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Venezuela & the OPIC in the news

By Alexandra Beech,

The United States Overseas Private Investment Corp., an agency that provides financing and insurance against political risk for American companies investing in the developing world, ruled this week that it would pay insurance compensation to a San Diego company, Science Applications International Corp., for having had its assets illegally seized in late 2002 by the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez. A spokesman for OPIC, as the agency is known, said the payout was roughly $6 million - a move that could make it harder for U.S. companies to invest in the politically volatile Andean nation. (Wall Street Journal)

Citing the SAIC case, OPIC spokesman Larry Spinelli said "it's unlikely" the corporation would back new investments in Venezuela while SAIC's US$6 million claim is settled. The ruling could scare off overseas investors, many of whom are already wary of political upheaval in this crisis-ridden South American nation. (Forbes)

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will arrive in Venezuela Aug. 11 to oversee preparations for a vote on recalling President Hugo Chavez. Jennifer McCoy, a representative of the Atlanta-based Carter Center, said Carter would head the center's team of international election observers for the Aug. 15 vote. (Dow Jones)

Carter Centerís Jennifer McCoy announced that the governmentís frequent mandatory television and radio transmissions would be included in the monitoring of the media. (Local Media)

Venezuelan state oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela (PVZ.YY) expects sales of more than $46 billion this year if oil prices remain at current levels, PdVSA President Ali Rodriguez told reporters Thursday. Analysts have warned that PdVSA's focus on social spending will divert investment away from oil exploration and production, which will make it difficult for the company to increase current production levels. Officials say Venezuela is pumping more than 3 million barrels a day, but oil analysts put the figure at 2.5 to 2.6 million b/d. (Dow Jones)

Venezuela was ranked among the five countries with the least economic freedom in the "Economic Freedom of the World: 2004 Annual Report," produced by the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank. The bottom five ranked nations were Venezuela , the Central African Republic, Congo, Zimbabwe and Myanmar. "Astoundingly, Venezuela 's rating in the chain-linked index has declined by over two full points since 1980," the report said. ( Dow Jones)

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