VIO News Blog

November 7, 2008

Chavez Meets with Russian Officials to Discuss Bilateral Initiatives

President Chavez met with Russian officials on Thursday to discuss several bilateral initiatives on topics including nuclear energy, direct flights between the two countries, gas exploration in the Gulf of Venezuela, and gold mining in Southern Venezuela. The AP reports that Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said “We can say that our relations are taking on the characteristic of strategic partners.” Meanwhile, President Chavez noted the November 26th historic visit of President Medvedev, who will be the first Russian President to visit Venezuela.

The AP and Bloomberg report that a joint venture between Venezuela’s state energy company PDVSA and Russia’s Gazprom regarding a new gas production site in the Gulf of Venezuela, will be inaugurated today.

In a Reuters article discussing Bolivia’s plans to fund its own counter-narcotics operations after a rift with the DEA, President Chavez is referred to as “Washington’s leading regional foe.” Meanwhile, no mention is made of Venezuela’s repeated intent to seek better relations with a new US administration. AP notes that Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said “Barack Obama’s election as U.S. president is a historic moment for international relations.”

In an article in the Guardian, British scholar Richard Gott is cautiously optimistic about US-Latin America relations in the wake of the Obama victory. He suggests that the new administration should end the embargo against Cuba and reach out to new elected leaders in the Andes. Dialogue with Venezuela’s Chavez would be particularly productive, Gott predicts: “If a personal meeting can be engineered, these two improbable leaders, with many similarities in their outsider backgrounds, will get on famously.”

In economic news, the AP reports that annual inflation in Caracas reached 35.6 percent, partly due to soaring food prices. The article however fails to note that inflation is still significantly lower than rates seen in the 1990s and that current inflation is also largely a result of increased consumer demand due to government policies designed to reduce poverty and empower citizens.

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