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Hugo Chavez - Venezuela
various LINKS to articles | April 14, 2002

Posted on 04/14/2002 4:01:40 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

LINKS to Hugo Chavez's "government" June 2001 - March 2002

I'm keeping track of Hugoland formally known as Venezuela. Please LINK any stories or add what you wish to this thread. The above LINK takes you to past articles posted before the new FR format. Below I'll add what I've catalogued since that LINK no longer could take posts.

(March 1, 2002)-- Venezuela's strongman faces widespread calls to step down

By Phil Gunson | Special to The Christian Science Monitor

[Full Text] CARACAS, VENEZUELA - The man who won Venezuelan hearts three years ago as a strongman who could deliver a better life to the masses is now facing them in the streets.

More than 20,000 people turned out this week calling for the resignation of President Hugo Chávez, while some 2,000 supporters marched in a rival demonstration of support. The demonstrations come after months of building discontent with a president who has managed to alienate the labor class, the media, business groups, the church, political parties, and the military.

Four military leaders have publicly called for his resignation.

In November, Chávez introduced 49 "revolutionary" decrees. The package of laws - affecting everything from land rights and fisheries to the oil industry - unified virtually the whole of organized society in a nationwide business and labor stoppage that paralyzed the country on Dec. 10.

The protests this week have a note of irony, because they started out as a commemoration called by President Chávez. In his eyes, Feb. 27 is a milestone of his so-called revolution - "the date on which the people awoke" in 1989. That is when thousands of rioters and looters took to the streets in protest of an IMF-backed austerity plan, in which the government hiked gas prices.

In what became known as the caracazo, or noisy protest, thousands of rioters and looters were met by Venezuelan military forces, and hundreds were killed. Three years later, Chávez and his military co-conspirators failed in an attempt to overthrow the government responsible for the massacre, that of President Carlos Andres Perez. Chávez was jailed for two years.

"But the elements that brought about the caracazo are still present in Venezuela," says lawyer Liliana Ortega, who for 13 years has led the fight for justice on behalf of the victims' relatives. "Poverty, corruption, impunity ... some of them are perhaps even more deeply ingrained than before."

Chávez's supporters consist of an inchoate mass of street traders, the unemployed, and those whom the old system had marginalized. This, to Chávez, is el pueblo - the people.

"But we are 'the people' too," protests teacher Luis Leonet. "We're not oligarchs like he says. The oligarchs are people like Chávez, people with power."

On Wednesday, Leonet joined a march led by the main labor confederation, the CTV, to protest what unions say is a series of antilabor measures, including one of the 49 decrees dealing with public-sector workers.

Chávez won't talk to the CTV, whose leaders, he says, are corrupt and illegitimate. So he refuses to negotiate the annual renewal of collective contracts with the confederation, holding up deals on pay and conditions for hundreds of thousands of union members like Leonet.

Across town on Wednesday, a progovernment march sought to demonstrate that the president's popularity was as high as ever.

"For the popular classes, Chávez is an idol," says marcher Pedro Gutierrez.

Pollster Luis Vicente Leon, of the Datanalisis organization, warns that marches are no measure of relative popularity. "There is a lot of discontent among ... the really poor," Leon says, adding that so far the protests are mainly among the middle class.

But the middle class can be a dangerous enemy. It includes the bulk of the armed forces, and the management of the state oil company, PDVSA.

This month, four uniformed officers, ranging from a National Guard captain to a rear-admiral and an Air Force general, called on the president to resign, while repudiating the idea of a military coup of Chávez, himself a former Army lieutenant-colonel.

But senior "institutionalist" officers "are under severe pressure from lower ranks frustrated at the lack of impact" that these acts have had, a source close to military dissidents says. In other words, a coup cannot be ruled out, although the United States publicly denounces the idea.

Meanwhile, the president's imposition of a new board of directors on PDVSA this week sparked a virtual uprising by the company's senior management. In an unprecedented public statement, managers said the government was pushing the company "to the verge of operational and financial collapse" by imposing political, rather than commercial, criteria.

The political opposition remains relatively weak and divided. But in the view of many analysts, a president who offends both the military and the oil industry is asking for trouble. In the bars and restaurants of Caracas, the debate is no longer over whether Chávez will finish his term, which has nearly five years to run. It is when and how he will go - and what comes next. [End]

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: castro; china; communism; cuba; frlibrarians; hugochavez; latinamericalist; monroedoctrine; venezuela
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6 dead as 2 bombs detonate - Colombian rebel alliance***BOGOTA, Colombia ………. Meanwhile, rebel sources said Colombia's two leftist rebel groups have agreed to form a military alliance and will step up attacks against the government of U.S.-backed President Alvaro Uribe. The landmark accord, which could herald an escalation in Colombia's four-decade-old guerrilla war, was struck after a series of secret meetings between top commanders of FARC and the smaller National Liberation Army, or ELN.

"The leaders of the FARC and the ELN have agreed to join military forces against the government of Uribe. We will now carry out nationwide joint military operations," a rebel involved in the negotiations said in the mountains of eastern Colombia. The accord came as Uribe, a close ally in the U.S. war on terror, conducts peace talks with right-wing paramilitary outlaws who have targeted rebels in a war that claims the lives of thousands every year. ***

921 posted on 08/25/2003 5:24:37 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Venezuelan Recall Election Not Certain [Full Text] CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's Supreme Court did not meet a self-imposed deadline Sunday for naming a new elections authority that could organize a possible referendum on President Hugo Chavez's rule.

Chavez, speaking during his weekly television show, said a consensus within the court broke down after some judges were pressured by opposition members to appoint a biased panel to the National Electoral Council, or CNE. "I am sure that the Supreme Court will defeat the conspiration campaign ... to try to get a CNE named that is subordinate to that gross oligarchy," Chavez said. He blamed the opposition-aligned commercial television channels for attacking independent candidates and trying to manipulate the court's decision-making process.

Chavez opponents have turned in 2.7 million signatures demanding a referendum on ending Chavez's tumultuous presidency. Venezuela's constitution allows citizens to demand a referendum halfway into a president's term. Chavez just passed the midpoint of his six-year term.

The Supreme Court gave itself 10 days to decide on CNE members after four months of discussions in the National Assembly proved fruitless. An announcement could be made Monday, a court spokeswoman said. [End]

922 posted on 08/25/2003 7:26:46 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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New Venezuelan electoral council paves way for recall vote - Tie breaker Chavez supporter [Full Text] CARACAS - Venezuela's Supreme Court has achieved the remarkable feat of uniting supporters and opponents of President Hugo Chávez in praise of its choice of members for the new national electoral council. The council now faces the delicate task of organizing a possible recall referendum against Chávez.

The appointment of the five-member council, unveiled by the court late Monday, had been held up for months by a deadlock in the legislative National Assembly between the pro-Chávez majority and the opposition.

''We are confident this is the best decision,'' Chávez said Tuesday as he called on all sides to respect the court decision. ``Without a good referee with a good whistle, the game cannot be concluded.''

As recently as two weeks ago, members of Chávez's Fifth Republic Movement were threatening a boycott of the Supreme Court's decision to intervene in the appointment. ''No [electoral council] appointed by the Supreme Court will have the confidence of the people,'' Nicolás Maduro, a leading pro-Chávez congressman, said then.

The change of heart appeared to reflect assurances by the court that the composition of the council would not favor the opposition.

But the government nevertheless scheduled a parliamentary debate Monday on a controversial bill to reform the Supreme Court. Pro-Chávez members of the assembly had previously threatened to use the bill as a means of keeping the Supreme Court judges in line.

In any event, the key fifth member of the electoral board -- a chairman who will have the tie-breaking vote between two avowedly pro-government members and two from the opposition -- is to be Judge Francisco Carrasquero, a moderate who supports Chávez.

The appointment of the electoral board -- which begins its work today -- removes the biggest obstacle to a recall referendum. [End]

923 posted on 08/27/2003 2:35:41 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Colombia sends message to rebels via Venezuela [Full Text] BOGOTA, Colombia, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe said on Wednesday he had asked Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez to pass a message to leftist guerrillas that he is willing to start peace talks. Uribe's comments are the first time the Colombian president has publicly suggested a link between the left-leaning Chavez and the Marxist-inspired Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish initials FARC.

Relations between Bogota and Caracas have been strained periodically over accusations by the Colombian military that Chavez is letting FARC rebels use Venezuela as a staging ground for attacks. In February, Colombia's interior minister accused Chavez of meeting "frequently" with FARC rebels, but was publicly reprimanded by Uribe after Venezuela threatened to break off diplomatic relations. Chavez, who has criticized Colombia's U.S.-backed "Plan Colombia" offensive against drug-traffickers and guerrillas, denies he is collaborating with the guerrillas, who are described as "terrorists" by Washington.

"Last week I told Chavez: 'President, stop worrying so much about Colombia's security policies. Tell the FARC that if they are bored with our policies, they can negotiate with me in five minutes'," Uribe told a university audience in Bogota. Colombian media have alleged that Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda, the top FARC commander, has been hiding in neighboring Venezuela since the Colombian government broke off peace talks with the rebel group in February 2002.

Uribe, a close U.S. ally in the war on drugs who took office in August 2002, has launched an offensive against the 17,000-strong FARC, which originated 39 years ago in a peasant uprising. He has said he will only negotiate peace with rebels if they agree to a cease-fire. On Sunday, FARC guerrillas fired assault rifles as Uribe's helicopter flew into a village in northern Colombia. [End]

924 posted on 08/27/2003 3:10:57 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Colombia's leftist rebels unite against government–Cuban trained ELN; Marxist FARC***The country's two main groups announced a military alliance against the government on Monday……….The war cry comes in the midst of escalating violence in certain regions. On Monday, at least five people died, including a 1-year-old boy, when the FARC allegedly planted a bomb on a dock in Meta. The Cano-Limon oil pipeline in the eastern province of Arauca, where US Green Berets are training Colombian antiterror troops, was bombed this weekend for the 20th time this year. And earlier this month, the FARC allegedly detonated a car bomb in the town of Saravena in Arauca, killing four civilians, including two children.

Rangel notes that the two groups have tried unsuccessfully to work together before. The rebels once comprised the now-defunct "Simon Bolivar Guerrilla Group" that failed to broker peace with the government in 1991 and 1992.

Since then, they have operated on largely separate tracks and even fought against each other for power and recognition from the government as the dominant guerrilla force.

The FARC was founded in 1964 to establish Marxism in Colombia. It has at least 70 fronts that roam up to 60 percent of the country, mainly to the plains east and south of the Andes.

Although it was originally created to promote social justice, during the 1990s it became heavily involved in the drug trade. Along with taxing coca, the FARC earns its income from kidnappings and extortion.

The ELN was also founded in 1964, by a group of radical students and Spanish priests trained in Cuba. It has been losing power and numbers in recent years, but has been responsible for mass kidnappings and the abduction of two Los Angeles Times journalists in January.

It largely focuses on attacking infrastructure, such as oil pipelines and electrical towers. Earlier this year, the ELN condemned the February bombing of a nightclub in Bogotá, which killed dozens.***

925 posted on 08/27/2003 4:45:49 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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FBI Sees Tape of U.S. Hostages in Colombia***The video is the first proof of life for the three men since they were captured by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia when their Cessna crashed on a rugged hillside on a mission spying out drug crops used to make cocaine. It was not clear when or by whom the tape was made, but the FBI acquired it recently.

The rebel army, known by its Spanish initials FARC, wants to swap the men, whom it calls "gringo CIA agents" it has taken as "prisoners of war," for guerrillas held in Colombian government prisons. The FARC said its fighters shot the plane down, a charge denied by the United States and Colombian military, although a Reuters reporter at the crash site saw about 10 bullet holes in the right wing. ***

926 posted on 08/29/2003 3:04:24 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Castro Closes Ranks With Friendly Leaders Mugabe, Chavez *** Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — who faces his own headaches at home, where last week he announced new plans by opponents to topple him — joined Castro and in a fiery speech criticized leaders of powerful industrialized nations for promising grand solutions yet doing nothing to solve developing nations' grave environmental and financial problems.

"What they have done is absolutely insignificant given the gravity of the problem," Chavez said, blaming globalization and failed neoliberal economic policies. "Neoliberalism has been defeated," Chavez proclaimed to audience applause. "Now we're going to bury it, starting this century."

Chavez and Castro are strong political allies and close friends. Chavez thanked the Cuban leader for technological assistance that he said helped sharply reduce Venezuela's illiteracy rates. Chavez contends that an "oligarchy" bent on ousting a democratically elected leader has sabotaged his efforts to fight for the poor.

The 13 heads of state and government from Africa and the Caribbean attending the U.N. conference also included the presidents of Zimbabwe, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Mali and Namibia and the prime ministers of Lesotho, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Many of the Africa presidents in attendance hail from countries whose independence struggles were aided by Cuba in the 1980s and 1990s.

"Coming to Cuba is to come to a country where there are true friends of Africa," Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said. Mugabe is the target of widespread international criticism. Zimbabwe was suspended for a year from the decision-making councils of the Commonwealth of Britain and its former terrorities because of concerns about human rights and disputed presidential elections Mugabe narrowly won last year.***

927 posted on 09/02/2003 3:22:40 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Venezuela Court: Chavez Ruling Was Forged ***CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's high court late Monday denied ever ruling that President Hugo Chavez couldn't run if there are new elections, saying a statement purportedly from the court making that claim was a forgery. The court said that someone rewrote a sentence of a ruling, which had been given to reporters earlier Monday. It said that the forgery read that the justices had decided that Chavez wouldn't be able to run if he were to lose a possible recall referendum later this year.

In a statement posted on its Web site late Monday, the court said that the ruling released to reporters was fraudulent, different from the one it actually approved. The Supreme Court said it was investigating the incident and did not disclose the real ruling was or explain how it had been altered. The ruling described as a forgery said Venezuela's Constitution made clear a president cannot seek re-election immediately after losing a recall referendum. ***

928 posted on 09/02/2003 3:32:18 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Venezuela's Economy Shrank 9.4% in the Second Quarter***Venezuela's Economy Shrank 9.4% in the Second Quarter (Update3) Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela's economy shrank 9.4 percent during the three months ended in June, led by a decline in construction, as the country's worst recession on record entered a sixth quarter. The drop followed a 27.6 percent contraction in the first quarter, the central bank said in a statement.

``Everyone is hurting,'' said Nelson Wada, manager at men's clothing store Norton and Wilson in Caracas. Sales at the store have dropped 50 percent this year, Wada said, without specifying what they were. ``We're holding on but a lot of the stores here have gone out of business. It's grim.''

Restrictions on dollar purchases set by the government in January amid a two-month nationwide strike have prevented businesses from importing parts, reducing production. The government implemented the limits because the strike, which was aimed at forcing President Hugo Chavez from office, slashed production of oil, the country's main source of dollars.

A Bloomberg survey of five economists had forecast a second quarter decline of 13 percent.

Venezuela's construction industry shrank 50.7 percent in the second quarter, the central bank reported. The retail industry contracted 17.4 percent, while manufacturing declined 14.3 percent. Venezuela's recession is the worst since the central bank began keeping records in the 1950s.

The oil industry, which accounts for about a third of the $80 billion economy, contracted 2.9 percent, the central bank said. The public part of the industry, centered at state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, shrank 7 percent, while the private oil industry rebounded 46 percent. ***

929 posted on 09/02/2003 3:34:05 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Venezuela Gov't Steps Up Anti-Referendum Offensive (criminal investigations ordered)***CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government on Wednesday stepped up its offensive against an opposition bid to hold a referendum on his rule, calling for a criminal investigation into a group that collected pro-vote signatures. This followed comments by left-winger Chavez in Cuba on Tuesday that he would not accept opposition signatures calling for a poll, even if they were approved as legitimate by the country's newly appointed National Electoral Council. The government's verbal and legal offensive against the referendum bid stoked fears of renewed conflict in the world's No. 5 oil exporter, which has been rocked by political feuding between Chavez's followers and foes. ***
930 posted on 09/04/2003 2:42:42 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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US Policy Analysts Fire Back at Venezuelan Dictator ***Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez spoke Monday at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, held in Havana, Cuba where one of Chavez' political allies - Fidel Castro - served as host. Chavez blamed globalism and what he called the "neo-liberal" policies of the industrialized world for the failures to address some of the major problems in Latin America and on the African continent.

"What they have done is absolutely insignificant given the gravity of the problem. Neo-liberalism is dead. Now we're going to bury it, starting this century," Chavez warned.

However, according to Steve Johnson, senior policy analyst for Latin America at the Heritage Foundation, "Chavez himself has no record to run on, his presidency so far has been a disaster." Johnson told that Venezuela's economy was being led "down the toilet" by Chavez.

"A lot of the decrees [Chavez] has enacted -- to be able to confiscate private property, to limit foreign exchange, to quell freedom of expression -- are the kinds of things that would turn a normal economy into a failed economy," Johnson said.

He accused Chavez of driving both the workforce and investors out of the country, making it difficult for the private sector to support the state. "In terms of liberalism being something that's failed, it looks like in every sense of the word, it's just the opposite," Johnson said of the U.S.-led, market-based, global economy.

The American economy is the most developed in the world, operated by one of the most liberal governments, Johnson said. He referred to remarks by Chavez and Castro as "populist left-wing rhetoric" that was "basically a smokescreen for the belief in an old style feudal system."

"[America's is] the only economy that seems to be able to sustain so many other countries that are not liberal with massive amounts of aid, not just directly but through contributions to international and national organizations," Johnson said.

He cited the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as examples of U.S.-funded aid organizations, both frequent targets of anti-globalization supporters including the International Action Center (IAC), directed by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

A spokeswoman for the IAC came to Chavez' defense Tuesday.

"I think that 90 percent of the environmental movement would agree with President Chavez's remarks when it comes to the state of affairs, when it comes to those issues," Teresa Gutierrez, IAC co-director, told . "Many scientists have come out more and more now, saying that global warming is in fact dangerous and the whole emissions issue and how the U.S. government isn't going along with that." ***

931 posted on 09/05/2003 4:00:51 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Venezuela's Chavez Warns U.S. to Back Off***CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned the United States Sunday to back off after its envoy in Caracas met with electoral officials who must decide whether to allow a referendum on the leftist leader's rule.

Populist Chavez, whose anti-capitalist rhetoric often targets the U.S., cautioned Washington against meddling after ambassador Charles Shapiro held talks with the National Electoral Council that is considering an opposition petition for the referendum. "This is a sovereign nation, ambassador, and you must respect this country and your government must respect this country," Chavez said during his regular Sunday television program.

"What prerogative does Ambassador Shapiro have to visit them, and what's worse, to visit them before the national authorities, before representatives of the National Assembly?" Shapiro, who the government has rebuked several times before, drew criticism from two ministers after holding a news conference at the council's headquarters Wednesday and offering U.S. technical assistance for the poll if requested. ***

932 posted on 09/08/2003 2:34:57 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Venezuela's new motto: power to the people*** The boom in activism represents something of a rebirth for the nation which has South America's longest continuous democracy, but also one of its most dysfunctional ones. Despite the nation's vast oil reserves, four decades of democratic governments failed to pull most Venezuelans out of poverty. Citizens lost interest in the system, and voter abstention has soared to 50 percent recently.

That began changing with the rise of Chávez, a charismatic populist who has given Venezuela's poor majority an unmistakable sense of involvement. Chávez has made activism a centerpiece of his government by promoting self-help organizations like the "Bolivarian circles" neighborhood groups, which played a key role in sweeping Chávez back to power in April 2002, just 48 hours after a military coup ousted him.

Yet the activism also has ominous aspects. While the circles are intended to repair streets, tutor children, and assist the disabled, some red-bereted, motorcycle-riding members have also gained a reputation for violence. And while most see Venezuelans' new activism as a healthy development, protest marches and demonstrations have repeatedly turned violent, resulting in dozens of politically related deaths over the past two years.

In contrast to historical voter apathy, because of the possible referendum on Chávez, Venezuelans stood in line past midnight to fill out their forms at a voter-registration deadline. The referendum became constitutionally possible after the Aug. 19 midway point of his term. Chávez opponents have collected more than 2 million signatures to qualify the referendum for the ballot, but Chávez disputes the petition's legitimacy. The issue is now in the hands of the National Electoral Commission, who will decide by Sept. 20 whether the signatures are legitimate and set a date for a vote if they are.

Now, even some of Chávez's bitterest opponents hope this is one Chávez-inspired change that lasts. "I have always believed that every bad thing produces some good," says Xiomara Montes at the pro-recall meeting. "The good thing about this government is that it has made us wake up."***

933 posted on 09/09/2003 5:24:12 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Report: Venezuela aids Colombian FARC rebels***Chavez denied charges made earlier this year by Colombian Defense Minister Marta Ramirez that Venezuelan aircraft were attacking Colombian territory. But witnesses, including a guerrilla defector, have since confirmed the accusations. A member of FARC testified that his 150-man guerrilla column has been operating from safe havens in Venezuela with the full support of that country's armed forces for their cross-border raids, according to records of official investigations that have been leaked to UPI.

The 10-page special investigation was presented May 16 to Colombian Attorney General Luis Camilo Osorio Isaza. Copies are also with the Foreign and Defense ministries.

"We were inside Colombian territory when two fighter planes and four helicopters coming in from Venezuela flew over our position to shoot up paras trying to surround us," said FARC defector Juan Bautista Ramirez Lopez in the 10-page testimony. He said the Venezuelan warplanes bombed a nearby airstrip and strafed local farms with machine-gun fire.

Ramirez's account was corroborated by more than a dozen local residents along the border region of Hoya del Catatumbo, whose homes and vehicles were damaged in the air attacks. A farmer, Juan Gutierrez Rincon, said he saw four helicopters with Venezuelan air force markings firing at the ground around him and two fighter planes flying over his home to drop bombs on targets less than 1.2 miles away where heavy fighting was taking place. His testimony also appeared in the report.

Ballistic tests, cited in the report, showed that bullet holes on the roofs of several homes were caused by air-to-ground fire.

"Incursions by Venezuelan military aircraft have contributed to a growing displacement of farmers and other local residents who have been forced to flee the area," concluded the confidential government report.

"Aside from allowing Colombian guerrilla bases on their territory, the Venezuelan armed forces support the incursions and combat operations against paramilitary groups," the report further stated.

Ramirez said the Venezuelan gunships were providing air cover for his group to break out of an encirclement along Rio Oro, which marks the frontier with Colombia. Paramilitary units were maneuvering to capture Ruben Zamora, a key FARC leader, who is the guerrilla organization's financial director, according to the defector's testimony. ***

934 posted on 09/10/2003 1:17:04 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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RESPECT THE CONSTITUTION HUGO CHAVEZ'S CAMPAIGN TO BLOCK HIS RECALL*** The fear, of course, is that Mr. Chávez may resort to more extreme, unconstitutional measures to stop a recall referendum that he fears losing. Venezuelans and the international community should ensure that Mr. Chavez fulfills his obligations by allowing a legal, peaceful resolution of Venezuela's political crisis.***
935 posted on 09/12/2003 2:30:28 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Key Venezuela Recall Petition Rejected*** CARACAS, Venezuela - Election officials rejected a petition Friday signed by millions of Venezuelans calling for a referendum on Hugo Chavez's presidency, a major setback in opposition efforts to oust the leftist leader.

The petition was thrown out because the signatures were gathered before the midpoint of Chavez's term, an election rule violation, said National Elections Council President Francisco Carrasquero. The council is considered an impartial body by rival political groups.

Thousands of Chavez supporters outside the council headquarters cheered and pumped their fists upon learning of the decision. Dozens of National Guardsmen surrounded the building to keep order.

The decision dampened opposition chances of holding a vote by the end of the year. Many Chavez supporters believe that such a vote could now be put off indefinitely. ***

936 posted on 09/12/2003 7:54:10 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Drive to recall Chávez stumbles –Article 72 says that was their one shot ***Potentially damaging to the opposition is that the ruling appears to exclude from participation in future referendum petitions the nongovernmental organization Súmate, which coordinated the February operation. Súmate has a network of tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the country, ready to assist with a fresh petition. But the electoral council's view is that Súmate ''does not represent civil society'' and cannot therefore play any role. There was no immediate reaction from the organization itself.……………………….

………………………Flores told reporters that Article 72 of the constitution, which establishes the recall referendum, ''makes it clear that there can only be one request'' for such a vote. The government argues that Article 72 says that ''no more than one recall petition can be submitted'' during any given term of office, thus blocking a second petition.***

937 posted on 09/13/2003 4:37:16 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Myth of Allende obscures reality*** On Sept. 13, 1970, The Herald's long-time Latin American editor, Don Bohning, rated Salvador Allende's electoral victory in Chile, nine days earlier, as the ''single most significant event in Latin America since Fidel Castro seized power more than a decade ago.'' The then-U.S. Ambassador, Edward M. Korry went further. In a confidential report to President Richard Nixon, he wrote: ``It will have the most profound effect on Latin America and beyond; we have suffered a grievous defeat.''

And, he added: ``It is a sad fact that Chile has taken the path to communism with only little more than a third of the nation approving this choice, but it is an immutable fact.''

Three years later, on Sept. 11, 1973, Allende was overthrown in a remarkably surgical military coup. Despite elaborate plans to train, arm and equip a clandestine militia, and to ring Santiago itself with fortified factories, the fighting on the llth took fewer than 200 lives on both sides.

In the aftermath, another journalist -- the talented British writer, David Holden -- wrote ``Salvador Allende died a lucky man. In life, he was a failure. Both his policies and his country were shattered long before the end. But in death, he achieved success beyond his dreams. Instantly canonized as the Western world's newest left-wing martyr, he became overnight the most potent cult figure since his old friend, Che Guevara

938 posted on 09/14/2003 3:16:57 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Brazil’s Lula and the MST - Dr. Zhivago Comes to Brazil ***Lula came to power in January promising his left-wing government would carry out a major reallocation of unused farmland in a country where half the arable land is held by just three percent of landowners. So far, his government has delivered a fraction of the land promised, as the agrarian reform budget has been hit by spending cutbacks in an economy sliding toward recession.

The MST, swelled by Brazil's army of jobless urban and rural poor, has turned to land invasions to force Lula to honor his word. They have staged 117 land grabs in the first half of 2003 compared to 103 in all of 2002, according to the government. MST tactics of invading farmland and torching ranch houses, have left Lula open to widespread criticism in the media and from opposition parties that he has lost control of his allies and failed to create jobs to help them.

Founded in 1984, the MST mixes Marxism with Catholic liberation theology -- a blend of religious teachings and calls for social justice -- and promises its 1.5 million members a chance to own land if they work for it and join the movement.

The MST now has 150,000 families living in squatter camps that it runs while waiting for the government to expropriate and redistribute unused land. Lula promised to settle 60,000 families in 2003. During the first seven months of the year he has settled only 2,534, according to the government. That compares to 43,000 families settled in 2002 during the last year of the previous centrist government of President Cardoso.

With Lula failing to deliver on his promises he is not in a strong position to condemn the landless' fight and he now faces loud demands for a tougher stance. Despite Lula's election vows to bring robust economic growth and provide jobs, jobless numbers are growing since he took office in January prompting Lula to replace economic deliverables with land invasions.

The MST leadership has increased its activity with repeated public calls for a Cuban and Soviet inspired revolution. Meanwhile, Brazil’s Agrarian Reform Minister Miguel Rosetto, a self-defined Trotskyite, has aggressively defended the MST’s behavior from growing criticism from middle class and business leaders.

Brazilian ranchers form militias to protect their land

The MST’s national leader, João Pedro Stedile, was recently recorded by a journalist describing the landless movement’s activists as “our army” and calling for it to “finish with” the 27,000 ranchers and landowners facing the 23-million people involved in the “fight in the countryside” (“luta camponesa”). “That is the dispute. We won’t sleep until we do away with them.” In response, ranchers in fertile southern regions such as Sao Paulo state’s Pontal do Paranapanema are forming militias to protect their property from invasion by landless farm workers, and police fear the tension could explode into armed conflict. Landowners are stepping up pressure on the Lula government to move against the protests to little avail. ***

939 posted on 09/14/2003 3:40:50 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Colombia Plans to Ease Penalties for Right-Wing Death Squads*** BOGOTÁ, Colombia, Sept. 14 - President Álvaro Uribe, who enjoys strong public support for vowing to bring order to Colombia, is proposing a law that would effectively grant impunity to right-wing death squads that lay down their arms.

Many Colombians support Mr. Uribe, whose approval rating is 65 percent, because of his reputation as an uncompromising wartime president determined to win

Colombia's 39-year conflict. But his legislation, backed by the Bush administration, faces serious objections from even his allies. It is Mr. Uribe's first significant political challenge since taking office 13 months ago.

The proposed law would allow militiamen from the Self-Defense Forces of Colombia to avoid jail for widespread human rights abuses that include the mass killings of thousands of villagers and the assassination of two presidential candidates. The group's leaders, several already convicted in absentia for murder, would instead be compelled to admit their crimes and make symbolic acts of contrition, compensating victims by providing community services, turning in their land and paying fines.

In exchange, the militia - a private, antiguerrilla army financed through cocaine trafficking and donations from wealthy Colombians - would make peace.

Mr. Uribe, known as a tireless pragmatist, says the plan will deactivate a brutal confederation of regional factions with 13,000 armed fighters, saving lives and giving two leftist guerrilla groups that continue to wage war an incentive to negotiate since they, too, could be covered by the proposed law.***

940 posted on 09/15/2003 1:20:06 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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