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Maduro faces financial nightmare in Venezuela -- just in time for Halloween

• BY ANTONIO MARIA DELGA

Analysts said the government will do everything possible to make the payments, even if it means further cuts in already reduced food imports, which would deepen shortages in a country where a majority of people cannot get three meals a day.

But a default cannot be ruled out because of the precarious state of the country's finances, the low level of reserves and the reluctance of strategic allies like Russia and China to continue lending money to Venezuela.

The Venezuelan government faces a string of small payments due this month, such as the $28 million owned by the state-owned Caracas electricity company.

"The truly hellish week will come around Halloween, the 27th, when they basically have to pay $1 billion and then Nov. 2, when they will have to pay another $1.2 billion," said Russ Dallen, managing partner at Caracas Capital.

Holders of Venezuelan bonds already face an "existential crisis" because of doubts about the government's ability to pay the $3.526 billion required over the next six weeks, added Antonio De La Cruz, executive director of the Inter American Trends consultancy.

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