Showing posts with label Venezuela. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Venezuela. Show all posts

August 11, 2014

Venezuela Closes Border with Columbia Due to Smuggling


                                             (Smuggling out of Venezuela of Petrol and food)                                                

Venezuela says it will close its border with Colombia at night from Monday, to try to stop large-scale smuggling of petrol and food.
The government says that tonnes of goods - produced in Venezuela and heavily subsidised - are sold in Colombia at much higher prices.
The shortage of many staples in Venezuela's western border area this year led to anti-government protests.
The border closure was agreed with the Colombian government.
President Nicolas Maduro discussed the measures with his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos, at a summit on 1 August.
The 2,200km-long (1,360 miles) border will be closed between 22:00 local time and 05:00 every night.
Cargo vehicles, including vans and lorries, will be banned from crossing from Venezuela to Colombia between 18:00 and 05:00.
'Failed policies'
The cross-border smuggling is also a problem for Colombia, with a big loss in taxes and complaints of unfair competition by local businessmen.
The profits are often used to finance drug gangs and left-wing guerrillas, says the BBC's Arturo Wallace in Bogota.
More than 40 million litres of petrol and 21,000 tonnes of food have been seized so far this year.
Nicolas Maduro (left) and Juan Manuel Santos (right), Cartagena 1 Aug 2014Mr Maduro (left) and Mr Santos (right) agreed on the measures at a summit in Colombia
A man reacts after he found all shelves empty at a bakery in Caracas on 14 January, 2014Shortages of basic staples such as bread have angered shoppers across Venezuela
Riot police stand by during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in San Cristobal on 28 March, 2014In the border city of San Cristobal, protesters and police clashed on a daily basis earlier this year
"They were ready to be smuggled across the border," said the head of the Venezuelan Armed Forces Strategic Operational Command, Vladimir Padrino Lopez.
"That amount of food is enough to feed 700,000 people for a month," he added.
Mr Maduro's left-wing government subsidises petrol and many food staples, such as milk, rice and pasta, which are sold at controlled prices.
But it says that up to 40% of the goods produced in Venezuela end up on the other side of the border.
Dissatisfaction with the shortage of many staples, as well as rampant crime and high inflation, led thousands of people in the western Venezuelan states of Tachira and Merida to take to the streets in January.
The protests quickly spread to the rest of Venezuela, which faced similar problems.
The opposition blames failed left-wing policies of the past 15 years - initiated with the late president, Hugo Chavez - for the country’s economic crisis.

July 31, 2014

Like Gentrification in NYC Venezuela is displacing the people that least can afford it

Venezuela, is, evicting, poor, families, to, make, way, for, the, people, who, need, it, least, Venezuela Is Evicting Poor Families to Make Way for the People Who Need It Least Image Credit: Getty
The news: The roughly 5,000 residents of a massive, unfinished skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela, called the "world's tallest slum" or the "Tower of David" are being rapidly evicted.

The reason? Big business. Specifically, Chinese bankers have reportedly expressed an interest in redeveloping the Centro Financiero Confinanzas for its original intended use as an office space.



Image credit: Getty

Now, advocates report that 100 families have already been forcibly evicted from the 45-story building as of July 23, and the remainder of its population of 1,200 families is soon to follow. This comes just two months after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government promised to improve living conditions there.


The backstory: In the mid-'90s, the tower's construction was abandoned amid the death of primary investor David Brillembourg and a subsequent financial crisis. As a result, squatters took over the entire building, installing electrical and water systems, developing their own managerial system, and occupying the bottom 28 floors with shops, apartments and even daycare centers.



Image Credit: Saúl Briceño

However, the community is not without its critics. While some call it a model commune with clean common spaces and nice apartments, others point to the fact that the building's de facto leader is Alexander "El Niño" Daza, a brutal former gang boss rumored to have thrown his enemies off the upper floors.



The tower is also regarded as a well-guarded and relatively well-off base of left-wing "Chavismo," the political ideology of late President Hugo Chávez. It has stood as both a symbol of failed capitalism and the shortcomings of its alternatives for close to two decades.

What Venezuelans are saying: The international Urban Think Tank worries that Maduro's government is neglecting a valuable opportunity to use the community as the basis for "innovative and inclusive development" by scattering the tower's residents. Critics say the government abandoned its initial promise to help refurnish the site to improve the lives of poor people once visions of foreign cash began dancing in their heads.


Image Credit: AP

For their part, the Venezuelan government insists the evacuations are about safety rather than money. Caracas redevelopment overseer Ernesto Villegas says the rumor that Chinese investors want to finish the building "doesn't make any sense," since the structure is unsafe, in terrible condition and possibly irreparable. He told reporters, “The tower does not meet the minimum conditions for safe, dignifi
    living."

Still, the ultimate plans for the building clearly will not involve the current residents, Chinese investment or not. Maduro said recently that three options were on the table: destruction, the establishment of a new residential community or commercial redevelopment.

It seems like big business will likely win that competition.

By Tom McKay 

April 17, 2014

Venezuela: Nothing After You Reach Bottom

(Image: Sergio Alvarez/Demotix)
(Image: Sergio Alvarez/Demotix)
Like other countries, Venezuela’s young are eager to explore the world. Every opportunity to learn becomes important in the formation of the young mind. In Venezuela, a crippled education system prevents normal development. While the well-born go to private schools and have access to every benefit, the mass of Venezuela’s students confront an educational system that tells them: “You can’t but you tried.”
The most embarrassing and painful thing about the deplorable state of the country’s schools is the level of the government’s indifference. Though the government of Nicolás Maduro offers programmes like “Simoncito”, “Mision Ribas” and “Mision Robinson” these is basic education that doesn’t adequately prepare students to pursue higher studies. The programmes seem to condemn the disadvantaged among Venezuela’s population to a remedial existence. If some of these children make it to higher education, the odds are stacked against them and their families.
In the end, it all comes down to money. Venezuela needs to spend more to let students be students. But with foreign reserves short, all but national priorities are left off the funding list. Every area of science instruction needs improvement. Budgets are not even close to covering the costs of labs, let alone providing learning aids or even actual textbooks. A prize-winning robotics team at Caracas’ Universidad Simon Bolivar works with outdated electronics that are often patched together. When the team wanted to take part in an international competition, they were denied assistance — meaning just a few of the team could do it because that was all they could afford to pay out of their own pockets. Another group, which took part in the Latin American conference of the model UN, found themselves staying in primitive conditions in Mexico because they were denied dollars, the currency they needed to pay bills. Despite the discomfort, the group won six awards.
Even with the obvious deficiencies in education, Venezuela has a large population of well-prepared professionals across a wide spectrum of expertise. But based on political affiliations, these people cannot work for the development of the nation. No wonder Venezuelans have begun to leave the country in search of a better future for themselves and their families. This exodus is manifesting itself worst of all among teachers. The ramshackle education system can ill afford this brain drain. But, again, it’s understandable when even those with advanced degrees from internationally respected institutions earn less than approximately £40 per month. When the government’s own basic food basket is priced at nearly £200 per month, it’s impossible to support a family without second or third jobs. Under strict rules, teachers are not allowed to apply for the loans that could support home or car ownership. In effect, teachers are sentenced to live with relatives for life. Yet they continue to teach out of love for the craft with the hope they they can raise a new generation of Venezuelans who can think for themselves and question dogma. Without them, the youth of Venezuela would be lost.
In recent interviews, the educational minister Hector Rodriguez said: “We are not going to take you out of poverty for you to go and become opposites.” His statement meant that Venezuela’s students should understand that their wings are already clipped and any dream of progress or improvement is invalid.
The government’s approach to education aims to make Venezuelans think it has the absolute truth and will decide what’s right for students. The lower classes won’t have any choice but to believe what they are told.
After 15 years Venezuelans have become accustomed to waiting for the government to wave a magic wand to provide what they need. The sense of personal responsibility now seems lost. Effort doesn’t deliver results, so Venezuelans don’t try. It’s an indirect way for the government to choose a person’s destiny.
At the same time, scarcity – and not just in an educational sense – is the new normal. Everyday basics like toilet paper, coffee or cooking oil are the subjects of long hunts that lead to the back of an equally long queue. Hospitals cancel operations for lack of supplies and cancer patients miss treatment for lack of medicine. And even though the government’s late March devaluation of the bolivar will fill the shelves in the shops, the average Venezuelan will be unable to afford the supplies.
For the government, scarcity is just a glitch — just like the blackouts when “iguanas eat the cables” – and not because the energy minister is not doing his job.
It’s impossible to walk down streets without being paranoid — one eye on the road and the other keeping watch of everything around you. On average 48 people are murdered in the country every day. Venezuelans can be beaten and robbed with no recourse to justice because the police and the criminals are often in partnership.
The Bolivarian Revolution was supposed to bring improvements, but the lack of daily essentials and a robust education system leads one to the conclusion: The basement has a bottom.
By Ambar de la Croux

March 15, 2014

Venezuela Warns Airlines "if You Leave We Wont Let You Back” Also 14 Dead in Unrest



An anti-government protester tries to set fire to a barricade while up against the police's water cannon during clashes in Caracas, March 12, 2014.

 President Nicolas Maduro on Friday warned airlines not to limit flights in and out of Venezuela, a day after reports a Colombian airline was reducing services to Caracas amid industry complaints of billions of dollars in unpaid debts.

“Airlines have no excuse to reduce their flights to Venezuela,” Maduro said during a press conference. “If airlines reduce [flights], I will take severe measures.”

Airlines have struggled to obtain dollars in exchange for the bolivar currency as a result of long-running delays in  Venezuela's 11-year-old currency control system.

The International Air Transport Association this week said that airlines are owed $3.7 billion and that some are considering halting service to Venezuela.

“If an airline leaves the country, it's not coming back while we are in government,” Maduro said, casting the airlines' complaints as part of a wider “economic war” against his socialist government by political foes and businesses.

Maduro also said, however, that his government would pay debts to the airline industry.

Avianca Holdings, operator of Colombia's biggest airline, on Thursday told travel agents it will cut flights between the countries' capitals to one a day from three as of March 20.

Avianca will suspend flights between Caracas and San Jose, in Costa Rica, as part of an effort “to match supply to market needs” and reduce the number of seats available between Caracas and Lima, Peru.

The company's chief executive said that currency controls had made it difficult to bring ticket revenue worth about $300 million out of Venezuela.

German airline Lufthansa said this month its 2013 financial results took a double-digit million euro hit from payment issues in Venezuela.

Maduro said on Friday that various airlines round the world were ready to step in and cover any unfilled routes. “They’re asking for permission to cover flights to Colombia, Panama, Central America and South America,” he said, without giving more details.

14 Dead as a result of the unrest:            

Protesters battled soldiers in the streets of Caracas again on Wednesday as a student was shot dead, the 23rd fatality from a month of demonstrations against Venezuela's socialist government.
          
Thousands of supporters and foes of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro were on the capital's streets for rival rallies marking a month since the first bloodshed of the recent unrest around the South American OPEC nation.
      
Trouble began when National Guard troops blocked opposition marchers trying to break out of Plaza Venezuela to reach the state ombudsman's office.
         
Students threw stones and petrol bombs while security forces fired tear gas and turned water cannons on them.
      
Witnesses saw dozens of people leaving injured.
      
In the latest fatality, a 23-year-old student was shot in central Carabobo state, apparently on a street outside his home. Opposition activists blamed armed government supporters in what they say is a wave of attacks on students, but the state governor said the shot came from snipers among the protesters.
          
Maduro, a 51-year-old former bus driver who won election last year to succeed the late Hugo Chavez, has declared victory over what he calls an attempted “coup” against him and appears to be in little danger of being toppled.
      
Students, though, are vowing to keep the protests going, meaning protracted instability could bring more bloodshed and represent a further drag on Venezuela's troubled economy.
      
Victims on both sides
          
On Feb. 12, two opposition supporters and a pro-government activist were shot dead in Caracas, galvanizing the fledgling protest movement and leading to near daily clashes in Caracas and some western Andean cities like San Cristobal and Merida.
      
The 23 people killed include victims on both sides.     
 
“The opposition are causing all the violence. They should think a bit smarter. The street barricades make no sense, they just bring violence,” said government supporter Marcos Alacayo, 46, among hundreds of Chavistas at a square in east Caracas.
      
“They're trying to make out the nation is in a bad state, but that just isn't true. More people have access to healthcare, education and good food than ever. That's what they don't understand. Before Chavez, no one had what we have now,” added Alacayo, who works for a state-run higher education program.
          
Of the more than 1,300 people arrested since anti-government demonstrations began at the start of February, 92 are still behind bars, according to the government.
          
Those held include 14 security officials, some of whom are implicated in the deaths of two of those shot in the Feb. 12 rallies. More than 300 people have been injured in the unrest.
          
“Today we're marching to denounce the repression. There can't be impunity. Why do they attack us when we are demonstrating freely? The security forces are bowing to a political ideology when their duty is to protect the people,” said law student Agnly Veliz, 22, at the opposition rally.
          
Veliz said she was at the fateful Feb. 12 rally and has been protesting every day since then. “What's the point of graduating while the country is in chaos? If I lose the year but help to achieve a better Venezuela, then it's worth it.”
          
Complaint list
          
Although their movement is smaller than those in Brazil, Ukraine and the Middle East, the protesters in Venezuela share a similarly amorphous list of grievances and causes.
      
Some want Maduro out now. All complain about crime, inflation and shortages of basic goods. Demands to free detainees, especially hardline opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, have become an increasingly loud cry on the streets.
      
The protests have wrong-footed the moderate leadership of Venezuela's opposition coalition, including two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who lost to Maduro by just 1.5 percentage points in last year's vote.
      
His strategy had been to work patiently in grassroots communities while waiting for the next electoral opportunity, parliamentary elections in 2015, but now firebrand opposition leaders and students are taking the lead.
          
Fellow Latin American nations, though deeply worried, have taken a relatively low-key approach to Venezuela's crisis.
          
Leftist allies have backed Maduro's right to defend himself against “coup plotters” while more conservative governments have urged dialogue but in moderate terms.
      
Maduro broke diplomatic ties with Panama after it pushed for a meeting of the Organization of American States to discuss Venezuela. Caracas views the OAS as a U.S. pawn.
      
Foreign ministers from South America's Unasur group of governments were meeting in Chile on Wednesday to discuss Venezuela.
          
“We'll be in favor of protecting and promoting human rights, but at the same time we can't accept violent mobilizations that seek to bring down a legitimately constituted government,” Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz told reporters.
      
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Venezuela's neighbors should take the lead in helping mediate the situation, and rejected Maduro's repeated accusations that Washington was deliberately stirring up trouble against him.
         
“We've become an excuse. We're a card they play,” Kerry told a U.S. House of Representatives committee when asked about Venezuela. “And I regret that, because we've very much opened up and reached out in an effort to say, 'it doesn't have to be this way'.”
   
Oil exports, which provide 95 percent of Venezuela’s revenues, remain unaffected by the crisis.

March 1, 2014

BIG Unrest in Venezuela

 


  WASHINGTON — Venezuela's largest protests since the death of longtime leader Hugo Chavez nearly one year ago are sweeping the country. Rampant inflation, violent crime and chronic shortages of basic goods are fueling the outrage that is dividing the South American nation.



February 17, 2014

The Opposition in Venezuela is Defiant vs.Hugo Chavez People


                                                                                 



Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez says he will lead a march through the streets of Caracas on Tuesday.
He was last seen on Wednesday, when three men were shot dead at the end of opposition protests in the capital.
In a video posted online, Mr Lopez says he has not committed any crime and challenges the authorities to arrest him during the Tuesday march.
President Nicolas Maduro says an arrest warrant was issued against Mr Lopez shortly after the incidents.
Mr Maduro has accused Mr Lopez of inciting violence as part of a coup plot against his left-wing government.
The opposition say they were killed by pro-government militias known as "colectivos".
  Mr Lopez, 42, is a former mayor of Chacao district, in eastern Caracas. He organised the recent protests against the government.
'Dress white'
On Sunday morning, Venezuelan police searched the houses of Mr Lopez and his parents.
Hours later, he posted a new message on Twitter and a three-minute long video.
"I want to invite all of you to join me on a march on Thursday, from Venezuela Square [in central Caracas] towards the Justice Ministry building, which has become a symbol of repression, torture and lies," Mr Lopez said on the video.
He called on his supporters to dress white, "to reaffirm our commitment to peace".
"I will take very clear demands to the authorities: that the government involvement in the deaths of 12 February are investigated; that the students arrested [in protests in the last week] are freed; that the pro-government paramilitary groups are disarmed," he said.
"And finally, I will be there to show my face. I have nothing to fear. I have not committed any crime. If there is any order to illegally arrest me, well, I will be there," added Mr Lopez.
Nicolas Maduro during rally in CaracasMaduro said the Venezuelan people must defend the "Bolivarian Revolution" launched by Hugo Chavez
Earlier, also through Twitter, Mr Lopez sent a direct message to the Venezuelan president: "Maduro, you are a coward. You are not going to force me or my family to bow down.''
On Saturday, police clashed with a group of demonstrators at the end of an opposition march in the eastern neighbourhood of Chacao.
They fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Activists hurled stones. More than 20 people were injured.
'Against fascism'
Thousands of government supporters also took to the streets of Caracas on Saturday in a march "for peace and against fascism".
Mr Maduro addressed the crowd and renewed accusations against the opposition.
He accused Mr Lopez of ordering "all these violent kids, which he trained, to destroy the prosecutor's office, half of Caracas to then go into hiding".
On Saturday, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, issued a statement expressing concern by the rising tensions in Venezuela.
Opposition march in CaracasMore than 20 people were injured in the violence on Saturday
"We are particularly alarmed by reports that the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained scores of anti-government protestors and issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez," read the statement.
The main opposition grievances are high inflation, crime and the shortage of some staples.
The government has blamed the shortages on "saboteurs" and "profit-hungry corrupt businessmen".
A former union leader, Mr Maduro was a close ally of President Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer last March after 14 years in office.
He was elected last April, defeating the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, by a narrow margin.

September 2, 2013

President of Venezuela Confuses Christ’s Fish with Christ’s Penises'


Fish faux-pas: Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro muddled the word for 'fish' with 'penises' Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro appeared to make a mistake of Biblical proportions this week - when he muddled a well-known religious quote and said Christ multiplied loaves and 'penises'.
Maduro made the unfortunate error during a speech on education at the 
Miranda stadium, in the country’s capital, Caracas.
Referring to the iconic story of when Christ multiplied fish and loaves to feed the populace, Maduro said his government would help expand education in the country, 'school by school, child by child, high school by high school, community by community — to embed ourselves in there. 
'To multiply ourselves like Christ multiplied the penises — sorry, the fish — and the bread.'
The Spanish word for 'penises' (penes) is just one letter away from the word for 'fish' (peces).
The Venezuelan premier, who was dressed in a bright red, blue and yellow Adidas track suit - to reflect the colours of the national flag - immediately sparked a storm among Twitter users.
Sofy Cortez wrote: 'Hahaha so I just read about Nicolas Maduro's speech and Christ did what?!?!? He multiplied "penises"?!?!? God bless!'
Another user, LayNG, wrote: 'Panes + Peces = PENES #EpicFail @NicolasMaduro'.
Maduro took over as interim president of Venezuela following the death of Hugo Chavez on March 5.
He later won an election against the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.
 
Despite only being in power for five months, Maduro has courted controversy on more than one occasion.
He has been blamed for a toilet paper shortage throughout the country, apparently slept in Chavez's mausoleum, has made a number of anti-gay slurs and offered asylum tNSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Maduro also made a lingual faux pas earlier this month when, according to the Latin Times, he incorrectly pronounced the Spanish word for 'millions', making it a feminine noun instead of a masculine noun.
Successor: Nicolas Maduro (right) took over from Hugo Chavez following his death in March
Successor: Nicolas Maduro (right) took over from Hugo Chavez following his death in March
Controversial: Maduro offered asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden
Controversial: Maduro offered asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

 

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