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Venezuela: Local News

By Sol Maria Castro

1.) First virulent Alo Presidente of the year.

In his 177 Sunday radio and television show, President Hugo Chávez reiterated what he said about Condolezza Rice on Saturday (called her illiterate and threatened to ask Castro to send her the Robinson Literacy Method), and accused the US again of being ready to back a coup or encouraging someone to assassinate him if there is no referendum later this year.

2.) CNE political parties to register candidates before March 15.

In newspaper ads this Sunday, the National Electoral Council, CNE, exhorted all political parties and organizations to register their potential candidates for the upcoming regional elections before March 15, thus unleashing the fierce electoral battle that could fracture the unity and vision of the Democratic Coordinator. Earlier, CNE had stated the elections for governors, mayors and councilmen would be held on July 25. However, a technical commission of CNE informed that according to their studies, the earliest these could be held would be the end of September.

3.) CD requests copy of transcribed data.

Antonio Ledesma, president of Alianza Bravo Pueblo (ABP), paid a visit to the National Electoral Council (CNE) to request on behalf of the Democratic Coordinator, a copy of all the signature collection forms transcribed, indicating the result of the visual revision. The CD is also requesting a copy of the data transcribed per day, room and transcription shift, and copies of the databases with the serial numbers of acts of proceedings and forms assigned to each collection station.

4.) PDVSA to invest Bs. 600 million in social programs.

According to the Minister of Energy and Mines, Rafael Ramírez, PDVSA is to invest some $600 million through the recently created Social Development Management Office in social programs such as Mission Robinson I and II, Missions Ribas and Sucre, and Into the Slums during the year 2004.

5.) BCV determined not to please presidential request.

Domingo Maza Zavala, director of the Venezuelan Central Bank (BCV) insists on the inconvenience of handing over part of the international reserves to finance agricultural credits as requested by President Hugo Chávez. Maza Zavala emphasizes the negative effect an action like that would have on the Venezuelan currency. On Sunday, President Chávez gave the BCV directorate a few days to respond favorably to his request and has threatened publicly to have them all dismissed in the National Assembly.

6.) President Bush committed to Venezuelan democracy.

In a joint press conference with Vicente Fox, President of Mexico, before the installation of the Summit of the Americas, George Bush, President of the United States, expressed his commitment and that of the government he represents to democracy in the region, especially in Venezuela and Bolivia. “We work with the Organization of American States (OAS) to ensure the integrity of the process of the presidential recall referendum to be held in Venezuela.”

7.) President Chávez in Monterrey: same old, same old.

President Hugo Chávez, attending the Summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico, reiterated the same statements and new playbacks he has for these events he never misses: the Summit is a waste of time; nothing but a social rendezvous, Chile should give Bolivia a seaway, neoliberalism is the culprit of all evil, the US is the bully in the backyard, and the Cuban government is an example of dignity which has helped its Venezuelan brothers. Maybe the only new statement was his acknowledgement of an axis between Caracas, Brasilia and Buenos Aires for the rebirth of socialism

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