VIO News Blog

March 10, 2009

Venezuela Refutes State Department Report on Drugs

The Washington Times reports on the last U.S. State Department drug report under the Bush administration, issued a couple of weeks ago, which leveled accusations against three key government officials in Venezuela. The men are Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, an aide to President Chavez, and high-level anti-drug officials Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios and Henry de Jesus Rangel Silva. Venezuelan officials have refuted this and other aspects of the report as politicized, and say its findings are false and contradict those of other studies. “The biggest support for narco-trafficking comes from the nation of the north,” Chavez said.

Coca-Cola will likely cooperate with a request by President Chavez to relocate a Caracas bottling plant and turn over the site to the impoverished local community, the AP reports. This is according to a statement released yesterday, which said Coca-Cola expects the government can “bring about proposals and alternatives that benefit everyone. The Financial Times reports that Chavez said Sunday that the land is needed for housing, but suggests that the leader is “targeting” Coke as part of an “assault” on the private sector. Despite what the Times states, “expropriations” are not the norm in Venezuela, where the government follows laws requiring compensate private owners for their assets.

In other economic news, Reuters reports that the Venezuelan government clarified plans to create a Venezuelan Aluminum Corp to unify the sector. That institution will coordinate policy among different aluminum producers, but will not merge them. Japan owns 20 percent of one of the country’s main aluminum plants, Venalum.

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