Sunday, April 23, 2006

Chavez Blames Bush for High Oil Prices

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela recently blamed the administration's hard line against Iran for the high cost of fuel prices, CBS reports.

Chavez predicted that the cost of oil would soar far higher if the standoff over Iran's nuclear program led to a U.S. attack on the Islamic republic.

Oil prices fell slightly Thursday after reaching a record high above $72 a barrel.

Well praise the Lord. Like a Texas blogger noted, folks are starting to have to go to pawn shops just to pay to fill up their gas tanks.

In other news from Venezuela, a former communist guerilla fighter from the 1960s announced his candidacy for president in the December 3 election. He is promising to keep the social programs of Chavez but rid the government of "corruption."

Petkoff, 74, said Chavez has created a nation enveloped in fear that has led to mounting crime, unemployment and corruption. [He] announced his presidential bid last night, [and] said he would also maintain the social programs Chavez started, but improve them by rooting out ``corruption and political discrimination.''

"Chavez has created a society controlled by fear,'' Petkoff said during a news conference today in Caracas. "A fear of crime, a fear of the police, a fear of property being seized, a fear of corruption.''

In an amazing mincing of words, the Associated Press via the Miami Herald described the ex-guerilla fighter and presidential challenger in a story on Thursday as a "moderate leftist...two-time presidential candidate...opposition leader and newspaper editor."

Imagine if you will, 40 years from now, some journalist describing a former Iraqi insurgent who might by then operate an opposition newspaper and be challenging an even more rigid fundamentalists as a "moderate" anything.

Bloomberg reports that Petkoff has a long way to go. Chavez leads Petkoff by a whopping margin of 44 percent, 72 percent to 28 percent in the latest poll. Petkoff is editor and founder of Venezuela's opposition newspaper, Tal Cual; and this is his third try to win the top spot.

Three other candidates have also announced. Julio Borges of the First Justice Party, Roberto Smith of the Venezuela First party and William Ojeda of the Only One People's party.

In the meantime, thousands gathered in Caracas to protest a recent wave of crime. "Violent robberies, kidnappings and murders have long been frequent in Venezuela, but a series of particularly heinous killings have sparked protests by largely middle-and upper-class crowds demanding immediate action to make the streets safer. "

Venezuela recorded 9,402 homicides last year, but "the real figure is higher", according to "some experts."

In one headline-grabbing case this month, kidnappers executed three Venezuelan-Canadian brothers, ages 17, 13 and 12. A prominent businessman and a newspaper photographer were also murdered.

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