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Profile: Hugo Chavez Frias

Positions that Hugo Chavez Frias has held:

Hugo Chavez Frias was a participant or observer in the following events:

Hugo Chavez is elected president, beating Henrique Salas Romer, a Yale-educated former governor of Carabobo state. (CNN 12/6/1998; CNN 12/7/1998; Schemo 12/9/1998)

In a national referendum, 72 percent of Venezuelan voters approve a new constitution that significantly increases the state’s role in the economy and society. The constitution—Venezuela’s 26th since winning independence from Spain in 1821—codifies into law Chavez’s progressive agenda. It requires the state to promote sustainable agriculture, protect the environment, guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples, take affirmative action against the effects of institutionalized discrimination, and guarantee every Venezuelan the right to a fair wage, health care, and a secure food supply. The victory seems to have been a result of Chavez’s immense popularity and not necessarily the constitution itself, which, according to one poll cited by the Washington Post, was read by only about two percent of the population. (Kovaleski 12/16/1999; Kovaleski 12/17/1999)
Selection of Constitutional Provisions -
bullet The constitution changes the country’s name from “Republic of Venezuela” to “Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title IX 1999) in honor of Simon Bolivar, the South American liberator who fought for the independence of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. (Wilpert 8/27/2003) The constitution bases “its moral property and values of freedom, equality, justice and international peace on the doctrine of Simon Bolivar, the Liberator,” Article 1 says. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title I 1999) The new name reflects Chavez’s desire for a more integrated Latin American, which he hopes will be achieved through a federation of “Bolivarian Republics.” (Wilpert 8/27/2003)
bullet The new constitution implies a distinction between the concepts of “law” and “justice.” (Wilpert 8/27/2003) Article 2 of the constitution says that “Venezuela constitutes itself as a Democratic and Social State of Law and Justice… .” (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title I 1999) Gregory Wilpert, a supporter of the Chavez government, notes: “This stands in contrast to many other country’s constitutions [such as Germany’s], which simply say that its state is a state of law. In other words, the Venezuelan constitution highlights the possible differences between law and justice, implying that justice is just as important as the law, which might not always bring about justice.” The term “justice” is not defined anywhere in the document; however, Wilpert suggests that the constitution’s “declaration of motives,” (the section that precedes the official text of the document) provides an indication of what the constitutional assembly understands justice to be. It states: “The state promotes the well-being of Venezuelans, creating the necessary conditions for their social and spiritual development, and striving for equality of opportunity so that all citizens may freely develop their personality, direct their destiny, enjoy human rights and search for their happiness.” Others warn that the constitution’s failure to explicitly define the meaning of the term creates the possibility that the government could use its own understanding of justice to subvert the law. (Wilpert 8/27/2003)
bullet Article 13, in designating the country as an “area of peace,” prohibits the establishment of foreign military bases or facilities in Venezuela “by any power or coalition of powers.” (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title II 1999)
bullet The constitution requires the state to respect and guarantee any and all rights declared in international human rights treaties that are signed and ratified by Venezuela. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title II 1999)
bullet The constitution adopts a broad definition of discrimination and makes it the responsibility of the state to correct any inequalities resulting from discrimination. Article 21 thus states: “[A]ll persons are equal before the law and consequently: No discrimination based on race, sex, creed or social standing shall be permitted, nor, in general, any discrimination with the intent or effect of nullifying or impairing upon the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on equal terms, of the rights and liberties of every individual. The law shall guarantee legal and administrative conditions such as to make equality before the law real and effective manner; [and] shall adopt affirmative measures for the benefit of any group that is discriminated against, marginalized or vulnerable… .” (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999)
bullet Article 58 guarantees the right to information that is “timely, true, and impartial” and adds that such information must be disseminated “without censorship, in accordance with the principles of this constitution.” (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999) Critics argue that what constitutes truth and impartiality is subjective and therefore this article could provide the government with a pretext for censoring the media. (Kovaleski 12/16/1999, pp. A30; Wilpert 8/27/2003)
bullet The constitution eliminates state financing of political parties. (Wilpert 8/27/2003)
bullet Articles 71 through 74 gives the national assembly, the president, and registered voters (when a petition is signed by 10 to 20 percent of the registered voters) the power to initiate a public referendum. A referendum can be one of four types: consultative, recall, approving, and rescinding. A consultative referendum asks the population to give its opinion on a non-binding question that is of a “national transcendent” nature. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999) For example, a referendum might ask whether the country should sign a free trade agreement. (Wilpert 8/27/2003) A recall referendum is a binding referendum that can be used to recall any elected official after the official has served half of his or her term in office. In an approving referendum, also binding, the public would be called upon to approve a constitutional amendment or an important law or treaty that would infringe on national sovereignty. The rescinding referendum would allow citizens to rescind existing laws. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999; Wilpert 8/27/2003)
bullet The constitution guarantees the freedoms of expression, assembly, political participation, as well as the right to employment, housing, family planning, and health care. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999) For example, with regard to health care, Article 83 states: “Health is a fundamental social right and the responsibility of the State, which shall guarantee it as part of the right to life. The State shall promote and develop policies oriented toward improving the quality of life, common welfare and access to services.” (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999) Concerning employment, Article 91 states, “Every worker has the right to a sufficient salary that allows a life with dignity and covers his own and his family’s basic material, social, and intellectual necessities.” The constitution also requires that the state promote and protect economic democracy. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999)
bullet Article 84 charges the state with administering a national public health system that is “governed by the principles of gratuity, universality, completeness, fairness, social integration and solidarity.” The article also outlaws the privatization of health care. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999)
bullet Article 87 states that all Venezuelans are entitled to the benefits of the social security system, including those who are unable to contribute. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999)
bullet Article 88 recognizes the contribution of women homemakers and accordingly guarantees them the right to receive social security benefits. “The State guarantees the equality and equitable treatment of men and women in the exercise of the right to work. The state recognizes work at home as an economic activity that creates added value and produces social welfare and wealth. Homemakers are entitled to Social Security in accordance with law.” (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999)
bullet Article 91 states that the minimum wage is to be computed on an annual basis and that its value will be based, in part, on the cost of the basic consumer goods basket. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999)
bullet Article 103 guarantees every Venezuelan free education up to the undergraduate university level. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999)
bullet Article 115 states: “The right of property is guaranteed. Every person has the right to the use, enjoyment, usufruct and disposal of his or her goods. Property shall be subject to such contributions, restrictions and obligations as may be established by law in the service of the public or general interest. Only for reasons of public benefit or social interest by final judgment, with timely payment of fair compensation, the expropriation of any kind of property may be declared.” (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999)
bullet Articles 119-126 of the constitution recognizes, for the first time in the country’s history, the indigenous population’s right to exist, to its languages, cultures, and to hold its lands in collective ownership. It also requires the state to help indigenous groups demarcate their lands and guarantees that state-led exploitation of natural resources in their lands “shall be carried out without harming the cultural, social, and economic integrity of such habitats, and likewise subject to prior information and consultation with the native communities concerned.” Under the new constitution, the state is also required to promote indigenous cultures and languages and protect their intellectual property. It prohibits outsiders from registering patents derived from indigenous knowledge. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999; Wilpert 8/27/2003) Article 186 guarantees the political rights of Venezuela’s indigenous population—estimated at 316,000—mandating that they be allocated three of the 130 seats in the National Assembly. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999)
bullet Articles 127-129 charges the state with protecting biological diversity, genetic resources, ecological processes, and national parks. It requires that environmental and socio-cultural impact reports be prepared in advance of any activities that could potentially cause environmental damage. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title III 1999)
bullet The constitution specifies that the national government will consist of five powers: the legislative, executive, judicial, electoral, and public. The public, or citizen, power would provide oversight to the four other powers to ensure that they adhere to their constitutionally determined functions. Public power is thus charged with “preventing, investigating and punishing actions that undermine public ethics and administrative morals; to see to sound management and legality in the use of public property, and fulfillment and application of the principle of legality in all of the State’s administrative activities, as well as to promote education as a process that helps create citizenship, together with solidarity, freedom, democracy, social responsibility and work.” The responsibility of the electoral power is to oversee state elections, and in certain cases, the elections of civil society organizations, such as unions. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title V 1999; Wilpert 8/27/2003)
bullet The new constitution replaces the former bi-cameral system with a unicameral one. The stated reason for this change is that it will enable the quick passage of legislation. Critics argue that this centralizes state power. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title V 1999; Wilpert 8/27/2003)
bullet At the insistence of President Chavez, the constitutional assembly extended the presidential term from five to six years and eliminated the provision that previously barred presidents from serving two consecutive terms. Chavez argued that a single five-year term would not be sufficient to fully implement the revolution’s policies. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title V 1999; Wilpert 8/27/2003)
bullet Title VI of the constitution charges the state with promoting industry, agriculture, and various other smaller branches, such as fishing, cooperatives, tourism, small businesses, and crafts. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title VI 1999)
bullet Article 301 grants the state the right to use “trade policy to protect the economic activities of public and private Venezuelan enterprises” and charges the state with ensuring that foreign-owned enterprises are not afforded preferential terms that could put Venezuelan enterprises at a disadvantage. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title VI 1999)
bullet Article 302 enshrines continued state control of the petroleum industry and states that all industries of a strategic nature are subject to state control. Article 303 gives the state complete ownership of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title VI 1999)
bullet Article 304, acknowledging that water “is essential to life and development,” specifies that it belongs in the public domain. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title VI 1999)
bullet Articles 305 and 306 require that the state pursue a food production strategy aimed at self-sufficiency. The approach would entail promoting “sustainable agriculture as the strategic basis for overall rural development”; promulgating any necessary “financial, commercial, technological transfer, land tenancy, infrastructure, manpower training and other measures”; and compensating agricultural producers “for the disadvantages inherent to agricultural activity.” Article 307 states emphatically that the “predominance of large land estates is contrary to the interests of society” and that “farmers and other agricultural producers are entitled to own land.” It thus authorizes the state to implement taxes on landholdings that are left in fallow, to establish the necessary measures to convert fallow lands into productive economic units, and to protect and promote associative and private forms of property. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title VI 1999)
bullet Article 311 requires that “any revenues generated by exploiting underground wealth and minerals, in general, shall be used to finance real productive investment, education and health.” (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title VI 1999)
bullet Article 236 gives the president the exclusive authority to promote high-ranking military officers. This authority previously laid with the legislature. Critics of the constitution argue that these provisions effectively consolidate Chavez’s control over the military by providing him with a means to pack its leadership with political supporters. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title V 1999; Wilpert 8/27/2003)
bullet Article 330 gives members of the military the right to vote, a right they were denied under the previous constitution. (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Title VI 1999; Wilpert 8/27/2003)

In Bolivarian Circles and other pro-government political study groups, people read and study the 1999 constitution (see December 15, 1999). According to supporters of the Chavez government, the constitution becomes an integral part of a grassroots movement to advance Chavez’s social agenda. “It is a political project towards which pro-Chavez Venezuelans want to move the society,” says Gregory Wilpert, a former US Fulbright scholar in Venezuela. By contrast, notes Wilpert, few in the general population ever read the country’s previous constitution, drafted in 1966. Roland Denis, a veteran political organizer in the barrios of Caracas and former Vice-Minister for local planning, similarly describes the significance of the 1999 constitution: “[Chavez’s] leadership was and is undisputed, but his ideas would not have been enough to bring together the movement. The constitution fills this gap. It is a political program and simultaneously serves the purpose of providing a framework for the process. This constitution is not simply a dead text. It reflects values and principles. Perhaps not enough, perhaps one will have to reform it, maybe later one will not need it anymore for the revolutionary process. But at the moment it has the function of Mao’s Little Red Book: It represents the demands and goals of the grassroots movement.” (Wilpert 8/27/2003)

With the exception of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, 34 heads of state attending the Organization of American States (OAS) summit, pledge to direct their “Ministers to ensure that negotiations of the FTAA [Free Trade Area of Americas] Agreement are concluded no later than January 2005 and to seek its entry into force as soon as possible thereafter, but in any case, no later than December 2005.” (Stevens 4/18/2001; Andean Community 4/22/2001; Haiti Weekly News 5/2/2001) According to an unnamed senior offical at the US State Department, the declaration also lays the groundwork for creating a legal pretext for blocking aid to countries. (US Congress 7/15/2003 pdf file; Farmer 4/15/2004) The section of the declaration discussing the OAS’s commitment to democracy reads: “… any unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order in a state of the Hemisphere constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the participation of that state’s government in the Summit of the Americas process….To enhance our ability to respond to these threats, we instruct our Foreign Ministers to prepare, in the framework of the next General Assembly of the OAS, an Inter-American Democratic Charter to reinforce OAS instruments for the active defense of representative democracy.” (Andean Community 4/22/2001; Ives and Dunkel 4/25/2001) During the summit, before the final declaration is made, Haiti is singled out as the region’s problem democracy. “Democracy in certain countries is still fragile,” Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien says, “We are particularly concerned about the case of Haiti. We note the problems which continue to limit the democratic, political, economic, and social development of this country.” (Ives and Dunkel 4/25/2001) Press reports note the ant-Aristide atmosphere. The BBC reports, “Correspondents say the presence of Mr. Aristide at the summit has been an embarrassment to some of the leaders, who agreed that only democratic countries would be included in the Free Trade Zone of the Americas.” (BBC 4/22/2001) The New York Post similarly recounts, “Diplomats said the expressions of concern about Haiti were to make sure that Aristide can’t use his presence at the summit… to claim he has international support.” (Orin 4/23/2001) And according to Reuters, “the Summit decided to comment on Haiti because leaders did not want Aristide to return home in triumph.” (Orin 4/23/2001; Ives and Dunkel 4/25/2001)

Roger Noriega, a Kansas native of Mexican descent and fervent critic of Latin American leaders Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is appointed US Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States. (Howell 3/1/2004; Inter-American Development Bank 12/31/2005 pdf file)

The San Francisco Examiner publishes an article speculating that the US may be planning a coup in Venezuela. The article also notes that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has reduced inflation from 40 percent to 12 percent, generated economic growth of 4 percent, and increased primary school enrollment by 1 million students. (Hallinan 12/28/2001; Hallinan 4/17/2002)

Venezuelan Vice Admiral Carlos Molina has a meeting with a US official. (The identity of this official is not known. According to the Washington Post, the official is not affiliated with the US embassy.) (Washington Post 4/18/2002, pp. A17)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is overthrown in a military coup. However, the coup collapses after two days, and Chavez returns to power. (Gibb 4/14/2002) Otto J. Reich, the US’s assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, is in contact with Chavez’s successor on the very day he takes over. The Bush administration claims Reich was pleading with him not to dissolve the National Assembly. (Marquis 4/17/2002)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez alleges that “a plane with US registration numbers was at an army airstrip on Venezuela’s Orchila Island, one of five places he was held in captivity during his brief removal from power,” reports the BBC. (BBC 4/16/2002)

US President Bush warns Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to draw a lesson from the unrest that his country has just experienced and insists that he commit himself to democracy. “If there’s lessons to be learned, it’s important that he learn them,” Bush says in a meeting with Colombian President Andres Pastrana. (BBC 4/18/2002)

An official investigation by the Venezuelan government reveals that two high-ranking US officers joined the Venezuelan military commanders who backed the coup at Fort Tiuna, the largest military base in Caracas, where President Hugo Chavez was forcibly taken after being captured by soldiers supporting the overthrow of his government. (Dermota 4/20/2002; Palast 5/13/2002)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claims he has proof of US military involvement in the events that took place in April, claiming “he has radar images showing a foreign military vessel, a plane and a helicopter violating the country’s waters and air space during the failed coup,” reports the BBC. (BBC 5/14/2002; Ellner and Rosen 6/2002)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claims to have foiled another coup plot to remove him from office. (Easton 10/6/2002)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claims to have escaped an assassination attempt while returning from a trip to Europe. (BBC 10/20/2002)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s government signs a deal with China to expand its oil market into China in search of more lucrative deals. (United Press International 1/30/2005; Kennedy 2/2/2005)

President Hugo Chavez announces that the Venezuela controlled oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, may sell eight oil refineries owned by US companies. Four of them are owned by Citgo Corporation and are currently used to refine Venezuela’s heavy, high-sulfur crude oil for use in the US. This move is part of a strategy to reduce Venezuelan dependency on US oil markets. At his speech in Argentina, Hugo Chavez describes Venezuelan dependency: “Not one Venezuelan works at these refineries… they don’t give us one cent of profit… they don’t pay taxes in Venezuela… this is economic imperialism.” Ivan Orellana, Venezuela’s representative to OPEC says that any “contracts found to be not in the national interest would be renegotiated.” (Kennedy 2/2/2005) The Venezuelan oil industry currently exports half of its oil to the US. (Romero and Ellsworth 1/25/2005) This latest move is an indication to the Bush administration that the Chavez government is willing to test their relationship. US officials are worried about the implications of the sale for the American economy as 15 percent of US oil imports currently come from Venezuela. White House spokesman Scott McClellan says, “we have serious concerns. We have made our concerns known when it comes to President Chavez….” (Kennedy 2/2/2005)

Fox News runs a three-part series on Venezuela, narrated by Fox News’ Steve Harrigan, suggesting that the Chavez government “is moving toward totalitarian rule” and is a potential threat to the US. Miami University political science professor Anibal Romero tells Harrigan that Chavez is a “dangerous fellow. He’s a confused person. He has radical instincts. He’s deeply anti-American… and is prepared to do terrible things.” Harrigan acknowledges the president’s popularity among the country’s poor, but cites the opposition’s concerns that his popularity “does not give the president the right to do whatever he wants.” The “police, military and armed thugs have been tools used freely by Chavez to hang on to power during a coup attempt and a national strike in 2002.… Chavez has packed the Supreme Court and the army with his supporters, seized control of the country’s wealth and introduced a penal code that criminalizes dissent. Anyone who opposes him faces violence or prison.” Chavez opponents also complain that he is clamping down on the press. Ana Christina Nunez, legal counsel for Globovision, the country’s only 24-hour news channel, says, “Our own journalists don’t know whether they can show whatever it is they are trying to cover.” Harrigan also reports that Chavez is “pushing the idea that anyone can grow what they want on someone else’s land” and that he “has declared war on large landowners.” “More than 1,000 of Venezuela’s urban poor have set up bamboo shacks” on land that has “belonged to a British company for a century.” They use the land “to raise their own products for income,” he reports. The British firm’s employees show Harrington on a map how these successive invasions are eating away at the British company’s land holdings and threatening to drive the company into “bankruptcy.” Joaquin Roy, a professor at Miami University, warns that what’s happening in Venezuela could be the first step of land takeovers that could threaten US interests. (Harrigan 2/4/2005)

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela accuses the US government of planning “new aggressions” against him. The aggressions, Chavez describes, include another attempted coup and an assassination attempt. Chavez warns US president George W. Bush that if an assassination attempt was successful the people of Latin America would assume that democratic rules “no longer apply.” Chavez warns that another consequence of his assassination would be an “interruption of the flow of oil to the US.” Chavez asks that Bush consider these consequences before making a decision about his assassination. (Sojo 2/20/2005)

The US State Department says that President Chavez’s allegations (see February 20, 2005) that they are planning to assassinate him are “ridiculous.” (Vietnam Veterans of America 2/23/2005)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declares that the US-sponsored project, the Free Trade Agreement for the Americas (FTAA), is dead. Chavez says that a new model will be put in place to increase trade between Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil regardless of the US government’s position. Chavez says that eventually a new organization similar to NATO will be established for the countries of South America. (O'Donoghue 3/4/2005)

A protester holds a sign signifying his agreement with Pat Robertson’s call to assassinate Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.A protester holds a sign signifying his agreement with Pat Robertson’s call to assassinate Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. [Source: Foreign Policy Magazine]Right-wing Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, a former Republican candidate for president, tells his viewing audience that the US should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Robertson makes his statement on The 700 Club, the flagship broadcast of his Christian Broadcast Network. The US should assassinate Chavez to prevent Venezuela from becoming “a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.” Robertson says: “We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator [referring to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein]. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.… You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war… and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.” (Associated Press 8/22/2005; Zenko 10/22/2010)

Wayne Simmons, a former CIA operative, appears on the Hannity & Colmes show to offer his assessment of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He calls Chavez “a college-educated, militarily trained, lethal murderer, treacherous letch, who has… threatened not only the United States and the West, but armed himself with the revolutionary armed forces of Colombia.” “He specializes in murder, mayhem, extortion, and so on,” he adds. Simmons also accuses Chavez of being “in bed with Castro” and alleges that he is part of “the Bolivarian neo-communist regime movement that… will not be satisfied until they have penetrated every government from Ecuador to Panama, Colombia, and so on… .” When asked by Colmes whether the US should “assassinate him,” Simmons replies, “Well, listen, if a stray bullet from a hunter in Kentucky should find its way between… this guy’s eyes,… no American should lose any sleep over it.” Colmes then asks if “assassinating a leader of another country [would] be the Christian thing to do,” to which Simmons responds: “Listen, this is not about Christians. I’m a Christian, as well, but I’m about protecting this country and protecting Americans.… I absolutely would [support his assassination]—he should have been killed a long time ago.… this guy needs to go.” When Hannity and Holmes insist that assassinating Chavez would be against the law, Simmons compares Chavez to Adolf Hitler warning that the Venezuelan president “absolutely has the possibility of becoming [a Hitler] in South America.” (Fox 8/24/2005)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announces that Venezuela has moved its central bank reserves out of US banks and liquidated its US Treasury securities. The funds have been transferred to Europe and other countries, he says. (Associated Press 9/30/2005)

Nicaraguan presidential candidate Daniel Ortega strikes a deal with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that will allow an alliance of 51 Nicaraguan mayors, many from the Sandinista party, to purchase 10 million barrels of Venezuelan fuel on preferential terms. Under the agreement, the mayors will pay 60 percent of the cost of their purchases within 90 days of shipment, with the remaining 40 percent payable over the next 25 years at one percent interest, with a two-year grace period. In Nicaragua, high oil prices have led to rolling blackouts and transportation strikes. (Xinhua News Agency (Beijing) 4/26/2006; Associated Press 5/5/2006) Chavez says Venezuela will also donate 10,000 tons of urea to Sandinista farming organizations. (Associated Press 5/5/2006) During Ortega’s visit to Venezuela, he also says (see April or May 2006) that if he wins the November 5 elections, he will make sure Nicaragua joins the Alternativa Bolivariana para la America (ALBA), or the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, which was initiated by Venezuela and Cuba in 2005.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez suggests that the World Trade Center could have been brought down on 9/11 with explosives. “The hypothesis is not absurd… that those towers could have been dynamited. A building never collapses like that, unless it’s with an implosion. The hypothesis that is gaining strength… is that it was the same US imperial power that planned and carried out this terrible terrorist attack or act against its own people and against citizens of all over the world. Why? To justify the aggressions that immediately were unleashed on Afghanistan, on Iraq. A plane supposedly crashed into the Pentagon, but no one ever found a single remnant of that plane.” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro raises the same theories in a speech and calls for an independent investigation. He says: “It’s really worrisome to think that all of that could have been a great conspiracy against humanity. An independent international investigation must be carried out one day to discover the truth about the events of Sept. 11.” (Associated Press 9/12/2006)

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