VIO News Blog

July 18, 2008

Joseph Kennedy: Don’t See Chavez as a Threat

Filed under: Daily News Roundup — VenWorld @ 4:53 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Houston, Texas celebrated Citgo’s donation of energy-efficient light bulbs to low-income families yesterday, the Houston Chronicle reports. Houston is one of 11 cities slated to receive the assistance, but it claims the largest share, with 140,000 bulbs going to 7,000 families. They are distributed through the Boston-based charity, Citizens Energy. CEO Joseph Kennedy (pictured at right, in background) said: “If we did not view President Chavez as a threat and we had worked with the Venezuelan government instead of trying to overthrow them then we would have a very different relationship than we have today.”

Venezuela begins shipments of oil to Portugal in August, according to Bloomberg. The European nation will start by importing 1 million barrels from Venezuela, and has jointly discussed natural-gas and alternative-energy projects.

In Venezuela, political parties are readying for local elections later this year. The AP reports that President Chavez’s United Socialist Party may seek a constitutional amendment to allow incumbents to seek re-election indefinitely. Specifically, this would allow Chavez to run for office again when his term ends in 2012. The issue was part of a package of reforms that was put before voters last year, but which lost by a narrow margin. Opposition parties in Venezuela have suffered from fragmentation and loss of legitimacy, however, Venezuelanalysis reports that a coalition has chosen candidates for governor for about a third of Venezuela’s states. The opposition has protested a so-called “blacklist” of candidates barred from competing in elections due to corruption charges. Bloomberg reports that Venezuela’s Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the ban.

Finally, the Los Angeles Times provides more debate on Venezuela. This time, the issue of Colombia-Venezuela relations and the U.S. “war on terror” is raised, as is the question of why Venezuela maintains diplomatic and trade ties with some nations the U.S. considers enemies. Another Los Angeles Times article states that oil-producing countries Venezuela, Russia, and Iran are “gaining clout,” waxing autocratic, and mismanaging their economies. Venezuela, a steady U.S. ally that has been democratic since 1958, can hardly be compared to Russia and Iran. Free and fair elections are the norm under President Chavez, whom supporters credit with reviving democracy and making oil wealth more equitable. The Times suggests that Venezuela’s output is falling, but the country has found new reserves and upped investment in production.


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