VIO News Blog

December 16, 2008

A New Era Begins as Latin American Leaders Meet in Brazil

Venezuela is planning to invest more in steel production. The steel plant Sidor, recently renationalized after a decade of private ownership, is slated to undergo improvements worth $900 million. The AP reports that Venezuela is also compensating the Argentine-Italian firm Ternium S.A. for its purchase of a 60% stake in Sidor.

El Nuevo Herald reports that some student groups in Venezuela are planning an “offensive” to block a democratic vote on presidential term limits. An anti-Chavez student leader who now has a post in the Caracas municipal government claims that Venezuela’s opposition is “at a media disadvantage.” In fact, though, the majority of TV, radio, and newspapers in Venezuela are private-owned and aligned with the political opposition. Venezuela’s media is extremely critical of the government, a fact which has helped publicize the cause of student groups that oppose Chavez. El Nuevo Herald shows its own bias by referring to anti-Chavez groups as simply “students,” while calling youths who support the elected government “pro-Chavez activists.” Venezuelans have the right to hold a national referendum on constitutional amendments when there is two-thirds approval in the National Assembly or a petition by 15% of the electorate.

The AP is reporting that an economic summit that begins in Brazil today is “the first time in recent memory that top Latin American leaders have met without the presence of an outside power.” President Chavez said: “There’s no doubt that a new historic era is beginning.”

OPEC countries will meet tomorrow in Algeria. The Financial Times reports that analysts say production will likely be cut by 2 billion barrels, following calls from Venezuela and other nations to reduce the amount of supplies on the market. Bloomberg quotes an energy analyst at a private firm in Vienna who says “There is too much oil on the market right now.”

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