VIO News Blog

October 21, 2008

Despite Claims to the Contrary, Venezuela’s Anti-Poverty Effort will Survive Global Financial Crisis

President Chavez visited Margarita Island off of Venezuela’s Caribbean coast yesterday, and proposed that it could be the site of a new naval base. The AP reports that the Venezuelan leader indicated that the base would help officials combat drug trafficking.

Sources continue to report on the alleged economic woes of Venezuela due to a drop in oil prices. The New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor eagerly claim that Venezuela will have to scale back its anti-poverty programs at home and abroad, but in fact, those programs began five years ago when oil was valued far lower. Crude prices have lost 40% of its value since hitting a high this summer. The Times uses a military idiom, suggesting that Chavez helped create a “cadre” of regional leaders “intent on eroding once-dominant American influence.” More accurately, new elected leaders in Latin America have asserted national sovereignty and a doctrine of non-intervention, emphasizing the right of each country to determine its path. Regarding the economy, several articles last week reported that Venezuela will not suffer significant consequences due to the global financial crisis.

In regional news, the BBC and AFP report that the government of President Morales in Bolivia has reached a deal with separatist opposition leaders in the country’s natural gas-rich Eastern provinces. The accord requires a referendum on a new constitution in January, followed by another round of elections in December 2009. Morales agreed to face another electoral test despite having emerged victorious from a national referendum just last August, in which 67% of Bolivians ratified his presidency.

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