VIO News Blog

July 14, 2008

Chavez Welcomes Uribe, Proposes Expanding Petrocaribe

President Chavez mended ties with Colombia’s Uribe last Friday in Caracas, setting aside tensions that stemmed from unproven allegations lodged by right-wing officials in the neighboring country. Chavez presented Uribe with a portrait of Simon Bolivar (pictured here). “We decided to completely turn the page. The storm has passed,” he said. The AP reports that the Venezuelan leader promised more cooperation on counter-drug efforts. After the meeting, he stated: “We will relaunch our ties, starting on a personal level and then moving on to political, social and economic relations.”

Yesterday, President Chavez proposed expanding the regional energy assistance program Petrocaribe to make it an “anti-hunger shield” for Latin America. At a meeting of Petrocaribe nations, Guatemala was welcomed was the 18th and newest member of the alliance. According to Bloomberg, countries can make 60% of oil purchases through the Venezuelan plan when crude prices exceed $100 a barrel. The AP reports that countries must pay 40% of their bill within 90 days, but the rest is due over a 25-year period at a fixed interest rate of 1%. New initiatives were also announced to boost agricultural production in the region, including a fund for farm equipment financed by Venezuela.

Controversy still surrounds a so-called “blacklist” of individuals facing corruption charges whom the Venezuela’s comptroller general has deemed ineligible to run in elections. The AP reports that an opposition march occurred yesterday. The Supreme Court, however, will rule on the constitutionality of the ban. The president of that institution said it does not “accept pressure from protests or the government.”

The issue of prison reform was raised yesterday in a public address by President Chavez, AP reports. He emphasized the need for an overhaul of the system to reduce violence and speed the review of cases. Finally, in cultural news, Venezuela took home its fifth Miss Universe title yesterday. To read more, visit VenWorld.

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