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Venezuela: Chevron-Texaco gets its third block of the Deltana Platform

By Sol Maria Castro,

Rafael Ramírez, Minister of Energy and Mines, informed the government gave American Chevron-Texaco, the concession to conduct exploration and exploitation of gas in the third block (of five) of the Deltana Platform, located 230 kms of the eastern coast. Chevron-Texaco will begin perforation in June with an estimated investment of $170 million. Other international consortiums, British Petroleum, Totalfinaelf and Statoil, are working in the Platform along with PDVSA which estimates gas production will begin in 2009.

Cynic statement of the day: “We have always been very strong adversaries of military dictatorships and the American or any other part of the world military gorillism,” President Hugo Chávez in Guyana.

· Updates on Verification Process of Presidential Recall Referendum Petition after 62 days.

§ Opposition has declared itself in maximum alert in the belief the CNE directors will pass the directives to process assisted forms over the Mardi Gras weekend.

§ Antonio Mujica, president of the winning automation company, Smartmatic-Bizta-CANTV, gave a press conference to show the characteristics of the process to use, and reassure Venezuelans of the benefits of his company.

· CTV warns of pro-government strategy to invalidate RR.

Manuel Cova, Secretary General of the Venezuelan Workers’ Confederation, CTV, presented a confidential document allegedly leaked by a member of the pro-government Ayacucho Command, in which said political command outlined the strategy to invalidate as many forms and signatures as possible, which they presented to President Chávez on February 18. Cova also warned Venezuelans about a possible “whack” this weekend when the CNE tries to approve the new directives.

· After 15 years of the riots in Caracas, Minister of Defense of the time is to be arraigned.

The Public Ministry has charged retired General Italo del Valle Aliegro, Minister of Defense under Carlos Andrés Pérez’s second administration, with homicide for the deaths occurred during the riots of February 27 and 28, 1989 known as El Caracazo. The decision was made despite the fact there is no juridical analysis of the case which took place under the 1961 Constitution, and could have prescribed already.

· Pro-government legislators to request a penal investigation against Súmate.

The pro-government legislators at the National Assembly appointed a special commission to investigate the allegedly destabilizing activities of Sumate and Momento de la Gente, two NGOs accused of receiving American funds. The legislators intend to request the Attorney General’s Office to open a penal investigation for treason, conspiracy and association to commit crimes against both NGOs. María Corina Machado, from Súmate, expressed they did not fear any investigation or being summoned to the National Assembly, the Attorney General’s Office or any other government institution since their work has been transparent.

· Pro-government legislators send out documents and letters of protest.

The pro-government legislators at the National Assembly sent out a document to both the OAS and the Carter Center in which they state their recognition of these organizations as guarantors of the political process, but warn them they will not comply by any resolution they make since only the National Electoral Council is capable of making decisions. They also handed a letter of protest in the American Embassy in Caracas, where they declared Peter DeShazo “persona non grata.” The legislators explained “Mr. DeShazo is an uncultivated foreigner, foreign to the political maturity of the Venezuelan people since 1999. Therefore, we decree his presence is not welcome and we reject the statements he made a few days ago. We are not interested in the opinion of the United States, we are interested in what the CNE and the Venezuelan people say,” said MVR Carlos Delgado.

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