00. Clearly this is bad for business and is a huge subsidy to Venezuelan motorist.
In other PDVSA news, the state oil company borrowed $12.1 billion dollars in 2007 alone with Citgo borrowing $1 billion to support PDVSA. The current total debt of PDVSA is now $16 billion
In other news
-According to the polling company Datos, Chavez's popularity is at 30%, with the number one issue among voters being insecurity in Venezuela. Something Chavez has never addressed strongly nor been able to control.
Today Chavez hinted that food prices at state run supermarkets "Mercal" will likely have to raise prices since items like milk are "super subsidized". So not only are Venezuelan not able to find milk easily but soon they will shave to pay more for it. I wonder how will the 30% will accept this.
- What has become a daily event Chavez threatened businesses against hoarding food products, stated that if the opposition wins in the regional elections later this year it would be a coup, etc... but wait today we have a new one, today Chavez called on to investigate rumors that an outbreak of a sever form of dengue in Zulia was "created in the laboratory". Thankfully, he hasn't accused the empire, Colombia, or the opposition for the outbreak, yet.... perhaps all three worked together to create this deadly strain? or could it be the a decline sanitation in Venezuela?