Commenting on reactions to elections for the leadership of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Miranda State Governor, Diosdado Cabello brushes aside jibes from the opposition that there is a division between civilians and the military. One of the strengths of the revolution, Cabello states, is the civilian-military union. The opposition, he quips, is seeking all means possible to promote the idea that there is a natural division between civilians and the military to prepare the way for more destabilizing actions. Cabello himself has been elected as substitute.
PSUV vice president, General (ret.) Alberto Muller Rojas has rejected an opposition call for the climate of peace and reconciliation achieved at the summit of the Rio Group to be transferred to Venezuela. The General says there are no conditions for such a climate in Venezuela and he reminds people that the proposal came from none other than Zulia State Governor and opposition leader, Manuel Rosales. Last week, Muller Rojas points out, Rosales accused President Chavez of treason. The General insists that President Chavez was defending the homeland territory and showed great political capacity during the summit. Several leading Latin American Presidents have praised Chavez for his role during the summit in bringing an end to the conflict between Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. The General insists that if Chavez had called on the opposition for a consensus national stance last week, "we would have had to bend the knee to Colombia and the United States."
Controversial TV presenter, Mario Silva was one of the candidates that polled most votes in the internal United Socialist Party of Venezuela elections. Silva has made it clear that he will continue to be critical and leave his media program door open to the people and popular expression. While accepting his role as member of the PSUV leadership, Silva says his work is mainly in the media and with people and the fact that he is in the leadership will not prevent him from continuing his task. When asked whether he would put his name forward as a candidate for regional elections, the presenter answers that it will depend on President Chavez. "I will have to assess my own work and where I am needed at the moment ... I say I'm needed in the media."
Opposition media sources have been highlighting the gruesome details of the murder of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader, Ivan Rios by one Pablo Montoya, comrade and member of Rios' security ring. According to a report published in Venezuela's El Universal, Montoya assassinated his chief, cut off his hand and took off with his laptop supposedly to pick up a handsome ransom reward from the Colombian army. In an interview with a leading Colombian broadsheet, the deserter made accusations against FARC leader, Manuel Marulanda and President Chavez regarding the sale of weapons. The Colombian government's presentation of Montoya as a propaganda coup has backfired, especially in Latin America with people doubting the veracity of any accusations from such a dubious source.
The spotlight today has turned towards Venezuela's universities. Higher Education Minister, Luis Acuna says the ministry is ready to receive any critique or suggestions from universities to a government proposal to eliminate entry exams. The Minister recalls that one of the decisions taken by the national council of universities was to open a single register to find out who the students are, where they are, what they want to study and in which university and their marks. The second point was that entry exams would be eliminated and a discussion period opened till May 8. Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) rector, Antonio Paris jumped the gun yesterday stating that current arrangements for entering university will continue in place until changes have been announced in the Gaceta Oficial. Once the Higher Education Ministry's proposal has been made official, Paris contends, the UCV will seek legal mechanisms to fight it.
Opposition leader and the Zulia State Governor, Manuel Rosales accuses President Chavez of being more interested in relations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) than with the Colombian government. Speaking to a Colombian radio station, Rosales argues that the recent conflict between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela is ample evidence that Chavez defends the FARC and has relations with that group. The State Governor has stressed that Venezuela's opposition is currently analyzing the revelations provided by the Colombian government on what was inside the laptop of FARC leader, Raul Reyes confirming connections with Chavez and several assessors. Rosales confirms that himself and his colleagues are anxiously waiting for the results of an investigation undertaken by international organs as agreed during the Rio Group summit. During the radio show, Rosales returned to highlight the contradiction between high oil prices and the lack of foodstuffs in Venezuela.
Patrick J. O'Donoghue