Today in Latin America
Top Story — Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez celebrated 12 years in power Wednesday and asked his supporters continue with the country’s socialist revolution.
Chávez, who admitted that he made mistakes during the last 12 years, said he was prepared for six more years in office and that “the battle has begun” for the election in 2012. He added that his government had lived up to the promises of his first election, highlighting achievements in education and in reducing poverty.
He visited schools and state-run supermarket to promote his re-election as well making a televised speech.
Chávez’s popularity is Venezuela is not as strong as it used to be and the president is facing problems such as rising crime and 27 percent inflation.
His approval rating recently took a dive to 47 percent, but Chávez has launched an effort to rally his support base.
“He began a forceful communication strategy, a more designed campaign. Not just appearances on television and [the weekly program] ‘Alo Presidente,'” Datanalisis director Luis Vicente Leon said in a radio interview Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Opposition forces have also not chosen clear challengers to next year’s election, but Chávez’s power is far from firm after losing his party’s supermajority in the national legislature.
“The opposition will try to convince the public that the path they are proposing is better,” Chavez said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The LPGA canceled the $1.3 million Tres Marias Golf Championship in Mexico due to concerns over drug violence. No official announcement has been made, but the event is no longer listed on the schedule.
- The head of Mexico City’s main women’s jail and its medical chief have been fired amid revelations that they permitted a plastic surgeon to enter the prison and administer beauty treatments to alleged cocaine trafficker Sandra Ávila Beltrán.
- Police in Massachusetts arrested a pro-immigration advocate who allegedly sent a threatening e-mail to Florida state Rep. Will Snyder over the Republican’s proposal to bring an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida.
- Cuba will soon free four more prisoners and send them to Spain as it continues to clear jailed opponents from its prisons, the Roman Catholic Church said on Wednesday.
- A Haitian man who suffered cholera-like symptoms and died in his Caribbean homeland after the U.S. government sent him back had participated in a hunger strike while detained in the U.S. and wrote to immigration attorneys that returning to Haiti amounted to a death sentence, his fiancee said Wednesday.
- Nicaragua has released a new map that includes as part of national territory in the Caribbean area of the Isla Calero or Harbour Head as it is known in Nicaragua, that Costa Rica considers its own the subject of a dispute between the two countries.
- Sigfrido Reyes, representing the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), becomes the first leftwing president of Parliament in El Salvador today.
- A Venezuelan judge whose imprisonment has been criticized by international human rights groups has been moved to house arrest.
- The Colombian government unveiled Wednesday a major shake-up in its oversight of the country’s mining industry after two fatal accidents in less than a week left 26 coal miners dead.
- Ecuador is interested in attracting investment from Arab countries for strategic sectors, said Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño on Wednesday.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on Wednesday announced that he had approved the allocation of 3 billion bolivars ($697.6 million) to community councils to build about 40,000 houses.
- Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff told Congress Wednesday the country must overhaul its tax system to ensure sustainable economic growth.=
- Grain workers in Argentina left picket lines Wednesday after the government ordered them to lift a strike, which delayed shipments and paralyzed soy-crushing plants.
- Chile’s biggest wine producer and exporter, Vina Concha Y Toro, plans to enter the beer market after it reached an agreement to purchase at least 40 percent of local beer maker Cerveceria Kross.
Image: chavezcandanga @ Flickr.