VIO News Blog

May 5, 2009

Venezuelan Authorities Turn Guerrillas over to Colombia

The Spanish news agency EFE reports that 5 ELN guerrilla members were turned over to Colombian authorities yesterday by the Venezuelan Immigration service.  Once in Colombia, the guerrillas, that included three men and two women, were promptly arrested and charged with rebellion and other crimes. According to the Colombian intelligence agency DAS one of the arrested guerrillas is the military and finance chief of the ELN’s northern front.

The Washington Post has published an article entitled “Human Rights Activists Troubled by Administration’s Approach” in which most of the “activists” cited are former government officials. Obama’s courteous engagement of President Chavez at the Summit of the Americas is criticized by a former official named Lorne W. Craner who says “you can’t just offer hope to Castro, Chavez and Mubarak. You have to offer hope to others.”  According to the Post, Craner was assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights under George W. Bush.

Finally, Bloomberg reports that the Venezuelan government has asked local producers to sell twice as much gold to the Central Bank so that Venezuela can increase its metal reserves and decrease its dependence on US dollars. According to the new rules set by the Venezuelan Finance Ministry, 60 percent of locally produced gold must be offered to the Central Bank before other sellers. Financial analyst Philip Gotthelf suggested that these meausres might be the “first step in a regional trend” to bolster gold reserves in anticipation of a decline in the value of the U.S. dollar.

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January 23, 2009

Chavez Renews Demands for Extradition of Accused Terrorist Posada Carriles

President Chavez will step down at the end of his term in 2013 if a constitutional amendment allowing reelection of presidents, mayors and local and national assembly officials is not approved on February 15 through national referendum, reports the Associated Press.

In other news, the Venezuelan Government will soon press the Obama administration to hand over Luis Posada Carriles, wanted by the Venezuelan and Cuban governments for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner which killed 73 people. The New York Times reports that Mr. Posada lives freely in Miami, and that the Bush administration would not extradite him due to its close ties with anti-Castro Cuban hardliners in Miami. Both countries accuse the United States government of hypocrisy in its fight against terror.

Venezuela’s oil minister Rafael Ramirez denied on Thursday that there was a conflict with Brazil over a joint $4 billion refinery project. Earlier reports cited an official from Brazil’s state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA as saying that there was a dispute in how much Brazil should pay for Venezuelan oil, and that Brazil was prepared to build the refinery on its own. According to the Associated Press, Mr. Ramirez called the comments “the opinion of a low-level official.”

The AP reports that Venezuela and Argentina signed a dozen agreements on Thursday, across a spectrum of sectors, including energy, industry, agriculture, and airlines. The two countries have also agreed to a joint development project of oil fields in eastern Venezuela.

The New York Times reports on Gustavo Dudamel, the Venezuelan music director described as a “rising star,” and a “product of El Sistema, Venezuela’s music education system.” Mr. Dudamel will be directing the prestigious Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra.

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