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Posts tagged ‘List of Presidents of Venezuela’

Venezuela’s Maduro: Workers See Chavez Apparition at Building Site.

Image: Venezuela's Maduro: Workers See Chavez Apparition at Building Site

CARACAS, VenezuelaVenezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said an image of his idol and predecessor, the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, has appeared miraculously in the wall of an underground construction site.

Since his death from cancer earlier this year, Chavez has taken on mythical proportions for supporters and Maduro has spoken of seeing his former mentor’s spirit several times, including in the shape of a bird.

In the latest incident, Maduro said Chavez’s face had briefly appeared to workers building a new subway line in Caracas in the middle of the night.

“My hair stands on end just telling you about it,” Maduro said on state TV late on Wednesday, showing a photo of a white-plaster wall with marks that appear like eyes and a nose.

“Who is that face? That gaze is the gaze of the fatherland that is everywhere around us, including in inexplicable phenomena,” added an awed Maduro, who won an April election to replace Chavez after his 14-year presidency.

Maduro’s reverence for Chavez plays well with government supporters, who treat the charismatic former leader’s memory with religious adoration. The 50-year-old Maduro, who mixes Catholic beliefs with a penchant for Asian spirituality, has been a devoted personal follower of Chavez since first meeting him at a jail in 1993.

Workers took the photo with a mobile phone during the image’s brief appearance, the president added.

“Just as it appeared, so it disappeared. So you see, what you say is right, Chavez is everywhere, we are Chavez, you are Chavez,” Maduro said during an event shown on live TV.

Stories of Chavez appearances, however, draw mockery from the roughly half of Venezuelans who do not support Maduro. Many of them regard him as a buffoon riding on Chavez’s image and causing embarrassment for Venezuela‘s international standing.

Both sides are gearing up for local elections in December that will be a major test of Maduro’s standing in the OPEC nation of 29 million people. Rampant violent crime and economic problems are the main issues taxing voters.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Maduro Seeks Decree Powers From Venezuela Lawmakers.

Image: Maduro Seeks Decree Powers From Venezuela Lawmakers

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro went to parliament on Tuesday to seek decree powers that he says are essential to tackle corruption and fix the economy but opponents view as proof he wants to rule as an autocrat.The National Assembly, where Maduro’s socialist government has a nearly two-thirds majority, will schedule a vote on the request next week and is widely expected to grant him the fast-track legislative powers in a revival of a measure used several times by his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

Maduro, 50, says he needs the so-called Enabling Law for 12 months to toughen a crackdown on corruption in the South American OPEC nation as well as tackle economic problems that have become the main challenge of his young presidency.

“We’ve come to ask for decree powers that will give us a solid legal basis to act quickly and firmly against this badness, this sickness,” he told lawmakers after arriving to the cheers of supporters who lined streets around the assembly.

“If corruption continues and perpetuates the destructive logic of capitalism, there won’t be socialism here anymore. . . . Corruption must stop being a normal part of our political life,” Maduro said.

Only introducing “extremely severe” punishments for graft could put the country on the right path, he said, urging Venezuelans to reject corruption wherever it originated, in the opposition ranks or among his own “Chavista” supporters.

“It’s the same gangsterism, however it’s dressed up,” Maduro said.

Opposition leaders, however, suspect Maduro will try to use the special powers to attack them and to push through new laws that have nothing to do with the fight against graft.

In its latest annual index of perceptions of corruption, global watchdog Transparency International ranked Venezuela as the ninth most corrupt country in the world.

Having risen from a Caracas bus driver to Chavez’s vice president, Maduro won an April election to succeed him after his death from cancer.

Opponents mock Maduro as a poor imitation of Chavez, Venezuela’s leader of 14 years, arguing that he is ruining the country by continuing the same model of authoritarian leadership and failed leftist economic policies.

In a long speech that hailed the late Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and quoted South American independence hero Simon Bolivar, Maduro said decree powers would let him “deepen, accelerate and fight until the end for a new political ethic, a new republican life, and a new society.”


Though he has ordered no new state takeovers of businesses, the president has kept in place controversial Chavez-era currency controls and the black market price of dollars has soared to seven times higher than the official rate.

Inflation, a decades-old problem in Venezuela, is at an annual 45 percent, and the restricted access to dollars has fueled a shortage of imported goods ranging from toilet paper and motorcycle parts to communion wine.

Having repeatedly promised to ease the country’s complex currency controls to let a greater flow of dollars reach importers, Maduro may initially use decree powers to tinker with the complicated foreign exchange regime.

Maduro says Washington is helping the local opposition wage an “economic war” against Venezuela. Last week, he expelled three U.S. diplomats he accused of plotting with anti-government activists to damage the power grid and commit other sabotage.

The president likens the current accumulation of problems to the 2002-2003 period of Chavez’s rule, when there was a brief coup and an oil sector strike against him.

Chanting from the public gallery of the National Assembly, Maduro’s supporters interrupted his speech to sing “That’s how you govern!” and “With Chavez and Maduro, the people are safe!”

Opposition leaders, in a nation of 29 million people broadly split 50:50 between pro- and anti-government supporters, accuse Maduro of inventing excuses to cover up his own incompetence and the dysfunctional economy he inherited from Chavez.

“Maduro and his gang will be remembered as presiding over the most corrupt period in the history of Venezuela,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles said.

“This law that he wants is in order to distract the people from their problems. Decree powers will not help the government be successful.”

The last time Chavez was granted decree powers — in 2010 for 18 months — it caused a political uproar, despite his insistence that he needed them to deal with a national emergency caused by floods that made nearly 140,000 people homeless.

The late socialist leader passed nearly 200 laws by decree during his time in office, including legislation that allowed him to nationalize major oil projects and increase his influence in the Supreme Court.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


LIGNET: Election Results Show Chavez Movement Almost Over.

Image: LIGNET: Election Results Show Chavez Movement Almost Over

Venezuelan President-elect Nicolas Maduro declares victory in a race to succeed the late Hugo Chavez after election officials announced he narrowly defeated his opponent Henrique Radonski Capriles. (JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor Nicolás Maduro won the election to succeed the late Venezuelan president, but with a margin so narrow — less than one percent — that it’s clear the country’s economic and crime problems are overshadowing Chavez’s legacy.

With Maduro’s election, the Chavez movement appears to have been extended, but in fact, the results show that it is quickly crumbling, and will likely be a distant memory by the next election.

Click here to read the full analysis from top intelligence experts at

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Venezuelan Christians Call for Prayer After Chávez’s Death.

Hugo Chavez funeral
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Hugo Chavez’s funeral (Facebook)

As Venezuelans mourn the death of President Hugo Chávez and face an uncertain future, the nation’s evangelical community urges Christians around the world to be in prayer for their country.

Chávez, 58, died March 5, after battling cancer. The leader had served as Venezuela’s president for 14 years.

“Wednesday, scores of people came into the street [in Caracas] to view his funeral procession and show their respect for the fallen leader,” said a Christian worker in Venezuela. “Leaders from many countries around the world have also gathered for the funeral service on Friday.”

The country has declared seven days of mourning for their president.

Consejo Evangélico de Venezuela (The Evangelical Council of Venezuela), a Venezuelan organization of evangelicals including the National Baptist Convention of Venezuela, issued a statement Tuesday on their website and Facebook page, offering condolences to the president’s family and all Venezuelans, and calling for Christians to pray for peace and unity in their nation.

The statement urged Venezuelans to “avoid hatred, damaging language and confrontational attitudes” during this time of national grief and to “look to God as our only giver of grace and truth.”

Alluding to political divisions and tensions that have plagued Venezuela during the Chávez administration, the statement encouraged Venezuelans to “live together in the midst of differences” and to “maintain a heart free of bad feelings so that we may see the hand of God acting in our country.”

Citing several verses from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), the statement also challenged Venezuelans to be peacemakers—“be a country that constructs peace and rejects confrontation.”

The Christian worker explained, “Venezuela plays a critical role in influencing the affairs of Latin America and has one of the largest petroleum reserves of any country in the world.

“The capital, Caracas, is one of the least evangelized cities in Latin America,” the Christian worker added. “Thus, the death of the president behooves Christians everywhere to pray not only for the peace and unity of the nation, but that its citizens will use the death of their fallen leader to reflect upon the frailty of life and seek eternal security in the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”



Laura Fielding is an IMB writer. Maria Elena Baseler, IMB writer/editor, contributed to this story.

Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez dies from cancer.

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died after a two-year battle withcancer, ending the socialist leader’s 14-year rule of the South American country, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said in a televised speech on Tuesday.

The flamboyant 58-year-old leader had undergone four operations in Cuba for a cancer that was first detected in his pelvic region in mid-2011. His last surgery was on December 11 and he had not been seen in public since.

“It’s a moment of deep pain,” Maduro, accompanied by senior ministers, said, his voice choking.

Chavez easily won a new six-year term at an election in October and his death will devastate millions of supporters who adored his charismatic style, anti-U.S. rhetoric and oil-financed policies that brought subsidized food and free health clinics to long-neglected slums.

Detractors, however, saw his one-man style, gleeful nationalizations and often harsh treatment of opponents as traits of an egotistical dictator whose misplaced statist economics wasted a historic bonanza of oil revenues.

Chavez’s death opens the way for a new election that will test whether his socialist “revolution” can live on without his dominant personality at the helm.


The vote should be held within 30 days and will likely pit Maduro against Henrique Capriles, the centrist opposition leader and state governor who lost to Chavez in the October election.

One recent opinion poll gave Maduro a strong lead.

Maduro is Chavez’s preferred successor, enjoys support among many of the working class and could benefit from an inevitable surge of emotion in the coming days.

But the president’s death could also trigger in-fighting in a leftist coalition that ranges from hard-left intellectuals to army officers and businessmen.

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves and some of the most heavily traded bonds, so investors will be highly sensitive to any signs of political instability.

A defeat for Maduro would bring major changes to Venezuela and could also upend its alliances with Latin American countries that have relied on Chavez’s oil-funded largesse – most notably with communist-led Cuba, which recovered from financial ruin in the 1990s thanks largely to Chavez’s aid.

Chavez was a garrulous figurehead for a global “anti-imperialist” alliance stretching as far as Belarus and Iran, and he will be sorely missed by anti-U.S. agitators.

(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne and Daniel Wallis; Additional reporting by Girish Gupta, Mario Naranjo, Marianna Parraga and Patricia Velez in Caracas, David Adams in Miami, Daniel Bases in New York; Editing by Kieran Murray, Sandra Maler and David Brunnstrom)


By Andrew Cawthorne and Daniel Wallis | Reuters

Chavez’s breathing problems worsen, has severe new infection.


CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’sbreathing problems have worsened and he is suffering from a “severe” new respiratory infection as he struggles to recover from cancer surgery, the government said in a somber medical update on Monday.

The 58-year-old socialist leader has not been seen in public nor heard from in almost three months since undergoing the operation in Cuba. It was his fourth surgery since the disease was detected in mid-2011.

“Today there is a worsening of his respiratory function, related to his depressed immune system. There is now a new, severe infection,” Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said, reading the latest brief statement on Chavez’s condition.

Chavez made a surprise pre-dawn homecoming two weeks ago with none of the fanfare and celebration that had accompanied previous returns from treatment in Havana. The government said he is now fighting for his life at a Caracas military hospital. Armed guards are providing heavy security outside.

“The president has been receiving high-impact chemotherapy, along with other complementary treatments … his general condition continues to be very delicate,” Villegas said.

Chavez suffered multiple complications after the December 11 surgery, including unexpected bleeding and an earlier severe respiratory infection that officials said had been controlled.

The government said he had trouble speaking because he was breathing through a tracheal tube, but that he was giving orders to ministers by writing them down.

“The commander-president remains clinging to Christ and to life, conscious of the difficulties that he is facing, and complying strictly with the program designed by his medical team,” Villegas said.

Chavez had undergone several grueling rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, which at times left him bald and bloated. He twice wrongly declared himself cured.

The only sight of the former soldier since his latest operation were four photos published by the government while he was still in Havana, showing him lying in a hospital bed.

Following an emotional Mass at the military hospital on Friday, Vice President Nicolas Maduro – Chavez’s preferred successor if he is unable to carry on as president – said the president had decided for himself several days earlier that he would return to Venezuela from Cuba.

Chavez was going to begin a “tougher and more intense” phase of his treatment, Maduro said, and he wanted to be in Caracas.


Maduro said that included chemotherapy – prompting some in the opposition to question whether chemotherapy can be successfully given to patients in such a delicate state.

The government is furious at rumors in recent days that Chavez might have died, blaming them on an opposition plot by “far-right fascists” to destabilize the OPEC nation, which boasts the world’s biggest oil reserves.

“We call on all our people to stay alert, untouched by the psychological war deployed by foreign laboratories with the corrupt Venezuelan right, seeking to generate violence as a pretext for a foreign intervention,” Villegas said.

“At this time, unity and discipline are the bases to guarantee political stability,” he said, adding that the government was accompanying Chavez’s children and other relatives in “this battle full of love and spirituality.”

Opposition leaders have accused Maduro of repeatedly lying about the president’s real condition. Several dozen anti-government student protesters have chained themselves up in public to demand proof that Chavez is alive and in Venezuela.

“I can’t even imagine the party they’re going to have tomorrow with this news,” pro-Chavez commentator Mario Silva said on state TV on Monday night. “But we all have to keep faith.”

Should the Venezuelan leader step down or die, an election would be held within 30 days and would probably pit Maduro against opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in a presidential election in October.

The stakes are also high for the rest of Latin America. Chavez has been the most vocal critic of Washington in the region and has funded hefty aid programs for leftist governments from Bolivia to Cuba.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Velez; Editing by Kieran Murray and Christopher Wilson)


By Daniel Wallis | Reuters

Ecuador’s Correa: from boyhood leader to firebrand president.

QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador‘s President Rafael Correa held his first cabinet meetings more than 35 years before he was elected.

As an 8-year-old in the bustling port of Guayaquil, according to his brother, he would play head of state with friends who gathered around him to serve as ersatz ministers taking his orders.

The innate charisma that he showed as a schoolboy has helped make Correa one of the Andean nation’s most popular presidents, celebrated as a champion of the poor by supporters from windswept highlands to sweltering Amazon jungle.

The country of 15 million gave Correa a sweeping re-election victory on Sunday, according to early official results, allowing him to continue a “Citizens’ Revolution” focused on fighting poverty and expanding the reach of the state.

Yet critics might see in those childhood games the authoritarian traits of a leader they now accuse of hoarding power: he somehow always managed to be the chief.

“I used to say to his friends, ‘when you play cops and robbers, sometimes you’re the cop and sometimes you’re the robber,'” said Correa’s brother, Fabricio, once a close ally who is now a fierce critic after a theatrical falling-out.

“‘But you guys are always the stooges and he’s always the president,'” he said in an interview.

A savvy political operator, the 49-year-old Correa has built up solid support by boosting state spending on health and education.

His strident anti-American rhetoric and showdowns with Wall Street investors and oil companies have helped him build the image of a populist crusader battling elites in the name of the poor.

To detractors, however, Correa is a dangerous and impulsive authoritarian who brooks no dissent and persecutes adversaries while squashing free speech and free enterprise alike.

They say his political success has come from a vast expansion of presidential powers and indiscriminate use of government coffers swollen by rising global crude oil prices, higher taxes, and financing agreements with China.

After winning a new four-year term on Sunday, Correa is set to be in power for a decade, a remarkable feat in a country where military coups and violent protests had turned the presidency into more of a revolving door than a stable institution.

It may also give Correa a bigger leadership role in a coalition of left-wing leaders in Latin America as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, for years the region’s main agitator against U.S. power, struggles with life-threatening cancer.

Though Correa has said he is not interested in replacing Chavez, he is likely to continue replicating the Venezuelan’s ferocious verbal bashing of the U.S. “empire.”

He has canceled U.S. anti-narcotics flights from Ecuador, and in 2011 he expelled the American ambassador.

Last year, he set his government on a new collision course with Western powers when he allowed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to take refuge at Ecuador’s embassy in London, saying he feared Washington wanted to persecute the former computer hacker for leaking thousands of secret U.S. cables.


Driving Correa’s diatribes about corrupt media and immoral bankers is a profound anger over poverty, which he witnessed up close in 1987 while volunteering with a Roman Catholic organization in the remote Andean village of Zumbahua.

He spent a year living in a tiny room in a dilapidated building, playing guitar and sharing meals with the local Kichwa indigenous people while learning their language.

The malnutrition and lack of basic healthcare he saw in Zumbahua was a stark contrast to his own lower middle class upbringing.

“The time he spent here left a mark on him. He saw that these people were trapped in poverty. He would go around saying things were going to be different when he became president,” said Pio Baschirotto, a 71-year-old priest who works in Zumbahua and is friends with the president.

Correa went on to study economics in Belgium, where he met his future wife, and in 2001 completed a doctoral thesis at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that argued against the free-market reforms that swept Latin America in the 1990s.

The father of three won the presidency in late 2006 on promises to tackle poverty by boosting the state’s share of the OPEC nation’s oil industry proceeds and increasing government spending on social welfare.

Since then he has doubled spending on education, linked remote villages to big cities by turning muddy dirt paths into proper roads, and expanded access to healthcare by building 20 new hospitals and revamping some 500 clinics.

“We’ve done a lot. … Our roads are envied throughout the Americas, ports, airports, hydroelectric dams. For sure, things have changed,” Correa said when he kicked off his re-election bid in November in front of thousands of supporters.

“But there’s a long way to go and that’s why we’re here.”

An avid cyclist, Correa filmed one campaign spot showing him changing out of a sharp suit into biking clothes and then riding his bike over mountain peaks and past tropical fishing villages to show the improvement of roads under his leadership.


Supporters say Correa’s charm and heavy state spending have helped him put an end to the political turmoil that ousted three predecessors in the decade before he took office.

But critics say the key to Correa’s longevity is that his allies drafted a new constitution in 2008 that expanded the reach of the presidency, made it easier for him to put allies in key posts and has allowed him to run for two consecutive terms.

He also bypassed Congress by calling a referendum on an overhaul of the justice system in 2011 that critics say boosted his power over courts. The opposition-controlled legislature would have likely rejected the reforms.

At the same time, he expanded the use of adulatory state media to burnish his image, began calling critical reporters “dogs” and “hired assassins,” and sued two opposition newspapers for libel.

Business leaders say his expansion of state control over the economy and creation of onerous taxes has weakened the private sector while fostering corruption, an approach his rival Guillermo Lasso calls “franchise socialism” because of its similarity to reforms in allied Venezuela and Bolivia.

Allies who helped him win the presidency quickly found there was no room for dissent or even disagreement. Within two years, Correa elbowed as many as 10 people out of his inner circle.

“We were like brothers. Sometimes neither of us was able to say who had said something first,” said Alberto Acosta, a political mentor who said he fell out with Correa over the president’s plans to expand the mining industry at the expense of the environment.

“I don’t know him anymore … he has become authoritarian, domineering and arrogant. He’s a caudillo now,” said Acosta, using a label often given to autocratic rulers in Latin America.


One of his most bitter brawls was with his own brother, Fabricio. The two campaigned together in the election that swept Correa to power, and they had been close since childhood.

The president openly broke with him in 2010 following accusations that Fabricio Correa’s engineering firm had profited from government contracts that violated anti-nepotism laws.

The elder Correa denies the charges and says the relationship broke down when he complained about irregular contracting practices. He says he learned via the vice president that his brother had barred him from the presidential palace.

“He turned into a fanatic,” said Fabricio Correa. “He believes he is a messiah, and he always envisioned a totalitarian system because he believes that’s the only way to help the poor.”

The president has ready responses to such charges.

“They say we’re obsessed with power. Yes! We’re obsessed with the power to serve the citizens, especially the poor,” he said last month when he celebrated six years in office.

“We’re obsessed with the power to build more schools, more hospitals, more roads, more bridges.”

Supporters and rivals alike complain that Correa’s sharp temper and hostile attitude have led him to pick unnecessary fights and to implement policies based on confrontation.

His most notable showdown was his 2008 decision to default on $3.2 billion in global bonds, even though Ecuador had the funds to continue making payments. Correa insisted the debt had been illegally contracted under previous governments.

Ecuador later repurchased the debt at a steep discount in an aggressive operation that turned Wall Street’s rough-and-tumble playbook back on the investors themselves – but also locked Ecuador out of global capital markets.

He also forced oil companies to sign contracts to give the state greater income, pushing out Brazil’s Petrobras in the process, and bullied mobile phone carriers into paying more for their operating licenses, deterring potential investors.

“His biggest defect is his biggest virtue: he fights for what he believes without thinking about the consequences,” said Correa’s friend and former minister, Susana Cabeza de Vaca.

(Additional reporting by Maria Teresa Escobar; Editing by Kieran Murray and Mohammad Zargham)


By Eduardo Garcia and Brian Ellsworth | Reuters

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