VIO News Blog

September 18, 2008

Chavez Says ‘Capitalism is Sinking’

Today’s top news is on the economy, due to a slide in the US that is affecting many other parts of the world. The AP reports that President Chavez encouraged Venezuelans yesterday to save money and said that government agencies would do the same. He predicted, “capitalism is sinking, and it’s going to hit the world hard.” The US Federal Reserve has recently shouldered the bankruptcies of major insurance and lending firms by purchasing massive shares of them using taxpayer dollars, a process Bush called “adjustments,” according to AFP.

Meanwhile, Bush’s Deputy Assistant defended the record of the White House in the region while insulting regional leaders, saying “The president has established strong relations with the countries of Latin America… Unfortunately, Venezuela and Bolivia are more interested in using the US as an excuse so they don’t have to confront their own problems.” On the contrary, after expelling the US ambassador for colluding with violent opposition groups, the Bolivian government initiated talks with those same groups. AFP reports that facilitators are present from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Roman Catholic church, the EU and the UN.

In other regional news, Reuters reports deems the success of left-leaning elected governments in Latin America a “feisty” challenge to the US. One expert says this is because the US “doesn’t care” about the region, while another explains: “Latin Americans are stepping in and managing their own crises, some of which the United States played a role in generating — but not so much resolving.” In a similar story, Bloomberg reports that the US has lost some influence over Latin America to Russia. New cooperation on military issues and trade between Russia and countries in the region is seen as a “threat,” but in many ways, it is a response to US actions; Venezuela’s purchases of military equipment from Russia came only after the Bush administration banned all sales to Venezuela. In another example, Reuters reports today that Cuba has refused emergency hurricane assistance from the US in protest of its longstanding economic embargo against the island.

Finally, the Financial Times reports today on Venezuela’s energy assistance in Nicaragua. New power plants that run on Venezuelan oil have ended blackouts there so that, as one woman put it, “Now we can live normally again.”

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