In Venezuela, Seizing Private Property

By March 17, 2009Trade

The radio reminds us that the Venezuelan government-owned fuel company, Citgo, sponsors NPR’s Morning Edition, so it’s a good time to post some recent Venezuelan news.

The roster of news items — including reports of attacks on U.S.-based companies — suggests the United States should do a better job of supporting its free-market, pro-trade, pro-democracy allies in the region, countries like, say, Colombia.

New York Times, “Chávez Tells His Navy to Take Over Key Seaports“:

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez ordered the navy on Sunday to seize seaports in states with major petroleum-exporting installations, part of his effort to assert greater control over infrastructure that had come under the dominion of political opponents in regional elections last year.

The Economist, “Chavez’s new attacks on private sector“:

First to feel the impact were rice processors. A rice plant belonging to Cargill Inc., a Twin Cities company, was seized for allegedly violating the “food security” law. Two plants owned by Empresas Polar, Venezuela’s largest private conglomerate, were taken over “temporarily” to enforce production of price-controlled rice.

Bloomberg, “Venezuela to Seize 30 Trawling Vessels After Ban

March 15 (Bloomberg) — Venezuela, which banned trawl- fishing yesterday, will take over 30 trawlers and donate them to Pescera de Alba, a joint venture with Cuba, for other uses, Food and Agriculture Minister Elias Jaua said. …“Excellent recommendation,” President Hugo Chavez said on his weekly television address, as supporters, including a group of fishermen who use smaller boats, chanted their approval.

International Herald Tribune, “El Salvador ex-rebels seek U.S. ties“:

El Salvador’s President-elect Mauricio Funes said he wants strong relations with Washington after his party of ex-Marxist guerrillas ousted their right-wing civil war foes in a tight election victory…Funes told CNN El Salvador would have its own style of leftist government and had no reason to mirror Venezuela, whose socialist President Hugo Chavez telephoned to congratulate him minutes after hearing he had won. Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, another staunch leftist, also called.

And from the White House:

The Vice President will travel to Chile and Costa Rica from March 27-30 to consult with Latin American leaders regarding the Summit of the Americas, which is scheduled for mid-April in Trinidad and Tobago.

In Chile, the Vice President will attend the Progressive Governance conference, which will also be attended by the Presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, and the Prime Ministers of Norway and the United Kingdom. The Vice President will also be hosted by Chilean President Bachelet for a bilateral meeting.

In Costa Rica, the Vice President will be hosted by President Oscar Arias, who has invited the leaders of the other Central American nations for a joint meeting in San Jose.

 You know what country’s capital is on the way from Santiago to San Jose? Bogota, Colombia. A stop by the Vice President would have been a powerful gesture of support for a democratic government and U.S. ally.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Karl says:

    Not trading with Venezuela is a form of protectionism right? So now protectionism is OK? Make up my mind.

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