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Posts Tagged ‘Chavez’

Chavez seeks power to rule by decree for 1 year

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:44 am

 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez asked congress Tuesday to grant him special powers to enact laws by decree for one year, just before a new legislature takes office with a larger contingent of opposition lawmakers.

The measure, which quickly received initial approval from the overwhelming majority of pro-Chavez lawmakers, would give the president the authority to bypass the National Assembly for the fourth time since he was first elected almost 12 years ago.

Vice President Elias Jaua made the request on Chavez’s behalf, saying the president will use the authorization to ensure fast-track approval of laws aimed at helping the nation recover from severe flooding and mudslides that left thousands homeless and in government shelters.

“The measures we have to take are deep. Almost 40 percent of the country was affected” by the heavy rains, Jaua said.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez carries a baby as he waits for the arrival of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa at the Fort Tiuna military base in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010.

Only five of the assembly’s 165 lawmakers voted against the proposal Tuesday. The legislature, which is dominated by Chavez allies, is expected to give final approval to the measure before the end of the week.

Chavez’s opponents accuse him of using the natural disaster to impose socialist-inspired measures and undermine the power of newly elected opposition lawmakers.

Hundreds of Chavez opponents protested outside the legislature Tuesday, saying Chavez is violating democratic principles and objecting to other planned laws that could impose regulations on the Internet and endanger Globovision, the country’s last stridently anti-Chavez television channel.

Decrees planned in the next two weeks include laws to speed construction of housing and roads and increase the value-added tax, Jaua said.

“The situation continues to be critical, and we need to tend to it with a set of laws,” Chavez said while visiting a Caracas military base along with President Rafael Correa of Ecuador.

Chavez said he has yet to determine how much to raise the value-added tax, which is now 12 percent. He said the government estimates damage from the heavy rains at about $10 billion.

A draft of the law says Chavez is also seeking powers to issue decrees in areas including the country’s “socio-economic system,” telecommunications, the banking system, information technology, the military, rural and urban land use, and a “new geographical regionalization of the country.”

“All of these laws will be within the framework of the constitution,” Chavez said on state television.

Newly elected opposition lawmaker Julio Borges said the measures being taken up by the National Assembly in its final days go against the will of the voters.

“As elected deputies, we’re asking for a meeting between the new assembly and the old one, so that people are respected — the voters and the constitution,” Borges told reporters.

Chavez announced the plan to seek decree powers Friday, and some critics suggested he intended to push through controversial measures during the holidays while many Venezuelans are focusing on their families.

Opposition newspaper editor Teodoro Petkoff called it a “Christmas ambush,” writing in his daily Tal Cual that Chavez is preparing totalitarian measures that amount to “a brutal attack … against democratic life.”

In his nearly 12 years in office, the leftist Chavez has been granted temporary decree powers three times by lawmakers, in 1999, 2001 and 2007.

The last time, he enjoyed special legislative powers for 18 months and used them to seize control of privately run oil fields, impose new taxes and nationalize telecommunications, electricity and cement companies.

Chavez supporters have dominated the National Assembly since the opposition boycotted 2005 elections, but the opposition gained ground in September elections.

Starting Jan. 5, Chavez will face 66 opponents among the 165 lawmakers, a group large enough to challenge some government measures and prevent him from holding a two-thirds majority — the threshold needed to approve some laws, such as granting the president decree powers.

Source: SGGP

Venezuela sends troops to Colombian border: Chavez

In Uncategorized on July 31, 2010 at 11:19 am

President Hugo Chavez said Friday that Venezuela has deployed military units and troops to the Colombian border, because outgoing President Alvaro Uribe is “capable of anything,” as a row escalates between the two.

Chavez broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia on July 22, one week after Uribe accused Venezuela of harboring 1,500 leftist Colombian rebels in its territory, a charge Chavez has strongly denied.

“We’ve deployed military units, air force, infantry, but quietly because we don’t want to upset anybody, the population,” Chavez told state-run VTV television in a telephone interview.

The leftist leader did not say how many troops and exactly what military ordnance was involved in the move.

“Uribe is capable of anything in these last days” before he leaves office on August 7, said Chavez, who had also threatened to cut off oil supplies to the United States if it backed an attack by Colombia, its chief ally in the region.

Last Sunday the president cancelled a trip to Cuba, claiming the risk of a Colombian attack had never been greater.

The Colombian Air Force on Friday said it would set up an air base in Yopal, in eastern Casanares department, to keep an eye over the border area with Venezuela and take on Colombian rebel forces in the region.

The air base will also be tasked with protecting crude oil installations in the region and also with “fighting the different drug trafficking groups in that part of the Colombian territory,” the air force statement said.

Uribe and Chavez have often been at loggerheads in the past. In November, Chavez broke off diplomatic relations over a US-Colombian military base agreement he said was a threat to regional stability. Chavez also did some sabre-rattling at the time.

In their latest tussle, Colombia took its accusations to the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) on July 22, while Venezuela earlier this week went before a foreign ministers’ meeting of regional body Unasur, the Union of South American Nations, which called for a presidential summit to try to resolve the crisis.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday said there was a possibility things could be patched up between Caracas and Bogota when Colombian president-elect Juan Manuel Santos takes over from Uribe next week.

“If the new Colombian government fully rectifies (its position) and adopts a posture of absolute respect for Venezuela’s government and our country, we are sure we can build a new path,” Maduro said.

But just a day earlier another top Venezuelan official, Electricity Minister Ali Rodriguez had stoked the rising tensions with Colombia, warning that his government does “not fear war if it is imposed on us.”

Rodriquez said Bogota’s accusations that Venezuela is harboring Colombian guerrilla leaders were a “foul, vulgar and offensive pretext to attack Venezuela.”

Uribe on Friday defended his decision last week to have the OAS take up accusations that Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army guerrillas were using bases in Venezuela to stage their anti-government attacks on Bogota.

File photo shows Venezuelan troops close to the border with Colombia

“You have to be daring to denounce terrorists on the international level. You must be daring and respectful of the international community, but honest in laying out our claims,” Uribe said.

“It has been a difficult step, one that crates problems, diplomatic frictions, but it’s necessary,” the outgoing president added.

Uribe leaves after eight years in office with an 80 percent approval rating chiefly for his crackdown on the FARC, which has roughly halved its fighting strength to some 7,000 combatants, according to official figures.

Source: SGGP

Putin, Chavez, Morales broaden energy, military cooperation

In Uncategorized on April 2, 2010 at 11:23 am

CARACAS, April 2, 2010 (AFP) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is to meet the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia in Caracas Friday to sign military and energy deals that broaden Russia’s footprint in Latin America.

Putin’s first visit to Venezuela underscores Russia’s deepening relations with Latin America’s leading leftist regime, and serves as a gateway to a region long considered as Washington’s backyard.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) and his Ecuadorean counterpart Rafael Correa offer a press conference at the Carondelet presidential palace in Quito on March 26, 2010. AFP photo

Russia and Venezuela signed 12 military agreements in 2005 and 2007 worth some 4.4 billion dollars that have raised some concern among US policymakers.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said late Thursday that it was “a very important day for the country and for Latin America… We are building a new, multipolar world.”

Last week the firebrand leader, in announcing Putin’s visit, thanked Russia for helping Venezuela “bolster its defensive potential” in the face of “threats” from the United States.

Bolivian President Evo Morales is expected to seek a 100-million-dollar loan from Russia to purchase military hardware, including an Antonov aircraft for the president’s use, officials in La Paz said.

Russian officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, arrived in Caracas Wednesday to prepare for Putin’s visit.

Putin and Chavez will sign “accords taking us to the next phase of cooperation with Russia, which no longer will be limited to energy and military matters, but now also includes social, cultural and health issues,” Vice President Elias Jaua said Thursday on state-run VTV television.

Topping the list is an agreement to set up a Russian-Venezuelan development bank to finance a joint venture for oil and gas exploration in eastern Venezuela’s oil-rich Orinoco river basin.

The enterprise — 60 percent owned by Venezuela, 40 percent by a consortium of Russian companies — hopes to extract up to 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the Amazon region.

Putin and Chavez will also sign cooperation deals in agriculture, transportation, and the prevention of natural catastrophes, according to the meeting agenda.

Links between the two nations have grown in recent years, with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visiting Venezuela in late 2008 during joint naval exercises. Chavez visited Moscow in September last year, while Morales traveled to the Russian capital in mid-February.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro on Thursday said Russian-Venezuelan cooperation was based on “mutual trust in matters of security and defense… that has allowed us to upgrade all technology and equipment in our armed forces.”

Morales and Putin, meanwhile, are expected to discuss their own joint venture for gas and oil exploration in Bolivia, which has the second largest natural gas reserves in Latin America.

While in Moscow in February, Morales and Medvedev signed a memorandum on energy cooperation to develop a gas pipeline network in the land-locked South American nation.

Medvedev at the time also told Morales he hoped Russia would soon deliver a batch of military helicopters, its first defense hardware for the Andean republic.

The head of Russia’s military cooperation service, Mikhail Dmitriyev, said that Moscow was ready to grant Bolivia a loan for buying Russian military hardware. That loan, is expected to be confirmed during Friday’s summit.

Source: SGGP

Chavez criticizes US as arrests stir concern

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2010 at 11:01 am

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday defended the arrest of a major TV channel owner, calling him a criminal and denying the government is carrying out an assault on press freedom.

The back-to-back arrests this week of two government opponents — including the owner of Venezuela‘s only remaining anti-Chavez TV channel — have drawn accusations that Chavez is growing increasingly intolerant and authoritarian as his popular support has slipped.

Opposition leaders and human rights groups condemned Thursday’s arrest of Globovision’s owner Guillermo Zuloaga, who was detained at an airport and released hours later after a judge issued an order barring him from leaving the country.

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, right, gestures while Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez holds up his fist at a balcony of the government palace in Quito, Friday, March 26, 2010.

Zuloaga is accused of spreading false information and insulting the president at an Inter American Press Association meeting in Aruba last weekend, Attorney General Luisa Ortega said.

“A Venezuelan judge comes along and orders the detention of a criminal in Venezuela who owns a media outlet,” Chavez said during a visit to Ecuador. “And then they attack the government of Venezuela … for attacking press freedom, for attacking journalists and the news media — what cynicism. It’s the cynicism of the (U.S.) empire.”

Chavez also took a verbal jab at U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, accusing her of being out of touch and saying she seems more and more like her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice.

“She still considers herself the imperial lady. She is behind the times,” Chavez said. “She still thinks the United States is the owner of this continent.”

His complaints were echoed by Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, who said his government would prepare its own report on human rights in the United States.

The State Department has said harassment and intimidation of the opposition and the media are on the rise in Venezuela.

Clinton said earlier this month during a Latin American tour that Chavez’s government is limiting freedom and should restore “full democracy,” and State Department spokesman Mark Toner has expressed concern about Monday’s arrest of opposition politician Oswaldo Alvarez Paz.

Alvarez Paz was charged with conspiracy, spreading false information and publicly inciting crime after remarking that Venezuela has turned into a haven for drug traffickers, among other accusations.

U.S. criticism of Alvarez Paz’s arrest prompted a diplomatic protest by Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, who met with U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy, the state-run Bolivarian News Agency said Thursday.

The two arrests were similar in that both men made remarks that authorities deemed false and offensive.

The Inter American Press Association said Zuloaga spoke in response to a group of pro-Chavez journalists who accused him of backing a failed coup against Chavez in 2002. He denied the charge and recounted his version of events, according to a transcript of the appearance.

“We are also against what happened back then because if it had been done right perhaps we would have a different Venezuela today,” Zuloaga said.

He accused Chavez of ordering security forces to open fire on a protest march that was headed toward the presidential palace. Chavez maintains opponents were behind the bloodshed that preceded the short-lived coup.

Zuloaga also accused the government of limiting free speech, saying: “You cannot talk about true freedom of expression when a government uses its power to repress media, to shut down media.”

Globovision has been the only stridently anti-Chavez channel on the air since another opposition channel, RCTV, was forced off cable and satellite TV in January.

Source: SGGP

Venezuela’s Chavez to meet Russian president, PM in Moscow

In World on September 11, 2009 at 7:39 am

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is set to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday and Friday in Moscow, reported RIA-Novosti.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gestures during a visit to the Minsk Automobile Plant in Belarus (AFP Photo)

Chavez, who arrives in Russia on Thursday, is expected to discuss with Medvedev and Putin energy and military cooperation, including major projects to produce, refine and export oil.

Chavez has recently announced plans to buy dozens of Russian tanks in response to the U.S.. deployment of military bases in neighboring Colombia, aimed at curbing the country’s flourishing drugs trade and the activity of FARC guerillas.

Between 2005 and 2007 Russia signed 12 contracts worth more than $4.4 billion to supply arms to Venezuela, including fighter jets, helicopters and Kalashnikov assault rifles, which raised concerns in Washington.

This is Chavez’s seventh visit to Russia as president. He came to the country twice last year alone. Medvedev visited Venezuela last November, the first visit to the Latin American country by a Russian leader in the more than 150 years they have had diplomatic relations.
Russia could give Venezuela a loan for a new arms contract, a senior Kremlin official said on Wednesday.

“We do not rule out a loan for Russian weaponry supplies,” Sergei Prikhodko said.

Prikhodko, however, said no new arms contracts would be signed during Chavez’s two-day visit, which is part of his 11-day foreign tour.

He said however that a package of around 10 agreements designed to boost cooperation would be signed during the visit. This includes an agreement on the mutual protection of intellectual property rights in military cooperation and an agreement between the two Defense Ministries covering personnel training and military exchanges.

In the energy sector, a memorandum of understanding on long-term cooperation in developing Venezuela’s Orinoco oil belt will also be signed.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said on Wednesday Russia and Venezuela were discussing Russian oil supplies to refineries owned by the Latin American country’s state oil firm PdVSA as part of a joint venture being established by a consortium of major Russian crude producers and PdVSA.

The country’s ambassador to Russia, Hugo Jose Garcia Hernandez, said on Tuesday the visit “is designed to reaffirm the strategic level of relations between the two major energy producers.”

Hernandez said that while in Moscow Chavez would also take part in a Russian-Venezuelan business forum and deliver a lecture at a university.

As part of his tour, Chavez has already visited Libya, Algeria, Syria, Iran, Turkmenistan and Belarus.

Source: SGGP