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Hugo Chavez, journalism award-winner in Argentina

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez shows the Rodolfo Walsh prize given to him by Florencia Saintout, Dean of the University of La Plata in La Plata March 29, 2011. Chavez, who critics accuse of stifling press freedom, was given a prize by an Argentine journalism school on Tuesday for his contribution to "popular communication." Since coming to power in 1999, Chavez has polarized his country and opponents say he has set out to silence criticism by refusing to renew the licenses of a critical broadcaster and dozens of radio stations. REUTERS/Pablo Busti

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, march 30, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP) — Hugo Chavez, winner of a journalism award?

The Venezuelan leader regularly clashes with critical media, but Argentina’s University of La Plata was giving him its Rodolfo Walsh Prize on Tuesday “for his unquestionable and authentic commitment” to giving people without a voice access to the airwaves and newspapers, AP reported.

Chavez has bankrolled the growth of the Telesur network, providing a state-funded alternative to privately financed broadcast stations across Latin America.

He has a sure ally in Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, who sees privately owned media groups as a bigger threat to freedom of expression than state control of airwaves or newsprint. Fernandez is trying to transform Argentina’s communications industry through a law that would break up media monopolies and force cable TV providers to include channels run by unions, Indians and other activists.

“Here there is democracy,” Chavez said after arriving in Argentina. He praised the country for having an “open debate just like in Venezuela, and a president who is an absolute defender of human rights and freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of thought.”

The two presidents also signed commercial accords dealing with food, transport and energy, and they visited a state-run factory where Argentina will build ships for Venezuela’s oil industry.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez holds up the Rodolfo Walsh prize he was awarded by the University of La Plata in La Plata, Argentina, Tuesday March 29, 2011. Chavez received the Rodolfo Walsh journalism award "for his unquestionable and authentic commitment" to giving people without voice access to the airwaves and newspapers. The statue reads in Spanish "Operation Massacre," the title of Walsh's 1957 book. (AP Photo/Jorge Araujo)



Venezuela will import thousands of Argentine cars and 600,000 tons of food and agricultural equipment, representing a $400 million investment, Chavez’s office said. Argentine companies also will transfer their technology and help build about 20 factories in Venezuela to manufacture small motors and refrigerators.

In exchange, Venezuela will keep supplying Argentina with oil.

Chavez began his tour of Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Colombia only days after U.S. President Barack Obama skipped these countries in his first visit to South America, a goodwill tour overshadowed by the U.S. attacks Obama ordered on Moammar Gadhafi’s forces in Libya. Both Chavez and Fernandez strongly criticized the air attacks Tuesday.

Chavez is a declared ally of Gadhafi, who honored the Venezuelan leader in 2004 with his Al-Gadhafi International Prize for Human Rights, an honor he shares with Fidel Castro (1998), Evo Morales (2006) and Daniel Ortega (2009).

As for the journalism award, Chavez said he is proud to receive it, even though some say “that the dictator Chavez doesn’t deserve it.”

Venezuela also has “absolute freedom to criticize, absolute freedom of thought, absolute freedom of expression. It’s just the bourgeoisie that wants to impose its voice. It doesn’t want to hear the voice of the people. And we, Cristina as much as me, represent the voices of our peoples.”

Chavez’s government forced the opposition RCTV channel off airwaves in 2007 by refusing to renew its broadcast license. The telecommunications agency then ordered cable companies to drop RCTV International last year for refusing to carry Chavez’s speeches and other mandatory programming. The government also cited licensing issues in forcing 32 radio stations and two small TV stations off the air.

The majority owner of Globovision, Venezuela’s only remaining critical TV channel, fled the country rather than be jailed pending a conspiracy trial for keeping two-dozen new vehicles at one of his homes. Guillermo Zuloaga, who also owns several car dealerships, said Chavez ordered bogus charges.

Venezuela still has independent newspapers and web sites, including the newspaper El Nacional, which on Tuesday editorialized against the award.

“That a South American university doesn’t know about this grave situation and dares to honor this military leader with the Rodolfo Walsh Prize says much about the destruction of values that the Kirchners have imposed on the Argentine nation. Walsh was a victim of military repression and his example is now stained absurdly,” the paper wrote.

Walsh was an investigative journalist who co-founded Cuba’s Prensa Latina press agency and later joined Argentina’s leftist Montoneros guerrilla group. He died in a military ambush in 1977.

The InterAmerican Press Association president, Gonzalo Marroquin, said in an interview that Chavez is a “clear enemy of freedom of the press.”

“It would take a long time to enumerate the long chain of actions Chavez has taken against the right of the Venezuelan people to receive information,” he said.

Journalism professor Claudio Gomez said in an interview that the faculty decided to award Chavez the prize for “his work for popular communication, for example by creating the Telesur channel. This doesn’t mean that we agree with other measures his government has taken against critical mass media.”

Dean Florencia Saintout said the university created a new category of the Walsh award for Latin American leaders committed to giving a voice to people who are least heard from, and that she hoped for an open debate about his ideas.  (*)
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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in World News

 

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Photostream : Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez meets Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (C) and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner shake hands next to Chavez's daughter Rosa Virginia (L) during a ceremony on March 30, 2011 at the governement house in Buenos Aires. Chavez arrived in Argentina to sign several economical agreements and his tour will continue along Uruguay, Bolivia and Colombia. (Photo by DANIEL GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (2nd R) poses alongside her Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez (2nd L) and his daughter Rosa Virginia (L) at the Casa Rosada government palace in Buenos Aires March 29, 2011. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, left, and Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez talk after signing commercial accords during a visit to a state-run shipyard in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday March 29, 2011. Chavez is on a one-day official visit to Argentina. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez salutes next to Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez as they arrive to sign commercial accords at a state-run shipyard in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday March 29, 2011. Chavez is on a one-day official visit to Argentina.« Read less (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in World News

 

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Chavez: Libya airstrikes claiming civilian victims

File Picture : Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez

CARACAS, Venezuela, March 21, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP ) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez condemned what he called “indiscriminate bombing” by the U.S. and its allies in Libya, saying Sunday that the assault is causing civilian casualties, AP reported on Sunday.

Chavez said the U.S. is after Libya’s oil, and warned President Barack Obama not to try any similar intervention in the South American country. “With Venezuela, don’t even think about it, Mr. Obama,” he said.

Chavez, who has long-standing ties to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, demanded the airstrikes be halted in Libya and echoed claims of civilian victims by its government, which said 48 people were killed.

“Civilian victims have now begun to appear because some bombs are launched — 200, 400 bombs from out there at sea — and those bombs fall where they fall,” Chavez said during his weekly television and radio program.

“Libya is under imperial fire. Nothing justifies this,” Chavez said, holding up a newspaper showing an explosion on the front page.

“Indiscriminate bombing,” he said. “Who gave those countries the right? Neither the United States, nor France, nor England, nor any country has the right to be dropping bombs.”

Chavez said African Union leaders were meeting in Mauritania to discuss the conflict.

“That’s what must be done, and going there to talk with the parties in the conflict, but not launching bombs, more bombs, more death,” Chavez said.

“Let’s try to help, to intercede between the parties,” he said. “A cease-fire, sitting down at a table. That’s the path when facing conflicts of this sort.”

The Venezuelan president and several other leaders in Latin America have strongly opposed military intervention in Libya.

On Saturday, delegates at a meeting in Bolivia of the left-leaning ALBA bloc accused the U.S. and its allies of trying to seize Libya’s oil. The group includes Venezuela and seven other Latin American and Caribbean nations.

“We repeat our message from Venezuela, from the ALBA: We demand a halt to the attack against Libya,” Chavez said Sunday. “What madness. … It’s imperial madness.”

Chavez often refers to the United States as “the empire” and condemns the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  (*)
 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in World News

 

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Chavez, allies lead push for Libya mediation

FILE.- In this Sept. 28, 2009 file photo, Libya's President Moammar Gadhafi, left, and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez wave upon their arrival to the old port in Porlamar, on Margarita Island, Venezuela. As Gadhafi finds himself increasingly alone internationally, he still has at least a few friends far away. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Cuba's Fidel Castro and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega have been foremost in opposing U.S. and NATO military involvement, and in suggesting that reports of atrocities by Gadhafi's troops are overblown or unproven. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)

CARACAS, Venezuela, March 15, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP) – As Moammar Gadhafi finds himself increasingly isolated internationally, he still has at least a few friends far away.

As reported by AP on Tuesday, Latin America’s most prominent leftists rallied early to his defense and have stayed there even as former friends, neighbors and countrymen have abandoned the embattled Libyan leader and urged his ouster.

Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega have been foremost in opposing U.S. and NATO military involvement, and in suggesting that reports of atrocities by Gadhafi’s troops are overblown or unproven.

“The United States is proposing a war over Libya because they want Libyan oil,” Chavez said Sunday. He praised the African Union for appointing a commission of leaders to travel to Libya for talks — an effort in line with his own peace proposals.

Chavez’s calls for mediation reflect both his affinity for Gadhafi and his ambition to be a global player, rallying nations against the United States.

But his critics say Chavez has no credibility to promote mediation because he has ignored abuses by Gadhafi’s regime. And his stance is also uncomfortable for some of his allies and political supporters, who side with the uprising and say it’s time for Gadhafi to go.

Latin America’s staunchest leftists long ago embraced Gadhafi as a fellow fighter against global U.S. influence, and they instinctively reject any U.S. intervention almost anywhere.

Both Castro and Chavez have repeatedly suggested the U.S. is stirring up trouble in Libya to grab its oil and say Libyans should settle their own internal conflict.

That stance has put them at odds with some of their friends. The left-leaning governments of Argentina and Brazil have condemned Gadhafi’s crackdown on opposition. And even some followers of Castro and Chavez have been recoiling from their positions.

Comments posted on Cuban government websites and some articles on the pro-Chavez website aporrea.org have objected to backing for Libya’s eccentric strongman. One article on aporrea.org titled “Neither Gadafi nor imperialism!” argued that Chavez’s government should “support the revolutionary masses of Libya” that have risen up to topple the “capitalist dictator.”

A group of Venezuelan Marxists led by writer Domingo Alberto Rangel and lawyer Jose Ramon Velasquez issued a statement last week condemning Gadhafi’s “brutal repression” of the civilian population.

The government, meanwhile, released a statement backed by more than 260 artists and intellectuals in Venezuela and elsewhere opposing foreign military intervention and supporting Chavez’s mediation proposal.

Adam Isacson, an analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, said Chavez’s approach and “his evident lack of concern about Gadhafi’s abuses owe to a combination of misplaced south-south solidarity and a desire to take a position contrary to the United States’ almost for its own sake.”

“Chavez’s stance certainly gives a lot of new fodder to his many international critics,” Isacson said. “Especially among more moderate Latin American leaders, Chavez’s Libya stance increases the political cost of maintaining warm relations with him.”

The Chavez-Castro stance also is at odds with that of many Arab states. The Arab League is promoting a no-fly zone to prevent more air strikes by Gadhafi’s forces.

The African Union, however, said it had formed a committee of heads of state who will travel to Libya to try to resolve the crisis.

“We condemn the disproportionate use of force,” said Noureddine Mezni, spokesman for African Union chairman Jean Ping. “We are taking this issue of Libya very seriously.”

Chavez also praised the position of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been wary of a military intervention, and said he expects Russia and China to weigh in against foreign military involvement.

While Chavez has reaffirmed his friendship with Gadhafi, he has not endorsed the Libyan crackdown on the opposition, merely suggesting it is being misreported and that he hopes the civil war ends soon.

More enthusiastic was Nicaragua’s Ortega, who expressed solidarity with Gadhafi and called the fighting a battle to keep Libya intact. Ortega’s ties to the Libyan leader go back to the 1980s, when Gadhafi was a supporter of the leftist Sandinista government.

Before fighting erupted in Libya, Chavez and Gadhafi had been trying to boost integration between South America and Africa.

When Gadhafi visited Latin America for the first time in 2009, he joined Chavez at a summit in Venezuela. The Libyan leader stood out with his dark sunglasses, African robes and entourage of women bodyguards, but he stressed the same themes as Chavez: socialist ideals and a need to stand up to world powers.

Through an interpreter, Gadhafi told his friend: “We’re on the same front, in the same trench against the same enemy.”  (*)
 
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Posted by on March 15, 2011 in World News

 

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Photostream : Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez meets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L), Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (2nd R) and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, during a reception for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Planalto Palace in Brasilia January 1, 2011. Rousseff is the first woman to become Brazil's president, taking the reins of an emerging giant with a booming economy, vast new oil reserves and growing international diplomatic clout. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, second left, shakes hands with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, right, next to Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and Chile's President Sebastian Pinera during the inauguration ceremony of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, unseen, at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L), Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (2nd R) and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, during a reception for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Planalto Palace in Brasilia January 1, 2011. Rousseff is the first woman to become Brazil's president, taking the reins of an emerging giant with a booming economy, vast new oil reserves and growing international diplomatic clout. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, speaks with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez during the swearing-in ceremony of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, unseen, at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011. The man at center is unidentified. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2011 in World News

 

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Chavez to Reject US Ambassador Nominee

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks during a meeting with United Socialist party members in Caracas, December 17, 2010. Venezuela's parliament gave President Chavez decree powers for 18 months on Friday, outraging opposition parties that accused him of turning South America's biggest oil producer into a dictatorship. The move consolidated the firebrand socialist leader's hold on power after nearly 12 years in office, and raised the prospect of a fresh wave of nationalizations as the former paratrooper seeks to entrench his self-styled "revolution." (Getty Images / REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout )

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December 19, 2010 (KATAKAMI / VOA) — Venezuela’s president has vowed to reject the U.S. nominee for ambassador to the South American country.

Hugo Chavez said Saturday in a televised speech Larry Palmer will not be allowed to take up his post because the diplomat has been critical of Caracas.

Palmer upset the Chavez administration when he told a U.S. senator that morale was low in the Venezuelan military. Palmer also expressed concern about Colombian rebels finding refuge in Venezuela.

President Chavez says he has told Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro to detain Palmer if he tries to enter Venezuela.

The U.S. Senate is expected to confirm Palmer’s appointment soon.

On Friday, Venezuelan lawmakers voted to allow Mr. Chavez to bypass parliament and rule by decree for 18 months. That move was denounced by opposition rivals and the U.S. government.  (*)

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2010 in World News

 

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Russia lends Venezuela $4 bln to buy weaponry — Chavez

 

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November 28, 2010. (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Moscow has recently loaned Venezuela $4 billion to buy Russian military hardware, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said.

Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate 90 years of Venezuela’s Air Force on Saturday, Chavez said the sides reached the loan agreement during his visit to Russia in October although no official statement was made at the time of the visit.

“We were in Russia not long ago and the Russian government gave us a $4-billion credit to help us with [building up] our defense capability,” the president said.

Moscow has already provided Caracas with several loans to buy Russian-made weaponry, including a recent $2.2-mln loan on the purchase of 92 T-72M1M tanks, the Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems and other military equipment.

Russia has also exported 24 Su-30MK2 Flanker aircraft, over 40 Mi-17 Hip transport helicopters and 10 Mi-35 Hind-E gunships as well as three Mi-26T Halo heavy transport helicopters to Venezuela.

Chavez did not specify the types of weaponry Venezuela was going to buy from Russia in the future.

He justified big spending on arms by his country’s need to defend the nation from potential external threats.

“We are simply doing the task of defending the fatherland from the threat of [U.S.] empire and its allies,” Chavez said.  (*)

MEXICO, November 28

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2010 in World News

 

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