VIO News Blog

January 9, 2009

Venezuelans March in Support of the Palestinian People

Yesterday, over 1,000 people attended a march in Caracas protesting Israel’s attacks on Palestine. The AP reports that marchers showed support for President Chavez’s decision to expel the Israeli ambassador in Venezuela, Shlomo Cohen, who said he left “without hate or rancor.” The decision riled Jewish leaders who, after a meeting at the presidential palace in August, said Chavez “demonstrated he is a great friend of the Jewish community who wants to fight anti-Semitism in Latin America.”

Venezuela’s inflation reached 30,9 percent, according to figures released by the central bank yesterday. The rate is an 11-year high, but remains well below average inflation during the 1990s, which was about 50 percent. Rumors of a potential currency devaluation have again surfaced; Bloomberg reports that Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez did not rule out the option. Rodriguez said: “We’re applying measures to maintain reserves at an adequate level… We have to restrict all unnecessary spending. We’re doing it in the public administration, and we should do it together as an economy.” He also maintained that altering the exchange rate (fixed since 2005) would fuel inflation.

Opposition labor leaders in Venezuela are claiming that production cuts agreed upon recently by OPEC member countries caused contractors to be laid off in Venezuela. The AP reports that PDVSA did not confirm this. On Wednesday, Venezuela’s Oil Ministry said it will reduce exports of 166,000 barrels a day to the United States, 18,000 a day to China and 5,000 a day to Europe.

Finally, sentencing is expected Monday in the case of Franklin Duran — one of several Venezuelan men accused by the U.S. government of acting as unregistered foreign agents. The AP reports that he will seek a reduced 3-year sentence. His lawyer said: “This case did not involve professional spies or agents employed by a foreign government or individuals out to do harm or create mischief in this country.”

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