Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

Dialogue Progress (Ironically) Returns MUD to Helm of Venezuelan Opposition

| April 18th, 2014 | No Comments »

Dialogues between the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) opposition coalition and the government yielded its first results this week. In the process the MUD seems to be regaining its leadership over the unruly forces of the opposition.

On Tuesday government and opposition representatives agreed to expand the “Truth Commission” to include “recognized national leaders trusted by all” to be selected by mutual agreement. While they have not agreed upon the names nor upon the actual competencies of the commission, Vice President Jorge Arreaza suggested they would have the ability to carry out interviews and form their own conclusions.

There was no agreement however, on an amnesty law for political prisoners. This was not a surprise as the MUD’s proposal called not simply for the release of those arrested over the last two months of conflict but for the release of all political prisoners arrested over the past fifteen years—including people like the Guevara brothers who were ... Read More

Diálogo ensancha fisuras entre sectores de la oposición en Venezuela

| April 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


Las conversaciones entre el régimen de Nicolás Maduro y dirigentes de la oposición están ensanchando las fisuras entre los adversarios del chavismo, con un bando denunciando el diálogo como el suministro de oxígeno a un gobierno debilitado y con el otro describiendo el proceso como un nuevo frente desde donde también embestir a la “revolución bolivariana”.

En el centro de la discordia está la desconfianza acumulada de un sector de la oposición en las habilidades de su ex candidato presidencial Henrique Capriles, de luchar contra un régimen al que acusan de haber secuestrado las instituciones democráticas del país y el temor de que ayude a Maduro a desmantelar las manifestaciones estudiantiles que tienen en jaque al régimen.

Y quienes critican las conversaciones también argumentan que el proceso termina por legitimar a Maduro, ya que la oposición congregada bajo la Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) ha acusado al gobernante ... Read More

Venezuela rejects amnesty for jailed protest leaders

| April 17th, 2014 | No Comments »

The Venezuelan government has dismissed calls by the opposition for an amnesty for jailed protest leaders.

Government and opposition representatives met for a second time on Tuesday to try to put an end to two months of anti-government protests.

Following the meeting, Ramon Aveledo of the opposition MUD coalition said his proposal for an amnesty law had been rejected.

More than 40 people have died in recent protest-related violence.

‘Slow progress’

Hundreds of people have been detained since the protests began in early February.

The majority have since been released but a number of high-profile opposition politicians are still in detention.

Among those still in jail are Popular Will party leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has been charged with inciting violence, and the mayors of the cities of San Cristobal and San Diego, Daniel Ceballos and Enzo Scarano.

Mr Aveledo said the opposition would now “seek other ways” to address the problem of “political prisoners”.

Vice-President Jorge Arreaza said ... Read More

Venezuela Raises Iron Hand Against Protesters

| April 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

During his 14 years in power, the wily and charismatic Hugo Chávez unnerved his adversaries with bluster, intimidation and the occasional jailing of opponents.

But his successor, President Nicolás Maduro, has taken more severe—and many say violent—measures to stamp out dissent during the past 10 weeks of turmoil caused by a protest movement.

The president has deployed National Guard troops and intelligence agents, buttressed by armored personnel carriers and bands of paramilitary motorcyclists, who beat protesters and have at times fired at them, say witnesses, alleged victims and Venezuelan and foreign human rights groups.

“Day after day, there is more repression, there is more brutality, more fury,” said Alfredo Romero, head of the Caracas-based group Foro Penal, whose 100 lawyers represent people who say they were victims of government brutality. “I think there are orders to repress and attack demonstrators.”

The accusations come as Mr. Maduro’s government and opposition leaders met on Tuesday for a second ... Read More

Prevén que Venezuela caerá en recesión

| April 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
La Patilla

Los próximos dos años lucen más desafiantes a lo estimado previamente para las economías de América Latina, con perspectivas de que un crecimiento más lento y una mayor inflación frustren el reciente optimismo respecto a los mercados emergentes, reseña Reuters.

Los pronósticos para el crecimiento económico este año fueron recortados en promedio en 0,8 puntos porcentuales, y ahora se prevé que Argentina y Venezuela caigan en recesión y que Brasil crezca menos de un 2 por ciento, en lo que sería su cuarto año consecutivo de debilidad.

Las estimaciones para el crecimiento económico en el 2014 y el 2015 bajaron en forma generalizada en comparación a un sondeo similar de Reuters realizado en enero para las siete mayores economías latinoamericanas, con excepción de Colombia, según el consenso de las opiniones de más de 50 economistas consultados.

Eso contrasta con señales alentadoras desde otras regiones, como Europa y Estados Unidos. También sugiere que una reciente alza ... Read More

Latin America the World’s Most Violent Region

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon


Latin America is now the world’s most violent region but is receiving less U.S. military and financial assistance, according to a recent report and other figures.

Latin America surpassed Africa as the region with the most murders per 100,000 people, according to the new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Several countries in the Western Hemisphere had murder rates that eclipsed 25 per 100,000 people in 2012, compared to the global average of about six.

The report said 30 percent of the homicides in the Americas could be attributed to a proliferation of organized crime and gang-related violence.

For example, Honduras had one of the world’s highest murder rates with 90.4 per 100,000 people. Mexican drug cartels and transnational criminal groups such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and 18th Street gangs have infiltrated the country in recent years.

Some of the violence is fueled by those groups’ drug smuggling operations into the United States. ... Read More

Carlos Alberto Montaner: Nicolas Maduro’s Failures All Too Apparent

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

Nicolás Maduro didn’t fare well in the first round of talks at Miraflores Palace. Man does not live by slogans alone.

He, his government and half of Venezuela for the first time had to (or could) listen in silence to the complaints and recriminations of an opposition that represents at least half of the country.

A revolutionary leader is a voracious and strange creature that feeds on empty words.

It is easy to spout revolutionary rhetoric in a pompous voice, gaze lost in space, perhaps looking for talking birds or miraculous faces that appear on walls, while accusing the victims of being fascists, bourgeois or any other nonsense that comes to mind.

The official team spoke of the revolution in the abstract. The opposition spoke of the daily life. For those spectators who are not dogmatic, the result was obvious: The opposition won sweepingly.

It is impossible to defend oneself from the lack of milk, from the ... Read More

Venezuela’s military admits excesses during deadly protests

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »

The military in Venezuela has admitted it committed “some excesses” during weeks of political unrest that have left more than 40 people dead.

The military’s strategic command chief, Vladimir Padrino, said they were investigating 97 officers and police staff for “cruelty and torture”.

But the general stressed these were less than 1% of all officers.

Security forces have been accused of human rights abuse during the almost daily anti-government protests.

“We are able to say that 97 (officers) are being investigated by prosecutors for cruelty, for torture,” Gen Padrino said.

“That represents only 0.4% of the force,” he told Venevision television.


The protests have left at least 41 people killed and hundreds more injured on both sides.

The Venezuelan opposition and human rights activists accuse the security forces of repression and using heavy-handed tactics.

But Vladimir Padrino insisted the security forces were acting “in accordance with the rule of law”.

“No soldiers have received orders to hurt anyone, ... Read More

Venezuela, road to enslavement

| April 14th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

With the world’s attention focused on the foreign –sponsored revolution in Ukraine these past months, the violent protests in Venezuela yielded much less attention from news watchers.

This has been labelled the worst unrest to date since Nicolas Maduro assumed the presidency last year.  Also aggravating the situation has been the county’s economic woes and the depreciation of its currency against the US Dollar. Food shortages have been the result of both the violence and the economic downturn, although not helped by the fact that the country is one of the weakest economies on the South American continent.

An issue raised in an article by Associated Press (AP) entitled: Venezuela issues ID card to curtail food hoarding, bears highlighting.  Basically citizens won’t be able to buy food without this ID card, and the possible reason for this being to halt the black market food economy as well as prevent the hoarding of ... Read More

Venezuela’s Protest Movement Fights The Ghost Of Chavez

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From BuzzFeed


Hugo Chavez is dead, but he’s everywhere around Caracas: on billboards, posters, and graffiti. Sometimes it’s just his eyes, watching over this teeming city and the hillside slums packed with his supporters. “Peace Prevails,” blares graffiti with Chavez’s eyes perched above.

Chavez’s personality cult remains strong 13 months after his death, and his ideology, Chavismo, still holds a grip on many Venezuelans, especially the poor, many of whom viewed Chavez as a hero. Chavismo’s principles of populist socialism and anti-imperialism, and the allure of the Bolivarian Revolution (named after 19th-century Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar), dominate Venezuela’s political landscape. They also helped bring about severe economic and security crises that have pushed thousands into the streets of Venezuela’s cities for the past two months. And yet, the enduring popularity of Chavismo has proved a difficult problem for the Venezuelan opposition to solve. Protest organizers in both the political opposition ... Read More

Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto slumps in polls despite policy wins

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post


Plenty of world leaders would be thrilled to have the kind of executive hot streak blazed by Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto during his first 16 months in office.

In that short span, he and his administration have steered more than a dozen major new laws through congress, overhauling the country’s energy, banking and education sectors, among others.

Peña Nieto has stood up to powerful interests from Mexico’s business world and underworld. He has locked up drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, the world’s most wanted trafficker, quieting doubters in the United States who questioned his crime-fighting mettle.

Yet for all the praise he has won in Washington and elsewhere in the world, Peña Nieto’s opening act is getting panned in the only place it really counts: Mexico.

After Time magazine put him on the cover of its international edition recently with the headline “Saving Mexico,” a flood of ridicule and derision followed.

Peña ... Read More

Everything you need to know about the Venezuelan protests

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Week-01

What are the protests about? A broken economy, crime, shortages of basic goods, and political repression. When the populist President Hugo Chávez died last year, he left Venezuela’s economy and civil society in shambles. Chávez’s handpicked successor, President Nicolás Maduro, has none of Chávez’s charisma, but essentially the same socialist policies and autocratic governing style, and the country has quickly deteriorated. Its murder rate of 25,000 per year is among the world’s highest, with a Venezuelan killed every 20 minutes. Crime is so bad that the government stopped tracking it, claiming the data was being “politicized.” Kidnappings and robberies are rampant, and the police have been corrupted by criminal gangs. Venezuela exports oil and imports nearly everything else, so when global oil prices stalled this year, it triggered a runaway annual inflation rate of 57 percent, as the bolivar currency lost much of its value. Families have been unable to buy ... Read More

The Real Threat to Venezuela’s Democracy

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
New York Review of Books


Last week, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro took to the opinion pages of The New York Times to counter the bad press his government has received for its crackdown on widespread protests over the past two months. He accused the international media of having “distorted the reality” of Venezuela by portraying the protests as peaceful and the country’s democracy as “deficient.” Yet the steps he’s taken to respond to the protests at home have shown that the deficiencies of Venezuelan democracy are all too real. Not only have his security forces abused unarmed protesters; his government has also censored news coverage of the demonstrations and jailed a prominent opposition leader who urged his supporters to join them.

President Maduro has faced major difficulties since his narrow election victory one year ago. A longtime deputy of Hugo Chávez, who died last March, Maduro inherited the support of roughly half the country’s voters, many of whom ... Read More

Venezuela’s Agony: Weak President, Strong Generals, Riots and Cocaine

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Daily Beast

In the dark before dawn one night last February, Colonel Googlis Martín Caballero was driving a white Ford Explorer through the Venezuelan countryside not far from the Colombian border. With him were his wife, his daughter and roughly half a ton of cocaine. He probably felt sure nobody would question him, a ranking officer in the country’s National Guard, but, then, that much coke is hard to hide.

At a routine checkpoint, other members of the National Guard detained the colonel. The story of his arrest generated brief headlines in the national papers, making the point, perhaps, that there are limits to what a military man could get away with. But, if so, this was the exception that proves the rule. His capture could have been very bad luck for Col. Caballero. It could have been another officer out to get him, or mere confusion among the soldiers about whose orders to ... Read More

Why The United States Has Done Nothing About Venezuela

| April 11th, 2014 | 3 Comments »
Business Insider


Forty-one people are dead in Venezuela, political leaders are thrown in jail for leading demonstrators through road-blocked streets, food shortages worsen, and inflation continues to rise. Yet the regional power to the north, The United States, says little and does less.

There’s a reason for this, and Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, outed it in an interview with The Guardian this month. He said:

“Is 100 years of intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean not enough: against Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, Grenada, Brazil? Is the coup attempt against President Chávez by the Bush administration not enough? Why does the US have 2,000 military bases in the world? To dominate it. I have told President Obama: we are not your backyard anymore.”

The United States is led by devils, according to Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez. It is trying to overthrow a Bolivarian revolution hundreds of years in the making. The ideology of the ... Read More

Flexible friends

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

China lends disproportionately to countries that lack other options

THE rise of China has changed every region. But it has reinforced patterns, too. China’s demand for commodities has entrenched Latin America’s position as a supplier of raw materials. The country guzzles oil from Venezuela and Ecuador, copper from Chile, soyabeans from Argentina, and iron ore from Brazil—with which it signed a corn-import deal on April 8th.

Chinese lending to the region also has a strong flavour of natural resources. Data are patchy, but according to new figures from the China-Latin America Finance Database, a joint effort between the Inter-American Dialogue, a think-tank, and Boston University, China committed almost $100 billion to Latin America between 2005 and 2013 (see chart). The biggest dollops by far have come from the China Development Bank (CDB). These sums are meaningful. Chinese lenders committed some $15 billion last year; the World Bank $5.2 billion in fiscal year ... Read More

Venezuela protest crackdown threatens region’s democracy, warns Vargas Llosa

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK


The Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa has warned that Venezuela‘s crackdown on anti-government street protests is a threat to democracy across Latin America.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, the Nobel laureate saidNicolás Maduro‘s government was becoming a “messianic dictatorship” intent on spreading its influence across the region.

“If the regime in Venezuela crushes the resistance and becomes a totalitarian regime, I think all democratic Latin American countries would be threatened because the explicit goal of the Venezuelan government is to expand,” he said from his home in the Peruvian capital, Lima. “As our democracies are quite fragile and weak this threat is extremely worrying because it can succeed.”

The 78-year-old lambasted the Organisation of American States’ response to the crisis in Venezuela as “absolutely unacceptable”, adding that the “logical reaction from democratic governments [which make up the OAS] would be a very strong condemnation of what is going on in Venezuela”.

The pan-American ... Read More

Can Venezuela’s televised peace talks end the street protests?

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor


Seeking to defuse the nation’s worst political unrest in a decade, Venezuela‘s warring politicians are set to meet today in a live television broadcast.

The peace talks, brokered in part by regional leaders, are the latest effort to end nearly two months of anti-government protests that have left at least 39 dead and hundreds more injured.

While opposition leaders had previously rejectedPresident Nicolás Maduro‘s calls for dialogue, he now has the ear of Venezuela’s main opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD). Two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles and other coalition leaders agreed to negotiate with the president in the presence of mediators from Brazil, Colombia andEcuador, and the Vatican.

RECOMMENDED: Think you know Latin America? Take our geography quiz.

Across Venezuela’s political divide, many greeted the announcement of peace talks with relief. But while the talks may offer a respite from ongoing violence, many remain unconvinced they will end the crisis. One reason is that many of the government’s harshest critics are ... Read More

Venezuela lacked good faith in ConocoPhillips seizure – World Bank

| April 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters


Venezuela failed to act in good faith or properly compensate ConocoPhillips for three big oil assets the country expropriated in 2007, a World Bank arbitration panel said on Wednesday

The partial ruling, which limited the scope of the company’s claims by excluding future tax credits, did not determine how much money Venezuela must pay the U.S.-based company.

The company’s projects were taken over during the leftwing administration of deceased former President Hugo Chavez, who led a wave of nationalizations that included the oil, electricity and steel industries.

“The respondent breached its obligation to negotiate in good faith for compensation for its taking of the ConocoPhillips assets in the three projects on the basis of market value,” said the ruling by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

The company claimed victory, but a final ruling on damages could take one or two more years, according to experts.

“This ruling sends a ... Read More

Venezuela: Dialogue unlikely to bring an end to protests

| April 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

Two months into a political crisis that has cost dozens of lives and seen daily clashes between protesters, security forces and armed civilians, the government of the president, Nicolás Maduro, and the opposition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) alliance, have at last agreed to the terms of a dialogue. However, with the government unlikely to concede any ground, the talks already appear doomed to failure.

The first formal meeting between the two sides is scheduled to take place on April 10th, and will be broadcast live. The foreign ministers of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador will be present, and the Vatican has been invited to send a “good-faith witness”, who will probably be the papal nuncio (the Vatican’s permanent diplomatic representative in Caracas).

A step in the right direction

The agreement, which was reached with the help of the Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (Unasur), is a positive one, given that it was unclear ... Read More

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