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Why these 2 bond pros are investing in Venezuela despite 'bumpy ride'

Venezuela's economic freefall has led to chaos on the streets, and that's exactly what the nations' bond investors should be looking for, according to two particularly brave investors.

Since the demise of Hugo Chavez in 2013, the Andean nation has been a slow-motion train wreck amid political unrest, widespread shortages of food and other essentials, plus civil strife. Although analysts suspect Venezuela is nearing what could become a chaotic endgame, a handful of investors suggest the country's assets are worth buying.

"When the politics have totally overwhelmed all the normal economic and financial variables that most investor look for, that's where we try to get in," said Greylock Capital CEO Hans Humes, in a recent interview with CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Humes owns Venezuelan debt, but any concerns he has about a default are outweighed by the potential for the country's future.

"When we look at these protests … what I'm thinking about is not necessarily whether they'll make a new coupon payment or the next principal payment, but what this means for the longer term political trajectory within the country," he said.

Venezuelan police officers take a protester into custody during a demonstration held by opponents of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro as they demand a referendum in Caracas on May 18, 2016.
Carlos Becerra | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Venezuelan police officers take a protester into custody during a demonstration held by opponents of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro as they demand a referendum in Caracas on May 18, 2016.

Plunging oil prices, huge inflation and a currency crash has left Venezuela on the brink of collapse, leading angry mobs into the streets in protest, demanding the recall of President Nicolas Maduro.

Last week, Maduro declared a 60-day state of emergency that gives the military greater powers. However, the National Assembly, which is led by the country's political opposition, voted on Tuesday to reject Maduro's decree. The president has said he would ignore the Assembly's decision. Earlier this week, opposition leader Henrique Capriles called on Venezuela's military to choose between the constitution and the president.

Humes believes if the people around Maduro abandon him and the country moves toward a more centrist, pragmatic approach, then it will do some "relatively easy economic fixes" that will have enough broad-based political support to work.

That said, "it's going to be a long, bumpy ride," he predicted.

'Not a bad investment'

Daniel Phillips, director of political and macroeconomic research at Callaway Capital, believes that if there is a default, it will be because of the political crisis — but not because of Venezuela's inability to pay.

"It's a liquidity issue currently because of how little access they have to the international markets," he told "Power Lunch."

Because the aggregate debt to the country's gross domestic product is only about 76 percent, "there's probably a lot of simple tweaks the country could to do rationalize how the economy functions that would allow them to service the debt," said Phillips, who also owns Venezuelan debt. According to Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, the country has an estimated external debt of more than $120 billion, and is on the hook for about $10 billion worth of payments this year.

Still, Venezuela has always paid its debt, even during the Latin America debt crisis, Phillips noted. He believes there is a pretty good chance it will make the next couple of payments.

"If you think [Venezuela is] going to make next few payments … it's not a bad investment," he said.

— CNBC's John Schoen and Ted Kemp contributed to this report.

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