VIO News Blog

September 10, 2008

As in Venezuela, Bolivia’s Democracy Threatened

Filed under: Daily News Roundup — VenWorld @ 2:44 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The AP reports that Venezuela’s aviation agency rejects the TSA’s decision to warn passengers that flights “may not be safe” even though airports in that country comply with all international standards. The U.S. TSA imposed its own inspection regime on countries after 9/11, a policy that Venezuela has questioned.

Venezuelan officials have detained an Italian man wanted on drug trafficking charges by France, according to the AP. Meanwhile, the drug czar for the Bush White House, John Walters, continues to issue attacks against Venezuela. The AP reports that Walters said yesterday that President Chavez’s alleged failure to curb drug trafficking “is not only threatening the safety and security of the people of Venezuela… It is a growing global threat; he is putting Europe at risk.” Walters’ claims about inaction and corruption on the part of Venezuelan officials do not stand up to scrutiny, however, for Caracas has a strong record on seizures and arrests. The statements from the Bush spokesperson correspond with the political goals of that administration, rather than reality.

OPEC leaders did the unexpected yesterday, agreeing at a summit in Vienna to lower oil output slightly. Reuters reports that Venezuela takes a “hard-line position” on oil prices, but Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez has advocated stability and a fair rate — which he currently sees as around $100 per barrel.

The Wall Street Journal reports that unions in Venezuela irk the government because they “march to their own drummers.” The Chavez administration, which supports the cause of labor and seeks in many of its policies to empower the working class, has often faced threats from unions aligned with the opposition. Powerful business federations were instrumental in organizing the coup against Chavez in 2002.

In a strikingly similar story elsewhere in the region, Bolivia is wracked by violent anti-government protests and paramilitary action in energy-rich Santa Cruz. The opposition has seized government media outlets and stormed the Ministry of Agriculture and an NGO in that city after calls from the media inspired these illegal mobilizations. The secessionist protesters claim to be pro-democratic, but reject the national referendum last August 10th in which 67% of Bolivians turned out in support of their elected president. U.S. media have been slow to cover these events and downplayed the violent role of opposition leaders, such as an opposition senator who today threatened more violence if the government moves forward with approving the new constitution.

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