VIO News Blog

September 23, 2008

Venezuela’s Chavez Goes to China, Not New York

President Chavez arrived in China today to discuss trade agreements, including the construction of two joint oil refineries, according to the Wall Street Journal. A Chinese spokesman said, “China-Venezuela relations are normal state-to-state relations, (they) are not based on ideology, are not targeted against any third party and will not affect other countries’ relations with Venezuela.” Reuters notes the Venezuelan leader is not attending the UN Summit in New York. “The only thing we demand is that our nation be respected… We’re no longer the backyard of the United States,” Chavez said. He will also visit Russia, France, and Portugal this week.

A Miami Herald editorial bashes the decision by Venezuelan officials to expel the staff of Human Rights Watch after its unfavorable evaluation of the Chavez administration. The Herald deems this “intolerance” and wrongly states that Chavez has an “anti-democratic agenda.” The act, however, was according to a law on defamation that pre-dates the Chavez government. The Foreign Ministry explained that it considered the report, which was conducted and released in secret, an example of “meddling in internal affairs” by the US group. Recently, Venezuela expelled its US Ambassador in solidarity with Bolivia after an alliance there between the US ambassador and violent anti-government groups was exposed. In an NBC interview, the former Venezuelan Ambassador to Washington Bernardo Alvarez discusses his own expulsion from the US.

President Bush will meet opposition leaders from countries including Venezuela at this week’s UN Summit to “discuss the freedom agenda,” according to AFP. The so-called “dissidents” include Marcel Granier, the wealthy media mogul and president of RCTV, a station that lost its right to broadcast on the public airwaves and moved to cable after inciting violence during the 2002 coup against Chavez.

Finally, sources report today on the foreign policy agendas of the US presidential hopefuls. AFP points out that Obama is willing to speak with the leaders of Spain, Venezuela, and other countries, while McCain is not. The BBC reports that Obama is well received among Afro-descendant Latin Americans, who see him as representing minorities in much the same way that President Chavez does in Venezuela.

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