VIO News Blog

July 21, 2008

Child Welfare Taken Seriously in Venezuela

On Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the launch of a new child welfare program designed to assist children in situations of risk or separation from their families. The three-step social program was highlighted at a ceremony yesterday to mark the annual National Day for Children and Teenagers. For the first nine months of the program $122 million will be allotted to find foster families for 250 children and construct 10 new shelters and communal houses for almost 3,000 at risk youth. The program also covers correctional facilities for 540 children and therapeutic treatment for teenage drug abusers. None of this was reported in the mainstream press, instead the Associated Press focused on comments made by the President suggesting that children should be taught socialist values and more selfless ideals.

In other news, New Hampshire will become the newest state to participate in Citgo’s discounted heating oil program this winter. Originally, the state declined the offer but with rising energy costs local officials are warming up to the idea. The need has been so great that Bill Fuller, general manager of Fred Fuller Oil Co. began delivering fuel for Citizens (the distributor) last winter, when hundreds of New Hampshire residents applied on their own and got 100 gallons free. Fuller said he plans to do it again this year. “It’s actually a pretty good program,” he said. “We get a voucher. We fax it in and get money right away.”

On the campaign trail, the Miami Herald takes a look at Obama’s Latin America policy and the special interests vying to control it, opining that Florida democrats will be crucial. At the same time, the Herald publishes the full text of Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas A. Shannon remarks testifying before Congress last Thursday on US-Venezuela relations. Shannon spoke of the close social, cultural, and political ties that bind the two nations and expressed US desire to work together to improve relations. However, the reasons cited for Venezuela’s willingness to do so is based upon false assumptions: primarily that the Chavez government is losing power and relevancy. Rather, the invitation to forge solutions to common problems, such as narco-trafficking, has always been a desire of the Venezuelan government and was only halted when nefarious activity on the part of the US was discovered.

Finally, President Chavez will continue traveling this week. His first stop was in Nicaragua over the weekend where he joined other heads of state, including the new president-elect of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, to celebrate the 29th anniversary of the Sandanista revotion. Today, he is schedule to be in Moscow and will likely purchase one submarine and some planes, reports Forbes. Next Friday he is scheduled to meet with the King of Spain and Prime Minister Zapatero.

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