VIO News Blog

March 11, 2009

Venezuela Destroys Drug Lab near Colombian Border

Venezuela has made more anti-drug progress, destroying clandestine cocaine labs along the border with Colombia and seizing nearly 1,000 pounds of the substance, according to the AP. National Guard troops demolished seven labs located less than a mile from the border with Colombia. EFE quotes Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami, who said the move showed “our determination and readiness to continue making progress in the head-on fight against drug trafficking.”

El Aissami also responded to the most recent U.S. State Department drug report — the last one penned by the Bush administration — which again claimed that Venezuela is not doing enough to fight drugs. “We are victims of drug trafficking because we are in between the biggest drug-producing country (Colombia) and the main drug consumer, but that report still tries to blame us. But with these results we show who is really lying,” he said.

In a rare article today, the Guardian Weekly offers the personal story of one Venezuelan woman who benefits from the government-funded social program Madres del Barrio (Mothers of the Neighborhood). At first, Yovita Vera says, It was hard to believe that I had the power to do something positive for myself and my family.” But with a small interest-free loan and training from Madres del Barrio, she opened a textile cooperative that became “a big success.” Vera says: “I feel like a door has been opened for us and we have a chance to make a success of our lives.” Madres del Barrio is one of over two dozen social missions that have helped reduce poverty in Venezuela by about half.

In economic news, the Financial Times reports that Chevron is one of several foreign private firms bidding on Orinoco Belt oil projects. A Chevron official is quoted as saying that Venezuela now needs the investment due to lowered oil prices, however, the bidding process had been planned since oil was at its peak. Private investment maintained a role, albeit a smaller one, in the Orinoco reserves when they were brought under the country’s nationalization plan in 2007.

Finally, Venezuela has made it to the second round of the World Baseball Classic. After defeating Italy yesterday after scoring four home runs in a single inning, the Venezuelan team plays the U.S. again today.


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