VIO News Blog

August 26, 2008

Honduras Joins Venezuela and Others in ALBA Group

Filed under: Daily News Roundup — VenWorld @ 11:38 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Honduras joined the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) Monday, becoming the sixth member of the regional group (Honduran President Zelaya is pictured here at the far right). Energy cooperation is a central part of ALBA, and Honduras is now guaranteed to receive oil from Venezuela. Reuters wrongly calls President Chavez a “U.S. foe” and dismisses ALBA and other agreements as attempts by Venezuela to “expand influence” in the region. Instead, the Chavez administration’s use of oil profits to reduce poverty and create cooperation among Latin countries is a bid to foster unity and stability in the hemisphere. All countries including the U.S. — which receives Venezuelan oil assistance, too — are eligible to join ALBA.

In other energy news, Venezuela will soon sign oil deals with South Africa and Vietnam. A bilateral accord with South Africa planned for next week could produce joint ventures in oil exploration with that country’s national oil firm, according to Reuters. Bloomberg reports that Venezuela’s PDVSA and PetroVietnam are in talks on five shared oil projects. Meanwhile, compensation talks between PDVSA and Conoco regarding last year’s nationalizations in the Orinoco Belt are still progressing, Reuters reports. Officials will meet next week.

An opinion piece in Vermont’s Burlington Free Press criticizes Venezuela’s charity programs in the U.S. through Citgo, which donated $100 million in home heating oil to poor families in 23 states last winter. After a prior op-ed that cheered the assistance, this one rejects it and repeats several falsehoods. It wrongly states that employment is down — it has risen consistently, as have wages — and that “only state control of media outlets presently is allowed,” when in fact the private media still dominates in Venezuela. Colombia’s allegation that Chavez aided the FARC rebels is also repeated, though it remains unproven and is rejected by many experts. Also, President Chavez has never sought to “eliminate legal elected opposition” in Venezuela; regular free and fair elections are a central part of Venezuela’s democracy.

Finally, accusations against Venezuela regarding the media and alleged support for Colombian rebels are also the subject of articles by El Nuevo Herald and the AP today. First, El Nuevo Herald reports that President Chavez is seeking to “crack down” on the free press in Venezuela, and bolsters the empty claim by citing only anti-Chavez sources. Meanwhile, the AP reports that the leader of the National Cattle Ranchers Federation of Venezuela says the government is sheltering Colombian rebels. While Colombia’s armed conflict is still a threat to peace and stability in neighboring Venezuela, many measures have been taken to increase border security.

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