Venezuela this week
-Chavez asks the Venezuelan Central bank to "give" him a billion dollars for agricultural projects. The Central Bank says as long as the Government has the Bolivars to buy them, there will be no problem, but reminds Chavez that the reserves do not belong to the Government.
-Chavez gets his one billion anyway as the country issues US$ 1 billion in debt via a dollar-denominated 15-year bond sold in local current. (see story below)
-Plans for petition drives for recall referenda for the Deputies in the National Assembly (Nov. 21-24th.) and President Chavez (Nov. 28-Dec. 1st.) continue in earnest. The OAS, UN and the Carter Center will be sending observers to both processes. Secretary General of the OAS, Cesar Gaviria, announced that he will personally attend to be part of the OAS team. As of today, it is not clear whether Venezuelans abroad (mostly anti-Chavez) will be able to sign. Strong disagreements between the opposition and the Government persist on regulations for advertising on the petition drives. The proposed regulations limit the opposition, but not the Government. There is fear of violence during both processes. Stay tuned.....
-The proposed Supreme Court Bill was once again postponed this week, leading to the belief that the Chvaez administration does not have the votes to approve it. The Bill would incresae the number of Supreme Court Justices to 30 from 20. Chavez' MVR party wants to approve the bill with a simple majority arguing that it was a mandate of the new Constitution and thus does not require a two-thirds majority. The opposition intends to fillibuster the Bill, but its discussion has been now cancelled twice by Chavez's party, indicating teher may be internal disagreements over its contents.