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Venezuela: 900,000 new jobs according to the government

By Sol Maria Castro,

Planning Minister, Jorge Giordani stated 900,000 new jobs have been created since February lowering the unemployment rate to 16.7% for October, the lowest so far this year. President Chávez made a similar comment in his second mandatory radioed and televised broadcast claiming such a decrease is the latest achievement by his government. He reminded that the country's economy shrunk by 14.7 percent from January to September as a result of a nationwide strike the opposition led in December-January to force him out of power.

Now the signers’ intentions are above the norm

After announcing they had collected more than enough signatures to revoke 37 of the 38 legislators they had planned, and a few hours before submitting the forms to the National Electoral Council this Thursday, the pro-government Ayacucho Command, in charge of the signature drive, announced the forms will be accompanied by a formal request to the CNE to apply more flexible verification criteria. They now argue “the technical criteria for verification cannot override the intention of the signers*.” Unofficial CNE estimates show that, at least, between 18% and 28% of the forms will have to be invalidated if the present rules are strictly implemented in their case. When asked about this petition, CNE director Oscar Battaglini indicated that the directorate is ready "to consider any remarks the parties make, for the rules do not provide for everything.” (NB: Too bad the intentions of the signers were not enough or considered above the norm when 3.4 million signatures were submitted to the CNE in February 2003 to petition a recall referendum against the President).

Opposition ready to collect signatures to revoke President

On behalf of the opposition umbrella group Democratic Coordinator, CD, Enrique Mendoza, Miranda State governor, a member of the G-5, and coordinator of the CD, announced everything is ready for a massive mobilization to collect signatures petitioning a recall referendum against President Hugo Chávez and pro-government legislators on Friday. He added 156,000 volunteers were trained to participate in the collection of signatures. 2.4 million signatures are necessary to demand a recall vote against President Chávez.

Renewed campaign against Súmate

In a replication of accusations made in February this year, the pro-government Ayacucho Command denounced, without evidence, that the NGO Súmate is organizing a parallel CNE during the signature collection drive; something they will not allow. García, national coordinator of the Command indicated Súmate “is a disturbing factor because it is involved in a series of electoral crimes” for its participation in the previous signature drive of February 2. Oddly enough, one of the directors, Oscar Battaglini responded using similar words, “We will not let them be at signature collection centers, for they are disturbing elements.”

President Chávez threatens to take TV stations off the air

Wednesday evening, in a second nationwide simultaneous mandatory radio and television broadcast, President Hugo Chávez announced his government will take off the air any television station involved in a coup attempt, subversion or instigation to violence. "If a studio at a channel where they are conspiring or subverting (public) order must be physically seized by public (security) forces, we will do it," he added. Earlier President Chavez said he could take over the airwaves if private TV channels broadcast slanted coverage of the petition drive or don't start broadcasting pro-government political ads before it starts.

Private television stations offered to broadcast campaign ads for free

After a meeting with representatives from the Carter Center, CNE directors, and the Minister of Information and Communication, Venezuelan private media directors announced they would broadcast advertising spots for free so that the National Electoral Council and the political organizations pro and against President Chávez transmit their messages as long as they comply with the Norms approved by the electoral body. President Chávez turned down the offer and reiterated the media refused to broadcast some government ads. Marcel Granier had explained earlier the spots sponsored by PDVSA violated the Electoral Norms and had been turned over to the CNE for their evaluation. The Minister of Information and Communication denied it was a pro-Chávez ad, saying it “is an institutional ad.”

President Chávez meets the local press a year and a half later

After a year and a half banned from the presidential Palace of Miraflores, the local press joined the international reporters in the press conference President Chávez offered today. The last time the local journalists were admitted to a press conference was after the events of April 2002.

MIJ accuses dissident military officers of 37 terrorist acts

The Minister of Internal Affairs and Justice, retired general Lucas Rincón, accompanied by the directors of the Scientific and State Police, Marcos Chávez and Miguel Torres, gave a press conference to accuse the dissident military officers who camped in Plaza Altamira over a year ago, of 37 terrorist attacks starting in June 2002, against diplomatic sites, communication media sites, public and private buildings, and military installations. The Minister claimed the dissident officers are linked to opposition groups and received funding from groups abroad, neither of which he identified or mentioned. He also suggested businessman Pedro Carmona, transition president for 24 hours during the events of April 2002, could be involved. Lucas Rincón indicated that if enough evidence were to be found, the government will initiate extradition procedures against Carmona who received asylum in Colombia, where he resides, over a year ago.

AN suspends session for lack of quorum

The vice-president of the National Assembly, MVR Ricardo Gutiérrez suspended the ordinary session scheduled for Thursday in which the new Law of the Supreme Court was to be discussed, indicating the legislators are concentrating their attention in the processes of signature collection. The continuation of the debate has been postponed for next week.

Venezuelan economist elected LAES Secretary

The representatives of the countries that conform the Latin American Economic System, LAES, unanimously elected the Venezuelan economist, Roberto Guarnieri, as their new permanent Secretary for the next four years. Guarnieri will substitute Chilean Ambassador Otto Boye Soto who was elected in Panama four years ago.


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