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Posts tagged ‘Government of Venezuela’

Venezuela Expels 3 US Consular Officials.

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s president says he’s ordering the expulsion of three U.S. consular officials.

President Nicolas Maduro made the announcement during a televised speech Sunday night that comes amid rising tensions in Venezuela over anti-government protests.

Maduro hasn’t identified the officials but accuses them of infiltrating Venezuelan universities under the cover of doing consular work involving student visas.

The president has accused the U.S. of working with the opposition in trying to topple his socialist government. Washington denies it is trying to undermine Maduro.

Maduro also says the country’s ambassador to the Organization of American States in Washington received a phone call from the State Department warning that the arrest of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez would have negative international consequences for his government. Maduro says he won’t tolerate “threats” to Venezuela’s sovereignty.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Germany check bust stirs questions in Venezuela.

Venezuela opposition: government should explain why Iranian had check worth about $70 million

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s opposition is demanding that the government explain how a former Iranian official ended up with a check in Venezuelan currency worth about $70 million.

Venezuela’s opposition coalition said in a statement on Monday that the government should clear up why the Iranian had a check for 300 million Venezuelan bolivars that was found by German customs authorities.

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported in its Sunday edition that the man who was trying to enter Germany with the check was Tahmasb Mazaheri, Iran’s former central bank chief.

The weekly reported that customs officials at Duesseldorf airport found the check in his luggage on Jan. 21 upon his arrival from Turkey, and that Mazaheri told authorities the money was to be used for the construction of 10,000 apartments funded by the Venezuelan government.

President Hugo Chavez‘s government has built close ties with Iran’s government in recent years, and Iran has helped build public housing in the country.

Opposition official Ramon Jose Medina called it a “clear irregularity” and said there should be a thorough investigation.

“We demand that there be an immediate explanation to the country about those funds,” Medina said in the opposition coalition’s statement.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles also expressed concern, saying in a message on Twitter on Sunday: “What explanation will the government give Venezuelans about what happened with the Iranian ex-minister?”

Venezuelan government officials have yet to comment on the matter. Officials at Iran’s embassies in Caracas and Berlin could not be reached for comment.

German customs had issued a statement on Friday saying that a check for 300 million Venezuelan bolivars issued by the Bank of Venezuela was found on an unidentified 59-year-old man. They have declined to identify the man, who is now free to go about his business while officials investigate the funds.

Bild am Sonntag reported that German police and customs were investigating possible money laundering.


Associated Press

Rights groups condemn crackdown on Venezuela TV.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Rights groups are condemning an order by Venezuela’s broadcast agency for a television channel to stop showing clips that question the legality of postponingPresident Hugo Chavez‘s inauguration.

The organizations Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders criticized the government’s actions against the country’s only staunchly anti-Chavez channel, Globovision.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Saturday that the Venezuelan government is attempting to censor critical public discussions and intimidate its critics.

Globovision had been showing clips in which it replayed remarks by Chavez, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, and Venezuela’s attorney general.

In them, the channel questioned the constitutionality of putting off the ailing president’s scheduled Jan. 10 inauguration for a new term while he remains in Cuba more than a month after undergoing cancer surgery. The opposition had also opposed such a delay, but the Supreme Court ruled that Chavez can be sworn in later on.

The National Telecommunications Council on Wednesday opened an investigation aimed at imposing sanctions against Globovision. Pedro Maldonado, the agency’s director, said that the channel had manipulated information and that it’s illegal for TV stations to show programming that “generates anxiety in the citizenry or disturbs public order.”

It’s the eighth such investigation that the regulatory agency has opened against Globovision in recent years. Maldonado said the news channel could face sanctions including being shut down for 72 hours or being fined up to 10 percent of its annual gross income.

Reporters Without Borders called the measures against Globovision excessive.

“Is debate not allowed?” the organization said in a statement on Friday. “These proceedings are disproportionate and absurd.”

Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch, said “there is nothing in the content of Globovision’s broadcasts that could remotely be described as incitement or a threat to public order.”

Venezuela’s opposition has similarly called for the government to stop such measures against critical news media.

In June, Globovision paid a fine of more than $2 million imposed by regulators in another investigation.

Human Rights Watch also criticized a Jan. 6 raid by Venezuelan intelligence agents on the home of a blogger suspected of posting messages on Twitter questioning the information provided by the government about Chavez’s condition.

The blogger, Federico Medina Ravell, is a cousin of Alberto Federico Ravell, a former news director of Globovision.

Isabel Grisanti, a lawyer who is a friend of Medina’s family, said the agents came to the home in the city of Valencia with a court order to search the house in an investigation relating to weapons possession and alleged computer-related crimes.

Grisanti said she didn’t know why the raid was carried out, but Venezuelan media have reported that the authorities were going after people posting Twitter messages about Chavez’s condition, which the government describes as delicate while the president fights a severe respiratory infection.

Medina wasn’t home at the time. The agents found no weapons in the home but did seize two computers, Grisanti said.


By VIVIAN SEQUERA | Associated Press

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