Photo: Diario Contraste

Venezuela’s oil output dropped once more in March to 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), 4.85% less than in February, according to the monthly report of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, evidencing the largest monthly oil output drop between the 14 OPEC members and continuing the decline recorded in recent months. In March, PDVSA stopped producing 77,000 bpd, while secondary sources mark 55,300 bpd, with a monthly output of 1.4 million bpd. Compared to August 2017, Venezuelan production plummeted by over 28%, with the lowest pumping level in three decades, not including the figures from the oil strike in 2002.

In Econanalítica’s forum held yesterday morning, economist Alejandro Grisanti said that our current output is still possible “thanks to the investment of joint ventures because if it were solely for PDVSA, we’d be producing 500,000 bpd at most,” adding that in 2018, we’ll stop perceiving $30 billion for the 1.3 million bpd that we’ve stopped producing under Nicolás’ government.

Meanwhile, OPEC and its oil-producing allies are considering discussing in their June meeting the extension of the agreement of oil supply cuts in 2019, according to a statement by OPEC general secretary Mohammad Barkindo.

And so, the dollar

Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab announced the arrest of Carlos Eduardo Marrón Colmenares, owner of the website Dólar Pro, whom he labeled a “financial terrorist.” According to Saab, the website’s goal was to bankrupt the country “through the illegal practice of replacing the figures issued by the Venezuelan State on dollars,” currently at Bs. 49,000, based on the latest Dicom auction. Agents of the Directorate of Military Counterintelligence arrested Marrón Colmenares and he’ll be presented before Control Court N° 3 for the crimes of disseminating false information about the exchange rate, money laundering and criminal association.

Aside from this, the average price of the black market dollar reached Bs. 560,000 this Thursday; a matter also discussed in the Ecoanalítica forum, about which economist Astrúbal Oliveros said that, by the end of 2018, if there’s no change in economic policies, the black market dollar’s price might be 85,000 sovereign bolívares, in other words, 85 millions of the current bolívares.

Tibisay’s prohibitions

National Electoral Council chairwoman Tibisay Lucena announced the rules for electoral propaganda on the media, which are actually restrictions. Any propaganda discouraging people from voting is forbidden, along with the use of symbols identifying a political party without their consent and any promos that might harm the mental health of citizens (such as the predictions for end-of-year inflation, estimated by economist Pedro Palma at 160,000%). Lucena said that the guarantees for May 20 aren’t new and that they’re broadened by the agreements signed in the Dominican Republic (?). She urged media outlets to perform a balanced coverage of the election (like VTV?) and notified that the voting stations that were arbitrarily relocated in previous elections as punishment for dissidents, have been restored. She said that the UN won’t come, but don’t worry, our observers will be the Caribbean Community, the African Union, Parlasur and Europe’s chief diplomat Federica Mogherini, who was invited via Twitter by Nicolás, so formal! According to Lucena, presidential candidates will have four minutes daily on TV and three minutes on radio stations, except Nicolás, who revealed part of his government plan yesterday while opening a desalination plant in Margarita. It was funny that Tibisay claimed that the requirement of the carnet de la patria to vote is a myth.

The trial that won’t be

National Assembly Speaker Omar Barboza announced that he received the request of the justices of the Supreme Tribunal in exile to authorize Nicolás’ trial, so the matter will be discussed next Tuesday 17.

The Parliament’s board agreed on a proposal for a high-level Committee, composed by the leaders of each political fraction, to present in a reasonable period a report to help establish a final decision. Barboza emphasized that this is an unprecedented case and they must comply with every step “without avoiding the responsibility to reach a transparent decision before the country.”

I restate the key ideas of the Venezuelan Observatory of Justice: “In order for the justices to have authority, besides being inducted by the AN, they had to take office within the following 10 days,” a step that these justices didn’t fulfill; the Constitution establishes the principle of territoriality (they have to be in the country) and, since Nicolás is the president in office, he has immunity, except for crimes against humanity, which isn’t the case. The decisions of the TSJ in exile aren’t mandatory for Venezuela.


  • OAS chief Luis Almagro spoke yesterday about Venezuela’s need for greater international pressure to harden sanctions and with them, open a space for negotiation “to allow a democratic transition.”
  • Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza cautioned yesterday about new attacks against Venezuela, repeated the prop of “America’s guerrerista diplomacy,” which would include oil embargos, all of this to reach the epic: “No sanction, no attack, no embargo will stop a country like Venezuela.”
  • Javier Carrillo, National Immigration Director of Panama, said that his country will grant special measures to travellers that might be left stranded starting April 25, when the flight suspension for Venezuelan airlines comes into effect.
  • U.S. State Secretary John Sullivan met yesterday in Lima with Cuban and Venezuelan activists, and expressed his disagreement with the non-democratic transition that will take place next week in Cuba, when president Raúl Castro gives up power.
  • Amnesty International (AI) published an open letter addressing heads of State that will attend the 8th Summit of the Americas, restating the human rights violations in the region and urging nations to issue a final statement promising to protect these rights. AI denounces that Venezuela “is experiencing the worst human rights crisis in its history.”
  • Yesterday, the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) gave Colombian Vice-President Óscar Naranjo some photographs allegedly showing the bodies of the three kidnapped Ecuadorians from newspaper El Comercio. The sudden departure of President Lenín Moreno, cancelling his attendance to the Summit of the Americas for this crisis, presents the theory that these journalists are dead, but his Interior Minister César Navas said that the first investigations about the photographs “aren’t conclusive” and that “they’ll continue investigating,” inspiring the anger of the journalists present, who even demanded Navas’ resignation.

Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt (@rschemidt on Twitter) immortalized a instant from the 2017 protests, when student Víctor Salazar burned like a torch.

The image was awarded the prize for Best Picture of the Year in the prestigious contest World Press Photo, where 4,500 photographers from 125 countries participated.

Schemidt’s countryman Juan Barreto (@jbarreto1974) won 3rd place in the Stories category.

And since we’re talking about pictures, go find the beauty that shows the cunaguaro (Leopardo Pardalis) that was born last night in the Caricuao zoo.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. “Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab announced the arrest of Carlos Eduardo Marrón Colmenares, owner of the website Dólar Pro, whom he labeled a “financial terrorist.”

    What a bunch of clowns. I suppose the editors and writers of great informative publications like “The Onion” would also be arrested.

    • Read the stuff on Aporrea. There are several vocal writers on there that truly believe/advocate that all of Venezuela’s economic problems are caused by US controlled websites like DT or DP or whomever, that post arbitrary “illegal” exchange rates in order to undermine the revolution. It is beyond blaming the thermometer for your fever. It is more like a conspiracy of your body to heat up in response to the imperialist thermometer just to spite your socialist brain.

      • Yeah, those guys are beyond the pale. They demonstrate a fanaticism that I only see in true believers of bad religion (yes, Communism is a form of bad religion in spades).

        Of course talk is cheap, but one only wonders if their fanaticism will go to the ultimate level, violence for the sake of their bunk ideas. It’s not as if recent history is lacking of this kind of people.

        • Most of them would, because violence visited upon someone else is far easier for their weak minds to justify than introspection.

          Violence requires “feeling” (anger, outrage, etc) and action. Outcomes? Pfft!

          Introspection requires thoughtful, logical, reasoned assessment. (To which Marxists are immune)

  2. “Inflación ardiente, producción apagada”

    Yeah, but why?

    Inflation is cool for the Narco-Tyranny’s Enchufado Crooks. It’s part of the SCCMP. (Sinister Castro-Chavista Master Plan): Impoverish the people, make them Dependent and on Clapcrap and Complicit with multiple Guisos. Control the prices and the imports to STEAL more money in countless ways. Perfect for the Complete Cubanization of Kleptozuela Master Plan.

    No production is also cool for the Genocidal Cleptocracy: It’s not incompetence, hell no. They know very well how to produce oil and other stuff, they did it for decades. They could even start producing in agriculture, fishing, mining, tourism.. But that takes too much work. Esa vaina da demasiado trabajo, chamo. Takes planning, maintenance, repairs, some degree of HONESTY (Fuck-off with that!!) and hard work. Plus it goes squarely against Objective #1 of the aforementioned SCCMP. It would make people richer and less dependent, a big no-no for the Castro-Chavista Doctrine.

    Additionally, the Immense Drub Trade very few are talking about generates probably TWICE as much as any difficult production of oil (mortgaged to China and Russia for the most part anyway) or production of anything else that’s legal. If they can get $150 Million / Day is CASH from the Drug Trade plus Zillions more in the Food trade, Gasoline shams, Cadivi or Petro scams, Gold Embezzlements, and countless of easy Mega-Guisos, why bother “producing” freaking oil or anything else?

    That’s why.

  3. I am guessing that restricting access to the internet in Venezuela may not be too far down the road..after the so called “elections”.

  4. For the past few weeks in my daily scan of news from Venezuela I get a sense that the mood of the country entered a strange funk. One could interpret it as if the people have been broken into submission, like the Cubans, or maybe (my optimist take), a simmering anger ready to lash out.

    It’s not as if the country’s situation is stable. Hyperinflation is accelerating, oil production is falling precipitously, international sanctions are tightening.

    How do others interpret the mood?

    • You are correct, as written by quico..

      All the fight to eliminate the regime is gone. After the mud being corrupted for years, accepting corrupted elections too many times, letting opposition leaders rot in prison without saying a word (yes you capriles) because it was “too early” to take the streets because more dialogue is needed, kneeling in front of the illegal and unconstitutional ANC, etc. Why fight it? Enjoy your fate.

      PS: thank you Naky everyday. Where is Emi?

    • How many times does a person have to be kicked in the balls before they figure out another swift kick is coming?

      The people have been beaten down, and they see the kick coming. The beaten puppy syndrome.

      The MUD frauds, on the other hand, are under the impression that if they endure just ONE MORE KICK IN THE NUTS, the Chavistas will start playing fair. Pussies.

  5. “ the end of 2018, if there’s no change in economic policies, the black market dollar’s price might be 85,000 sovereign bolívares, in other words, 85 millions of the current bolívares.”

    There will be no change in “economic policies” because the US Marines will nor forcibly remove the Chavista Criminals from power. Thus, it WILL be 85 Million BS/Dollar.

    No problem: they’ll shave off another 3 zeros and call it “Ultra Bolivares Ultrabolivarianos” (UBU’s).

    • Even if it is only 2M Bsf to USD by mid June (assuming doubles each month, which is probably low), the new 500 bs note bill will be worth only 25 cents. The 50c, 1, 2, 5, 10 coins and notes – totally worthless, so what’s the point?

      I am half-expecting Maduro to suddenly announce that the new currency for June will be 6 zeros off instead of 3. That would actually make some sense, so it wont happen.

  6. “In Econanalítica’s forum held yesterday morning, economist Alejandro Grisanti said that our current output is still possible “thanks to the investment of joint ventures because if it were solely for PDVSA, we’d be producing 500,000 bpd at most,” adding that in 2018, we’ll stop perceiving $30 billion for the 1.3 million bpd that we’ve stopped producing under Nicolás’ government.”

    How much of the “joint venture” oil is sold on open market to USA or India versus shipped directly to China for debt payment? I forget – Is Venny shipping oil to Russia for debt payment? Or just earmarking $$ for oil sold to Russia?

    (is “perceiving” – supposed to be “receiving”??)

    • Great question. The Faja empresa mixtas were previously of the apetura (? Oil opening) as strategic partnerships, and were set up to market their own crude with receipts being deposited in $US in offshore accounts. This did not change legaly in the 2007 nacionalización when the empresa mixtas were set up. pdvsa gets their divdends from EM’s at same time as partners (after paying bills, salaries, vendors, etc) so Total, Chevron, etc. still get their share. This is partly why the EM’s still outperform pdvsa. Oil shipments to China and Russia typically come from pdvsa’s dwindling Lago and Monagas production as well, cnpc, etc. What is important here, is even when the country is going to shit due to chaviista mismanagement the companies still surviving and helping feed the country are being influenced by IOC’s.. something to think about for later policies.

      • Oh, I forgot.. if chavez had not forced the EM’s to give up % share in 2007 so pdvsa would have 60% or more of the EM “por patria” (IOC’s lost all operating control to the revolutionary idiots, lost control to prevent corruption, perform maintenance, etc) Venezuela would be much closer to 5 million barrels permday than the reality of 1 million today. Do the math.

  7. Hey, Canucklehead, tell your boys at TransCanada to get cracking on the Keystone pipeline, ‘cause the Citgo refineries are gonna need as much Athabaska crude as they can get. Then sit back and enjoy the irony:

    Venezuela, a country sitting on the largest oil reserves in the world, owns 100% of Citgo, a huge, profitable, cash-generating, oil-refining and retailing US corporation (three US refineries and 14,000 US service stations), but is incapable of supplying it with enough crude. So Citgo must turn to Canada and the US, the only two countries in the western hemisphere sanctioning Venezuela, to make up the ever-growing shortfall. Adding insult to injury, sanctions do not allow Citgo to send dividends nor profits to VZ. Oh! And the CEO of Citgo is named Chavez and is a cousin of El Commandante.

    As the old cliche says, you can’t make this stuff up.

    • Do they own 14,000 stations?

      I thought a large number are privately owned, and they just sell Citgo gas. Like, they can change branding if they want to.

      7-11 used to be Citgo, but dumped them early in the Chavez nightmare. Same thing with many highway service plazas across the U.S.

    • That’s pretty amusing.

      While we’re on the subject of ironies, this would all be thanks to a Trudeau, who probably is going to lose his job defending Alberta.

  8. “… and any promos that might harm the mental health of citizens …”. You can’t make this stuff up. Not even George Orwell. It suggests a new definition of socialism as the ultimate victimhood cult.

    The thing about the oil output …. If Chavez had not been so unbearably egocentric and power-drunk, and if the regime – initiated by Chavez – had any common sense at all, they would have dedicated resources to the petroleum industry and kept it humming. I realize that the “cult of socialism” of course prohibits any logical thought. They could have happily skimmed off the oil machine into the indefinite future, as long as oil remains a commodity. But no, because socialism mandates the destruction of evil capitalism.

    I’m not poor, but I’m certainly not rich; the question arises in my mind, when I see men who are rich (I mean men who rent a yacht paying two million dollars for one week on board), “How much is more than enough?” I mean, what can one actually do with a billion dollars in a checking account other than search out totally wasteful ways to throw it into the winds? You can argue that the two million and change Bill Gates paid to rent Larry Ellison’s yacht “Musachi” for a week goes to pay crew, maintenance yards, docking facilities, ship builders, cooks, furniture manufacturers, and so on down the line all the way to the toilet paper … and I’m sure both of them are in the 39.6% tax bracket, plus any state taxes (California is 15%). But c’mon … couldn’t they find some way to invest the money in productive assets (as opposed to winning the “I lavishly spend more on luxuries than you do!” game)?

    Still, I prefer gawking at lavish luxuries and excesses of rich capitalists, wondering what on that yacht could possibly be worth two million bucks a week(!), than I do staring at the starving children of socialism while retching at the outrageous lies and the destruction of resources hundreds of times the cost of Ellison’s toy boat. There are other yachts in the world, Larry, really … couldn’t you do better than just $130,000,000 bucks? That isn’t even one half of 1% of your net worth, cheapskate! Pichire! What a tightwad. What kind of car do you drive, a Volvo?

    I was perfectly happy with El Rey del Pescado Frito, a big bowl of limes, an ice-cold Polar, hallaquitas, and eating perfectly crisped fish from the bones in the open air of a Caribbean sea breeze in the company of smiling laughing friends, waves breaking much better than any “relaxing sound recording”, the salt air, the scent of ocean, the sunlight sharp off the waves, the mountain forests on one side, the horizon on the other, the gorgeous sparkling Jewel of the Andes just over the hill. Nothing tastes as good after a hard day at the beach in the equatorial sunshine (no need for sun cream – I was tanned like un negro, mano). And the pueblo from Los Caracas could have the same, served with a smile. Bill Gates never had any better.

    Man, did Venezuela ever blow it! Wow.

    • True Dat about El Rey and the experience not even billionaires could equal–today you’d have to be a Venezuelan millionaire to enjoy that same meal–at least Bs. 2mm, and that was approx. the price several weeks ago.

          • NET. – You bet. Smiling and thanking the pilot and crew. And the warm tropical night air walking down the stairs and across the tarmac to see parents again after months of separation. We had one flight almost all to ourselves, all kids. The Stews let us fold seats down at the far end of the cabin so we could have a party. Kept us apart from the other seven or eight quietly suffering older passengers. One poor stewardess on a flight the other way to NYC … poor girl, man … no one had told her that sun at Macuto is NOT “the same as” sun in Miami Beach. I prescribed two jars of Noxema skin cream. Her shoulders were that awful, awful light purple color. Noxema sinks into or is absorbed by the skin, you can put it on without touching the skin with your fingers, and two jars of it was not a joke. I still cringe thinking about that. She was really close to requiring medical care. Gringa catira. Es que no saben, no se dan cuenta. It may be a generation, maybe less, but those times will return to Venezuela. All storms must pass.

          • Wow! Some great stories and memories. The first few times I flew into Caracas, things were just as awesome. The inlaws took me to some beach where we spent all night eating and partying. (back when I was young… I used to stay up past 10pm!)

            The last time I flew out of Caracas (4 years ago, after the “Maiquetía Shakedown” I endured), I thought out loud that I was happy to never to return.

            The Chavistas REALLY know how to fuck up a country.

  9. “Aside from this, the average price of the black market dollar reached Bs. 560,000 this Thursday”

    Step-daughter No. 2 called me yesterday from Barcelona and said she was checking the prices asked for dollars in her area. She got quotes from 650,000 bs to 1,000,000, depending on the amount needed.

    • 1970’s Rey del Pescado Frito, we paid the equivalent of approximately thirty billionths of one BF. Lemme see … that would be BF 0.000000030, a BF 500,000 rate (did I do that right?). That is, Bs. 15 for one fried fish (the whole fish, head, and everything, gutted and split open down the middle), two hallaquitas, one bottle of Polar (limes were complimentary, you can only eat just so many of those, like one, really). Una dozena de rosas bought on the street was Bs.6 if you let the guy have that much. A movie ticket was Bs.7. A marron grande was Bs.1 to Bs.1.50. A “lisa” (draft beer served in a frosted glass mug) was Bs.1. A bus fare was a locha, a por puesto un medio. Fried fish in El Silencio was Bs.12 IIRC. Pollo en brasas Bs.15. If you take a BF at 1,000,000, then that’s approximately one billion 1970 bolivares. Just another three zeroes and it will be Zimbabwe 2.0. Go printing presses, go!! Bring on the ink!! Socialism of the 21,000,000,000th Century!!

  10. And in other news,

    When everything seemed to have returned to normal and while one of the agents entered the bar to interview the employee, a client who was at the bar, with clear symptoms of drunkenness, went up to the radio patrol where he mounted and left several times, at the same time who began to reprimand the police force. At one point he said he was a boxing champion in Venezuela and that he was going to kill all the Spaniards….

    Ah, the auld days! Too much “Dutch courage”, followed by the “your mouth is writing checks that your ass can’t cash”.

    I hope for his sake he isn’t breathing out of a tube today. While being a “boxing champion” might seem impressive at the time, it is because of mathematics that such bravado doesn’t carry too much water.

    1 boxing champion + endless supply of angry, insulted law enforcement types with truncheons = dental work galore.

  11. There’s a mistake in the writing on that tank:

    “Patriotism, socialism, or death.”

    It should be “and,” because they got all three.


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