Wednesday, April 30, 2008

US Reports on Terrorism 2007: On Venezuela, could you expand a little bit more on what you think Hugo Chavez is up to?

On Venezuela, could you expand a little bit more on what you think Hugo Chavez is up to? I mean, last year, there was some talk about possibly, would Venezuela be put on the list. Do you think that they’re moving -- on the state sponsor of terrorism list. When you talk about deepening ties with Iran, deepening ties with Cuba, cooperation with the FARC, do you think of Venezuela is moving in the direction of being a state sponsor of terrorism?

Grassroots respond by making unprecedented criticisms of the right wing within the Chavista camp!

The grassroots movement has responded by making unprecedented criticisms of the 'derecha endógenena'--that is, the right wing within the Chavista camp. The friction between right and left was on display at the founding congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which recently concluded. The context of the struggle within the Chavista movement is the difficulties facing workers and the poor.

EDITORIAL: Our hearts bleed for Venezuela ... just throw away the keys and switch off the lights!

VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: Pardon my French but what the **** is going on!

Is Venezuela on a suicide mission with a quest for oblivion or is a self-seeking minor official manipulating his/her way into some expectation of an under-the-table contribution to a personal retirement fund?

With things going really to pot in the middle-management of President Hugo Chavez Frias' administration, we already know that the President's best ambitions for the Venezuelan people are being stymied at a 'helluva' rate that makes us conjecture this Eve of the 1st of May, that the President is either blind to what is going on, or that he is being increasingly marginalized by 5th columnists and traitors in his close proximity.

With friends like those, President Chavez certainly doesn't need enemies and our greatest fear is that their sycophantic slaps on the back will so readily, almost inevitably turn to Brutus stabbings that will send Venezuela's new-found democracy into retrograde.

Today's news that the "office of permits at Venezuela's environment ministry has informed the Venezuelan Guyana Corporation (CVG) that it has denied an exploration permit at Las Cristinas" is so illogical as to be quite incredible!

The communication to the CVG, and onwards to its contractee Canadian Crystallex International cites "sensitivities surrounding indigenous peoples, small miners and the environment."

It's just so much bull****! In fact a veritable dung-heap!

Venezuela's Environment Ministry has been with the project every step of the way (admittedly through a musical chairs of ministerial responsibilities) and they had several months ago already signalled a project go-ahead with compliance statements and bonds paid by Crystallex International ... although, quite frankly, why it was not the responsibility of the CVG to pay the charges out of their own corporate pocket for the work on their own (or the Venezuelan State's) property escapes me.

All these issues of the Imataca Rainforest and "sensitivities surrounding indian tribes, small miners and the environment" have been known about for years, and years, and years.

What other motive than bureaucratic graft can there be by raising a spectre such as this at the fifty-ninth minute of the 11th hour in more than a decade of perpetual dilly-dallying?

Wasn't it enough that Crystallex stumped up US$15 million to fund former CVG president Francisco Gomez' bid to become Bolivar State Governor.

Isn't it enough that the Canadian company has since plowed further US$ millions into the dirt around the Sifontes municipality to give employment to several thousand locals who have been ignored by central government and deprived of gainful subsistence for so many years?

Is Crystallex going to happily walk away from its contract and give the middle finger to Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolutionary ambitions simply because some anonymous official sees opportunity to feather his Miami bank account before either US Special Forces pour over the border from Colombia or the Venezuelan opposition and their cohort traitors within the Chavez administration launch a more successful copycat of the April 2002 coup d'etat?


It's a blight on whatever shreds of international decency remain on the body politic of Venezuela ... rather the bare bones of a skeleton that once had borne flesh but is now rotten to the core.

It shames me ... as a staunch supporter of Venezuelan democracy, constitutionality and the rule of law, to see such a bastardization of President Hugo Chavez Frias' original ambitions for a better life for the Venezuelan people ... all 25+ million of them and not just the single figure percentage of filthy rich who infested Venezuela before he came to power in 1999.

In the current climate of mayhem that is Venezuela's governance just now, right is wrong and wrong is right!

Venezuela's grassroots citizens are realizing their democratic power and getting ready to take on the challenge of pushing for solid change from the bottom up.

It's what President Chavez has stated as his guiding light and it is a flame, a beacon for everything that is good about the Bolivarian Revolution ... but the traitors in President Chavez proximity are doing their damnedst to quench the flame of hope!

Now is the time ... already it was the time like yesterday and the day before, not 'manana' ... for Venezuela's grassroots citizens to rise up this May 1st and seize what is rightfully theirs!

They seek a government that is free from corruption.

  • A government that is just and fair in all its dealings.

  • A government that seeks respect, not disrespect and ridicule abroad.

  • A government that lives up to higher standards of probity and honesty than that which assails Venezuela from the North!

Is it too much even at this late stage to ask Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias and other true patriots of Venezuela to stand up and be counted. To reject the corruption and malfeasance which is very quickly suffocating Venezuelan democracy to the very core.

US President John F. Kennedy once told his people "ask not what your country can do for you" ... NOW is the time for all good and true Venezuelans to come to the rescue of this beautiful and honorable country and to deal resolutely with the crime and corruption that permeates almost every level of the administration and beyond.

If not? Our hearts bleed for Venezuela but just throw away the keys and switch off the lights!

Roy S. Carson

Las Cristinas: fears that the project could be delayed further or nationalized

Gold miner Crystallex International Corp said on Wednesday that Venezuela has denied an exploration permit at its Las Cristinas mine, reigniting fears that the project could be delayed further or nationalized. Shares of the company plunged as much as 60 percent to their lowest level in years, after the company said denial of the permit runs counter to approvals needed to get the long-awaited mine underway. Toronto-based Crystallex has been trying for years to nail down approvals to mine the massive gold deposit, which has proven and probable reserves of 14 million ounces. Crystallex said in a statement it understood that the office of permits at Venezuela's environment ministry had denied the request in a communication to the state-owned company that holds the Las Cristinas concessions.

Venezuelan ex-general sentenced in 2003 bombings

A dissident former general has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for bombing attacks on Spanish and Colombian diplomatic missions in Venezuela's capital. The state-run Bolivarian News Agency reported Wednesday that former National Guard Gen. Felipe Rodriguez was convicted of conspiracy and aggravated burning of property for the 2003 attacks. Rodriguez, who was sentenced Tuesday, was accused of planning the explosions at the Spanish Embassy and Colombian Consulate, which injured four people. Venezuelan officials said at the time that the bombings were meant to destabilize the government of President Hugo Chavez, who shortly beforehand had warned Spain and Colombia not to interfere in Venezuelan affairs.

Gold Reserve President A. Douglas Belanger wasn't immediately available for comment after Crystallex crash!

Spokane, Washington-based Gold Reserve Inc., planning to develop the Brisas mine in Venezuela, fell C$1.05, or 29 percent, to C$2.63 in Toronto. Gold Reserve President A. Douglas Belanger wasn't immediately available for comment when telephoned by Bloomberg. Gold Fields Ltd., the world's fourth-largest gold producer by volume, sold its Choco10 gold deposit in Venezuela last year to Rusoro Mining Ltd. after delays in receiving water permits curbed production from the mine.

Crystallex meltdown ugly, but not surprising

The latest news out of Venezuela, where the regime has a well-established disdain for North American resource companies, has knocked Crystallex back 67 cents to 94 cents on the TSX, well off the gold miner's 52-week high of $5.70. The stock is also now miles under the price on $2.10-a-unit financing done on Feb. 5, which saw the company raise $60-million by selling units consisting of one share and half a warrant. That last prospectus - the financing was led by Macquarie Capital Markets Canada - contained a nine pages of “Risk Factors,” a detailed description of the perils of dealing in Venezuela. (Crystallex chairman Robert Fung was a partner in Macquarie's predecesors, Orion Financial and Yorkton Securities.) Starting on page 17, readers encountered specific warnings on the fact that environmental permits were still pending, and more general references to the capricious nature of the Hugo Chavez regime.

Chavez is not cooperating with U.S. anti-terror efforts and has 'deepened Venezuelan relationships with state sponsors of terrorism Iran and Cuba

Venezuela's associations with other terror states, Iran's meddling in Iraq and the resurgence of al Qaeda in Afghanistan top the concerns in a new State Department report on terrorism threats in countries around the world. A U.S. report on terrorism notes Venezuela President Hugo Chavez's 'sympathy' for Colombian rebels. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is not cooperating with U.S. anti-terror efforts and has 'deepened Venezuelan relationships with state sponsors of terrorism Iran and Cuba,' the annual report says. The report notes Chavez's 'ideological sympathy' for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Colombian-based National Liberation Army, which 'regularly crossed into Venezuelan territory to rest and regroup.'

Patrick J. O'Donoghue's round up of news from Venezuela -- April 30, 2008

President Chavez has appointed Hector Navarro as the new Education Minister replacing Adan Chavez, who will occupy the leadership of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in Barinas and Apure States where serious problems have arisen that need sorting out. President Chavez made the announcement during a Council of Ministers meeting. Appearing on television yesterday, the President has challenged opposition claims that he is trying to introduce the rejected constitutional reform by stealth. Chavez has replied that all his policies are based on and in compliance with the Bolivarian Constitution of 1999, in other words, his policies are legal, constitutional and democratic. The President referred to the ban inside the PSUV to launch candidacies without permission. Chavez reiterates the message that anybody who says that he wants to be a state governor and does not accept any party decision is automatically out ... " there is discipline here and no personal projects."

During a Council of Ministers meeting, President Chavez has announced that 3 billion bolivares will be spent on education and distributed in the following manner:

Housing & Habitat Ministry will refurbish 161 schools, extend 199 and
build 57 new schools

The Infrastructure Ministry will refurbish 160 educational buildings, extend
197 and build 50 new ones

The Environment Ministry will build 47 new institutions, extend 197 and
refurbish 160.

In other words, the President concludes, 1225 educational installations will
benefit from the funding.

Yesterday, Chavez opened the Simoncito infant school in El Valle (Caracas) and at the same time, a Bolivarian secondary school in Cumana (Sucre) with 16 classrooms and 21 computers, and schools in Cojedes, Zulia, and Tachira.

As Venezuela gears to celebrate Workers Day, the opposition Confederation of Workers of Venezuela (CTV) is calling for a wage increase 40% to fight the effects of inflation. CTV general secretary, Manuel Cova suggests that workers' salaries should be in accordance with bloated salaries that top public officials are receiving. Cova criticizes the government for applying an anti-inflationary policy. According to the CTV, inflation ended 22% in general in 2007 and food prices suffered 42%. The opposition trade union march on May 1 will be one of protest, Cova announces, as he complains that employers should have been present in salary increase talks and expresses concern that the nationalization of companies does not offer sufficient guarantees to workers.

National Union of Workers (UNT) national coordinator, Marcella Maspero has also questioned the high salaries the government officials are receiving in relation to workers' salaries and highlights what she calls the "need to seek an integral social salary." The proposed integral social salary, Maspero argues, will force a review of health, education, tourism, recreation and job policies. Maspero insists that the inequality of salaries must be reviewed and updated. The central is also demanding the elimination of subcontracting because it exploits workers, avoids collective bargaining and prevents workers from joining trade unions. The UNT will march from La Bandera to Carmelitas tomorrow to support President Chavez' policies.

The Hands Off Venezuela solidarity group in London is supporting Ecuadorian citizens after Home Office officials and British police entered an Ecuadorian business in South London searching for undocumented workers. According to a report on the group's website, police "broke through doors and intimidated all those found in spots known to be frequented by Latin Americans, the majority of them, Ecuadorians." The Latin American Contingent in London will march from Farringdon station to Trafalgar Square on May 1 at 12 o'clock. The march will protest against the treatment of Ecuadorians by the British police, reject the racist campaign of the Santa Cruz province in Bolivia, support trade unionists and social movements in Colombia and express solidarity with the successes of Venezuelan workers on the road to Socialism.

The Interior & Justice (MIJ) Ministry will open a penitentiary community in Coro (Fal con) today. MIJ Minister, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin says it will be part of a new penitentiary socialist system to help prisoners reintegrate into society with their families. The family, he states, will share productive socialist work with inmates organized in cooperatives and families will be able to lodge near the penitentiary centers opening the possibility of establishing real family communication. The Minister adds that the architectural concept of the new penitentiary communities will help personal development and aid reinsertion into society.

National Guard (GN) General (ret.) Felipe Rodriguez has received a prison sentence of 10 years and three months for his involvement in placing explosive devices in front of the Spanish and Colombian consulates in Caracas in 2003. His colleagues, Raul Diaz Pena and Silvio Merida Ortiz received prison sentences of nine years eight months each. Rodriguez was one of the generals who violently opposed President Chavez and occupied the Plaza Altamira in 2002 in an effort to bring down the government.

According to a report on website, PSUV vice president General (ret.) Alberto Muller Rojas has confirmed the expulsion of Barquisimeto Mayor, Henry Falcon, and National Assembly deputies, Wilmer Azuaje and Wilmer Perez for prematurely launching their candidacies to regional elections. Deputy Luis Diaz has also been expelled from the party for using undemocratic methods to criticize the government. Yaracuy State governor, Carlos Gimenez has also received the chop, alleging that the reason is his support for Deputy Luis Tascon's bid to the Metro Mayor's Office in Caracas. Gimenez himself is facing charges of corruption. Falcon retorts that the party is jumping the gun and that anyway he will run as an independent and Chavist.

Patrick J. O'Donoghue

Crystallex plunged 46 per cent Wednesday after the miner said it had been denied a permit for exploration work at its key Las Cristinas project

Shares in Crystallex International Corp. (KRY) plunged 46 per cent Wednesday after the miner said it had been denied a permit for exploration work at its key Las Cristinas project in Venezuela. Crystallex embattled stock fell 84 cents to 77 cents on the TSX. The Toronto-based company said the Administrative Office of Permits at the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources of Venezuela was denying a request to carry out exploration activities in the mining area of Las Cristinas in Sifontes, Bolivar State. The denial cited 'sensitivities surrounding indigenous peoples, the small miners and the environment in the area generally known as the Imataca Forest Reserve.' The area 'contains a number of mining projects, which like those of Crystallex, are seeking the required permits to continue their development and exploitation.

Las Cristinas authorization to affect natural resources to carry out exploration activities in the mining area denied!

CRYSTALLEX INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION has become aware that the Director General of the Administrative Office of Permits at the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources of Venezuela ('MinAmb') has issued a communication to the Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana ('CVG'), the owner of the Las Cristinas concessions, denying a request for the authorization to affect natural resources to carry out exploration activities in the mining area of Las Cristinas in Sifontes, Bolivar State.

Harry Mannil, in Venezuela: Former officer in Estonia's political police and German security forces during Nazi occupation of Estonia

Harry Mannil, in Venezuela: Former officer in Estonia's political police and German security forces during Nazi occupation of Estonia. U.S. authorities investigating Mannil's 1990s visa application concluded he took part in murder of hundreds of Jews, barring him entry.

Venezuela under Chávez Frías is on the path of economic ruin

Currently Venezuela under General Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is on the path of economic ruin, simply because he (Mr Chavez) has also decided to launch land reforms that are strangely not getting the same media buzz as that of Zimbabwe[3]. But Venezuela’s economic difficulties are absorbed by the benefits that her government is generating from the stratospheric oil price. Any significant drop in Oil price, might also chime the toll bells of the end of the rule of the proponent of Bolivarian Socialism, for it will be difficult, if not impossible for him to control the wave of anger and demonstrations that will hit his country. Honesty therefore requires that, sentiments not be put on land issues.

Venezuela’s armed forces have discovered a camp set up by a Colombian militia group; arrest four

Venezuela’s armed forces have discovered a camp set up by a Colombian militia group inside the country and arrested four of its members, Spain’s EFE news agency reported Wednesday quoting a top military official. The secret camp of the outlawed United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, or AUC, was found last Thursday in the western state of Zulia near the Colombian borders, General Jesus Gonzalez said, adding that the camp was set up to train the right-wing paramilitaries. He also said that several documents, 19 uniforms with AUC insignia, weapons, munitions, explosives and 80 kgs of cocaine were found from the site.

Bad planning, along with an overvalued currency, slow Chavez' drive.

With world food prices at all-time highs and hurt by sporadic shortages of basic products last year, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is determined to reduce his country's dependence on costly imports and make its fields more productive. But bad planning, along with an overvalued currency, slow Chavez's drive.

Power restored to Caracas after much of Venezuela hit by power outage

Power has been basically restored to the capital city Caracas, after a major power outage hit central and western Venezuela Tuesday, leaving almost half of the country with electricity, authorities said. The power failure started at 4:15 p.m. local time (2015 GMT), affecting 13 provinces and Caracas and bringing the country's metro to a standstill. Power is expected to return to other affected areas later in the day, officials said.

It is much easier to play cards with the deck stacked in your favor by a corrupt dealer

VHeadline's Washington D.C.-based commentarist Chris Herz writes: This commentator makes a serious effort not to report on the daily shenanigans of the US presidential contenders and the nonsensical framing and distortions of the corporate media in their reporting of the same. These silly and vain posturings by the principals and their sycophant stenographers are usually without much significance to those interested in the real mainsprings that force the USA to act in certain very predicable ways.

Looking at our system from the outside must be for the uninitiated much the same agonizing exercise as was once labored over by reporters in trying to pierce the mysteries wrapped in enigma that was the Politburo of the late great Soviet Union.

Nothing important, nothing real is ever stated outright in public by either politician or reporter. We whose job it is to follow the news are force fed a constant diet of nasty stuff about flag pins or being under enemy fire as little girls present bouquets of Bosnian flowers. Or a former prisoner of the Vietnamese, one who collaborated with his captors is presented as some sort of hero. Sometimes it even descends to the level of who is boffing whom. All pure codswallop. But once in a while the mask slips. Totally by accident we are allowed to see the ugly faces under it. If we've the courage to lift our faces and take a look.

And so it is with the tremendous media-manufactured din about the former pastor of Barak Obama's church.

There's quite a lot here to think over.

First of all, no one is allowed anywhere near the Senate of the United States unless a lot of very rich and important people consider him or her to be a reliable and corrupt servant. Not of the people as an whole, but of the one or two percent of our populace who control 40 or 50 percent of all capital assets in the USA.

All three remaining contenders for the presidency, the two Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, and the Republican, John McCain more than meet this criterion. Yet because he has not been long in the Senate, only 4 years or so, and then before that he was only an obscure and rather inactive state legislator in Illinois (from Chicago) there persists a very small element of doubt in certain elite quarters as to whether Obama is perfectly trustworthy.

Clinton and McCain have had much longer track records in public life. Their friendliness to all the favored agendas of the rich and well placed is thoroughly understood without the slightest doubt. For years they've loyally done the bidding of their masters in voting for war, for tax favors for the wealthy, for corporate trade deals, for favored defense contractors. Long have they both wallowed in all the stinking corruption that is Washington. Each is a known quantity.

Our masters did not get rich by taking chances. It is much easier to play cards with the deck stacked in your favor by a corrupt dealer. And that is what these politicians are all about.

At the same time, the natives out there in Oshkosh are getting restless. They are waking up to the fact that for two generations they have been experiencing a real fleecing at the hands of the corporate state. And with unemployment at well over 13 percent, and inflation running at at least that level as well, there looks to be no way out for most of the population.

Ignoring the doctored official statistics, the real standard of living for working-class Americans has been in decline since at least the inflationary period following the Vietnam War. Matters now are getting so serious at the gas station or the grocery store that reality is starting to overwhelm the TV propaganda. There's a nasty mood out there.

Clearly in recent weeks many of the powers that be in the media have decided to take no chances and to knock off Obama. The extensive and more or less accurate reporting of the statements, in themselves also accurate (if bitterly phrased) knocking American anti-Black racism by retired Pastor Jeremiah Wright, an old friend of Obama's, is going down without stay or hindrance. It is an wholly shameless effort to mobilize the racism that has always been the chief factor in the electoral choices of most lower-class whites.

The USA and its elites are under such severe economic pressure that the survival of even our weak and purely nominal constitutionalism is hardly possible. Some form of authoritarianism is seen as the only way forward for the once-mighty warfare state. And only Clinton or McCain armed with the provisions of the so-called Patriot Acts can be trusted with the leadership of the empire.

I think we will see this sort of nasty stuff all the way to November.

From the capital of the Empire,

Chris Herz

General Raúl Isaías Baduel, the ex Defence Minister of Venezuela says the country is in a stage ‘prelude to an insurrection’

El País notes comments from General Raúl Isaías Baduel, the ex Defence Minister of Venezuela. He has said the country is in a stage ‘prelude to an insurrection’, provoked by the country’s own President, Hugo Chaves, and his ‘irresponsible’ decisions."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Venezuela's recent $4 billion debt sale doesn't have IMF clause

Venezuela's recent $4 billion debt sale was made without the customary clause which indicates that if Venezuela were to withdraw from the International Monetary Fund bond holders can demand immediate payment, Finance Minister Rafael Isea said Tuesday. In televised remarks during a cabinet meeting with President Hugo Chavez, Isea said 'these bonds don't have the IMF clause.' The results of the sale were announced Monday. 'In former debt sales, (Venezuelan) bonds always carried an IMF clause that allows debt holders to demand immediate payment if the issuing country leaves the IMF,' Isa said.

Government fails to sign Sidor collective contract, union threatens stoppage

Venezuela's steelworkers union Sutiss has threatened to halt works at steelmaker Sidor since the minister of Venezuela's ministry of basic industries and mining, Rodolfo Sanz, has not signed the collective contract with employees. 'We expected the minister to sign the contract today [Tuesday] but he called and said there are still some final details and finishing touches missing on the contract and that it has not been possible to sign,' Sidor board member Pedro Rondón told BNamericas. The union has given the government until midnight Tuesday, according to Rondón, who also represents Sidor's class B shareholders.

2nd UPDATE:Blackout Affecting 40% To 50% Of Venezuela-Official

Electricity went out in downtown Caracas around 4 p.m. local time. The outage also took out mobile communications for some time. Calls to the local electric power company in Caracas resulted in a recorded message citing 'a generalized failure.' Employees from several office buildings downtown left their offices and were walking down the city's main downtown artery. Traffic lights were out and traffic was congested as policemen tried to handle the flow.

Venezuela's Chavez seeks agreement with steel maker Sidor over nationalization

President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that he wants a «consensus» on compensation for Venezuela's largest steel maker, shifting to a more conciliatory tone in his latest nationalization move. Chavez said officials are talking with Sidor's parent company, Ternium SA, to reach a deal for the Luxembourg-based company's 60 percent stake in the steel maker. «We have always said that we want to bring these decisions down the best of roads, looking for an agreement, consensus,» Chavez said during a televised address. «Win-win, that's our motto.

Caracas' metro train system ground to a halt, traffic lights went out and mobile phone services collapsed across the country

A major power outage hit Venezuela's capital and eight states on Tuesday, and emergency officials called for calm as the blackout caused traffic chaos. Caracas' metro train system ground to a halt, traffic lights went out and mobile phone services collapsed across the country. A government official said the power failure was caused by a snapped cable and that it expected electricity supplies would be restored within a few hours. 'We have some electrical failures in several states across the country,' Luis Curvelo, head of Venezuela's emergency services, told television station Globovision. He called on the population to remain calm.

Widespread power outages in Venezuela

Widespread power outages struck Venezuela on Tuesday afternoon at an hour of peak demand, an official said. 'It's affecting quite a few areas of the country,' Luis Diaz Curvelo, national director of civil protection, told Globovision Television. It said that about 40 percent of the country had been blacked out since about 4:15 p.m. local time (4:45 p.m. ET). The president of the Electric National Corporation, Hipolito Izquierdo, told state-run Venezuelan Television that power would begin returning by 5:30 p.m. (6 p.m. ET). He said most of the western part of the country was unaffected.

Patrick J. O'Donoghue's round up of news from Venezuela -- April 29, 2008

During his Sunday radio address, President Chavez has appointed a committee to inspect the hacienda (estate) of British citizen, William Harcourt-Cooze, a cocoa exporter to the United Kingdom. The hacienda is called El Tesoro and is situated in the region of Chuao (Aragua) where President Chavez held his latest radio show. The committee will consist of Agriculture & Lands Minister Elias Jaua, Defense Minister General Gustavo Rangel Briceno and United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) vice president for the Aragua region, Carlos Escarra. According to a report in, Harcourt-Cooze buys raw material at 8 bolivares, which is said to be below the real price in Choroni, namely, 16.70 bolivares. The processing factory for Venezuelan chocolate is situated in the English county of Devon where bars sell at $14 each. According to the President, the presence of the Englishman is a sign that the colonialism is still active in Venezuela ... "the gentleman has become rich and the workers are living in poverty ... it's 500 years of exploitation." During his visit to the village, the President was informed by villagers about the Englishman buying cheap cocoa and not allowing local farmers to work on the lands where the product is being cultivated.

United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) electoral technical director, Willian Lara has asked National Elections Committee (CNE) president, Tibisay Lucena to change the venue of updating the electoral register, currently situated in municipal offices. Lara says there is concern that the updating of the electoral register is taking place within the confines of municipalities because a number of situations have arisen whereby persons who are not of the confidence of the mayor are being denied access to the service. According to Lara, the reply of the CNE has been positive. It may be worth noting that while Communication & Information (Minci) Minister, Lara himself was accused of denying opposition journalists access to public institutions for news and information.

Barinas State deputy to the National Assembly (AD), Braulio Alvarez has confirmed the assassination of two peasant leaders. Alvarez reports that Freddy Aragosa and Luis Perez, who have been important figures in the fight for lands in the area died after receiving bullets in the back on Sunday evening. In Cojedes State, three persons involved in the agrarian struggle were wounded after a surprise attack by an armed group. Alvarez denounces a destabilizing plan in the countryside that has been placed in action and calls on State security agencies and the Attorney General's Office to start an investigation. The two incidents highlight a series of attacks on agrarian leaders throughout Venezuela. Assassinations of leaders have been part and parcel of the situation in the states of Zulia and Tachira over the past few years.

The Patriotic Alliance of pro-government parties is expected to meet today for the third time to discuss regional elections and the selection of candidates. It has been learned that the Patria Para Todos (PPT) party will raise the issue of nepotism in the choice of candidates and propose mechanisms to avoid corruption in the process. It would also appear that the PPT is not satisfied with the way conversations have been held with allied parties coordinated by the PSUV vice president, General (ret.) Alberto Muller Rojas. However, it would appear that political motivations are behind the move because PPT general secretary, Jose Albornoz is slotted for the Guarico governorship. Although Albornoz has not confirmed his aspiration, he has let it be known that he will attend political meetings in Calabozo, the state capital.

Prices for chicken and flour have been given a rise, while the price of eggs has been deregulated. The changes have appeared in the Gaceta Oficial. Last week, President Chavez adjusted maize prices and this week it's the turn of chicken. The price of chicken has received an 84.8% average adjustment from Bs.F 4.50 to 8.39 bolivares. While eggs have been deregulated, the government affirms its faculty to regulate prices at any given time. Harina Pan (maize bread powder) will go from 1.40 a kilo to 2.07 bolivares (47.8%).

Patrick J. O'Donoghue

Venezuela Crushes Paramilitary Camp

The National Armed Forces of Venezuela has detected and destroyed a paramilitary camp on Venezuela´s border with Colombia. Venezuela has more than once denounced the presence of those forces in its territory following the discovery of a base to train irregular forces at Catatumbo municipality, Zulia. At the premises were found military fatigues, fire arms, ammunition, explosives, communications technology, camping equipment and armbands from the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC).

Monday, April 28, 2008

Report: caution on U.S. sanctions on Venezuela

Slapping sanctions on Venezuela for supporting leftist Colombian guerrillas would make President Hugo Chávez more popular and diminish U.S. standing in Latin America,warns a report prepared by the Republican staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Several lawmakers, including Florida Republican Reps. Connie Mack and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, have called on the Bush administration to designate Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism, following reports that Chávez is supporting the FARC guerrillas. The State Department has not ruled out putting Venezuela on its list of countries that support terrorism, saying it would not make a determination until it carefully investigates the contents of several computers, belonging to slain rebel leader Raúl Reyes and captured by Colombian security forces.

Plane crash kills 4 in Venezuela

A small plane crash has killed four people and injured another four in the city of Maiquetia in Venezuela, authorities have reported. Chief fire fighter of the region, Captain Miguel Calderon, said Monday the plane crashed into a three storey residential building in Catia la Mar, not far from Simon Bolivar International Airport. The pilot, one passenger and two people who were in the house died, said the Civil Protection.


Patrick J. O'Donoghue's round up of news from Venezuela -- April 28, 2008

Speaking during a meeting of United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) propaganda commissioners in Parque Central (Caracas), President Chavez has announced that he will set up a national message center working 24/7 and properly equipped. The idea, the President says, is to confront the media war that is being waged in Venezuela. The centre will be fed by the government and party "to act in time" to counter any situation and the President adds that there should be a centre in every region and every state. Giving an example of how the system will work, Chavez says if something happens in one area, the local centre should communicate immediately with the State centre and the national centre to take the necessary actions. The party, Chavez urges, cannot fall into the trap of copying enemy strategy, which consists in spreading propaganda and then using it as a base to impact reality. "Our strategy should be the contrary ... do real things that make an impact or in other words, the war of ideas."

On Saturday, President Chavez announced the creation of a high command of science and technology to supervise all projects sent in by Venezuelan inventors. The President himself saw some of the inventions during an exposition of inventors in Caracas. Chavez insists that the country should build its own technological style and says he was impressed by some of the exhibits during the Popular Innovators and Inventors Fair in Caracas.

Primero Justicia (PJ) leader, Julio Borges has replied to a commentary by President Chavez that he has been not trying to introduce the constitutional reform by stealth. Borges insists that Chavez has an obsession to present by stealth a constitutional reform that was rejected by the people in December 2007. The President should stop saying it wasn't me, Borges insists, because it doesn't suit him. Primero Justicia is combating popular assemblies because it insists that Venezuelans are very clear in what they want and would never accept Chavez' "febrile ambition to try and control everything." Borges proclaims that PJ want Venezuelans to be protagonists, to decide the education of their children and to be proprietors of what they own, however humble it be. The party disagrees with any "intravenous injection of Socialism because Venezuelan values are completely contrary to a personalist, centralizing and controlling project."

A multitude of believers assembled in Caracas to attend the beatification of Venezuelan nun, Mother Candelaria de San Jose. Cardinal Urosa presided over the ceremony, stating that Mother Candelaria is an example of what the Church does day after day, namely personify the triumph of faith over disbelief, love over hatred and solidarity over egotism and indifference, peace over violence and war. Around 30,000 people, mostly from the provinces, attended the ceremony at the University Stadium in Caracas and another 20,000 watched the ceremony via TV screens at the Olympic Stadium.

During his Sunday radio show from the fishing and cocoa village of Chuao (Aragua), President Chavez asserts that Venezuela will not be affected by the world food crisis. This year, the President recalls, all his Sunday radio talk shows have been dedicated to the topic. Furthermore, the President boasts, Venezuela will be able to help other countries confront the crisis. During the program Chavez did admit that his government was slow to address agricultural problems but the Agriculture & Lands (MAT) Ministry has been financing and providing technical assistance and training to peasants to increase production of products that form the domestic basic diet. During the show, socialist agrarian fund (FAS) president, Ricardo Sanchez reports that more than 1,600 small to medium producers as well as 82 communal projects throughout Venezuela have received funding from his organisation. Sanchez confirms that the FAS will be able to finance 1.3 billion bolivares for work on 400,000 new hectares this year, in conjunction with the agricultural bank. Last week, the President raised the price of corn and sorghum 30% and yesterday was informed that cocoa crops in Chuao had increased 300% in two years.

Commenting on the choice of PSUV candidates to represent the government in elections this year, President Chavez says that he has received a list of candidates to State governors and Mayors. Chavez reminds party members that there can be alternative candidates inside the PSUV and there must be unity around the issue. "We cannot return to commit the same errors as Podemos made using elections to traffic posts." However, unrest has been observed in states such as Yaracuy and Zulia where people have been contesting what they call impositions from party hierarchs who have failed to take into account the votes of locals.

In his weekly column editor/publisher, Miguel Salazar has coined a new phrase to depict a new political phenomenon he calls, "chaverism." The term applies to a growing trend of nepotism among Bolivarian leaders, grooming sons, daughters and other family members for key positions. The examples of budding dynasties provided are centered on Lara, Portuguesa, Nueva Esparta and Falcon States. Miguel also highlights the return of the nefarious practice of freebies on state-owned planes, something that President Chavez criticized and stopped when he came to power in 1999.

Patrick J. O'Donoghue

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chavez threatens to expropriate steel maker Sidor

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is threatening to expropriate Venezuela's largest steel maker because he says shareholders are demanding excessive compensation for the company's nationalization. Chavez dismissed a request made by Sidor's parent company, Luxembourg-based Ternium SA, for $4 billion in exchange for its 60 percent stake in the steel maker. The Venezuelan president ordered Sidor nationalized earlier this month, taking sides with workers who fought for improved salaries and benefits.

Chavez confirms he will work for release of US hostages

President Hugo Chavez said Sunday he would attempt to facilitate the release of three Americans held captive for more than five years by Colombia's largest rebel group. Chavez offered to help free the three U.S. defense contractors a day after meeting with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Richardson traveled to Caracas to recruit the socialist leader as mediator in a possible exchange of hostages for imprisoned guerrillas. 'I told him that we're at their service, to try to help even though the issue is very complicated,' said Chavez, speaking during his weekly television and radio program.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is 'ready to help re-engage in negotiations' for the release of three American hostages

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is 'ready to help re-engage in negotiations' for the release of three American hostages held captive by rebels in Colombia, a visiting US Governor said. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson told the agencies in a telephone interview that he plans to put forward a proposal for the release of the three US defence contractors in the coming weeks and that Chavez is willing to work with him as a 'primary mediator.'

Venezuela's Chávez wants government monitoring of news

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is asking his government to establish a 24-hour news monitoring system to combat what he calls a ''media war'' against his administration. Chávez proposed Saturday that officials open regional monitoring centers across the country. The president says the offices would report to a national center and help the government respond swiftly to negative coverage with its own side of the story.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Miami man with links to a Venezuelan spy agency pleads guilty to being an illegal agent in an alleged $800,000 coverup

A Miami man with links to a Venezuelan spy agency pleaded guilty on Wednesday to being an illegal agent in an alleged coverup of Venezuela's $800,000 campaign donation to an Argentine presidential candidate. Rodolfo Edgardo Wanseele Paciello, 40, admitted in federal court to providing counter-surveillance for a Venezuelan intelligence (DISIP) official who traveled to South Florida last October to organize the alleged coverup.

Ex-congresswoman names Colombian president in political bribery scandal

Authorities in Colombia have ordered the arrest of a former congresswoman involved in an alleged political bribery scandal that paved the way for President Alvaro Uribe to seek re-election.
In an interview broadcast last weekend but recorded nearly four years ago, Yidis Medina says she was promised political favours in return for voting for a bill that allowed Uribe to run for re-election in 2006. Medina described herself as the swing vote on the measure, which passed 18 to 16. Prosecutors say the Colombian Supreme Court ordered Medina's arrest on Friday. A lawyer for the former congresswoman says she plans on surrendering Monday or Tuesday after taking care of some personal business, including the care of her two daughters.

In these dreadful, turbulent times, revolutionary Venezuela cannot afford to lose its foreign supporters, another loyal mouthpiece in English

VHeadline commentarist and University of Los Andes (ULA) Political Sciences Professor, Dr. Franz J. T. Lee writes: Reading two recent articles -- "Venezuelan student leader who challenged Chavez wins prize" and "Venezuelan Student Movement Leader Awarded $500,000 Milton Friedman Liberty Prize" -- I arrived at the logical conclusion that their venomous content reflects precisely that what is to be understood by a typical ruling class non-governmental 'think tank,' namely, what the National Endowment for Democracy (NED, a mind and thought control laboratory and a mental holocaust is all about.

In a nutshell, they form part and parcel of brutal 'preventive wars,' of genocidal 'military humanism,' of global, torturing terrorism.

These anti-Chavez diatribes and lies, and the occult funding of coupsters camouflaged by 'winning' international 'prizes,' explain what is the ruling class objective and role of academic ideology and its corresponding myths and half-truths.

It is obvious that we need more formidable international defense weapons in the English language to protect President Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution from all these attacks that come from the very filthy structures of the capitalist system. Its watch-dogs, howl from the pulpit o the bomb, inexorably they attacks the 'democratic quail" of revolution and emancipation.

For more than a decade VHeadline in English and Spanish was at the front of the international battle, in the "war of ideas." In the meantime, a few die hard fighters cannot finance such a momentous project anymore, because, at its peak, also at the height of the Iraq invasion, our website already had nearly a million English readers a month.

In these dreadful, turbulent times surely revolutionary Venezuela cannot afford to lose its foreign supporters, another loyal mouthpiece in English.

We tried all over to launch VHeadline again, but because of lack of funds, we may have to discontinue the project altogether, unless the Bolivarian revolution itself comes to the rescue. In the interest of democracy in Venezuela we urgently have to neutralize the contagious, epidemic lies against us, and globally to inform the world about true realities, about the new Conquest in
Latin America.

We urgently appeal for material help, otherwise our very enemies will win another battle of the 'Disinformation Highway' in English.

Once more, in the name of imperialist, corporate class interests, that is, of State violence and of globalized terrorism, the bottom line of such funding to student leaders is very simple: it is part of a carefully planned new Vandalic conquest of Venezuela's natural wealth and resources, of its huge oil and gas reserves, of its biodiversity, strategic metals, minerals, oxygen and fresh water. This institutional violent corruption produced in rightist academic circles and factories of bare-faced, blatant ideology,
this corruption of the youth, of the best, of the future, is the worst form of corruption, is a capital, cardinal crime against humanity.

However, let us look at another level of this news topic.

  • Across history we encounter big bullies, big brothers, also 'great societies,' in which the rulers and their lackeys just feel great, are megalomaniacs. Very few insiders seem to note the Lilliputian character of the immediate downfall of the United States of America. All great empires in history fell armed to the teeth, the latest example was Great Britain.

In global capitalism and imperialism, not the massive manufacture of arms of mass destruction, not the global over-production of bellicose goods and materials, not the 'mother of all bombs,' not
'cluster-bombs,' determine world hegemony; to sell these goods in a belligerent atmosphere, to realize extra and super profits, to accumulate more than a billion dollars a week, that is big business, is power, is world power, is world war.

This is the only thing that currently matters for the overlords and warlords in Washington D.C.

It seems that these days not even Exxon Mobil qualifies for this economic hazard any more. The myopic Cyclops in the White House and the terrorist Goliaths in the Pentagon seem to sense the real crash of their dollar, to have a premonition of their demise from world power. This is why by the hour they are becoming more brutal, more desperate, more terrorist. They try to provoke
President Chavez, to ignite civil war in Latin America, are working hard to 'balkanize' the sovereign states and the continent itself, like they did it in Eastern Europe, but their time is running out, the very planet is in agony, the very human species may perish soon as the result of globalized capitalist greed, avarice and egoism.

President Chavez warned that the warship 'George Washington' is passing us in the Caribbean very near to our coasts, and is heading towards Brazil, but this is not the real invasion ... it is much more subtle than this: it is like a thief coming in the darkness of the night, who is already infiltrated in our very beds.

It is from inside where the greatest danger will come, is coming already.

However, the massmedia knows how to deviate attention away from the crash of the US dollar, therewith the US economy, and which could affect the whole world market. The 'black sheep' in the 'axis of evil' are not sufficient to distract attention away from the urgent preparation for urgent world wars.

Not only is the health of Mother Nature again of concern in the headlines, psychologically an end-of-times scenario has to be created, must be indicated scientifically that the threat to the human species is natural, it has occurred over and over in the past. We, the humans were just
lucky to escape extinction, nut now, this time, the outcome is not sure. This mechanism of manipulation, of hiding the true state of affairs from public attention is an old trick of fascism.

Finally, let us look at the big transhistoric truth, at the colonial lies against Africa, at fascist racism against our 'foremothers,' against humanity itself.

So, what is new, is the latest patriotic headline from Washington D.C., from our 'homeland'? What do extensive genetic studies tell us about our past luck?

At last, important news from 'Dark Africa,' from the 'cradle of humanity.' "Humanity was nearly wiped out 70,000 years ago!"

According to intensive genetic studies of Stanford University, some external factors (perhaps droughts), caused 'all black' human species, homo sapiens to be reduced to small groups of about 2,000 individuals 70,000 years ago.

  • If this 'genetic information' should be true, it would detonate apartheid, racism and fascism: the theory of the white 'master race' ... in fact, it would put all ideology topsy-turvy.

In terrorist globalization, the above is simply too good to be true.

Could we seriously imagine an African "Eve" and a Black "Virgin Mary" ... they surely would not fit into the erotic '90-60-90' patriarchal master plate. This African Eve is no other than Pacha Mama or Caribay in indigenous beliefs, Gaia or Isis ... she is the light, fire, eros, creative power of human emancipation, she is our only concrete hope for survival.

The report in the "American Journal of Human Genetics" actually confirms that studies "using mitochondrial DNA -- which is passed down through mothers -- have traced modern humans to a single "mitochondrial Eve," who lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago."

Hence, even the Holy Bible is obsolete. It is time that the Vatican not only updates the 'Ten Commandments,' but also the whole 'Genesis' till the 'Revelations,' to include all the black descendants (and prophets) of our archaic, authentic mother, the African "mitochondrial Eve."

It would not be a bad idea to change the Rembrandtesque religious colors ... for example, to paint the guardian angels of paradise in black.

There is no capitalism without racism, and there is no racism without accumulation of capital.

Only global class struggle can eliminate all those prices and prizes intended to corrupt the youth, to alienate humanity and to keep it in bondage forever.

Franz J.T. Lee

Will urge Venezuela to use diplomacy to help pressure the United States to liberalize immigration laws

U.S.-Venezuelan relations have been strained for years. The United States backed a 2002 coup that briefly overthrew the democratically elected Chavez, who continues to accuse the United States of plotting against him, a charge the U.S. government denies. U.S. officials in turn assail Venezuela for close relations with countries such as Iran and say the country does not do enough to combat terrorism and drug trafficking, allegations that Venezuela rejects. Navarro said he will urge Venezuela to use diplomacy to help pressure the United States to liberalize immigration laws, including the legalization of undocumented immigrants. The diplomacy could include discussions in the Organization of American States -- of which Venezuela and the United States are members -- and the United Nations, he said.

Embedded with the 'Tupamaros'

It was in this context of repression that the Venezuelan popular militia movement was born. Neither entirely clandestine nor fully open, small groups began to spring up to defend local barrios from both the state and the burgeoning parallel violence of narcotrafficking. Small groups, masked and armed, began to make semi-public appearances, giving an ultimatum to local drug dealers: either you stop selling drugs or you'll be killed. The police, too, found themselves all the more frequently victims of armed ambushes and shootouts with masked militias. In order to explain this phenomenon, the police, government officials, and even more appreciative local residents adopted a single moniker, derived from the Uruguayan urban guerrilla struggle: in mythical fashion, these militias were deemed 'TupamarosIt was in this context of repression that the Venezuelan popular militia movement was born. Neither entirely clandestine nor fully open, small groups began to spring up to defend local barrios from both the state and the burgeoning parallel violence of narcotrafficking. Small groups, masked and armed, began to make semi-public appearances, giving an ultimatum to local drug dealers: either you stop selling drugs or you'll be killed. The police, too, found themselves all the more frequently victims of armed ambushes and shootouts with masked militias. In order to explain this phenomenon, the police, government officials, and even more appreciative local residents adopted a single moniker, derived from the Uruguayan urban guerrilla struggle: in mythical fashion, these militias were deemed 'Tupamaros"

Friday, April 25, 2008

Is this U.S. sabre rattling an attempt to squelch Latin Americas defence plans?

VHeadline commentarist Kenneth T. Tellis writes: Just a few weeks ago Venezuelan President Chavez and Brazil Lula De Silva were having talks on the formation of a South America Defence Organization to protect all of the nations in the area from aggression.

Thus instead of NATO there would be in place a South Atlantic Treaty Organization to take care of the defence needs of all of South America and the Caribbean.

Just last week, Fernando Lugo a former bishop of Paraguay won the Presidential Elections. Fernando Lugo a leftist at heart and is suspected of being under the influence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

That of course rang alarm bells in the U.S. ... they rushed to judgment and because he was a leftist held the view that it was not democratic, because he was not of the right-wing stripe that they consider democratic.

The fact that the election was free and democratic made no difference the western news media, both in the U.S. and Europe. But in their misguided view Fernando Lugo was a threat to democracy.

Does one remember that this same view was held when priests were elected in the Nicaraguan elections and the Sandinistas won some years back?
  • The poor priests in Latin American have always been accused by the Catholic hierarchy of being followers of Liberation Theology and thus leftists.
No one has ever looked into the suffering of Latin America's poor and downtrodden masses as these Liberation Theologians who live among the poor in the barrios. How could those within the church who live in opulence know of the real suffering of the masses?

So men like Fernando Lugo are disliked by those who see them as a threat to their power and opulent life-style. Now we come to the recent provocation by the U.S. Navy.

Why did the U.S. Navy deliberately send its Aircraft Carrier the USS George Washington into Venezuela's territorial waters if not to provoke Venezuela?

This attempt at saber ratting is not going to scare the Latin American nations, because yesterday is long gone, and they are no longer afraid of the U.S. or its military might anymore. This is not the Gulf of Sidra, Libya, which the U.S. Navy provoked by illegally entering Libyan waters on August 19, 1981 and shooting then down two Libyan Sukhoi SU-22 Fitter jet fighters over Libyan Air Space in the process.

Today Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela are all in the process of forming a common defence force, which in time will be more than the U.S. can handle.

But for the present these countries should invite Russian and Chinese naval forces on friendly visits to their nations. These visits would put the U.S. in a weaker position in the area.

Chavez can then implement his plans to bury the U.S. in the 21st century.

Kenneth T. Tellis

Pentagon seeks authority to train and equip foreign militaries

Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Congress on Tuesday to grant the Pentagon permanent authority to train and equip foreign militaries, a task previously administered by the State Department, and to raise the annual budget for the effort to $750 million, a 250 percent increase. Gates said that rapidly building up the armed forces of friendly nations to combat terrorism within their borders was 'a vital and enduring military requirement' — and one that should be managed by the Defense Department. Representative Ike Skelton, the Missouri Democrat who is the Armed Services Committee chairman, voiced apprehension over 'what appears to be the migration of State Department activities to the Department of Defense.'

Will the CIA Kill or Oust Ecuador's President?

What’s the CIA doing infiltrating Ecuador’s military intelligence systems? Good question! Maybe it’s because the CIA still fears the threat of communism. Don’t forget that that was the apparent rationale for the U.S. government’s support of Operation Condor, the campaign of assassination and torture co-sponsored by the brutal regimes in Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru during the 1970s. Don’t forget also that many of the brutal military personnel in those regimes received their training at the U.S. Army’s infamous School of the Americas, famous for, among other things, its torture manuals.

Food Prices ‘Massacre’ Of World's Poor - Chavez

Soaring food prices are a 'massacre' of the world's poor and are creating a global nutritional crisis, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday, calling it a sign that capitalism is in decline. His comments came only hours after the United Nations' World Food Program called more expensive food a 'silent tsunami' that threatens to plunge more than 100 million people on every continent into hunger.
'It is a true massacre what is happening in the world,' Chavez said in a televised speech, citing UN statistics about deaths caused by hunger and malnourishment. 'The problem is not the production of food ... it is the economic, social and political model of the world. The capitalist model is in crisis.'

Venezuelan Ambassador's Speech At USF Disrupted

With shouts of 'shame on you' and 'no more Chavez,' opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez disrupted a presentation by Venezuela's ambassador to the United States at the University of South Florida on Wednesday. The ambassador, Bernardo Alvarez Herrera, spoke to about 100 people, including Latin American studies students and Chavez supporters. At one point, while Chavez opponents shouted and clapped, Chavez supporters began yelling 'Viva Chavez.' Harry Vanden, professor of international studies at USF, tried to quiet the protesters by reminding them that having respect for the freedom of expression meant letting the ambassador speak."

Patrick J. O'Donoghue's round up of news from Venezuela -- April 25, 2008

President Chavez has raised an objection regarding the title of the new school curriculum, insisting that it should not be called Bolivarian because of the political implications. Speaking during the launch of the socialist agrarian development fund in Barinas, the President calls on school parents not to pay attention to those presenting the national curriculum as proselytism. What the government really wants to do, Chavez maintains, is to promote free thinking and technological, scientific and artistic knowledge. Ever since Aristobulo Isturiz was Education Minister, Chavez recalls, he was always of the opinion that the national curriculum should not use the adjective Bolivarian because it has a strong political connotations, which would alienate people who do not agree with the government. The President says he believes that children should grow up with tools that will help then choose and discern for themselves and choose the road that they will walk without being pushed.

During a visit to the Florentino socialist productive- technical centre in Barinas, President Chavez has announced an 300% increase in white and yellow maize cultivation compared to the last 10 years under the Fourth Republic (1988-1998). In the nine years of the Bolivarian government, Chavez points out, production has increased with a daily average of 8,000 kg per hectare compared to 3,000 kg per hectare under the Fourth Republic. Chavez details that in 1988 maize production was around 1.2 million tonnes nationally and in 1998, 980,000 tonnes, in other words a significant drop of around 30%. From 1988 until today, he continues, there has been an increase reaching more than 2 million tonnes a year. Chavez insists that it is a crime on the part of President Bush to use maize production to produce ethanol for cars because it " converts food for people into food for cars of the rich." The President promises that one day Venezuela will be exporting food to other countries.

Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons (OVP), Humberto Prado says he agrees with the measure taken by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) to annul certain articles of the Criminal Code that will allow prisoners enjoy alternative measures to fulfill sentences. Prado recalls that his organisation and other civil society groups have campaigned against what he refers to as the "unconstitutional" criminal code reform, ever since the "National Assembly (AN) in 2005 denied citizens those rights by presenting a reform without consultation from one day to the next." The prisoners benefiting from the TSJ ruling will be those who show good conduct, study, work, are active in sports and cultural activities and with a positive and nonaggressive psychological profile.

Opposition Venezuelan Criminal Forum (FPV) leader, lawyer Gonzalo Himiob says the TSJ ruling is provisional because it depends on the agreement of several government entities. The lawyer alleges that the TSJ decision was not definite and people should understand that it's political and not juridical. The injunction lodged successfully by organizations and families of prisoners, the lawyer argues, can be revoked at any moment and is subject to the approval of local authorities and government bodies. Himiob is leading a campaign to free Metropolitan police chiefs accused of ordering the death of citizens during the events of April 11-13, 2002. The officers have been remanded in custody awaiting trial, which has suffered constant delays.

Central University of Venezuela (UCV) electoral commission president, Tony Chacon has announced the start of the electoral campaign to choose the new university authorities. The first round of voting will take place on May 9 and should there be a second round, it will take place on May 16. The enrollment of candidates for rector, deans and professors' representatives before the faculty council closed on Wednesday. Those voting will have a choice of four lists of candidates to choose from.

State Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson is expected in Caracas today to meet President Chavez to discuss the freedom of three US citizens kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to a spokesman for the State Governor, Richardson is on a humanitarian mission, which has been officially approved by the State Department. However, a communique insists that Richardson is not an official emissary of the US government. Richardson has stated that he thinks that President Chavez could play a positive role in securing the release of the hostages and that is the reason why he is embarking on a mission of dialogue with all parties involved in the conflict. The three US citizens work for a US security company, which, it has alleged, is a subcontractor for the CIA.

According to a study released by the national commission for police reform, only 52% of police officials are actively involved in police work, that is, citizen security. It has emerged that 48% are employed as bodyguards for personalities and institutions. The Attorney General's Office fundamental rights director, Allis Boscan has made it be known that this situation will change once the national police law comes into effect. One of the advantages of the new law, Boscan states, is to unify the dispersion that currently exists regarding the role of the police. At the moment, there are 123 different police forces in Venezuela, which Boscan says, will not change.

Patrick J. O'Donoghue

Venezuelan government may be planning to issue a decree suspending all mining concessions

BNamericas (Harvey Beltran): The Venezuelan government may be planning to issue a decree suspending all mining concessions in the country, according to the president of Venezuela's mining chamber Camiven, Gilberto Sánchez.

"Just as Ecuador did recently. That possibility exists," Sánchez told BNamericas.

Sánchez mentioned the possibility since time is almost up for the Venezuelan government to approve a mining reform through President Hugo Chávez's enabling law, and as yet there have been no announcements on the issue.

The enabling law allows Chávez to rule by decree on a broad range of issues for 18 months as of February 2007, bypassing the legislative branch.

"However after the enabling law expires, the president can still draw up a bill and present it to the national assembly for discussion, but that would complicate the process much more," Sánchez said.

A draft mining reform law drawn up last year by the ministry of basic industries and mining proposed that a private company can only participate in mining by forming a JV with the state, where the state holds the majority.

Venezuela is host to several operations including the Choco 10 gold mine, owned by Canadian Rusoro Mining (TSX-V: RML), Anglo American's (LSE: AAL) Loma de Níquel mine and gold mines run by state-owned Minerven.

The country also is home to the 20.8Moz Las Cristinas gold deposit owned by Toronto-based Crystallex International and the Las Brisas copper-gold project held by US miner Gold Reserve which contains 10.4Moz gold and 1.3Blb (589,670t) copper.

Venezuelan Opposition Student Leader to Receive $500,000 Award from U.S. NGO

Venezuelan-U.S. lawyer Eva Golinger denounced on Thursday that awarding Goicoechea is a surreptitious way for the U.S. to continue funding the Venezuelan opposition, since traditional avenues for funds such as the National Endowment for Democracy have come under intense criticism since Venezuelan opposition groups which received these funds participated in the April 2002 coup and numerous destabilization efforts thereafter. The award “legitimizes capital that will be used to destabilize governments in Latin America. It is a way to filter money through supposedly clean institutions,” Golinger alleged.

On the back of recent oil-driven GDP growth, growth in the total assets, client loans and client deposits in Venezuela were ranked first

Venezuela's overall CBBER is 49.2. The equivalent figures for the US and eurozone are 84.8 and 81.4, respectively. Venezuela's CBBER is lower than all except two of the eight countries surveyed by BMI in Latin America. Indeed Venezuela's CBBER is poor in comparison to the 59 countries for which BMI has calculated a CBBER, with 38 countries scoring higher. Within the CBBER, the most important aspect is the (banking) market element of the limits of potential returns. This element accounts for 42% of the overall CBBER. Venezuela's rating for this element (51.3) is higher than the overall CBBER, and notably higher than the country element of the limits of potential returns (31.9). This indicates a banking sector that is on the whole overdeveloped relative to the general wealth, stability and financial infrastructure in the country. On the back of recent oil-driven GDP growth, growth in the total assets, client loans and client deposits in Venezuela were ranked first, second and first, respectively for the 59 countries surveyed. This growth has in turn contributed to the quick recent growth of the banking sector, especially when seen in light of the poor score for the country elements of the limits to potential returns.

Kenneth T. Tellis: Espionage is espionage no matter who does it, so lets cut with the 'Bull' and make it simple.

VHeadline commentarist Kenneth T. Tellis writes: So Yon Goicoechea of Caracas, Venezuela got the Cato Institute's Milton Friedman Prize of $500,000, for Human and Civil Rights?

Well he got a lot more money for the same job that Benedict Arnold did. But they are certainly in the same category. Both were traitors to their country in the pay of a FOREIGN POWER. It just goes to show how far people will go in their lust for adulation.

Yon Goicoechea was an agent provocateur working on behalf of the U.S. in Venezuela, and so he certainly merits a prize.

I never knew that the betrayal of your country was a prizeworthy deed. Look at what happened to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for their treasonous actions? Now the U.S. is giving Yoni Goicoechea of Venezuela an award for services rendered to the U.S. in Venezuela.

So what was so wrong with the Soviets spying in the U.S., if the Cato Institute a front for U.S. neo-cons is doing exactly the same thing?

Espionage is espionage no matter who does it, so lets cut with the 'Bull' and make it simple.

The U.S. government puts a lot of money into its overseas espionage operations. It was quite clear that the U.S. had a hand in the defeat of the Venezuelan Referendum of December 2, 2007, as can now be seen. Since There were no Human Rights involved in Yon's actions of December 2, 2007, it is now up to other countries to get involved in the coming U.S. Presidential Elections in November.

If the U.S. can dabble in the politics of other nations, then other nations can dabble in U.S. politics.

Kenneth T. Tellis

Iran and Venezuela have signed 15 cooperation pacts ... particularly the industrial and economic sectors in Caracas

Iran and Venezuela have signed 15 cooperation pacts in different areas, particularly the industrial and economic sectors in Caracas. The pacts were signed at the end of the joint commission on economic cooperation between Tehran and Caracas. The agreements were on energy, housing, construction of a cement factory in Venezuela's Lara province, sugar factories, dairy machinery, aluminum and plastic manufacturing machinery.

U.S. navy to re-establish fleet to cover Latin America, Caribbean

It is not clear how many ships and personnel will be designated to the new fleet, but it will include a nuclear aircraft carrier, Pentagon sources said. The move will 'increases our emphasis in the region on employing naval forces to build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests,' Roughead said. The decision is part of the efforts of the U.S. navy to strengthen its presence in Latin America and Caribbean as South American nations, including Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador, boost military spending.

Plunge in mining company shares show vulnerability to politics

Then there is Crystallex International Corp., whose shares have also plunged nearly 60% in the past 12 months. The emerging gold producer's Las Cristinas property in Venezuela is expected to commence production in 2009 at an initial rate of 300,000 ounces annually, according to Canaccord Adams analyst Wendell Zerb. But while the company said in June, 2007, that the requirements of its environmental permit had been fulfilled, continued development and production require receipt of the permit, which has not happened.

Venezuela’s Chavez plans to bury old empire of USA

"When Americans appear near our shores with their navy, the George Washington aircraft carrier, one should not forget that it happens at the time when we together with Brazil are creating the Defense Council of South America,” Chavez said in a speech that was broadcast by all TV and radio channels of Venezuela. “In this century we will bury the old empire of the USA and will live with the American nation like with a brotherly nation, because over 40 million of its citizens live below the poverty line,” the Venezuelan leader said.

Cato Institute: Yon Goicoechea has been awarded the 2008 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty

Washington, D.C. –The Cato Institute has announced that Yon Goicoechea, leader of the pro-democracy student movement in Venezuela that successfully prevented President Hugo Chávez’s regime from seizing broad dictatorial powers in December 2007, has been awarded the 2008 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty.A 23-year-old law student, Mr. Goicoechea plays a pivotal role in organizing and voicing opposition to the erosion of human and civil rights in his country. In his commitment to a modern Venezuela, Goicoechea emphasizes tolerance and the human right to seek prosperity.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dr. Odeen Ishmael: South American nations to form security alliance

Guyana's Ambassador to Venezuela, Dr. Odeen Ishmael writes: On April 21, the Governments of Guyana and Brazil signed a cooperation agreement on defense during the visit to Georgetown by Brazil's Minister of Defense Nelson Jobim. In Guyana, the agreement is seen as part of a long-standing and mature relationship between the two governments. Brazil will help Guyana construct a "jungle warfare centre" and donate military equipment to the Guyana Defence Force whose officers will obtain training at various Brazilian military academies.

However, there is a broader objective behind Brazil's new initiative to establish defense pacts, not only with Guyana, but with all the South American nations.

In mid-March Jobim informed the foreign affairs committee of the Brazilian Congress of his impending visits to South American countries to address regional security issues and discuss the Brazilian initiative for the creation of a South American "security council".

The minister explained in greater detail the objectives behind the proposed South American security council – which he stressed would not be a military alliance – when he addressed the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies on March 21 last. There he stated:

"This council would contribute to creating a South American defense identity. It's obvious that South American identity will take into account, of course, the three main areas: the Amazon, the Andean and the Rio de la Plata areas, and this concept would be based on common principles: respecting sovereignty, self-determination, territorial integrity of the states, and non-intervention in internal affairs. . . .

"This council could have – and Brazil's proposal is in that line – the following attributions: articulate measures of increasing security trust in South America, including common defense politics; . . . preparation and training of the military all over the Americas; military exercises – joint military exercises; joint participation in peacekeeping operations of the UN; integration of industrial bases of defense; joint analysis of aspects of the national and regional and sub-regional situations in the areas of security and defense as well as the possibility of coordinated action when we face risks and threats to the security of states; and articulation and coordination of positions in multilateral forums on security and defense. . ."
The formation of the continental security system, according to the Brazilian minister, would be the basis of a continental security alliance, but it would not involve the establishment of operational units.

Through the South American security council, he intimated the continent will have a forum "to debate its issues, including humanitarian actions that should take place, coordinated by the council itself." Such debates will then result in "concrete actions that might lead to development and peace in the region, essentially taking into account that freedom coincides very much with economic development."

The idea of a South American security council – a South American version of NATO – was first proposed by Brazilian President Lula da Silva with strong support from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez after the Colombia-Ecuador diplomatic crisis at the beginning of March stoked tensions across much of the Andean region. The resolution to the crisis through the intervention of Latin American leaders was widely hailed as a significant achievement for Latin American diplomacy.

Lula and Chavez advanced their discussions on this proposed security alliance when they met in Brasilia on March 28. Clearly, both Brazil and Venezuela feel that the proposed council can serve as a forum where matter of defense and security will be discussed, especially when political differences between countries lead to crisis situations. It is also viewed as a mechanism to ensure protection of the region's natural resources in the light of the rapidly rising commodity prices worldwide.

During his visit to Caracas on April 14 to further discuss the proposal, Jobim said that South America, while not engaged in an arms race, has a right to strengthen its armed forces since the region should have military power to strengthen its position internationally.

This assurance of non-involvement in an arms race can go a long way in reassuring the region's citizens that financial resources will not be diverted away from social projects and especially food supplies at a time when prices are rising rapidly across the globe. There is also the persistent worry that increased military spending can divert resources from the regional fight against poverty and inequality.

Already, there is a prevailing opinion that too much is being spent on the military in the region. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which analyses arms expenditures worldwide, Venezuela increased its military spending to $1.92 billion in 2006, an increase of 67 percent over the 2003 figure. Brazil, on the other hand, spent an estimated $13.5 billion in 2006, an increase of 13 percent when compared to its military expenditure in 2003. And Colombia, involved in a civil war against Marxist rebels, has a modern US-supported military and its arms budget, as a proportion of GDP, is even larger than the military expenditure of either of its two large neighbors.

As expected, the proposed South American security alliance has raised some apprehensions in Washington since it will be a pact that excludes any involvement of the United States. On the other hand, media analysts on defense and security issues feel that these concerns are unfounded, noting that if the US attempts to inject its influence such action may result in undermining Brazil's leadership in the process and pushing the alliance to take anti-American positions.

Undoubtedly, Brazil possesses real military clout in the region. Its military tradition bears significant influence in the body politic, its military-industrial complex is well established with the region's largest arms and ammunition industry in the region, and for decades it has provided service for military forces on the continent. The Bolivian army, for example, uses Brazilian vehicles, parts and service, while the Colombian Air Force utilizes the Brazilian-built Super Tucano jets in its war against the FARC guerrillas.

The summit of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), convening in Brazil on May 23, will no doubt discuss in detail the proposal for this security alliance. In the end, the leaders of the continental bloc are expected to approve its establishment after their defense ministers agree on its terms of reference. Whatever is decided, even if it is not in totality with the objectives laid out by the Brazilian defense minister, it is clear that UNASUR will firmly advance itself as a major player on the international stage.

Dr. Odeen Ishmaei

(The writer is Guyana's Ambassador to Venezuela. The views expressed are solely those of the writer.)

Patrick J. O'Donoghue's round up of news from Venezuela

Newspaper tycoon, Rupert Murdoch has signed up to support Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and his struggle against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The media tycoon has called on US Democrat congressmen to approve the free trade agreement between Washington and Bogota, which has been put on hold. Murdoch made a statement during a speech in Atlanta and published in the Wall Street Journal, one of his newspapers. Murdoch, it would appear, has also made President Chavez a major target for attack in his newspaper chain. The UK tabloid, The Sun has started publishing articles against Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone seeking a third term in office by highlighting his relation with Chavez. Speaking about the Venezuelan President, Murdoch calls him a "thug," saying that the defeat in the US Congress of the free trade agreement with Colombia will be exploited by " thugs like Hugo Chavez." Murdoch has around 175 influential newspapers in his power throughout the world and he exercises the power of editorship. Among the news channels he owns is Fox News, already a top-flight Chavez critic and unconditional supporter of President Bush and the Republican Party.
The Organization of American States (OAS) and The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (Alba) both have reaffirmed full support to Bolivian President Evo Morales by rejecting separatist movements in that country. Breakaway political and economic authorities in Bolivia's Santa Cruz department propose to hold a referendum on May 4 on the separation issue. OAS political affairs secretary, Danielle Dante Caputo fears violence in the province and says it is important to take advantage of existing spaces of dialogue to avoid deaths and violent confrontation.

In Caracas, President Chavez has said that the extraordinary summit of Alba is a special occasion to ratify members' unconditional support for Morales and his government in the plans to defeat destabilizing plans. The separatist intent against Bolivia, Chavez proclaims, violates its constitution and laws. The Santa Cruz state governor and economic powers have rejected Bolivia's constitutional progressive constitutional reform that favors the poorer majorities and the danger is that apart from Santa Cruz the provinces of Beni, Pando and Tarija will also secede from Bolivia. The separatist movement, therefore, involves four of nine departments.

Opposition student leader, Yon Goicoechea has been awarded the Milton Friedman liberty award. Goicoechea says the money will be used to set up a foundation to train new leaders in Venezuela. The student was one of the main protagonists in protests to support Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) whose license was not renewed by the government. He will travel to New York where he will receive the award on May 15 at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. The $500,000, the student leader pledges, will create a school of leadership for freedom where the themes will be public services, overcoming poverty and seeking effective mechanisms to overcome public insecurity. The award is sponsored by the Cato Institute and its president, Edward Crane highlights the " extraordinary contribution of the 23-year-old student in promoting freedom in Venezuela."

Foreign Relations Minister, Nicolas Maduro has stated that relations between Venezuela and Iran are an alliance based on a pluripolar world of the future. Closing the fifth Venezuelan-Iran mixed commission meeting, Maduro says it sends out a good message because the commission is an alliance that builds peace, development, and industrial, food, energetic and scientific-technological independence. Six important legal instruments were agreed to during the sessions and both countries sides have announced the setting up of a technical commission to help the development of the Apure-Orinoco axis.

The main topic of the extraordinary summit of the Bolivarian Alternative to the Americas (Alba) was the world food crisis. The presidents of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela and Cuban Vice President, Carlos Lage slam Capitalism as responsible for the crisis. President Chavez insists on the need to guarantee regional food sovereignty and security, pointing to the critical situation in Haiti. Chavez says Alba is ready to respond immediately to any plan or petition, referring to the latest summit of the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Brazil. The Presidents at the Caracas meeting have set up an agreement to implement cooperation programs in food security and sovereignty within the Alba framework. The agreement will cover cereals, such as rice and maize, cooking oils, beans, beef and milk, as well as water and irrigation. Two other agreements were reached during the summit, namely to create an Alba marketing network and a fund to boost food priority in the Bank of Alba costing $100 million.

President Chavez reports that there are more than 1,500 Cuban agricultural experts in Venezuela helping to recover and put into production more than 2 million hectares of idle land. Nicaragua will be sending bullocks to Venezuela, which is preparing a quarantine station in Paraguana before sending the bullocks to Apure to cross with Venezuelan breeds. On April 26, agriculture ministers belonging to the Alba organisation will meet in Managua.

Patrick J. O'Donoghue