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from Breakingviews:

Venezuela digs way to distressed seller status

By Christopher Swann

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Venezuela is digging its way to distressed seller status. The country wants to offload Citgo, its U.S. refinery and pipelines unit. It may be worth up to $15 billion, money that’s sorely needed thanks to President Nicolas Maduro’s barmy economic policies. And the drop in value of heavy-oil assets like Citgo owns makes it a bad time to sell.

There can be advantages to getting rid of refining businesses. ConocoPhillips, for example, spun out its fuel-processing plants as a standalone company in May 2012. The two separate companies are now worth a total of 61 percent more.

Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA has a very different motive. Maduro’s administration is running out of cash. That’s the result of anti-business policies - including price controls and nationalization - that have depressed local production and increased reliance on imports. Access to dollars is rationed by a complex three-tier exchange rate that favors government projects over the private sector.

from Photographers' Blog:

When the news hits home

Caracas, Venezuela

By Jorge Silva

We came back home today, Monday, after four nights out, and my almost two-year-old daughter doesn’t understand why her toys and her teddy bears are not in her room.

Last Thursday, when I was awakened suddenly by  the sound of screaming and people banging on frying pans at 3:30 am, I knew it was going to be a complicated day. Another one, in the -so far- 3 months of protests.

from Photographers' Blog:

Meeting the hungry of Caracas

Caracas, Venezuela

By Carlos Garcia Rawlins

For a year or so now, we photographers have been illustrating Venezuela’s economic crisis with photos of empty shelves and queues forming outside supermarkets. But now I wanted to do something different.

Jose Rodriguez, 43, poses for a picture at the Mother Teresa of Calcutta eating center in Caracas March 21, 2014. Jose lives on street and he used to work patching up tires. He has eaten at the eating center for over 2 years, because he has no money for nothing. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

In search of a more intimate perspective on the story, I found out about a eating center in Caracas that has been caring for homeless people for the last 14 years. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find it. The only directions I had were: “it’s in San Martin district, under a bridge next to some tyres”.

from The Human Impact:

Can a mother truly hate her own son?

One line in Bad Hair, which had its U.S. premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York, has made me uncomfortable for days.

“I don’t love you,” Junior, the nine-year-old protagonist of Venezuelan director Mariana Rondón’s movie, tells his mother in the emotionally charged scene.

from Photographers' Blog:

Times of protest

Caracas, Venezuela

By Jorge Silva

April 12 marked two months since the first people died in a wave of unrest that hit Venezuela this year. The day sat between the April 11th anniversary of the 2002 coup against then-President Hugo Chavez, and April 13th - the day that he managed to return to office. Those dates still serve as a reminder of the political division and sense of confrontation that has long existed in this country.

Last year I was part of a team covering protests that erupted following the 2013 presidential election, which was called after Chavez’s death. The clashes finally subsided and we put away our riot gear - gas masks, flak vests and helmets - confident that we wouldn’t need it again so soon.

from Global Investing:

Toxic trio turns tantalising

Dubbed the Toxic Trio earlier this year,  the high-yield bond markets of Argentina, Ukraine and Venezuela are starting to look a lot more appealing.

Argentina and Venezuela were the biggest beneficiaries of the recent rally in emerging market debt, according to data from JP Morgan, which says it has added an overweight Argentina position to its existing overweight in Venezuela, and has Ukraine at market-weight:

from Photographers' Blog:

The Tower of David – Venezuela’s “vertical slum”

Caracas, Venezuela

By Jorge Silva

I have wanted to photograph life inside Caracas’ Tower of David – also known as “the vertical slum” – for years now. At times, it became something of an obsession; it was a story I had to tackle.

The tower is an icon of modern-day Caracas. Although squats or “occupied spaces” are common downtown, the Tower of David has literally taken the phenomenon to whole new levels. The third-tallest building in the country, it was intended as a financial center but abandoned after its developer died and the financial sector crashed. Squatters have now occupied the tower for years. Its unfinished, humongous, modified skeleton can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. The stories of what happens inside have become the stuff of urban legend.

from Full Focus:

Unrest in Venezuela

Ongoing protests in Venezuela demanding political change have turned increasingly violent.

from Photographers' Blog:

A year without the Comandante

Caracas, Venezuela

By Jorge Silva

March 5, 2014

Once in a great while there comes a day that marks the end of an era. That’s what happened the afternoon Hugo Chavez died.

It was a year ago as I write this blog, and at times I still find it hard to believe. He was such a dominant presence that in the days after his death that it seemed he would appear at any moment on national TV or in a military parade. The months passed and reality sank in. Today Venezuela seems to be a very different country from the one he left behind. It feels as if it happened a long time ago.

from Ian Bremmer:

This is not Ukraine: Venezuela will erode, not explode

Presidents beleaguered by mass protests seem to use the same phrasebook. After protests turned exceptionally violent in Ukraine, the security agency waged an “anti-terrorist operation” in retaliation. Within days, President Yanukovich’s support had crumbled, he had fled, and the “radical forces” he disparaged had seized power. In Venezuela, President Maduro has dubbed the billowing unrest a spree of “fascism” aiming to “eliminate” him; he urged the opposition to halt its acts of “terrorism.”

But Venezuela is no Ukraine, and it’s unlikely that Nicolas Maduro will soon suffer Yanukovich’s fate. Here’s why.

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