VIO News Blog

August 8, 2008

Old Tactics, New Country

Despite recent opposition outcry to the contrary, the Associated Press reports today that Venezuela’s largest banking organizations are unaffected by the government’s recent announcement to purchase the Bank of Venezuela from its Spanish owners. The Banking Association of Venezuela and the National Banking Council confirmed yesterday that financial operations are proceeding with “normality.”

Bloomberg reports on a meeting between opposition activists and the president of Mercosur’s human rights commission, Adriana Pena. The opposition called the meeting to talk about legislation passed years ago – with the support of the opposition – that bars officials from running for public office while under investigation for corruption. Pena said she hopes to meet with Venezuela’s Comptroller who is applying the law and leading the investigations. Meanwhile, the opposition announced plans for a march in support of excluded opposition candidates on August 9.

In regional news, as a referendum on Evo Morales, pro-government officials and opposition officials nears this Sunday in Bolivia, the Chicago Tribune links Venezuela-Bolivia cooperation with the populace’s alleged decline in support for Morales and his policies. By all accounts, however, the president, vice-president, and most others aligned with the government appear high in the polls while opposition candidates seem to be losing support. What the article refuses to acknowledge is the violent actions of the opposition in the past few years, especially in the lead up to elections, that have taken on racist undertones with the aim of physically hurting the president and his supporters, the majority of whom are Indian. These intimidation tactics are strikingly similar to those used by Venezuela’s opposition in the lead up to the 2002 coup and for some time after. The Houston Chronicle reprints a Miami Herald article criticizing Venezuela, Bolivia, and many other center-left governments in the region, essentially for moving forward with pro-poor policies through democratic elections. The author opines that soon Latin American nations aligned with the free trade model of development will take the upperhand in the region. Regardless of the outcome, if decided through elections that ensure mass participation, the majority will decide. Thus far, they have opted for new progressive models, rather than old ones.

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