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Venezuela: Local News Review

By Sol Maria Castro,

Updates on Presidential Recall Referendum 34 days away.

§ The PRR question: "Do you agree to nullify the popular mandate given through democratic and legitimate elections to the citizen Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías as president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the current presidential term?" The possible answers are, in the order established by the electoral authority, NO and YES.

§ The REP for new voters or residence changes closed July 10.

§ CNE director Jorge Rodríguez affirmed Monday morning the presidential recall referendum will be held on August 15 despite the delays.

§ International observers from the Carter Center were told informally by CNE directors the invitations by CNE to participate in the PRR could be sent today. Only after receiving the formal invitation and meeting with the directorate to learning of clear rules, they can decide whether to participate or not. “We only observe if we can do our job; if we cannot do our job, we simply do not observe,” said a representative from the Center who expressed their concern over a point in the Norms which reads the observers will adjust their activities to the program given. The Carter Center has warned the CNE they will not have time to put together an observation mission if the invitation is not formalized before July 15. Director Battaglini had previously stated in a television interview observers could be invited next week. Battaglini informed that besides OAS and Carter Center observers, they will invite observers from the Center of Assessment and Electoral Promotion (CAPEL), and the InterAmerican Union of Electoral Bodies (UNIORE). He discarded observers from the European Union because they require too much time to prepare a mission.

§ Campaign: Director Rodríguez claimed the “campaign is unhinged” because the actors are violating the agreements, and informed two spots, one for each side, have been censored prior to broadcasting. According to the CNE said spots infringed the Advertising and Campaign Propaganda Rules (Article 7) agreed to with Harvard University negotiation expert William Ury. The one presented by the CD criticized the CNE for their role during the signature collection drive while the one presented by Comando Maisanta characterized the opposition negatively. In order to increase control, a media monitoring center, conformed by 20 journalism students and teachers and located at President’s Chávez’s Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela, UBV, will begin operating on Tuesday. Their conclusions will be the basis for fine implementation under the rules of the CNE. Right now, a committee headed by Pablo Oropeza and Luis Martinez from the CNE are responsible for decisions on broadcasting.

§ Pending issues at the CNE: approval of the electoral bulletin, and instructions for the station witnesses and members, the creation of 1,000 new electoral polling stations, the signature of the contract with SBC.

Attack outside the State Police Headquarters.

At least three people were wounded and Globovisión News television equipment was stolen when friends and followers of Baruta Mayor Henrique Capriles Radonsky who gathered outside the State Police Headquarters, (DISIP) were attacked by masked youths wearing pro-government T-shirts and showing placards for the No vote in the recall referendum. The youths hurled stones, bottles and firecrackers against the group visiting Capriles Radonski on his 32nd birthday. Radonski has been detained for two months awaiting trial for conspiracy and instigation to violence during April 12, 2002. The police did not intervene during the attacks.

Summary of Aló Presidente No. 197.

In his weekly radio and television show, broadcast this time from Zulia State, President Chávez:

· began his show by showing a map of South America to illustrate the location of Puerto Iguazú in Argentina, where the Mercosur Summit took place last week, during which Venezuela entered Mercosur as an associate state. The President reminded his audience that with the presence of Venezuela, this alliance now has access to the Caribbean, as well as great geopolitical and economic advantages. He chastised the coverage of media with the exception of Ultimas Noticias and Panorama, and concluded, “it hurt them,” referring to the privately owned media. The President summarized the advantages of the Mercosur membership: an increase in exports (ten fold) only with Argentina, 90,851 new jobs in 2005. He cited the GDP of Mercosur as $990 billion, and compared it to FTAA, which he said benefits only its most powerful member, the US.

· said that he will meet with Brazilian President Lula Da Silva in September, implying that he will be around after the August 15 referendum.

· presented documents sent to him that he said prove the National Endowment for Democracy had given the opposition umbrella organization, Democratic Coordinator, $300,000 to write the Proposal for Consensus on Public Policies, its transition plan, formally introduced to Venezuelans last Friday. According to President Chávez the project was drafted in 2003 and the money was channeled through the Center for the Distribution of Economic Knowledge, CEDICE, conformed by opposition economists and business people. * among those receiving money, President Chávez cited FEDECAMARAS, CTV, NGOS, political parties, a television station and a Jesuit priest. President Chávez spent a good part of his show accusing the opposition of getting their directions from Bush, referring to the project as “Consenso Pa’ Bush” (Consensus for Bush) instead of Consenso País and of their plans to privatize everything. He said, “we are going to send [that plan] to Mr. Bush to the White House Gardens on August 15 with the bat that Sammy Sosa gave me as a gift.”

· received a phone call from an Eva Golinger, an American attorney residing in New York, who claimed she and journalist Jeremy Bigwood attained the documents that proved the opposition was so incompetent that they had to receive their platform from Washington through NED funding. She said the leaders chosen to present it are Rocío Guijarro and Oscar Garcia Mendoza, both signatories of Carmona’s decree during the events of April 2002. She said he was also the author of Un Sueño Para Venezuela (NB: The author of Un Sueño para Venezuela is Gerver Torres). She claimed that the opposition intends is to privatize everything, and that she has other documents to send to Venezuela, and that it was up to people to choose a government made in Washington or one made in Venezuela.

· welcomed other international guests from different nations who expressed their joy at the changes the country is undergoing, and their solidarity with the process. The first of these guests was a young American lady, Deborah James, who chastised the NED and her government for financing the coup-mongering opposition, and people like Rocío Guijarro.

· explained he was not going to qualify if that the conduct was criminal or not or take any action because he was the head of State, and was beyond all that, but “Venezuelans who go to foreign governments to ask for money to conspire against their own people, the laws are there so that any attorney or Venezuelan institution act against them.”

· spent the rest of the show explaining how the different levels of his campaign command should operate, from the UBE, Units of Electoral Battle, to the patrollers, to the regional and national coordinators. He admitted there were many faults in the past, and was fooled into believing the opposition had not collected enough signatures. Although he didn’t mention the Ayacucho Command directly, he said he was told the first day that there were only 200,000 signatures when there was a million, and that that could not happen again. He made a sketch explaining how each patroller should locate, identify and mark every person on his list and his sector map indicating whether he was pro-government, belong to another party, was handicapped or any other characteristic.

· informed he would be attending the Presidential Summit in Quito this Monday.

· NB: Unfortunately, it looks like the President was fooled again by someone who only read the word Consensus in English and thought it was the CD’s Transition Plan. Building Consensus, the plan by CEDICE, was presented on June 17 this year and consists of revising all plans on public policies to reach some common visions that would allow Building Consensus, and CEDICE’s proposals (See “Construyendo Consensos para una Venezuela Libre, Director del Proyecto, Carlos Sabino, CEDICE, 2004).

. NBII: guest Deborah James is the acting director of the Venezuela Information Office (VIO), propaganda distribution outlet based in Washington DC. The government of Hugo Chavez contracted James' services for $60.000 per annum.

IEA says PDVSA has not recovered.

This Monday from Brazil, the editor of the Oil Market Report and director of Oil and Gas at the International Energy Agency, IEA, Klaus Rehaag, said the Venezuelan oil industry has not recovered from the strike two years ago, and “all suggests it is not going to recover so soon.” Rehaag indicated in an analysis on the world oil market in a seminar in Rio that Venezuela has lost 500,000 bpd, it has stopped investing to compensate for the natural decline in wells and is also losing production. According to Rehaag, what happens is that the international economy is not investing in Venezuela. “The international community is waiting for political stability to invest,” said Rehaag who argued the highest non-investment in Venezuela is verified in the activities of exploration and drilling. The IEA, which is made up by the 26 most developed countries and significant importers of oil in the world, follow market moves to devise scenarios for offer, demand and prices.

President Chávez attending the XV Andean Presidential Council in Quito.

President Hugo Chávez traveled to Quito to attend the XV Andean Presidential Council. On Tuesday the presidents will sign the Minutes of Quito which creates an Andean zone for peace and security. The forum also plans to pass a new strategic design for Development and Globalization, revise the advances in common policies, cooperation and the social agenda. Peru will receive the Pro Tempore presidency of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) following Decision 427 which determines an alphabetical order for the exercise of the presidency. The presidents will hold a joint press conference where they will present their positions in terms of sub regional integration and the negotiations with the United States and the European Union in terms of the Free Trade Agreement. President Chávez reiterated at his arrival in Quito his administration will not seek trade deals with the United States, adding that he is betting on the Andean integration with the Southern Common Market, Mercosur, and beyond that, in creating a bloc of South American republics and nations, a Bolivarian Alternatives for the Americas, ALBA.

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