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Venezuela News Review 20.04.06

By Aleksander Boyd

• Electoral watchdog Sumate threw the gauntlet by proposing a date, 16 July 2006, for open primaries to elect the opposition candidate that shall face Hugo Chavez in the presidential race of December this year.

• Erstwhile guerrilla and editor of Tal Cual Teodoro Petkoff is to officialy announce his candidacy for the presidential race. The news, although unclear whether or not he will take part in the primaries, has a great deal of people quite optimistic.

• Due to political reasons -non-petrostates signing trade agreements with the US, Hugo Chavez single handedly decided to take Venezuela out of CAN (Andean trade pact). No consultations were had with Venezuela's industrialists chamber. One of the members of CAN, Colombia, is Venezuela's second largest commercial partner, with which it traded $3+ billion worth of goods and services in 2005. Amazingly vice-chair of the Foreign Affairs Commission, Carlos Escarrα, stated that the move will not impact the Venezuelan economy.

• Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe expressed concern with respect to his Venezuelan counterpart's decision to abandon the Andean bloc, stating that he would exercise extreme caution in dealing with the impromptu announcement.

• In the same venue, Paraguay, Hugo Chavez announced that should the USA attack him or Venezuela -he truly believes president and country belong in the same category- he will blow up Venezuela's oil fields a la Saddam. Whilst at it, President Chavez reaffirmed his commitment to fully support Iran's decision to continue developing its nuclear programme.

• Venezuelan president Chavez declared from Brazil that Iran is prepared for war.

• During his visit to Brazil, President Chavez, demonstrated yet again his gross interference in other country's political processes, openly backing the re-election of Lula and Humala's victory in Peru's second round.

• After the botched job performed during the recall referendum of August 2004, the infamous Carter Centre is adventuring anew into the realm of Venezuelan politics, recommending that "all political forces be consulted so that new electoral authorities with experience, integrity and lacking direct links to political parties are selected." Too little too late chaps...

• Peruvian and Ecuadorean officials lamented Chavez's withdrawal from the Andean pact.

• Minister of Defence, Admiral Orlando Maniglia, informed that Venezuela will take part in military exercises in the Caribbean sea with Dutch, Colombian, Caribbean and Brazilian neighbours. Officials from the countries cited are yet to confirm whether this has any basis.

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