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Revised Venezuelan Constitutional Reform Proposal Presented to Legislature

Venezuela's National Assembly held an Extraordinary Session yesterday to present the findings of the Commission tasked to review the Constitutional Reform Proposal. Towards the end of the public event a scuffle broke out between opposition supporters and Chavez supporters.

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Venezuela and Colombia Launch Gas Pipeline

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez opens a valve in the new transnational gas pipeline (Prensa Presidencial)
The Presidents of Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador met in northern Colombia on Friday to inaugurate a new transnational gas pipeline. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela also invited Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to join the new regional development fund, the Bank of the South, which he accepted.

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President Chavez Swears-In PSUV Spokespersons

Thousands of PSUV spokespersons meet in Caracas for a swearing-in ceremony (ABN)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez swore in more than 14,000 spokespersons for the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in Caracas on Wednesday. The party spokespersons were elected two weeks ago by party battalions all across the country to represent each battalion in the formation of the new party.

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Joseph Stiglitz, in Caracas, Praises Venezuela’s Economic Policies

Economics Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz
Nobel Prize winning economist and former vice-president of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, praised Venezuela's economic growth and "positive policies in health and education" during a visit to Caracas on Wednesday.

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Media Owners and Venezuelan Government Square Off (Again)

Editor and Owner of the Venezuelan daily El Nacional Miguel Otero at a press conference on Monday (Unión Radio)
Editor and Owner of the Venezuelan daily El Nacional, Miguel Otero, warned this week that independent media in the country would "disappear" if the proposed constitutional reform is approved. He also accused the Venezuelan government of preventing the Inter-American Press Association from meeting in Caracas next March.

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Chavez Swears In Team for Constitutional Reform Campaign

Swearing in of Central Command of Zamora Campaign (Marco Colina, ABN)
The principal enemy to the project of constitutional reform is abstention, assured Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as he swore in the Central Command of the constitutional reform campaign. Meanwhile, the National Assembly initiated its third and final discussion of the reform proposal.

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Venezuela Implements New Taxes on Businesses, Cigarettes, Alcohol

A waiter carries Scotch whisky to customers at a bar in Caracas (AP/Fernando Llano)
The Venezuelan government implemented several new taxes this week, in an attempt to curb inflation and to reduce alcohol and cigarette consumption among the Venezuelan population.

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Venezuelan Doctors to Receive 60% Pay Raise and More Investment in Hospitals

Chavez is greeted by pro-government doctors in the Teresa Carreño theater during a commemoration for the 40-year anniversary of Che Guevara's death. (Marcelo García)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced a 60% salary increase for doctors in Venezuela's public health sector yesterday and presented more details on government spending on existing and new hospitals.

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Chavez Outlines Proposed Social and Economic Structure for Venezuelan Socialism

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez on his TV program Aló Presidente this Sunday (ABN)
On Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez outlined his conception of how his constitutional reform proposal change the political and territorial organization of the country and will provide more political power to community organizations.

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Director of Venezuela’s Electoral Council Urges Investigation of President Chavez

Director of Venezuela's National Electoral Council Vicente Diaz (Union Radio)
One of the five directors of Venezuela's National Electoral Commission (CNE), Vicente Diaz, called for an investigation of President Hugo Chavez this week for violating the nation's laws regarding political propaganda. In a similar case, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez was sanctioned recently by the CNE for engaging in illegal electoral propaganda before the 2006 presidential elections.

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Venezuela Responds to US Secretary of Defense

Venezuelan Vice-President Jorge Rodriguez (Union Radio)
Responding to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said that Hugo Chavez is a "threat to regional stability," Venezuelan Vice-President Jorge Rodriguez affirmed that Hugo Chavez is indeed a "tremendous threat" to the "empires of the world," and assured they would continue to be a "greater threat" as time goes on.

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Venezuelan Efforts Praised, Meeting Postponed in Colombian Hostage Negotiation

Venezuelan President Chavez met with a representative of France's President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday, to discuss Chavez's efforts to obtain the release of the French citizen Ingrid Betancourt, along with other hostages held by the Colombian guerrilla g
UN High Commissioner for Refugee congratulated the government of Venezuela in relation to the efforts of President Chavez to achieve a humanitarian exchange of 45 hostages held by Colombian guerrillas for guerrilla insurgents held in Colombia jails. A crucial meeting between Chavez and the rebels for next week has been postponed, though.

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Venezuelan Foreign Minister Slams US Government at the UN

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro Speaks Before the United Nations General Assembly in New York (Reuters)
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro sharply criticized Washington at the UN General Assembly yesterday for increasing threats against Iran and for its actions in the war on terrorism. Maduro also met with US officials on Monday to discuss the delicate relations between the two countries.

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Venezuelan Bond of the South Sale a “Total Success”

Venezuelan finance minister Rodrigo Cabezas (Archive)
Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas announced the results of Venezuela's third Bond of the South sale, valued at US$1.2 billion, which he described as a "total success." The sale is meant to help hold down annual inflation, which registered at 15.3% in September, slightly down from the previous month.

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Protesters Block Colombian-Venezuelan Border Crossings

Protests along the Venezuelan-Colombian Border block traffic between the two countries.
Many border crossing points between Venezuela and Colombia have been blocked for the past week and at least seven people were wounded in clashes with Colombian police over a new toll imposed by the Colombian government.

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