Venezuela Makes $1.5 Billion Bond Payment

Venezuela made a USD $1.543 billion payment to international bondholders on Friday as part of its 2016 debt obligations amounting to $9.6 billion.


The payment comes as the South American country undergoes a severe economic crisis triggered by a 75% decline in world oil prices– the nation’s principle source of foreign currency earnings– since mid-2014.

As of last week, Venezuela’s international reserves are reported to stand at USD $13.5 billion– their lowest level in 13 years– fueling speculation in financial markets of a possible default.

Bond markets did nonetheless respond positively to Friday’s payment, with the price of PDVSA’s $1 billion October bonds climbing from 3.2 to 73.14 cents on the dollar, the largest weekly increase since August. 

The Venezuelan government has, for its part, dismissed rumors of default, assuring creditors of its financial solvency. 

“We can guarantee that we have sufficient resources to pay our external debt, maintain our international reserves, and guarantee imports,” pledged Foreign Commerce and Investment Minister Jesus Faria last week.

The minister also discarded the option of seeking aid from the International Monetary Fond (IMF), which he rejected for its “terrible cost for sovereignty and for our people”.

By the close of 2016, the Venezuelan government must pay an additional $8.1 billion in debt accrued by the state oil company PDVSA. 

Last week, Venezuela signed a USD $5 billion deal with Canadian gold mining company Gold Standard, including a $3 billion loan that may be used towards debt repayment.

In mid-February, President Maduro announced a string of measures aimed at addressing the country’s economic woes, including raising the domestic price of gasoline, revamping the tax system to combat evasion, and promoting new sources of foreign currency earnings.

Over the previous three years, Venezuela has paid over $20 billion in principal and interest on its external debt.