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Archive for October 3rd, 2006

From AOL News:

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said Sunday he has received warnings from within the White House that the Bush administration is plotting to assassinate him or topple his left-leaning government.

Citing what he said were warnings from an alleged White House informant, Chavez told thousands of supporters at a campaign rally that President Bush has ordered him to be killed before he leaves office in 2008.

Bush “has said that before he goes, Hugo Chavez shouldn’t be the president of Venezuela,” Chavez told the crowd. “The president of the United States has said it, especially in recent days. What he doesn’t know is that I have friends in the White House.”

The Venezuelan leader has claimed before that the U.S. government is out to kill him – allegations that U.S. officials deny.

The latest accusation came a day after he alleged that there had been a recent attempt to assassinate him and said those responsible had since fled to neighboring Colombia.

Chavez appeared to link the alleged plot to his main rival in upcoming presidential elections, Gov. Manuel Rosales of Zulia state, claiming that he is in constant danger from opponents seeking to get rid of him.

He said a sniper had waited with a long-range gun and planned to shoot him after he debarked a helicopter, he said. He did not elaborate further on the alleged plot.

Chavez vowed to win the Dec. 3 vote and continue governing this South American nation until 2021. “Fourteen more years, that’s what’s coming,” Chavez said.

Venezuela’s Constitution allows a president to be re-elected only once in immediate succession. If Chavez wins a second six-year term in December, he wouldn’t be able to run again in 2012 – without a legal change.

Chavez has floated the possibility of changing Venezuela’s constitution to allow indefinite re-election.

If you want to laugh, read this post from Rightwinged.com.

The reason why Chávez is giving all of these shows is that he wants a seat on the UN Security Council (via Fausta’s blog):

President Chávez, the man who accuses the U.S. government of such an enormous crime, also said recently: “We are not recognizing the new president of Mexico. We believe that many irregularities went on during that election.” How can the president of a country say such a thing about the democratic electoral process in another country without creating a major diplomatic crisis? The member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) that already know about these statements by Chávez should think twice before giving him their votes for the seat at the UNSC. If they do, in spite of knowing that the man is not mentally sane and that he harbors dangerous ambitions of world supremacy, they will be accomplices of a crime. I could understand the tiny Caribbean countries, in desperate need of money and oil, kneeling before the madman. But Brazil? Argentina? Chile? On what possible grounds can these countries, which should be true hemispheric leaders, support the ambitions of a mentally insane person to play such an important role in world affairs? They certainly should have considered the potential consequences of their votes. Lula still has a good regional reputation and President Bachelet has or was supposed to have a strong and decisive intellect. About Kirchner no one had much expectations. But they should all be aware that a seat for Hugo Chávez (not Venezuela) at the UNSC would mean an intensification of political instability in the hemisphere. Their prestige as serious, responsible leaders will be put in great doubt.

To achieve this Chávez is expending enourmous quantities of money: The Economist (via Fausta’s blog):

The cost of this to Venezuela is impossible to calculate. Much of the government’s spending is off-budget and at Mr Chavez’s discretion (which violates the constitution he himself introduced). A recent study by CIECA, an opposition-leaning research centre, puts at $50 billion the total foreign spending announced by the government in the past 18 months (though this seems to involve some double counting). It includes a $10 billion anti-poverty fund, which officials say has already financed an electrification plan for Havana, a hospital in Uruguay, and subsidised heating oil for poor districts in the United States.

(…)Despite the outlay, Mr Chavez may still not achieve his goal. To be elected, a country requires 128 votes – two-thirds of the General Assembly. Neither Venezuela nor Guatemala is likely to achieve that. Whichever comes second would normally face pressure to step aside. But this time, neither is likely to do so. The onus will then be on the bigger countries in Latin America to come up with a compromise candidate – diplomats mention Uruguay, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

Argentina has ratified their Government’s support for Chávez, acording to Argentinian newspaper La Nación (via Blogbis). Taiana, Argentinian ambassador to the UN, declared that there was “no doubt” Argentina was going to vote for Venezuela, and denied receiving pressures from Washington to change their vote.

From Devil’s Excrement:

The problem is that the Government seems to ignore market forces and creates distortions on top of distortions, which ignore the basic principles of economics and how human beings react to opportunities. When the Government created its supermarket network Mercal, it was supposed to be a way of delivering cheaper goods to the poor. Mercal could obviously sell goods cheaper than anyone. It paid no custom duty, it received all of the currency it wanted at the official rate of exchange, it was handled by military at all levels so it only had to pay labor for a reduced non-military workforce. Finally, it was not for profit and thus would pay no taxes.

Later, the Government established price controls for certain foodstuffs and they applied to a large fraction of the products sold by Mercal. As inflation drove prices up, the Government allowed controlled prices to increase only slowly or not at all, creating a huge discrepancy between controlled prices and free market prices. Thus, the Government had to start subsidizing many of these products in order to keep prices down. For many products, it was or is impossible for local producers to even compete with Mercal subsidized prices. This has basically become a trap; foodstuff prices are up 19.9% since May so that in the face of the election, the Government does not want to approve any increase of controlled prices and has to spend more money on subsidizing these products.

But market forces have now intervened in the form of the huge work force of street vendors, estimated to be 300,000 in Caracas alone. They simply go to Mercal, buy as much as they are allowed to and go and sell the products in the streets at market prices, thus creating what we can call “Street Vendor Arbitrage”. The differences are huge and so are the profits of the street vendors. A kilo of powdered milk, for example, that sells at Mercal for Bs. 4,700 (US$2.18 at the official rate of exchange) goes for Bs. 15,000 (US$ 6.97) from the street vendors, wheat flower, Bs. 1000 at Mercal goes for Bs. 2,500 in the streets, sugar Bs. 740 at Mercal, Bs. 3,000 in the streets and so on. Of course, you can’t always find all the products at either Mercal or informal markets, with sugar, milk and some vegetables being in short supply regularly.

The Government’s solution to this problem is typical: Next week a decree will be issued prohibiting the sale of Mercal products by anyone. (…)

But the worst thing is that the criminal rate is the highest in all South America, with a total number of 90.027, nearly three times the deaths in Afganistan war and also far great than the deaths in Chechenia war or Iraqi war, according to a report issued by Chacao Major, in Caracas, presented some days ago in Caracas. This sum is even greater than the deaths caused by Colombian armed conflict from 1985 and 2006, which are 73.330. (via El Instituto Independiente)

Chávez ha anunciado que, “a través de un informante que tiene en la Casa Blanca, sabe que Bush ha dado la orden de matarle“. Esta es la segunda vez que, en pocos días, Chávez acusa a alguien de querer asesinarle. Antes le tocó el turno a Rosales, el Gobernador del Estado de Zulia, al tiempo que señalaba que está en constante peligro porque “sus oponentes están buscando la manera de deshacerse de él“.

En el periódico digital Venezuela Today se refieren a la verdadera ambición de Chávez: obtener un sitio en el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU. Entre otras cosas, se preguntan por qué los grandes países de América del Sur se plegarían a votarle, afirmando que quedaría muy cuestionada su responsabilidad, al incrementarse de esa forma la inestabilidad en la zona. A pesar de eso, Argentina ya ha anunciado a través de su embajador en la ONU que votará a favor de Venezuela.

Pero Chávez insiste en su ambición y se está gastando una verdadera fortuna. Según The Economist -revista que no puede ser considerada como conservadora-, que cita al grupo opositor venezolano CIECA, se ha gastado 10 billones de dólares ya, en financiar la electrificación de la Habana, un hospital en Uruguay y subsidios en forma de petróleo a distritos pobres de los Estados Unidos. A pesar de todo, no parece que vaya a conseguir 128 votos, si no que se elegirá un candidato de compromiso, como Uruguay, República Dominicana o Costa Rica.

Entre otras medidas, Chávez fundó Mercal, un mercado para “gente pobre” en el que los productos se vendían a muy bajo precio. La infración subió, pero el Gobierno no dejó que los precios subieran o dejó que subieran un poco, creando una gran diferencia entre el precio controlado en Mercal y los precios de mercado, por lo que el Gobierno comenzó a subsidiar los productos vendidos en Mercal. Pero las fuerzas del mercado han intervenido y comenzaron a aparecer vendedores por las calles, que compraban sus productos en Mercal -no se necesita ningún permiso especial- y los venden a precio de mercado. Los beneficios son enormes: lo que cuesta en Mercal 2,18 dólares USA, se vende en las calles por 6,97 dólares USA. ¿La solución del gobierno? Dictar un decreto que prohíba vender productos de Mercal fuera del recinto…

Sin duda, el peor dato es el ascenso de la criminalidad:

El número de homicidios registrados entre 1998 y 2004 en Venezuela totalizó 90,027, una cifra que casi triplica el número de muertos en la Guerra de Afganistán (2001-2006), y supera ampliamente las bajas producidas en conflictos como la Guerra de Chechenia (1991-1994) y la Guerra del Golfo Pérsico (1990-1992), indicó un estudio realizado por la Alcaldía de Chacao, en Caracas, presentado esta semana en el Foro Hemisférico de Alcaldes de América Latina.

Según las estadísticas, la violencia venezolana también superó el número de muertos que se han producido en el conflicto armado de Colombia entre 1985 y el 2006, que totaliza hasta ahora 73,330 decesos contabilizados.

Las cifras confirman lo que el año pasado ya había señalado un reporte especial de la Unesco: que Venezuela ocupa el primer lugar en el mundo en muertes causadas por armas de fuego (22.15 por cada 100,000 personas).

‘Venezuela es una localidad actualmente considerada como de `alto riesgo’ tanto por firmas consultoras como por gobiernos”, indicó un informe reciente de la firma de seguridad Armor Group, con sede en Londres, y que presta servicios mundiales de seguridad.

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