June 28, 2010 1 Comment
October 18, 2009 Leave a comment
Venezuela’s socialist leader Hugo Chavez said on Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama had done nothing beyond wishful thinking to earn the Nobel Peace Prize.
Chavez, who has mixed praise for Obama personally with criticism of his government’s “imperialist” policies, said he thought it was a mistake when he read the U.S. leader had won.
“What has Obama done to deserve this prize? The jury put store on his hope for a nuclear arms-free world, forgetting his role in perpetuating his battalions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his decision to install new military bases in Colombia,” Chavez wrote in a column. Read more of this post
October 15, 2009 1 Comment
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ordered the obligatory acquisition of a Hilton-run hotel on the resort island of Margarita, it has emerged.
The move was ordered just weeks after the hotel housed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe during the Africa-South America Summit.
The hotel would help develop tourism projects in a “socialist framework”, a decree signed by Mr Chavez said.
Hilton Worldwide, which manages the hotel, said it was analyzing the move. Read more of this post
September 9, 2009 Leave a comment
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accused Israel of genocide against the Palestinian people, telling a French newspaper that the bombing of Gaza late last year was an unprovoked attack.
“The question is not whether the Israelis want to exterminate the Palestinians. They’re doing it openly,” Chavez said in an interview with Le Figaro published on Wednesday.
The Venezuelan president, who has just completed a tour of Middle Eastern and Arab countries, brushed aside Israeli assertions that its attack on Gaza was a response to rocket fire from Islamist group Hamas which rules the coastal enclave.
“What was it if not genocide? … The Israelis were looking for an excuse to exterminate the Palestinians,” Chavez said, adding that sanctions should have been slapped on Israel.
Israel launched an offensive against the Gaza Strip on December 27 2008 with the declared aim of curbing rocket fire from the region into southern Israel.
The land, sea and air assault lasted 22 days, and left some 1,300 Palestinians dead, according to medical sources.
Chavez said he recognized Israel’s right to exist, as with all countries, but added that the Jewish state must respect the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.
The Venezuelan president said he wanted more clarity from the United States on its foreign policy, adding that he was disappointed by recent U.S. dealings in South America, including the installation of military bases in Colombia.
“Sadly, the arrival of Obama brought with it a lot of hope, but little change,” he said.
June 11, 2009 Leave a comment
The Venezuelan government of U.S.-critic President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday ordered Coca-Cola Co to withdraw its Coke Zero beverage from the South American nation, citing unspecified dangers to health.
The decision follows a wave of nationalizations and increased scrutiny of businesses in South America’s top oil exporter.
Health Minister Jesus Mantilla said the zero-calorie Coke Zero should no longer be sold and stocks of the drink removed from store shelves. Read more of this post
June 4, 2009 Leave a comment
President Hugo Chavez has alleged that US intelligence agencies have been planning his assassination.
Mr Chavez said the supposed conspiracy had kept him from visiting El Salvador to attend the inauguration of leftist President Mauricio Funes in El Salvador on Monday.
He said he cancelled because of information he had received that the intelligence organisations of the United States had been plotting with Cuban militant, Luis Posada Carriles, to murder him by firing rockets at his official plane. Read more of this post
February 4, 2009 Leave a comment
Members of the US Congress have called on Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, to protect the country’s Jews following an attack on a Caracas synagogue.
Sixteen Republicans and Democrats wrote a letter demanding an “end to the intimidation and harassment of the Jewish community” in South America’s Opec state, which has fraught relations with Israel. The move came after a group of armed men broke into Caracas’s oldest synagogue last week, overpowered two guards, destroyed religious objects and sprayed antisemitic slogans.
Chávez condemned the attack and the authorities launched an investigation.
“We condemn the actions on the synagogue of Caracas,” he said in a televised speech. He hinted that “oligarchs” opposed to his self-styled socialist revolution were to blame. “It must be asked … who benefits from these violent incidents. It is not the government, nor the people, nor the revolution.”
Jewish groups in Venezuela, however, have accused the government of creating a climate of intolerance through its outspoken denunciations of Israel. Last month Chávez expelled the Israeli ambassador over the invasion of Gaza, which he likened to genocide. Graffiti and posters praising Hamas and Palestinian resistance have sprouted across Caracas, especially in slums such as 23 de Enero, which are bastions of support for the president. They are often accompanied by slogans such as “Jews out”.
The synagogue attackers numbered around 15 and appeared well-organised. They disabled security cameras and reportedly spent five hours breaking into safety boxes, desecrating the Torah and vandalising property. A week earlier the building was sprayed with graffiti linking the swastika to the star of David.
“This is an attack of antisemitic nature,” said Elias Farache of the Venezuelan Israelite Association. “The climate is very tense. We feel threatened, intimidated, attacked.”
The government said those responsible would be brought to justice and called on all Venezuelans to reject the attack. Jews had no reason to feel insecure, it said. A pro-government website that ran an article urging a boycott of Venezuelan Jewish businesses and verbal confrontations with Jewish people was removed yesterday after protests. Chávez has been feted in the Arab world for cutting ties with Israel, and he has forged an alliance with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped out.
The Venezuelan leader said there was no trace of antisemitism in a foreign policy that condemned those responsible for inflicting bloodshed and suffering in Gaza.
January 24, 2009 1 Comment
Venezuela will press the Obama administration in the coming days to extradite a former senior official in Venezuela’s secret intelligence police so that he can be tried for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people, according to lawyers for the government here.
The move will test the new administration’s willingness to engage on a festering issue that has further strained America’s relations with Venezuela and Cuba. Both nations have depicted the case of Luis Posada Carilles, an elderly Cuban exile who is a naturalized Venezuelan and a former C.I.A operative, as an example of hypocrisy by Washington in its fight against terrorism.
Mr. Posada, 80, is charged here with masterminding the bombing of a Cubana Airlines plane as it flew above Barbados, killing all 73 people on board, including dozens of Cuban civilians and a 9-year-old Guyanese girl. It was the Western Hemisphere’s first act of midair terrorism, the bloodiest of a series of bombings aimed at weakening ’s Fidel Castro’s government.
At the time of the bombing, Mr. Posada was operating a private security firm here, after holding senior posts in Venezuela’s intelligence police. He was imprisoned in Venezuela for nine years while facing charges of plotting the bombing with another Cuban exile, but escaped in 1985 to El Salvador aboard a shrimp boat.
Mr. Posada has lived freely in Miami since 2007, when a federal judge in Texas dismissed an indictment against him on immigration fraud charges. He had entered the United States from Mexico, and was detained for two years until his release. He now spends his days painting landscapes, which are sold by the dozens at shows in Miami frequented by a shrinking but powerful group of hardened anti-Castro exiles.
“The Bush administration did not want to extradite Posada, because of its close ties to extremist elements in Miami that protect Posada,” said José Pertierra, a lawyer in Washington who represents Venezuela’s government. “We are hopeful that the Obama administration will see the case differently.”
January 7, 2009 1 Comment
Venezuela has expelled the Israeli ambassador to protest against the country’s assault on Gaza, after the Venezuelan president described it as a “holocaust”.
The move on Tuesday came hours after 40 Palestinians were killed at a UN school where civilians had taken shelter amid the offensive.
“The Holocaust, that is what is happening right now in Gaza,” Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, said in televised comments.
“The president of Israel at this moment should be taken to the International Criminal Court together with the president of the United States.”
At least 660 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Israel began its offensive on December 27, in what it says is an attempt to halt Palestinian rocketfire from Gaza.
Venezuela’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Israel’s campaign constituted “flagrant violations of international law” and the use of “state terrorism”.
“For the reasons mentioned above, the government of Venezuela has decided to expel the ambassador of Israel and part of the personnel of the embassy of Israel,” the statement said.
On Monday, Chavez, a strong critic of Israel and the US, had accused Washington of poisoning Yasser Arafat, the late former Palestinian president, to destabilise the Middle East and justify US-backed Israeli incursions.
The United States, which Chavez describes as a decadent empire, firmly backs Israel, its principal ally in the region. On Tuesday, the White House said it would support an “immediate” ceasefire in Gaza but only if it was likely to be “durable”.
December 8, 2008 Leave a comment
Former Belize Prime Minister Said Musa is declaring his innocence in the face of a charge that he stole US$10 million which the Venezuela government had given his administration to build and repair homes for poor citizens.
Mr Musa appeared in court yesterday accused of illegally diverting the money, half of a US$20 million grant, to a privately owned hospital. He was released on US$100,000 bail and ordered to reappear in court on January 9 next year. If convicted of the charge, he faces a maximum 10-year jail term.
But Mr Musa has insisted that he did nothing wrong, saying that he was acting in good faith when he used the funds to settle a debt owed by Universal Health Services (UHS).
He has been embroiled in controversy surrounding the grant, given by the Hugo Chavez Administration in December last year, since his People’s United Party lost the government to Dean Barrow and his United Democratic Party in the February 7 general elections.
The former prime minister had said earlier this year that the debt he used the money to pay arose out of a government guarantee of a loan made by UHS and had been the subject of litigation that could have resulted in the Belize government having to pay the entire sum due from taxpayer funds.
Following a directive from the country’s Central Bank, the money was returned to the government coffers from the Belize Bank which received the funds to clear the UHS debt.
Recent statements from Prime Minister David Thompson on millions stashed in overseas accounts by BLP members have yet to materialised, confrimed and the wheels of justice rolling.
Waiting to exhale can be a painful process.
December 2, 2008 Leave a comment
A former Caribbean diplomat has suggested that the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) turn down Venezuela’s membership request and instead focus on strengthening its existing union.
“The governments of OECS countries would want to be very careful about Venezuela joining their organisation. The OECS is a natural alliance born out of a common history, common culture, common language, common laws and traditions and shared problems,” said Sir Ronald Sanders. “While a relationship with Venezuela should be cultivated, the small OECS countries ought to do so collectively and in areas of mutual benefit. There is no need for Venezuela to join the OECS.”
“The only logical benefit for Venezuela of OECS membership is the considerable influence that the (Hugo) Chavez government would exert on these small countries,” he added.
Sir Ronald further questioned why the Venezuela government would opt to pursue membership in the OECS, rather than forge stronger ties with the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which is made up of not only the nine-member OECS, but also includes the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
He pointed to comments made by a West Indian Commission, established by Caribbean Heads of Government to chart the course for the region’s future, as relevant to the situation facing the OECS.
November 25, 2008 1 Comment
Venezuela wants to join the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the nine-member grouping says it’s considering the request.
OECS Director General Dr Len Ishmael said some proposals would have to be further studied before a decision was taken. The matter was discussed at the recently ended meeting of the OECS Authority in Montserrat.
Although saying member countries have had solid relations with Venezuela, Dr Ishmael said it was too early to say whether they would be willing to welcome the South American country into the OECS fold.
“Any proposal that seeks to deepen functional cooperation between Venezuela and ourselves at the regional level is one that we would look at and wish to discuss,” she said.
Meantime, the OECS leaders ended the meeting in Montserrat resolving to go ahead with plans to form their own economic union by 2009. Trinidad is expected to join two years after that, before entering into a political union by 2013.
A major part of the OECS Economic Union will be reaching out to members of the public and Grenada Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, who is Chairman of the grouping, said that “if we really set out to do this sensitisation and get this public consultation process going, this will be done within the year”.
Consultations have already started in St Lucia, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Montserrat.
Source: Caribbean 360
November 16, 2008 Leave a comment
President Hugo Chavez said he would “expropriate” Venezuela’s banks if they are hit by a finance crisis like the one that has rocked the world economic system.
“If something similar comes to pass in Venezuela, you should not have the slightest doubt that I won’t give a penny to the banks – I’ll expropriate them,” said Chavez, speaking yesterday in the southeastern state of Barinas.
The Venezuelan leader said he found it “strange” that rich countries which have said “that they have no money to fight poverty, from one day to the come up with billions of dollars (to bail out the banks).
They remain unable, he chided, to finance “the production of food and medicine or to support education, but can help out the bankrupt bankers.”
He added however, that so far the global banking crisis has not affected Venezuela’s economy “thanks to the revolution, which has strengthened it.”
Source: Times Of India
September 13, 2008 Leave a comment
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expelled the US envoy to Caracas and threatened to halt crude exports to the United States on a day he highlighted the recent arrival of two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers.
Chavez ordered US ambassador Patrick Duddy to leave the country within 72 hours, in a move he described as an act of solidarity with Venezuela’s ally Bolivia, which also expelled its US envoy.
“Starting at this moment the Yankee ambassador in Caracas has 72 hours to leave Venezuela,” Chavez said at a public event in the port city of Puerto Cabello, 120 kilometers west of Caracas.
He said it was “in solidarity” with the leftist government of President Evo Morales in Bolivia, which on Wednesday ordered the US ambassador to La Paz to leave. Washington expelled Bolivia’s ambassador to the United States on Thursday.
“We will send an ambassador when there is a new government in the United States, a government that respects the people of Latin America,” he declared at a political rally.
Chavez then threatened to halt the supply of oil to the United States, its main client, if Washington attacks his government.
“If there is any aggression towards Venezuela” from Washington, “there would be no oil for the people of the United States,” said Chavez, who used coarse expletives to disparage the US government.
Also yesterday Chavez announced that his government had uncovered a coup plot hatched by active and retired military officers, which he said had tacit US approval.
A military prosecutor said two officers – retired general Wilfredo Barroso and retired major Elimides Labarca Soto — will be tried for incitement to rebellion, a charge punishable by five to 10 years in prison.
The Venezuelan leader also told those gathered at the rally that he had ordered a reduction in flights to Venezuela by US airlines.
Adapted from International News Reports
July 31, 2008 1 Comment
Petroleumworld.com, a Latin American energy, oil and gas newsletter, suggested that two of the blocks – Bottom Bay Ad I and Ad II – were in Venezuelan waters. Source: The Nation
The bidding process for rights to offshore blocks for oil and gas exploration in Barbados continues to heat up with Venezuela challenging the Barbadian Government’s right to what Venezuela perceive to be “the possible violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty in the Caribbean Sea.”
Notes from the margin lays out an excellent case for Barbados legal right to it’s southernmost waters but this of course will mean nothing to Venezuela. Given the aggressive nature of Venezuela, there is that possibility of this escalating out of hand, of which oil companies wouldn’t want to be caught between a David and Goliath scenario.
The two blocks in question are the two southernmost blocks that are up for bid (Highlighted in red in the illustration).
Source: Notes from the margin
From Yahoo Finance
Venezuela’s government wants to know if Barbados plans to grant licenses for offshore oil drilling within Caribbean waters claimed by the South American country.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez says foreign ministry officials plan to contact Barbados to discuss the possible violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty in the Caribbean Sea.
“Things are put back in place by conversing directly,” Ramirez said Tuesday.
Ramirez was responding to newspaper reports that Barbados plans to issue offshore drilling licenses to international oil companies within waters claimed by Venezuela along the eastern Caribbean.
Barbados has not joined Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program, which supplies cheap fuel to over a dozen Caribbean nations.
PM David Thompson: “Barbadians Feel Good About A Black Man Running For President Of United States” Examining Obama And McCain Polices For The Caribbean
July 25, 2008 1 Comment
While Barack Obama, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, appears to be the rage across the Caribbean, some analysts express concerns about how his policies would affect the region. And, although John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, generates less attention in the Democratic-leaning Caribbean, some observers say his support of free trade and his policy experience could be better for the islands.
Still other analysts see the Caribbean as a low priority for each and express little optimism that either will produce radical change.
Neither McCain nor Obama has ”expressed serious positions on the Caribbean, with the exception of Cuba, where there is a difference between the two candidates,” said Rupert Lewis, a political-science expert at the University of the West Indies (Mona) in Jamaica
Peter Hakim, president of the Washington think-tank Inter-American Dialogue, said he believes the lack of focus by either candidate on the region is a hint of what’s to come regardless of who wins in November.
”Americans right now are very insecure about their future. They are unhappy with the effects of globalization. There is not a great deal of interest in having the United States really engage in overseas these days,” Hakim said.
Others say it will be hard to ignore the Caribbean or Latin America, especially when so many nationals are registered U.S. voters. Brian Meeks, director of the Center for Caribbean Thought at the UWI, said that while many in the Caribbean are ”fascinated with the fact that there is a black candidate with a credible chance of becoming president,” leaders are not looking closely at either Obama’s or McCain’s policies.
”I don’t think they are approaching it in a hard-nosed realist way,” Meeks said, ‘which is to say `What is in it for the Caribbean? What is in it for Latin America and to what extent Obama, or for that matter McCain, will be addressing our concerns?’ ”
Caribbean leaders have increasingly complained of neglect following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as U.S. foreign policy shifted to other parts of the world. The region as a bloc opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. In 2004, the Caribbean Community demanded an international investigation in the Feb. 29 ouster of Haiti’s democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Relations in the past year have warmed under President Bush, but they point out that he — unlike his predecessor Bill Clinton — has yet to set foot in Haiti or the English-speaking Caribbean. Clearly, Obama’s race has captured the imagination of many in the Caribbean.
”The idea of having a black man or a man of mixed race running for the president of the United States is very historic and important,” Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson told The Miami Herald.
“Barbadians feel good about that.”
And George Lamming, a Barbados-born novelist and intellectual, adds: “The planet has been ruled by white power for 500 years, and you have the overwhelming majority of the world’s population [as] nonwhite people. It’s not only black people down here.”
But symbolism isn’t good enough, critics of U.S. policy say, when leaders consider the challenges facing a region wrestling with crime and economic troubles.
”The United States has defaulted in the last decade in having any meaningful aid relations with the Caribbean, and that is where Venezuela has stepped in and has provided that,” Meeks said. “How does Obama view that? What are the prospects for that kind of mutually beneficial relations?”
Both McCain and Obama speak of a shift in policy. McCain supports expanding trade with the Caribbean basin, while Obama is much more restrictive on trade preferences.
”It seems to me that from an economic and foreign policy point of view, Obama may be more destructive to Trinidad and Tobago interests specifically, and Caribbean interests more generally, than a Category 5 hurricane,” said Anthony Wilson, editor in chief of the Trinidad Guardian newspaper.
Obama’s position on trade ”has the potential to cast thousands of workers into unemployment throughout the region,” Wilson said in an e-mail to The Miami Herald. “From the perspective of foreign relations, [John] McCain would be much better for Caribbean economies than Obama.”
While Obama’s support for wiping out poor countries’ debt is welcomed, his push to tighten regulations of offshore banking jurisdictions have riled others. He currently is sponsoring the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, legislation that targets tax havens. The bill lists Antigua and 14 other Caribbean jurisdictions among those countries singled out for increased scrutiny.
”I put that down to his lack of information,” said St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, a critic of the legislation but an admirer of Obama.“Once he is properly informed — he would see that these islands, which are among the closest friends of the American people — he would not do anything knowingly for them to suffer.”
While McCain and Obama have spoken of a need to address transnational crime in the region, neither has given any indication that the U.S. policy of deporting criminals will change.
Adapted from Miami Herald
July 15, 2008 1 Comment
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said last night oil prices could hit $300 per barrel if US oil company Exxon Mobil again freezes Venezuelan assets in a dispute over a nationalized oil project.
Exxon won court orders freezing $12 billion in assets held by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA after the OPEC nation took over a multi-billion dollar oil project, heightening tensions with the United States and helping to raise oil prices.
A London court later overturned Exxon’s temporary asset freeze, but Chavez said the company could seek further action against Venezuela.
“If they freeze us there will be no more oil for the United States, and the price will go to $300,” Chavez said during a televised meeting with Caribbean and Central American leaders as part of an energy cooperation scheme called Petrocaribe.
Chavez also said oil prices were being influenced by a “speculative bubble”, the collapse of which could send prices as low as $70 per barrel.
This contrasted with his Saturday statements that geopolitical tensions, particularly the threat of an invasion against Iran, could push oil prices to $200 per barrel.
“Years ago I said oil was going to go to $100 per barrel, now it looks like it is headed toward $200,” he said.
Source: Irish Times
July 14, 2008 Leave a comment
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday touted a pact delivering fuel to Caribbean nations and loosened the financing terms to aid countries struggling with high oil prices.
Chavez said nations taking part in the Petrocaribe initiative will now be required to pay just 40 percent of the bill within 90 days — down from the current 50 percent. He said the rest can be paid over the next 25 years at a fixed interest rate of 1 percent as long as oil prices are above US$100 a barrel.
“That could compensate for the horrible curve of the jump in oil prices,” Chavez said.
He added that 70 percent of payments may be deferred if oil rises above US$200 a barrel.
Chavez said Venezuela aims to continue strengthening the Petrocaribe accord and make it into an “anti-hunger shield” for countries in the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Three years after Petrocaribe began, though, figures released by officials show the initiative is still not operating at full strength because of transportation and storage problems.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said member countries other than Cuba are receiving a total of 86,000 barrels of oil a day — significantly less than their quota of 125,000.
Ramirez said Venezuela expects performance will improve with the expansion of an oil distribution network in the Caribbean.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines expects to complete construction of a storage facility next year with Venezuelan help, allowing it to boost the 300 barrels a day it currently receives — less than a third of its Petrocaribe quota, said Thornley Orsino Myers, who heads a St. Vincent electrical utility and accompanied his country’s delegation.
[Antigua/Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominician Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St.Kitts/Nevis, St.Lucia, St.Vincent/Grenadians, Suriname and Venezuela are signatories to the Petrocaribe Agreement]
Adapted From Taipei Times