VIO News Blog

August 21, 2008

Combatting Drugs with Brazil, Energy Agreements with Vietnam

The Associated Press reports on counter-narcotics military excercises underway along the Brazil-Venezuela border today. Troops from both nations are participating in a four day long joint anti-drug training program which will train soldiers to identify drug smuggling planes, a problem faced by both countries given they are major conduits for Colombian cocaine headed to the US and Europe. For some time, US officials have accused Venezuela of not doing enough to combat drug-trafficking. Despite this, Venezuela continues to attack the problem. Yesterday, Venezuela’s Supreme Court stated that it will honor its extradition agreement with Belgium and turn over a Lebanese man convicted of drug trafficking and money laundering.

The Mexican cement company, Cemex, will file an arbitration claim with the World Bank in hopes of receiving “fairer compensation” for its operations in Venezuela, announced a spokesperson for the firm late last night. Venezuela has offered to pay $650 million but Cemex has demanded $1.3 billion. Venezuela’s Vice President recently said this figure was “well above its real value.” Meanwhile, cooperation agreements with Vietnam are moving forward, reports Agence France Presse. The countries will create two joint oil refining companies, “one to transport oil to Vietnam and the other to refine that oil in Vietnam, at a refinery we jointly own,” said Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s oil and energy minister. Venezuela and Vietnam also plan to build a production facility to make energy-saving lightbulbs in Venezuela and are expected to announce a new oil exploration agreement in the Orinico belt region on September 15.

The Financial Times takes aim at Venezuela in an editorial today entitled “Containing Chavez”. The Times argues that a new Washington Administration should take heed of Chavez’s growing influence in the region and devise a plan to counter it, while wrongly claiming that President Chavez has betrayed the Venezuelan electorate and is centralizing power. Although the Times does call for some positive measures, such as ending the US trade embargo on Cuba and increasing efforts to support health care and home ownership in Latin America and the Caribbean, it wrongly asserts that inefficiency and mismanagement along with a growing dependence on oil will bring down Venezuela. Meanwhile, efforts to diversify and combat corruption and nepotism in Venezuela are well underway.

Finally, Venezuela won its first medal yesterday at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. To read more visit our blog, VenWorld.

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