VIO News Blog

December 10, 2008

Ingrid Betancourt Lauds Chavez’s “Peaceful Revolution”

In Caracas yesterday, Colombia’s Ingrid Betancourt called President Chavez “a great democrat… who has conducted a peaceful revolution in Venezuela.” According to El Universal, she said she always trusted Chavez and flatly rejected allegations by U.S. and Colombian leaders that he ever had “clandestine or sinful liaisons with the FARC.”

Today is the 60th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The AP reports that three former presidents of the Czech Republic, Poland, and South Africa wrote an open letter claiming that “dissent and different thinking” are not tolerated in Venezuela. This is proven wrong by a quick glance at the main headlines in the Caracas newspaper El Universal today, which read: “Chavez demanded to stop his attempt at reelection”; “Provea accuses the government of not guaranteeing the right to life”; “Students distribute flyers against constitutional amendment.”

AFP reports that Venezuela’s National Assembly is beginning to debate a constitutional amendment on presidential term limits. It needs two-thirds approval by lawmakers before being put to a popular vote. According to AFP, anti-Chavez lawmakers contend that a vote on term limits has already been held. However, last year’s referendum differed in that it asked citizens to vote on a package of 69 different reforms, many of which were widely debated, such as the issue of banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Washington Post reports on responses to recession in Latin America. It cites a source that says Venezuela needs oil prices of $95 per barrel to remain stable economically, which is false. Prices have already fluctuated wildly over the last decade, and were as low as $23 when high rates of social spending began in 2003. Venezuela’s 2009 budget is based on estimated oil prices of $60 per barrel. The Post claims Venezuela will “undermine” poor countries by advocating for production cuts in OPEC to increase the value of oil. However, Venezuela’s push to stabilize oil prices in OPEC is accompanied by a very thorough and effective program to reduce the burden of high energy costs in Central America and the Caribbean. The program is called Petrocaribe.

Also in regional news, a new report on poverty in Latin America was released this week by ECLAC. It places Venezuela in the category of “medium-low poverty rates” (less than 32%). IPS reports that Venezuela is also noted for having perhaps the smallest income gap between the rich and the poor, showing progress on reducing inequality in a region known for being the most unequal in the world.

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1 Comment »

  1. It may be true that Chavez has not embarked on a reign of terror, but he kind of is a paranoid megalomaniac. I do agree, though, that the United States has been incredibly reactionary and fearful of this socialist regime. What’s the big deal about having a country with a different system of rule anyway?

    I don’t see how your newspaper headlines are proof us tolerance. People will resist any attempt at authoritarianism, but whether or not it’s tolerated is another thing. Keep in mind that Chavez has most definitely shut down all those newspapers that have butted heads with him throughout the years. Why weren’t Betancourt’s comments in any other papers around the world? While she was definitely a high-profile prisoner, can she really be trusted as a reliable source of information?

    Comment by Jason — December 10, 2008 @ 12:08 pm | Reply


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