VIO News Blog

October 30, 2008

Venezuela’s Social Revolution Takes to the Skies

Venezuela’s new “Simon Bolivar” satellite was successfully launched from China yesterday. According to CNN, a government news agency stated that the equipment “is not focused on commercial ends, but on providing a service to the communities which have never enjoyed a modern communication system.” The AP reports that Venezuela joins Brazil and Argentina as the third South American nation to launch a satellite. It will begin transmitting TV, radio, and other data in three months, and should last for 15 years.

No decision could be reached by the jury in “suitcasegate,” the Miami trial of Venezuela’s Franklin Duran, who claims he was set up by the FBI to frame the Chavez government. According to the Miami Herald, the hung jury was told by U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard to try again.

A ludicrous op-ed in the Washington Times by yet another US military figure wrongly claims that President Chavez “buys politicians.” Also contrary to the op-ed, there are no Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela. If, as the op-ed states, the State Department and Navy are “well aware” of such activity, it is curious that it has never been cited in official reports on terrorism for the region. The Venezuelan government does not have links to Hezbollah, nor is it “expanding narcotics and weapons smuggling in the region.” These claims are simply fear-mongering, not fact, and do not belong in a newspaper.

In regional news, sources report that Colombia has dismissed 24 soldiers and three generals for killing civilians near the Venezuelan border. The BBC, this revelation “could just be the first stage in a wider scandal.” The US plays a large role in funding and training Colombia’s military.

Finally, the AP reports that the foreign policy goals of President Bush have been unmet during his administration. In particular, in Latin America, “Bush’s push for democracy and free trade is widely seen as failing to diminish the yawning gap between rich and poor.”

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