BBC World News – 2008-09-08 01:26:45
CARACAS (September 6, 2008) — Several Russian ships and 1,000 soldiers will take part in joint naval maneuvers with Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea later this year, exercises likely to increase diplomatic tensions with Washington, a pro-government newspaper reported on Saturday.
Quoting Venezuela’s naval intelligence director, Salbarore Cammarata, the newspaper Vea said four Russian boats would visit Venezuelan waters from November 10 to 14.
Plans for the naval operations come at a time of heightened diplomatic tension and Cold War-style rhetoric between Moscow and the United States over the recent war in Georgia and plans for a U.S. missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland.
Cammarata said it would be the first time Russia’s navy carried out such exercises in Latin America. He said the Venezuelan air force would also take part.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an outspoken critic of Washington, has said in recent weeks that Russian ships and planes are welcome to visit the South American country.
“If the Russian long-distance planes that fly around the world need to land at some Venezuelan landing strip, they are welcome, we have no problems,” he said on his weekly television show last week.
Chavez, who buys billions of dollars of weapons from Russia, has criticized this year’s reactivation of the U.S. Navy’s Fourth Fleet, which will patrol Latin America for the first time in over 50 years.
The socialist Chavez says he fears the United States will invade oil-rich Venezuela and he supports Russia’s growing geopolitical presence as a counterbalance to U.S. power.
Chavez has bought fighter jets and submarines from Russia to retool Venezuela’s aging weapons and says he is also interested in a missile defense system.
(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Peter Cooney)
Copyright © 2008 Reuters Limited
Chavez Revokes Venezuela Spy Law
James Ingham / BBC News
CARACAS (June 11, 2008) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has revoked a law that made sweeping changes to the intelligence services.
Mr Chavez said he recognised he had made errors when proclaiming the law by decree, adding that it breached the country’s constitution.
The law obliged people to co-operate with intelligence agencies. Refusal to reveal information was punishable with up to six years in jail.
Human rights groups have said the law threatened civil liberties.
Mr Chavez had argued that the new law was needed to protect national security – to prevent opponents of his socialist revolution from destabilising the country and his government. But now in a clear U-turn, Mr Chavez decided to withdraw the law completely.
He said that his socialist government would not accept persecution of anyone, announcing that the law would be completely re-worked.
Human rights activists, political opponents and the Roman Catholic Church, all expressed concerns about what they saw as a heavy handed, Cuban style attempt to control the population.
Cartoonists nicknamed the document the “Getsapo” law. It is a play on the words Gestapo and sapo – which translates literally as frog but more colloquially in Venezuela as snitch
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