VIO News Blog

August 7, 2008

Philadelphia Goes Green

The Philadelphia Daily News reports on the successful impact of the Venezuela-Citgo lighting program in Pennsylvania. Included with a free 10-pack of energy efficient light bulbs, distributed to thousands of low-income families in the city, comes community educational workshops on weatherizing your home and other energy-saving measures, according to the Energy Coordinating Agency, a local non-profit that partnered with Citgo to carry out the program.

According to Bloomberg, the president of the human rights commission of Mercosur arrived in Caracas yesterday and is scheduled to meet with opposition figures to hear complaints about a recent ruling baring candidates under investigation from running for public office. This ruling was also criticized in a Washington Post editorial today. As most mainstream press coverage has done this week, the Post additionally compares a series of new laws passed by President Chavez to last year’s constitutional reform proposal. The Post’s critique, however, is based on generalizations. For example, it singles out legislation that holds food distributors accountable for measures such as food hoarding, without mentioning why it is needed. In the past, food distributors had tried to get around government price controls by utilizing this measure, resulting in food shortages of basic foodstuffs. Mass community participation in the defense of the nation is also frowned upon without taking into consideration the new role of the military as social servants, as well as successful examples of this in other countries such as Israel, where basic military training is mandatory.

Forbes reports on Venezuela’s efforts to buy the Bank of Venezuela from its Spanish owners who are in the process of selling it. According to the article, Venezuela may offer Banco Santander (the Spanish owners) $1.2 billion for the Bank. Currently the bank has nearly 3 million customers and $11.0 billion in assets in Venezuela. Venezuela plans to increase this and construct bank offices in every municipality of the country.

In health news, an unidentified disease has killed dozens of Warao Indians in a remote area of northeastern Venezuela, according to indigenous leaders and researchers from the University of California at Berkeley. At least 38 people have died in the last few months, say American medical researchers there. According to them, preliminary studies of the latest outbreak indicate that it may be a type of infectious rabies transmitted by bites from bats. The group, which included indigenous leaders, met with government epidemiologists last night and the officials promised the disease would be investigated as soon as possible.


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