VIO News Blog

August 27, 2008

Venezuela Debates State Role in Oil Distribution

Filed under: Daily News Roundup — VenWorld @ 1:23 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Venezuela may seek to increase national control of fuel distribution, according to the AP today. The National Assembly votes today a bill which could require private fuel distributors to sell their assets to the state-owned oil company, PDVSA. Joint ventures between PDVSA and private firms have not been ruled out, however. The Caracas newspaper El Universal reports that government officials in Venezuela have said that gas stations will not be expropriated, and that “It will be a gradual change.” The AFP reports that some experts are concerned about the possibility of reduced private investment in Venezuela, while others say the state’s joint ventures with foreign firms “would make no impact on investment levels in the country.”

A new anti-poverty program in Venezuela, called Mission April 13, was launched this week. Venezuelanalysis reports that the new social program — one of over two dozen that now exist — will work with existing state agencies to improve the infrastructure and public services (such as water, sanitation, and electricity) available in poor neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Reuters reports on Venezuela’s assistance to Honduras. The small Central American nation will receive secure oil supplies from Venezuela through the regional group ALBA. Reuters notes that Honduras is no longer a top U.S. ally as before, but that it is a member of the free trade bloc CAFTA at the same time that it participates in the more progressive ALBA.

Just weeks after President Chavez hosted Jewish leaders at the Presidential Palace to make clear his support for the Jewish community in Venezuela and worldwide, the Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. officials now say Venezuela harbors the radical Islamist group Hezbollah. The Times quotes a single unidentified “anti-terrorism official” to make a case for which there is no concrete evidence. In a politicized move in June, the U.S. Treasury accused two Venezuelan officials of raising money for Hezbollah. Though the charges have been denied and remain unverified, the U.S. State Department has also used them to accuse Venezuela.

Finally, the Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, runs an editorial today accusing President Chavez of being a “dictatorial” leader that has “whittled away” democracy. However, his so-called “authoritarian” measures were all cast aside in December after a fully democratic vote in which Venezuelan citizens narrowly struck down the proposed laws. In contrast, an L.A. Times editorial warns that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe — beloved by the Bush regime — is attempting to unilaterally change laws in order to remain in power.

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