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U.S. Names New Ambassador to Venezuela

The Bush administration announced yesterday that it will appoint Patrick Duddy as new ambassador to Venezuela. Duddy currently is the U.S. Joint Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

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Venezuelan Unemployment at New Low, GDP Continues Strong

Venezuela’s January unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level, 11.1%, in over eight years, according to the country’s National Statistics Institute. Also, GDP growth for the 4th quarter of 2006 was higher than expected, at 11.8%.

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Venezuela Decrees Nationalization of Last Foreign Controlled Oil Fields

Venezuela’s President Chavez announced a new law-decree, which will nationalize the last remaining oil production sites that are under foreign company control.

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European Union Observers Praise December Elections, Recommend Improvements

The Electoral Observer Mission of the European Union (EUEOM) concluded that Venezuela’s presidential elections of last December were, “held in respect of national laws and international standards.” The report also listed a number of ways in which future elections could be improved, such as by limiting government advertising in favor of one candidate.

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Venezuela and Argentina Sign Accords for Closer Cooperation

The presidents of Venezuela and of Argentina, Hugo Chavez and Nestor Kirchner, signed a series of 17 agreements yesterday, which will bring the two countries even closer together than they already are.

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Texas Congresswoman Urges Bush to Reconsider Venezuela Arms Ban

A U.S. congresswoman called on the Bush administration Wednesday to reconsider its ban on selling parts for U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to Venezuela, urging improved ties between the two nations.

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Venezuela and London Sign Oil for Advice Deal

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone signed an agreement yesterday according to which Venezuela would provide discounted diesel fuel in exchange for advice on public transportation, environmental protection, tourism, and city planning.

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Chavez Announces 5 Point Decrease in Sales Tax, Monetary Reform

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez yesterday announced government plans to reduce the rate of value added tax (VAT) by 5 percentage points, as well as plans to make changes to the Venezuelan currency, the Bolivar.

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Venezuela to Heighten Security in Response to Al Qaeda Threat

Venezuela’s Defense Minister, General Raúl Baduel said yesterday that Venezuela would strengthen national security, in reaction to a recent alleged threat from the terrorist group Al Qaeda, which said that it would target major U.S. oil suppliers. Some officials, though, both in the U.S. and in Venezuela, expressed skepticism about the threat.

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Chavez Denounces US “Economic Plan” Against Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez yesterday responded to comments made last week by U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice who accused him of “destroying” Venezuela “economically, politically.” Chavez said it showed there was now an “economic plan against Venezuela.”

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Venezuela Expands Regulation of Food Production

Maria Cristina Iglesias, the Minister of Light Industry and Elias Jaua, the Minister of Agriculture, announced yesterday that the government will begin regulating all prices in the production chain of meat. Also, Chavez announced that food distributors could be nationalized if they resist these newest measures.

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Venezuelan Government and Verizon Agree to Telecom Nationalization

The Venezuelan government and New York-based Verizon Communications signed a memorandum of understanding for the government’s purchase of the private company’s majority stake in the Venezuela's largest telecommunications company CANTV.

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Venezuelan Government Announces Elimination of Tax on Meat

The Venezuelan Government announced yesterday that it would remove value added tax (VAT) on meat and other foodstuffs in a set of new measures aimed at curbing inflation. The measures also include agricultural subsidies for some basic products, and two decree laws to combat food hoarding.

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Venezuela Issues $5 Billion in Bonds, Investment Rating Improves

Ricardo Sanguino, head of the Venezuelan National Assembly’s finance commission, announced Wednesday that the government planned to issue US$5 billion (€3.85 billion) in bonds, as part of a drive to curb a growing rise in the inflation rate.

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Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Bishop, Slam Rice over Comments on Venezuela

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro yesterday rejected comments made by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on Wednesday, which accused Chavez of “destroying” Venezuela. Monsignor Lückert of Venezuela's Bishop's Conference said Rice's claim US officials met with Church offials was a "lie."

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