VIO Venezuela Weekly News Roundup Friday September 29, 2006
Please see below for the weekly roundup of Venezuelan news.
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: Scheduled for December 3, 2006
Opponents of President Chavez say he has is receiving unfair publicity in the lead up to the presidential election. Citing his weekly radio and television address, the opposition says he is using his presidential status to campaign for reelection. Meanwhile, opposition candidate, Zulia state Governor Manuel Rosales, has been accused of "including subliminal messages in home state public works ads backing
his candidacy" reports the Associated Press. Allegedly a sign appearing in the background of a TV ad paid for by the Zulia government reads "dare to" — Rosales' presidential campaign slogan, "Dare To Be With Manuel Rosales." Private media outlets are also campaigning for Rosales with favorable daily coverage and commentary.
THE UNITED NATIONS
Over the weekend most news focused on President Chavez' recent trip to New York where he attended the United Nations General Assembly meeting. His remarks in
front of the international body, in which he referred to Bush as the devil,
received a large amount of attention in the mainstream press. Unfortunately, as
The Nation magazine points out, the bulk of his speech, including an "innovative four-point program to renew and reform the UN" was largely ignored. President Chavez' proposal aims to democratize and lend relevance to the UN and was received with loud applause by the general assembly. While many democrats have joined republicans and the mainstream press in condemning the South American president, Senator Tom Harkin said he "can understand the frustration and anger of certain people because of George Bush's policies." In a related article early this week, the Washington Post elaborates and discusses President Chavez' lasting support within the United Nations. You can read a transcript of President Chavez' speech
view it in spanish
and english at http://www.democracyinaction.org
Reports that 7-Eleven will drop CITGO as its gasoline supplier because of President Chavez' remarks about Goerge Bush at the United Nations made national headlines mid-week. Unfortunately most characterized the announcement as political, failing to report 7-Eleven's earlier plans to launch its own brand of fuel and diversify suppliers. Some analysts believe 7-Eleven may be using the political angle to bring in more U.S. consumers, reports the Associated Press. "This has nothing to do with Chavez," said Oil Price Information Service director Tom Kloza. "They (7-Eleven) just didn't want to be tied to one supplier" and CITGO wasn't the cheapest source of fuel. CITGO CEO Felix Rodriguez said "Now they want to exploit all this for political gain, but this is a commercial relationship that is about to end on September 30 as laid out in a contract," signed months ago in July. Reuters reports that 7-Eleven later admitted the decision was made long before President Chavez called Bush a devil.
Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, returned to New York yesterday to address the United Nations Security Council and asked that it join Venezuela in requesting the United States hand over self-proclaimed terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, wanted by Venezuela after escaping from jail there many years ago. Currently Carriles is being held in the U.S. on unrelated immigration charges and the Venezuelan government's requests for extradition have been repeatedly denied. Among other criminal activities, Carriles is wanted for the bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed dozens of young Cuban athletes. ``The only way to get rid of the scourge of terrorism is to combat it in a truthful manner, however it seems as though for Mr. Bush and the U.S. government that there are good terrorists and bad terrorists,'' the foreign minister said.
Tuesday morning news centered around the inappropriate detention of Venezuela's foreign minister on Saturday as he was trying to return home from JFK airport in New York. Nicolas Maduro told Venezuelan television that he was mistreated by airport security officers while being detained for an hour and 40 minutes. His passport and plane ticket were temporarily taken away and he was verbally abused, threatened with being strip-searched, and was ordered to spread his arms and legs to be frisked, he said. Although the State Department issued an official apology US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, said the incident was "Venezuelan street theatre" and denied that it ever happened. Currently the United Nations is looking into the incident and has tasked legal expert Nicolas Michel with gathering facts about the incident. "We are trying to work with both the Americans and the Venezuelans to get past this unfortunate incident as quickly as possible," said Stephanie Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
POLITICS & LAW
President Chavez stated this week that army officers responsible for abuses in a mining town in Bolivar state will be held accountable. Six people were found dead last week after the army used "excessive" force with local miners. President Chavez said he will bring the killers to justice and that the country's defense and justice ministries are investigating. ``We know at the very least there was an excessive use of firearms by a group of soldiers,'' Chavez said. ``This government isn't covering up, nor will it cover up any abuse. This is a government that respects human rights.''
In Tuesday's edition of the Miami Herald executive director of the Due Process of Law Foundation writes about article 148 of Venezuela's Penal Code. The title "Venezuelans Harshly Punished If They Insult Chávez", along with many other misleading statements, distort the actual significance of the law and the context in which it was written. To begin with the author wrongly refers to article 147 when he means to discuss article 148. The article, which appears to curtail slanderous statements against the president, is not out of the ordinary in Latin America. In fact, most Latin American nations have similar codes. It is also important to note that the author's claim that "if someone makes similar comments about him [chavez]in Venezuela, this person could be subject to criminal prosecution" is not based on actual practice. In fact, President Chavez is routinely referred to as the devil on Venezuelan television and in public gatherings by individual citizens, yet neither are prosecuted. To date no one has been prosecuted under this article. Finally, the author suggests that Chavez is no advocate of free speech because he didn't veto the law. What he fails to point out however, is that the president was stripped of the veto power long ago with the ratification of the new Constitution, when many asserted that the veto was an undemocratic instrument of presidential power. However, the president did publicly oppose the law and sent it back to the National Assembly to ammend.
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS & COOPERATION
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice discussed U.S. relations with Venezuela earlier this week in a meeting with the New York Post's editorial board. She said that President Chavez could be a destabilizing force in Latin America and that the nonaligned movement was irrelevant.
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
The Venezuelan government's fiscal plan for 2007 is due to be released shortly. In discussing plans for the upcoming budget, President Chavez said Wednesday that he sees no need to devalue Venezuela's currency and that he wants "to march instead toward a stronger currency."
Eni, a European oil company, is seeking about $830 million in compensation for an oil field that was taken over by the Venezuelan state after the company refused to convert it into a joint venture. Currently Eni is in discussions with Venezuela's state run oil company, PDVSA, to receive a "fair value" for the Dracion field.
Newsday reports today that Houston companies aren't very concerned with President Chavez' remarks about Bush despite national press coverage to the contrary. Many companies in fact, still want to do business in Venezuela. On Thursday over 70 U.S. business executives attended a matchmaking event at the Greater Houston Partnership to learn about opportunities in Venezuela's oil industry. "There is a lot of hype and emphasis on what the president or the government has said, but in reality, the business is as good as it has ever been," said George Nassar, president of Houston-based South Am Corporation.
We got to stay on our toes, like today's noon news, no mention whatsoever of the bills that passed sabotaging our own democracy. We have now an imperialist fascist government body that rules over it's populous with scrutiny.