VIO News Blog

July 3, 2008

Venezuela’s Oil Income Up, Colombia Rescues Captives

Filed under: Daily News Roundup — VenWorld @ 9:13 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA netted US$3.5 billion in the first quarter of 2008 — up 80 percent over 2007 earnings. Some $2.7 billion was reinvested in social programs that benefit citizens in Venezuela, such as programs in health, nutrition, and education. According to the AP, spending by the oil company went up overall amid windfall profits. PDVSA’s investment in oil production and exploration increased 46 percent to US$1.7 billion. PDVSA reports a total oil output of 3.2 million barrels of crude per day.

Yesterday, the Colombian military rescued 15 captives held by the FARC, including Ingrid Betancourt and U.S. military contractors Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howes (the latter two are pictured here). The Venezuelan government released a statement saying it hopes that this development will bring an end to the war in Colombia, Bloomberg reports. President Chavez has consistently called for peace in the neighboring country. He helped free six hostages earlier this year through humanitarian talks that President Uribe abruptly canceled despite their success.

The AP reports that Colombian troops achieved the rescue by posing as top rebel commanders to give orders to local leaders, asking them to rally the hostages for a helicopter pickup. All of the hostages had spent several years in the jungle, and were anxious to rejoin their families. According to the New York Times, the U.S. men were captured by the FARC in 2003, when their plane went down during an anti-narcotics mission for the Pentagon.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain was visiting President Uribe in Colombia yesterday, and the Washington Post reports that he was privately briefed by the President about the planned hostage rescue on Tuesday night. This was before he gave a key speech advocating freeing hostages. McCain was also in Mexico this week. According to the Christian Science Monitor, his visit to Latin America “will likely do little to woo people in the region… Mexicans say the visit does not instill faith that he will have any greater commitment to Latin America than Bush.”

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