Venezuela News Summary #90

Government Builds Genetics Research Center and Special Classrooms for Venezuela's Disabled | Venezuela Elected to UNESCO Executive Council | Venezuela Moves Up Four Positions in U.N. Human Development Ranking | Venezuela and U.K. Sign Anti-Drug Trafficking Agreement | Venezuela and Ecuador Advance Bilateral Cooperation | Venezuela Nationalizes Hilton Hotel | Urban Land Committees Demand Law Reform | Venezuela Grants Land to Indigenous Communities On Indigenous Resistance Day | Venezuelan Yukpa Indigenous Community Attacked | Venezuelan Poll: Chavez Enjoys High Approval Rating | Venezuelan Economic Measures Prioritize National Production | Venezuela Re-Stocks Subsidized Food Markets Amid Continued Inflation

I. Government Builds Genetics Research Center and Special Classrooms for Venezuela’s Disabled
In an expansion of the Jose Gregorio Hernandez Mission, a national program of assistance for people with disabilities, the Venezuelan government announced the construction of nearly four hundred special public school classrooms with facilities designed to accommodate the disabled. It also inaugurated a new genetics research center this week. Located in Miranda state, the center is equipped for research primarily in human medical conditions, genetic engineering, neuroscience, and child neurological development. Venezuelan specialists working in the center, with the assistance of Cuban genetics specialists, will study and help treat tens of thousands of Venezuelans who have genetically derived disabilities. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4866

II. Venezuela Elected to UNESCO Executive Council
During the 35th Session of the UN’s UNESCO General Conference this week, Venezuela was elected to the UNESCO Executive Council. In an official statement, the Venezuelan Foreign Relations Ministry said Venezuela’s election by nearly 2/3rds of the UNESCO member countries represents “another foreign policy triumph for the Bolivarian Revolution.” The 58-member Executive Council meets at least twice a year and is charged with managing the UNESCO’s budget and agenda, recommending potential new member states, and convoking extraordinary meetings. Countries are elected to four-year terms on the Executive Council by the General Conference, which includes all 193 UNESCO member countries. Venezuela was previously a member of the Executive Council from 2003-2007, and will now serve on the council from 2010-2013. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4865

III. Venezuela Moves Up Four Positions in U.N. Human Development Ranking
Venezuela jumped four notches, to be ranked 58th in this year’s United Nations Human Development Report. The yearly report measures life expectancy, access to education, and income in 182 nations worldwide. According to the UN Development Program representative in Venezuela, Yves Sassenrath, Venezuela’s improved ranking was the result of the reduction of its infant mortality rate, as well as the increase in its literacy and school enrollment rates. Since Chavez took office a decade ago, access to primary health care in Venezuela has increased more than fourfold to nearly 100%, illiteracy has been nearly eradicated, and infant mortality has decreased by more than half. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4849

IV. Venezuela and U.K. Sign Anti-Drug Trafficking Agreement
Last week, during a two-day visit to Caracas by the British vice-minister of foreign affairs, Chris Bryant, Venezuela and the U.K. strengthened their mutual commitment to combat drug trafficking and prevent drug consumption. The two countries agreed to exchange intelligence and collaborate to capture drug traffickers, intercept drug shipments, and combat the importation of synthetic drugs coming from Europe. Meanwhile, Bryant recognized Venezuela’s increased efforts to put a halt to the illegal drug trade. In a press conference, Bryant commended the Venezuelan government for tightening controls in ports and airports, promoting international cooperation for the interception of drug shipments, dismantling drug laboratories, increasing drug interdictions, and detecting illegal flights headed toward Europe and West Africa. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4854

V. Venezuela and Ecuador Advance Bilateral Integration and Cooperation
In their sixth quarterly meeting on bilateral cooperation, last week, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, signed agreements to create binational fishing and mining companies, enhance joint efforts to prevent drug consumption, fight drug trafficking, and increase military cooperation. Correa called the 12-hour long meeting a “step forward” and added that, “collective action and unity in the region are fundamental for the development of its peoples.” Venezuela also agreed to donate $20 million worth of wheelchairs, crutches, and other special equipment to bolster Ecuador’s new social program called the Manuela Espejo Solidarity Mission. The mission seeks to provide needed social and economic services to Ecuador’s disabled peoples. The meeting in Caracas, came amidst a strong backlash from the majority of South American countries against the recent expansion of the U.S. military presence in Colombia, which both Venezuela and Ecuador consider a potential threat to their sovereignty. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4851

VI. Venezuela Nationalizes Hilton Hotel
This week, the Venezuelan government nationalized the Hilton Suites and its assets located on Margarita Island, a popular international tourist destination. The nationalized hotel has nearly 500 rooms, the island’s biggest casino, a giant pool, shops, restaurants, meeting rooms and an adjoining coastal area of 26 square kilometers. Chavez said the nationalization was part of the government’s plan to rescue the country’s tourism and improve the economy. He said the tourist sector is being exploited by foreign-owned companies, to the detriment of the people. The hotel was owned by Inversiones Pueblamar and Desarrollos MBK, companies the government says are immersed in lawsuits with the Venezuelan Bank Superintendency. The hotel and all its infrastructure will be administered by the Ministry of Tourism and the state company Venezuelan Tourism (Venetur). Venezuelan Tourism Minister, Pedro Morejon, said the hotel would continue operating as normal and all its workers would continue in their positions, with the same labor agreement. The hotel was the venue of the America-South Africa Summit in September. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4864

VII. Urban Land Committees of Venezuela Demand Law Reform
Last Saturday, Urban Land Committee spokespersons from across Venezuela met in Caracas to demand the approval of a reform to the Law of Regularization of Urban Land Tenancy, which would transfer private housing to occupying families and recognize collective property ownership. The Urban Land Committees are 7-year-old community based organizations that struggle for urban land, and the right to housing. The National Assembly passed the Tenancy law in 2006, which, among other things, stipulated the norms for granting tenancy to barrio and settlement dwellers. It stipulated 10 years living in private property before legal permanency can be granted, and that illegal land occupations would not be recognized. Last August an Urban Land Law was passed, which put unused urban land at the service of the public. A central point in the law reform is the transfer of private property to families who have been occupying it and who have added value to it through their own labor. It also recognizes other forms of land ownership, such as family property and collective property. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4863

VIII. Venezuela Grants Land to Indigenous Communities On Indigenous Resistance Day
Across the Americas, October 12th is widely celebrated as Columbus Day, recognizing the day in 1492 when Christopher Columbus first arrived in the Americas. In 2004, however, the Venezuelan government officially changed the name in Venezuela to Indigenous Resistance Day. Venezuelans marked this year’s Indigenous Resistance Day on Monday, with a march through Caracas. Thousands of members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela marched together with members of indigenous groups from across Venezuela to the National Pantheon, in order to celebrate achievements for indigenous peoples under the Chavez government. Meanwhile, during a special ceremony in Zulia state, Venezuelan Minister of Interior, Tarek el Aissami, handed over long-awaited land titles to more than 40,000 hectares of land to three Yukpa indigenous communities in the Sierra de Perija National Park. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4858

IX. Venezuelan Yukpa Indigenous Community Attacked, Two Murdered Following
Land Grants
The following day, however, assassins attacked the community of Yukpa chief and indigenous rights activist Sabino Romero, killing two and injuring at least four. Romero’s son in law, Ever Garcia, and a young, pregnant Yukpa woman were shot dead in the attack. Romero received three bullet wounds and is currently in the hospital in stable condition. Romero’s daughter, granddaughter, and nephew were also hospitalized with bullet wounds. Romero was one of several Yukpa chiefs who led land occupations last year to demand that the government pay indemnity to the private estate owners and transfer the land to the Yukpa in the form of collective property. Since the land occupations began in July 2008, the involved Yukpa communities have been subject to repeated death threats and attacks by thugs believed to have been hired by large estate owners and their local government allies. Venezuela’s indigenous population constitutes less than two percent of the national population. Indigenous communities have gained substantial constitutional, legal, and parliamentary recognition since President Chavez took office in 1999. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4862

X. Venezuelan Poll: Chavez Enjoys 62.4% Approval Rating
According to the results of the latest survey carried out by the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis, IVAD, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez enjoys an approval rating of over 60%. The survey also showed that just over a third of Venezuelans disapprove of Chavez while only 2% were undecided. However, while Chavez’s individual popularity remains high, support for his United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or PSUV is much lower at just over 30% of those surveyed. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4857

XI. Venezuelan Economic Measures Prioritize National Production
Last week, the Venezuelan government announced a range of economic measures on national investment and production in order to combat unemployment, create economic growth, and decrease inflation. The government plans to invest in the electric and hydrocarbon sectors, provide special subsidies for the production of strategic goods, and improve the efficiency of designating loans for productive activity and for medium and small industry. The government will also adjust its trading policies to encourage more national production. Measures to control inflation include new technology for farm based production, increased storage capacity for the preservation of livestock feed, and specifically assigning funds to car parts, car repair and maintenance services. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4856

XII. Venezuela Re-Stocks Subsidized Food Markets Amid Continued Inflation
The Venezuelan government announced a plan last week to purchase $2 million U.S. dollars worth of basic foods to be sold over the next ten months in its state-run subsidized food markets, Mercal. The measure comes as new statistics show that monthly inflation increased by 2.5% in September, with food price inflation above average. The food purchase, which is financed by the national Social Development Bank (BANDES), is intended to “guarantee food security”. 80% of the money will be used to buy nearly a million metric tons of foods such as rice, pasta, flour, beans, sugar, salt, cooking oil, meat, and milk, as well as traditional Venezuelan food items consumed during the December holidays. http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4853

For RSS & Podcasts, http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/rss