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Venezuela News Review 27.01.06

By Aleksander Boyd

• In the acts commemorating 14 years of the failed coup d'etat, the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, many members of his cabinet, as well as governors and other officials, embezzled public monies and misused resources, thus violating the Penal Code and Anti-Corruption legislation, Primero Justicia Secretary General Gerardo Blyde announced. Legal actions against Chavez shall be forthcoming according to Blyde.

• Members of the Bolivarian University Union complained about a host of problems impeding normal functioning of that "political proyect." Armed with documents, they took it to the media to denounce what they see as institutional maladministration.

• Street peddlers and transport workers blocked Avenida 20 in Barquisimeto in protest to the new transport system, whose construction's commencement date is due, which will hinder their activities.

• Patria Para Todos (PPT) and Podemos -political parties supportive of Hugo Chavez - are seeking to forge a parliamentary alliance to somewhat counteract the qualified majority of Chavez's MVR ruling party.

• Ruling party MVR has scheduled, for next Saturday, designation of campaign groups around the country. The goal of these is to establish the minimum percentage of votes that are to be expected on a state basis, which is hoped will be 65% of registered voters.

• Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel summarised the political problem with the US by stating "we've got a president that has some balls and is willing to confront the USA." Rangel informed that proofs against American naval attaché John Correa shall be presented by snippets.

• The Guevara brothers, Juan Bautista, Otoniel and Rolando, sentenced to 27 and 30 years for the alleged killing of prosecutor Danilo Anderson, will appeal the decision on the basis that the prosecution built the case against them upon illegaly fabricated statements and proofs provided by witnesses Giovanni Vásquez De Armas and Peñuela Márquez.

• Hugo Chavez blasted the final electoral report presented before the OAS, accusing the OAS electoral observation mission of having performed a "dirty job." He was particularly disrespectful with respect to chief of mission Ruben Perina stating "he [Perina] is an ally of the continental far right and the Empire [USĀ]." He predicted that the opposition and the US administration will try to delegitimise the presidential race, using the OAS as proxy, with fraud claims.

• ExxonMobil withdrew from the Olefinas proyect in José, Eastern Venezuela, where it was meant to have partnered with PDVSA's subsidiary Pequiven. Projected at a cost of $3 billion the project has been halted and it awaits for a new partner.

• Jorge Valero, Venezuelan Ambassador to the OAS, stated that the country would not brake diplomatic and commercial relationship with the US for "Venezuela is a responsible country." He commented that the only wish of the Venezuelan government was to avoid hostilities. Valero concluded that Chavez is not the only one who thinks that the Bush administration is genocidal, he shares the same opinion.

• Sources reported that given the vitriolic stance of Hugo Chavez and high officials from his administration vis-a-vis the electoral reports presented by OAS and European Union electoral observation missions, it is very unlikely that either of the bodies will accept invitations to observe the presidential elections in December this years. Comments made to date by Venezuelan officials were considered "unfortunate." Further, it is believed that failure by Venezuelan electoral authorities to implement recommendations, seeking to devolve the lost credibility to that institution, are clear example of the unwillingness of the Chavez administration to conduct electoral affairs according to transparency and fairness international standards.

• Conglomerate EADS-CASA deems "inviable" the sale of military airplanes to Hugo Chavez if the US does not lift the veto imposed on avionics and other technologies needed for the construction of the planes.

• Venezuelan representative to the Inter-American Development Bank, Adina Bastidas, was denounced by her assistant for misappropriation of, at least, $25.000 and nepotism.

• Venezuelan Minister of Exterior Integration Gustavo Marquez Marin stated that the country advocates a policy of destroying current nuclear weapons. The statement comes few days after Venezuela voted, together with Cuba and Syria, in support of Iran's uranium enrichment programme. He implied that Iran's possible use of nuclear energy is for peaceful ends, as those sought by the Chavez-proposed nuclear plan for Venezuela.

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