VIO News Blog

February 25, 2009

French President Congratulates Chavez

French President Nicolas Sarkozy congratulated President Chavez on his party’s victory in Venezuela’s Feb. 15 referendum on term limits. Venezuelanalysis reports that last week in a letter to President Chavez, the French President stated that “I hope the results will allow you to continue the policies you have implemented in the last ten years, especially those improving social justice and reducing inequality in your country.”

A Washington Post piece quotes an opposition-aligned Venezuelan Congressman as stating that the recent approval of Venezuela’s referendum on term limits was “a major fraud.” The Post fails to mention that numerous national and international observers deemed the voting process as ‘free and fair’ as did a majority of the leaders of Venezuela’s opposition parties.  The article goes on to depict the Venezuelan opposition as embattled dissidents struggling “to carve out space for itself within often-limiting, even hostile confines.”  However, as the article itself points out, the fact that the opposition is so marginalized institutionally is largely due to its own decision to boycott the last National Assembly elections.  The Post also fails to inform readers that Venezuela’s opposition parties stand to make important political gains in the near future.  Most opposition parties are now participating fully in elections and, based on the strong results they obtained in the Feb 15 referendum, are expected to regain significant political space in next year’s legislative elections.

The Charge d’Affaires of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC, Angelo Rivero Santos, replied to a Washington Times Sunday Column “Chavez holds Venezuela” which asserted that Venezuelans were “duped” into approving the amendment on term limits.  Rivero states that the column’s authors are influenced by a “cold war mentality” that prevents them from recognizing the strengthening of democracy that has taken place in Venezuela and Latin America through the implementation of policies of social and political inclusion for those who have been traditionally excluded.

With oil prices this year averaging $36 per barrel, Bloomberg reports that Venezuela will propose further oil production cuts at next month’s OPEC meeting. Venezuela’s Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez has said that if prices continue to remain low for two or three years, it may lead to difficult consequences. Rodriguez said that the government is currently evaluating various policy changes to confront the global economic crisis.

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