VIO News Blog

March 5, 2009

Venezuela Questions US Efforts to Prevent Drug Use

Five days after a U.S. report criticized Venezuela’s counternarcotics efforts, the AFP reports that Venezuela’s Attorney General Luisa Ortega requested a visiting team from the US Congress’ Government Accountability Office to allow her “the possibility of carrying out a review in the United States to see if it is fully complying with efforts to prevent drug use.” Contrary to the findings of the U.S. report, Venezuela has made significant strides in the fight against drugs; Venezuela now has the fourth largest number of cocaine seizures in the world. In 2008, Venezuelan authorities destroyed over 220 illicit landing strips used by suspected drug runners.

Bloomberg reports that the Venezuelan government will be expropriating a rice processing plant owned by U.S. based Cargill but stated that Chavez did not say whether Cargill would receive compensation. However, in reality, President Chavez stated that any expropriation would be fairly assessed and paid. The Venezuelan government made it abundantly clear that other Cargill plants would be unaffected. Meanwhile, Empresas Polar, the largest domestic food producer in the country, has called for talks with the government regarding allegations that the company was skirting price controls and purposefully falling short of production capacity.

Finally, McClatchy reports that Cuba’s influence in Venezuela is growing, with Cuban experts now helping the Venezuelan government to improve public education. Friendly relations between Venezuela and Cuba are nothing new. The two countries already cooperate in energy, healthcare, agriculture, as well as facilitating the adult literacy program by which Venezuela achieved the UN Millennium Development Goal of full literacy in 2004.

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