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The official blog of Fausta's Blog Talk Radio show.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Venezuela: Now in al-Qaeda's crosshairs

Heading today's round-up of Venezuelan news,
Al-Qaeda is unmoved by the Bolivarian Revolution, and wants to attack its oil industry:
The group, the Saudi arm of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, claimed responsibility for a thwarted February 2006 suicide attack on the world's largest oil processing facility at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia's eastern province. The group also is believed responsible for other attacks against the Saudi energy sector.

Last week's message is contained in Sawt al-Jihad (Voice of Jihad), the group's online magazine. A feature article, titled "Bin Laden's Oil Weapon," encourages al-Qaeda operatives to continue to follow directives from Mr. bin Laden to strike oil targets not only in Saudi Arabia, but elsewhere, according to a translation by the SITE Institute, a non-profit U.S. group that monitors terrorist websites

Three western countries are singled out in the call-to-arms -- Canada first, followed by Mexico and Venezuela. Would-be attackers are instructed to target oilfields, pipelines, loading platforms and carriers.

Would the al-Qaeda guys be leaving on a jet plane?
: A friend just sent this link, Iran, Venezuela to Begin Direct Flights
Iran's national airline will begin direct flights to Venezuela next month in another sign of the two nations' increasingly close ties.

Iran Air will operate a weekly, commercial flight linking Tehran and Caracas in March, the Venezuelan government said in a statement Friday. Flights leaving Tehran will stop in Syria's capital of Damascus on their way to Caracas, it said.
Last month, the oil-rich nations announced a joint $2 billion fund to finance investments in Venezuela and Iran, as well as projects in other countries seeking to help thwart U.S. domination. The two leaders have spoken of investing in infrastructure, social and energy projects, but have not offered specifics.

As I have posted before, Venezuela a hot spot for drug trafficking:
Venezuela's outgoing drug czar is included in a large dossier connecting high-level officials in the country with drug trafficking.

Domínguez also had said, according to records of his declarations to Colombian investigators obtained by El Nuevo Herald, that he had met personally with Correa and that Correa had helped coordinate drug shipments for the so-called ''Cartel of the Suns,'' allegedly run by top Venezuelan National Guard officers. The suns are insignia of rank worn by Venezuelan generals, as U.S. generals wear stars.

The Boston Globe is a month late and a Bolivar short: Grabbing power in Venezuela
Chavez needs to preserve the democratic system that elected him and pass it on to his successor strengthened, not deformed by personal ambition.
Unfortunately Chavez has proclaimed himself a Communist and been granted all powers, so the Boston Globe doesn't seem to realize that
a. he's ended the democratic system that elected him, and
b. he's not passing anything to successors for as long as he lives.

Remember those Cuban doctors that went to Venezuela? Now that the election is over, they are gone, and Venezuela struggles with doctor shortage. Not only that,
it was "very difficult to obtain up-to-date information on spending figures and health indicators" related to the program.

"The information is managed by Cuba, not by Venezuela," says María Elena Rodríguez, who coordinates health research for the independent human rights group Provea, "When we asked for cost figures last year, [the Venezuelan health ministry] said, 'If you get that information, please send it to us!'"

The doctors' departure is not believed to be connected to the defections of several of the Cuban medical personnel. Nearly 50 such defectors are reported to be living in Colombia while awaiting U.S. visas.
"The information is managed by Cuba, not by Venezuela": keep that in mind the next time you hear about the "free medical care" in either country.

The Cuban doctors are not the only ones leaving:
Middle classes escape from Chavez socialism
Middle-class Venezuelans are queuing to leave the country amid fears that its president, Hugo Chavez, is laying the ground for a dictatorship.

Hugo Chavez said that he intended to nationalise the telecommunications and electricity industries.

Opponents of his "20th century socialism" are so desperate to escape that they have resorted to learning new languages and tracking down long lost European relatives in the hope of securing a visa.

At the US Embassy, visa enquiries have almost doubled in recent weeks, from 400 to about 800 a day. "There are normal spikes toward Christmas or another major holiday, but this increase doesn't fall into that category," said embassy spokesman Brian Penn.

The British embassy has seen a similar rise in numbers. "It has been increasing for some time, but what's different now is the tone of desperation," said a British spokesman.

A website for would-be emigrants - mequieroir.com (I want to leave.com) - reports that since Mr Chavez's December 3 election victory, and his announcement last month that he would nationalise the telecommunications and electricity industries, the number of daily visits it receives has soared from 20,000 to 60,000.
While many of the people leaving are thinking of what's happened in Cuba, the analogy to Chile is inevitable:
The Allende School for Subverting Democracy
Mr. Allende narrowly won the presidency with 36 percent of a three-way vote and the confirmation of a fair-minded congress after committing himself to a Statute of Guarantees of individual liberties. This was a mere tactical ploy (as he told the French communist writer Regis Debray), which he never intended to honor. Instead, he used every device to subvert the Chilean Constitution, negate the law or bypass the congress.

Mr. Allende resorted 32 times in respect of 93 measures to an emergency power permitting him to override congress and the courts. All but one Chilean bank was acquired by the state through share-buyouts, using misappropriated revenues; factories were requisitioned through misuse of administrative decrees; and farms were expropriated, often at gunpoint, thanks to a forgotten decree from 1932 that remained by oversight on the statute books. The only nationalization that proceeded legally, with due approval of congress, was that of some large multinationals.

That these policies led to triple-digit inflation, currency devaluation, economic chaos and social tumult bordering on civil war is not surprising; nor is the fact that the congress eventually voted 81-47 to call on Mr. Pinochet's military to remove the government. The surprise is to see a return to - indeed an improvement on - Mr. Allende's methods in Venezuela while today Chile prospers.

Mr. Chavez now possesses Mr. Allende's ability to rule by decree.
Chavez show to be broadcast daily, "in a shortened version".
But, the programme will now be shortened to 90 minutes - to be broadcast on state television on Thursdays, with live radio shows on the other four weekdays.

The government says it is a response to the needs of the 21st-Century socialist revolution

Last but not least, Venezuela News and Views has a fascinating series titled The Venezuelan autocracy: building it up:

Part 1: rulers and ruling methods

Part 2: a brave new Venezuela

Part 3: the purse strings

This is a must-read series for anyone wanting to have some understanding of the present situation.

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