Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hugo & Friends

Chavez seeks to radicalize Venezuela in new term

CARACAS (Reuters) - Re-elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will be sworn in on Wednesday for a new term ending in 2013 while promising a radical socialist revolution and nationalizations that have dragged down financial markets.

Emboldened by his landslide victory last month, the anti-U.S. leader has brazenly courted controversy, refusing to renew the license of an opposition television channel and vowing to take over major companies, including some owned by foreign investors.

"We are moving toward a socialist republic of Venezuela," the leader of the OPEC nation said on Monday, outlining policies such as stripping the central bank of its autonomy and asking Congress to grant him special legislative powers.

Chavez insists he needs more power to save Venezuela from exploitation and even attack by capitalist countries, particularly the United States, whose President George W. Bush he has labeled "the devil."


CARACAS (Reuters) - Emboldened by a landslide re-election, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has vowed to nationalize utilities, consolidating his power and setting a Cuba-inspired radical course for his new six-year term.
The anti-U.S. former soldier, who for eight years has coupled revolutionary rhetoric with market economy policies, took his boldest step on Monday toward entrenching in this OPEC nation what he calls "21st century socialism."

The push shows Chavez is ready to move his administration even further to the left during his next term, which starts on Wednesday, by exerting more control over the economy and centralizing power in the office of the president.

"It is clearly the opportunity for him to forge ahead with his revolution," said Michael Shifter, a Latin America expert at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. Chavez, who hopes to rule for decades, announced a broad plan on Monday to nationalize Venezuela's telecommunications and power utilities, end central bank autonomy and request congressional approval to rule by decree. More


Ortega back in power in Nicaragua
Wed Jan 10, 2007

MANAGUA (Reuters) - Cold War leader Daniel Ortega returns to power in Nicaragua on Wednesday, giving Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a new ally as he tries to steer Latin America to the left and away from the United States.

Ortega, who first took power in a 1979 revolution and then led a Marxist government for 11 years while fighting a brutal civil war against U.S.-backed Contra rebels, completed a remarkable comeback by winning a November presidential vote.

Ortega promises to respect private property and the free market this time around even as he fights extreme poverty. He preaches reconciliation and has gained the trust of the Roman Catholic Church and some former battlefield foes.

But his election victory was still a blow to Washington in a region where its influence has waned as poor voters left behind by free-market reforms have in recent years picked leftist leaders aligned with Venezuela's anti-U.S. Chavez.

Ortega insists he wants good relations with the United States, but his inauguration ceremony brings together two of Washington's most vocal foes in the region -- Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales. More

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