VIO News Blog

November 12, 2008

Venezuela Makes Trade Deal with Bolivia, Deports Suspected Drug Traffickers to US

Venezuelan anti-drug officials deported two Colombian cousins to the U.S. yesterday to be tried for drug trafficking charges.  The AP reports that anti-drug chief Nestor Reverol (pictured here) said Venezuelan police caught the men last month, after they were sought by the U.S. since 2001. Venezuela frequently detains traffickers (five were arrested so far in 2008), and also seizes tens of tons of illicit goods each year. Despite this, the White House has for the last four years designated the country as failing to take action against drugs.

In a continuing story, President Chavez has removed the Venezuelan consul in Houston, Texas, Mr. Antonio Padrino, after he made an administrative error with large consequences. The Houston consulate was temporarily closed last week by the U.S. State Department after switching office spaces before full permission was granted to make the move. The AP reports that President Chavez called it a mistake, but nonetheless withdrew the Houston consul in order to clear up the situation. Foreign Minister Maduro said that it had been resolved “from the administrative and diplomatic point of view,” according to El Universal.

Venezuela has signed a deal to purchase $30 million in textiles from Bolivia to boost trade with that country — the poorest in South America — after it was handed damaging trade sanctions by President Bush. El Universal reports that trade talks began Monday. In other economic news, Reuters reports that coffee is lacking in many Venezuelan supermarkets, and uses this news to predict a failure for government-backed candidates in the upcoming regional elections. The shortage is attributed to price caps set by the state, but the article ends with a list of other possible factors: “unusually heavy rains and a smaller harvest than expected and hoarding by customers.”

The Financial Times reports on high rates of crime in Caracas, a frequent concern of Venezuelan citizens and foreign critics of President Chavez alike. Police recently raided and closed an illegal bullet factory in a poor area of the city. A local authority suggested that the problem is inherited, saying “You can’t change a country in just 10 years after 40 years of misrule.” However, the Times suggests that crime will be a key issue in the regional elections on November 23rd.

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