Venezuela

Ronald Zak / AP via Miami Herald

Oil is Venezuela’s only real economic asset, accounting for more than 95 percent of its export revenues. But its oil industry has been wrecked by neglect and corruption. The government is now purging that industry’s leadership. But it’s probably too late.

They say oil is as much a curse to Venezuela as it is a blessing. The South American country has the world’s largest oil reserves. But its oil wealth has long been looted by corrupt ruling elites. Or, in this century, by a corrupt socialist revolution.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

This month, credit ratings agencies declared Venezuela in default on part of its massive foreign debt. That was bad news of course for the socialist regime. And some economists say it's helping send an already wrecked Venezuelan economy to life support.

Updated at 6:38 p.m. ET

For a span of some four months earlier this year, demonstrators swarmed Venezuela's city streets in protest of ballooning inflation, diminishing food and President Nicolas Maduro's tightening grasp on power — until, that is, Maduro's efforts to derail the opposition bore fruit. By August the protests ebbed from view, as a new lawmaking body packed with Maduro's preferred politicians took the country's reins.

Still, while the protests have all but disappeared, the economic woes that helped inspire them remain as obstinate as ever.

Ariana Cubillos / AP

Two things happened last week that gave hope to opponents of Venezuela’s socialist regime – especially to Venezuelan exiles in South Florida.

Associated Press

One of Venezuela’s highest-profile political prisoners, the former mayor of Caracas, escaped from house arrest early Friday and made his way into Colombia, immigration officials confirmed.

Antonio Ledezma has been under arrest since Feb. 19, 2015, when the socialist administration accused him of plotting a coup against President Nicolás Maduro — charges the U.S. State Department has called “ludicrous.”

Speaking to radio reporters in the Colombian border town of Cúcuta, Ledezma said he was going to travel the world to keep fighting for Venezuela.

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

Venezuela is in economic ruin, which is why so many Venezuelans have fled to South Florida. Still, Venezuela keeps making payments on its massive foreign debt. But debt ratings agencies are suddenly using the “d” word. As in  default. But what does that really mean?

Thanks to reckless government mismanagement and falling oil prices, Venezuela is running out of money. It has less than $10 billion in foreign reserves left – yet it’s staring at almost $10 billion in foreign debt payments due over the next year.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

When right-wing military tyrant Augusto Pinochet ruled Chile in the 1970s and 80s, a then-democratic Venezuela gave refuge to Chilean opposition exiles who'd been targeted for prison or “disappearance” under his brutal dictatorship.

U.S. Sanctions 10 More Venezuelan Government Leaders

Nov 9, 2017
Associated Press

Denouncing last month’s regional Venezuelan elections as irregular, the Trump administration imposed new individual sanctions Thursday against 10 Venezuelans it accused of undermining democracy, censoring the news media and engaging in the corrupt administration of government-run food programs.

The Treasury Department froze U.S. assets, banned U.S. travel and prohibited Americans from doing business with top allies of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, including his chief of staff, two sitting ministers and one of the all-powerful Constituent Assembly’s vice presidents.

Candidates in Venezuela aligned with the movement founded by the late President Hugo Chavez have claimed most of the country's governorships, despite projections that the opposition would win. The results were likely to result in fresh unrest in the troubled nation.

Reporting from Caracas, NPR's Philip Reeves says: "Polls said Venezuela's opposition were going to be big winners in these elections. Instead, the ruling socialist party are now celebrating what Maduro calls 'a decisive victory,' after taking 17 of the country's 23 state governorships."

The Trump administration is updating its travel ban, just hours before it was set to expire. In a proclamation signed by President Trump on Sunday, the travel restrictions now include eight countries, a couple of which are not majority-Muslim, as had been the case with all the nations in the original ban.

United Nations

Before he was president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís was a professor at Florida International University. He had a homecoming on Friday when he spoke at FIU on topics like climate change and the future of Venezuelan democracy. 

Solís was a Fulbright professor at FIU at the turn of the century, researching Latin American issues. After addressing the U.N. general assembly this week, Solís came to talk at FIU’s Main Campus about those same concerns.

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

Political conditions in Venezuela are growing darker by the day. But so is Venezuela’s financial situation. In the meantime, Florida politicians are calling for more help for Venezuelan immigrants.

Much of the international community now labels Venezuela’s socialist government a dictatorship. And this week the regime is doing its best to live up to that billing.

U.S. Imposes First Economic Sanctions Against Venezuela

Aug 25, 2017
Fernando Llano / AP via the Miami Herald

The U.S. imposed its first economic penalties against Venezuela on Friday, hitting the South American country's financial sector in an attempt to starve President Nicolás Maduro's government of cash.

The Trump administration banned trades of Venezuelan debt, prohibiting Maduro's government and its state-run oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela SA, from selling new bonds to Americans or in U.S. financial institutions. President Donald Trump signed an executive order approving the sanctions Thursday.

Associated Press

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence came to the Venezuelan enclave of Doral on Wednesday promising that  the Trump administration would “bring the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear until democracy is restored in Venezuela.”

The Venezuelan government has cancelled the upcoming U.S. tour by the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and its star conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who is also the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.

El Nacional, a major Venezuelan paper, reported yesterday that the cancellation was ordered by the presidency.

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