Archive for January 15th, 2013

Venezuela’s Next Political Battle

| January 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

BY FABIO RAFAEL FIALLO

With Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez unable to attend the inauguration ceremony marking his sixth term of office, attention quickly shifted to whether the relevant constitutional clause granting presidential powers to the president of the National Assembly — in this case Diosdado Cabello — would be honored within 90 days. In a fanciful interpretation of the constitution, however, the Supreme Court decided otherwise. It granted Mr. Chavez the right to an indefinite absence and charged Vice President Nicolas Maduro with the task of governing Venezuela on Mr. Chavez’s behalf.

Now that the legalist debate is left behind, a hardly-hidden, protracted power struggle is bound to come to the forefront of Venezuelan politics with renewed vigor. The struggle involves two major factions: The first group, led by Vice President Maduro, embodies the doctrinaire wing of Chavism and has the blessing and support of the Castro brothers, whose influence on Chavez and his ... Read More

Peru Targets Record Coca Eradication This Year, Minister Says

| January 15th, 2013 | No Comments »

BY JOHN QUIGLEY

Peru will destroy a record 22,000 hectares (54,363 acres) of coca bushes this year to stem rising production of the raw material used to make cocaine, the government said.

President Ollanta Humala’s government will increase eradication 57 percent from the 14,000 hectares of coca bushes removed last year, Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

Humala is boosting counter-narcotic spending to halt a boom in the coca crop that the United Nations says now rivals Colombia’s as the world’s largest. For the first time the drive to curtail cultivation will be extended to the valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers, an area of jungle in the south of the country where holdout members of the Shining Path, a Maoist insurgency group, are active, Pedraza said.

The government seeks to “break all records” in the drugs fight, including seizures of cocaine and chemicals used to process the drug, ... Read More

Ecuador: time to hit the international bond markets?

| January 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
Financial Times

BY ANDRES SCHIPANI

Ecuador is on the brunk of its biggest budget deficit on record. So there is talk of the Andean country biting the bullet and tapping the international debt markets for the first time since defaulting over four years ago.

Rafael Correa, the leftwing president seeking his second re-election next month, has been driving growth thanks to tax collection and public spending as the price of oil, which is Ecuador’s main source of revenue, has been losing steam. Could it happen?

Deficit is expected to reach 7.75 per cent of GDP at $6bn -the biggest in South America after that of Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela, according to Bloomberg. So some believe the Andean nation may need to sell overseas bonds.

“I personally haven’t seen anything to suggest that it is imminent, but equally I don’t see any major barriers to them attempting a return,” Michael Henderson, an Ecuador analyst with Capital Economics told beyondbrics.

Despite chalking ... Read More

Maduro dará hoy el discurso sobre el estado de la Nación, en lugar de Chávez

| January 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01

La Asamblea Nacional venezolana celebrará este martes la sesión de rendición de cuentas del Gobierno venezolano sin la presencia del presidente, Hugo Chávez. «Los parlamentarios y parlamentarias centrarán la sesión en un único punto, a saber: Rendición de la Memoria y Cuenta del Gobierno Bolivariano Revolucionario del Comandante Presidente, Hugo Chávez», indicó la Asamblea a través de una información en su página web.

Será el vicepresidente, Nicolás Maduro, el que pronunciará el tradicional discurso del estado de la Nación, debido a la convalencencia de Chávez en Cuba, según confirmó el vicepresidente de la Aasmblea, Dario Vivas, a la radio pública.

La Constitución establece, en su artículo 237, que sea «el Presidente o Presidenta de la República» el que pronuncie «personalmente» el discurso dentro de los diez días siguientes al inicio del nuevo periodo de sesiones, abierto el pasado día 5.

Chávez se encuentra hospitalizado desde que el pasado 11 de diciembre fue operado por cuarta vez ... Read More

Exclusive: Brazil wants Venezuela election if Chavez dies – sources

| January 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY BRIAN WINTER & ANA FLOR

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA - Brazil is urging Venezuela’s government to hold elections as quickly as possible if President Hugo Chavez dies, senior officials told Reuters on Monday, a major intervention by Latin America’s regional powerhouse that could help ensure a smoother leadership transition in Caracas.

Brazilian officials have expressed their wishes directly to Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, the officials said on condition of anonymity. Chavez has designated Maduro as his preferred successor if he loses his battle with cancer.

“We are explicitly saying that if Chavez dies, we would like to see elections as soon as possible,” one official said. “We think that’s the best way to ensure a peaceful democratic transition, which is Brazil’s main desire.”

Chavez is in Cuba receiving cancer treatment and he has not been seen in public for a month, prompting speculation that he is near death.

Venezuela’s constitution says a new election must be held within 30 ... Read More

President Correa promises more battles with the “manipulatory” press in Ecuador

| January 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
Journalism in the Americas

BY SILVIA HIGUERA

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, said he would continue confronting the press that he accuses of manipulating information on favor of business interests if voters re-elect him on Feb. 17, reported the website América Economía. “I will continue defending the truth, I will continue defending you all from that press that manipulates, that misinforms,” Correa said in an interview in the province of Zamora Chinchipe, added the website.

Correa gave the answer in response to a question about how relations would be between the government and the press if he were to be re-elected, reported the website Confirmado. “This president will continue defending himself from the press’s lies, defending the freedom of expression that exists in this country,” the president told the website.

Ecuador’s head of state said there was no lack of press freedom in the Andean country but affirmed that “there is a president who does not bow to the media, who doesn’t lower his head, ... Read More

Venezuela Struggles With Sporadic Food Shortages

| January 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY VIVIAN SEQUERA & CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER

Mireya Bustamante spent most of the day trying in vain to find flour to bake a birthday cake for her 4-year-old son.

Like most Venezuelans, the single, 33-year-old officer worker has periodically struggled with such food shortages for years, and, like many in the country, thinks they’re getting worse. She blames price and currency controls imposed by the government, though authorities contend unscrupulous business owners are at fault.

“An odyssey that never seems to end” was how Bustamante described the everyday challenge of finding basic foodstuffs. “What good are the controls if it becomes so difficult to find basic products?” asked the mother of three. “It’s the government’s fault, not the owners of neighborhood grocery stores.”

Venezuelans have long had to shop around to find scarce foods, and lately consumers have had particular trouble finding staples like chicken, cooking oil, sugar and coffee, as well as toilet paper ... Read More

Former Venezuelan Minister of Defense: “We have a de facto government in a pirate state.”

| January 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01

BY LUDMILA VINOGRADOFF

From prison, General Raúl Baduel denounces that “under a democratic cloak,” chavismo is creating “a fascist post-modern dictatorship.”

Former Venezuelan minister of defense, Raul Baduel, is considered a political prisoner despite the fact that Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, is godfather to his 6-year-old daughter.  In his 37-square meter cell in the Ramo Verde military prison in Los Teques, located thirty kilometers from Caracas, he is about to reach the fourth year of an eight-year sentence imposed by a military court on charges of administrative irregularities.  He is not allowed to have a mobile phone, but he does have access to television and radio through which he tries to stay informed on his country’s political course.

General Baduel claims he is an innocent victim of the Chavez regime.  In any case, his prestige and authority in the military sector have not diminished as a result of his incarceration.  On the contrary, ... Read More

El exministro de Defensa de Venezuela: Tenemos un gobierno de facto en un estado pirata

| January 15th, 2013 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01

POR LUDMILA VINOGRADOFF

El exministro de Defensa venezolano, Raúl Baduel, se considera un preso político de Hugo Chávez a pesar de que el presidente venezolano es el padrino de la hija de 6 años del general. En su celda de tan sólo 37 metros cuadrados de la prisión militar de Ramo Verde, en Los Teques, situada a treinta kilómetros de Caracas, cumplirá el próximos mes de abril cuatro de los ocho años de condena que le dictó la corte marcial presuntas irregularidades administrativas. No se le permite teléfono móvil, pero sí televisión y radio por los que se informa e intenta mantenerse siempre informado del curso político que atraviesa su país.

El general Baduel se declara inocente, víctima y disidente del régimen chavista. En todo caso, su prestigio y autoridad en el sector castrense no han disminuido por estar encarcelado. Al contrario, le han fortalecido. Sus compañeros de armas y de prisión se le cuadran militarmente, siempre con ... Read More