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Venezuela: G-15 summit to start tomorrow with less than half of the members.

By Sol Maria Castro,

The XII Summit of the Group of 15 on Energy and Development is scheduled to begin tomorrow February 24 through Saturday, February 28 in Caracas. Among the members who have confirmed their attendance are: Argentina’s Néstor Kirchner, Brazil’s Lula Da Silva, Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe for less than 5 hours, Iran’s Séller Mohamed Khatami, Jamaica’s Percival Patterson, Malaysia’s Dato Seri Abdullah bin Ali Ahmad Baadawi, Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo, and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. There are 19 countries in the G-15 group founded in 1989.

Updates on Verification Process of Presidential Recall Referendum Petition after 66 days.

§ A meeting of the directorate this Monday afternoon when the president of the CNE returns from Maracaibo (he left on Friday) could see the directives for the assisted forms finally passed. The votes are still 2-2 with Zamora and Mejía who do not accept the annulment of the assisted forms since they are not fraudulent, and Rodríguez and Battaglini, determined to send them all to repair.

§ A meeting of the National Electoral Board has also been convoked for today Monday.

§ Off the record it is known the only agreement point among the directors is the number of places to open to receive repairs once the process is activated. This number has to be enough to make repairs a tangible possibility in the five days allotted.

Maria Lionza statue to be moved despite court order.

This weekend workers from the Libertador Municipality, prepared the statue of Maria Lionza, a Caracas landmark, located in the freeway, to be moved despite the sentence of the Third Superior Court in the Civil and Administrative Disputations, which ruled in favor of the Venezuelan Central University as the only proprietor of the work by Alejandro Colina, and therefore the only ones to decide how, when and by whom it will be restored and transported. Martín Padrón, a manager from Fundapatrimonio (a body of the Mayor’s Office) confirmed TV station Globovisión that the statue will be removed from its current location to be restored. Last Wednesday, Sergio Antillano, president of the Science Museum for over nine years, was allegedly fired from his position following orders from the Vice-minister of Culture, for opposing the statue’s move to the Museum Square.

2004 inflation estimated at 25% by government.

According to Jorge Giordani, Minister of Planning and Development, the inflation rate for 2004 will be 25%, 2% monthly, as was indicated in the Budget submitted to the National Assembly. Giordani argued only the prophets of disaster in the opposition estimate inflation at 40%- 48%. To achieve this goal, the minister said a series of activities have to be coordinated, among them, keeping the prices of food items reachable to the poorest, which is being done through Mercal.

Venezuela to donate $1 million to Haiti.

Venezuela will donate $1 million, fuel, food and medicine to Haiti to cooperate with the island’s inhabitants who have been affected by the severe political crisis there. Jesús Pérez, Minister of Foreign Affairs, explained the humanitarian aid will be sent as soon as the procedures are sorted out. Venezuela has insisted in the OAS that the constitutional legitimacy must prevail, and that a pacific and democratic solution must be found.

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