VIO News Blog

September 2, 2008

Chavez in South Africa for Oil Deals

Filed under: Daily News Roundup — VenWorld @ 11:01 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

President Chavez is in South Africa today to sign joint ventures in oil and gas, deals the government of President Mbeki (seen here) says will “provide alternative sources of energy to South Africa.” Reuters reports that Chavez expressed interest in South Africa’s gas-to-liquid technology and that South Africa’s state oil firm, PetroSA, will invest in oil exploration in Venezuela. According to the AP, both leaders indicated that the new cooperation on trade would, in Mbeki’s words, contribute to “the further empowerment of the countries of the south.”

Over the weekend, US government attacks on Venezuela’s anti-drug efforts again surfaced when officials released surveillance data on “suspected drug flights.” AP reports that the officials claim the amount of cocaine passing through Venezuela has increased 16-fold since 2002. US counter-drug operations in Venezuela ceased in 2006 when agents were found spying. However, the Chavez government has since stepped up its counter-drug policing, carrying out record drug seizures and extensive corruption purges, and purchasing new surveillance technologies — from countries other than the US, due to Washington’s arms embargo against Venezuela. Drugs have been a consistent point of criticism from the Bush camp, and the new allegations are unsurprising. A New York Times headline states that President Chavez reacted by threatening to “expel” the US ambassador, but the article indicates that it was simply a “thaw” after the two met last month and expressed willingness for cooperation.

In regional news, Ecuador’s Ambassador to the US published a letter in the New York Times critical of an editorial that glossed Andean Presidents (those of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela) as “authoritarian-minded leaders.” The ambassador states: “This undermines a more accurate vision of a region of individual countries with unique domestic challenges and proposals.”

News reporting on the Andes, unfortunately, rarely provides an accurate vision. A Wall Street Journal article states that a member of El Salvador’s FMLN is implicated in Colombia’s claim that the FARC received arms and money from foreign governments including those of Venezuela and Ecuador. The Journal repeats the allegations without mentioning that independent bodies like the OAS have been unable to find proof.

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