VIO News Blog

October 27, 2008

Venezuela Engaged in Anti-Drug Effort with Spain

Spain’s foreign minister announced new anti-drug cooperation with Venezuela over the weekend, according to the Caracas newspaper El Universal. The initiative, proposed by Venezuela, is aimed at increasing the ability to interdict drugs being trafficked to Europe. Venezuela has made significant progress on fighting drugs — despite US criticism — even after cooperation with the DEA ended. A letter in Sunday’s Boston Globe enumerates that progress. Anti-drug policing has been stepped up on the border with Colombia, the world’s largest cocaine producer. The BBC reports though that one Colombian drug kingpin allegedly “bases himself” over the border in rural Venezuela.

Bloomberg reports on the economy, and indicates that President Chavez’s approval rating remained at 58 percent last month according to one source. A Washington Post editorial Saturday delights in the possibility that the US financial crisis could hurt so-called “rogue states.” It suggests that President Chavez is “disturbed” by lower oil prices and mocks his appeal to US leaders to “sit down and talk and come to an agreement because we need each other.” On Sunday, a similar New York Times editorial makes the erroneous claim that Venezuela “is said to be desperate for prices to go back above $100.” Reuters reports that Chavez said he supports a price band for oil that would see OPEC setting the value crude as low as $70 per barrel. The Venezuelan leader also indicated recently that the country could remain solvent at $55 per barrel, citing foreign currency reserves of about $40 billion.

Reuters and the AP report on a comment by Chavez that he would like to see Mayor Manuel Rosales of Zulia state jailed for his alleged role in coup plots. “He cannot continue in office. … He is one of those who wants to see me dead,” Chavez said. Notably, though, members of Venezuela’s opposition have not been actively discriminated against and were pardoned early this year for their roles in the 2002 coup.

Finally, press attention continues to swirl around Venezuela’s ties with Russia. The US has just sanctioned Russia’s state arms trader. The Washington Post reports though that “in an unusual move, it granted the company a partial waiver to permit the sale of nearly two dozen Russian helicopters to Iraq.”

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