Venezuela’s Guaido seeks humanitarian aid for OPEC nation

admin   •   February 6, 2019   •   1603

Venezuelan opposition Leader Juan Guaido | Reuters

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido and opposition lawmakers on Tuesday (February 05) called for humanitarian aid to be allowed into country, as the OPEC nation grapples with shortages of food and medicine.

Guaido’s statements come after the United States has sent food and medicine toward Colombia’s border with Venezuela, although it is still unclear how the aid will get past the objections of President Nicolas Maduro, who has blocked shipments in the past.

U.S. officials said trucks carrying the aid, including high-protein foods, would arrive in Cucuta this week at the request of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who last month declared himself to be the South American nation’s interim president.

But Maduro has spoken out against aid coming into Venezuela.

Pressure is growing on President Nicolas Maduro to step down after more than a dozen European Union nations, including Britain, Germany and France, joined the United States, Canada and a group of Latin American countries in recognising opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

As of late last year, Venezuela is suffering from a roughly 85 percent shortage of medicines, decrepit hospital infrastructure, and an exodus of doctors during a brutal recession. — Reuters

OPEC agrees extending supply cuts until March

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2019

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed on Monday (July 1) to extend oil supply cuts until March 2020, as the group’s members overcame their differences in order to prop up the price of crude amid a weakening global economy and soaring U.S. production.

“We are very happy to announce that we have reached an agreement to extend for nine months the current production level,” OPEC Secretary General Manuel Quevedo told a news conference after a six-hour meeting.

The move will likely anger U.S. President Donald Trump, who has demanded OPEC leader Saudi Arabia supply more oil and help reduce prices at the pump if Riyadh wants U.S. military support in its standoff with arch-rival Iran.

Benchmark Brent crude has climbed more than 25% so far this year after the White House tightened sanctions on OPEC members Venezuela and Iran, slashing their oil exports.

OPEC and its allies led by Russia have been reducing oil output since 2017 to prevent prices from sliding amid soaring production from the United States, which has overtaken Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top producer.

Fears about weaker global demand as a result of a U.S.-China trade spat have added to the challenges faced by the 14-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The United States, also the world’s largest oil consumer, is not a member of OPEC, nor is it participating in the supply pact. A jump in oil prices might lead to costlier gasoline, a key issue for Trump as he seeks re-election next year.

Brent initially rose as much as $2 on Monday towards $67 per barrel as traders cited OPEC’s resolve to curb output. It later edged down to trade below $65. (REUTERS)

OPEC set to extend oil supply cut

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2019

Oil prices were up on Monday (July 1) as OPEC and its allies looked on track to extend supply cuts until at least the end of 2019, a policy aimed at propping up the price of crude amid a weakening global economy.

OPEC and its allies led by Russia have been reducing oil output since 2017 to prevent prices from sliding amid soaring production from the United States, which has become the world’s top producer this year ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The United States is not a member of OPEC, nor is it participating in the supply pact. Washington has demanded that Riyadh pump more oil to compensate for lower exports from Iran after slapping fresh sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.

Speaking at a news conference in Vienna, the head of Nigeria’s delegation Folsade Yemi-Essan said they ”strongly endorse” the planned extension and said the extension of 9 months was preferable as it offered greater confidence for markets.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers, an alliance known as OPEC+, meet on Monday and Tuesday (July 2) to discuss supply cuts amid surging U.S. output.

Oil prices have come under renewed pressure in recent months from rising U.S. supplies and a slowing global economy.

U.S. crude oil output in April rose to a fresh monthly record of 12.16 million bpd, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, even though shale production growth likely peaked last year. (REUTERS)

Tensions spill over in Caracas as Venezuelans take to the streets in an uprising vs Maduro

Robie de Guzman   •   May 1, 2019

Tens of thousands of people marched in Caracas in support of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Tuesday made his strongest call yet to the military to help him oust President Nicolas Maduro, but there were no concrete signs of defection from the armed forces leadership.

Tens of thousands of people marched in Caracas in support of Guaido, clashing with riot police along the main Francisco Fajardo thoroughfare. A National Guard armoured car slammed into protesters who were throwing stones and hitting the vehicle.

Seventy-eight people were injured in the incidents, most of them hit with pellets or rubber bullets, said Doctor Maggi Santi of the Salud Chacao health centre in Caracas. None of the injuries were life-threatening, he added.

Early on Tuesday, several dozen armed troops accompanying Guaido clashed with soldiers supporting Maduro at a rally in Caracas, and large anti-government protests in the streets turned violent. But by Tuesday afternoon an uneasy peace had returned and there was no indication that the opposition planned to take power through military force.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN that “as we understand it” Maduro had been ready to depart for socialist ally Cuba, but had been persuaded to stay by Russia, which has also been a steadfast supporter.

Maduro did not make a formal speech on Tuesday but said on Twitter: “Nerves of steel! I call for maximum popular mobilisation to assure the victory of peace. We will win!” He said he had spoken with military leaders and that they had shown him “their total loyalty.”

Guaido, the leader of the National Assembly, invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, arguing that Maduro’s re-election in 2018 was illegitimate. But Maduro has held on, despite economic chaos, most Western countries backing Guaido, increased U.S. sanctions, and huge protests.

Venezuela is mired in a deep economic crisis despite its vast oil reserves. Shortages of food and medicine have prompted more than 3 million Venezuelans to emigrate in recent years. (REUTERS)

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