Adamant: Hardest metal
Saturday, July 5, 2003

Target set for $44 million in daily foreign exchange by end of June

Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Monday, June 23, 2003
By: Reporters

Venezuela Today's Washington D.C. Bureau reports that the Venezuelan government has officially announced a target of $44 million in daily foreign disbursement by the end of June. The target announcement comes on the heels of recent comments by Ford Motors that it may have to take the drastic step of shutting down its Venezuelan production for one week in August because of a failure to receive enough foreign currency for payments to suppliers.

Sources in the government say the exchange commission is currently issuing $26.4 million per day for foreign currency transactions and that Ford has already received $36.5 million in 75 separate applications.

Ford had to halt production June 2-6 due to having receiving far less than its requested amount of disbursements, but government officials stress that the situation is "in the process of being corrected" with the anticipation of an end to any problems relating to foreign disbursements in the near future.

Our Tribune: Political expertise?


Events in April 2002 rang alarm bells in Venezuela about the convenience of leaving politics in the hands of professional politicians. The dramatic mistakes made during those days were blamed on the inexperience of officials who believed they were entitled to make wrong moves and decisions on behalf a mass they did not represent.

Consequently, Venezuelans turned their eyes to politicians, belonging to both new and old parties, hoping they would embody the ideas of the people -the common citizens-, who faced an unprecedented deep social and economic crisis and needed a leadership capable of finding a solution to such a chaotic situation. Ever since then, politicians in Venezuela have progressively led the people through the new phase that came after April 2002 and that ended up with the signature of a controversial agreement by the government and the opposition. Nothing is ever final, as evidenced by an accord that purported to put an end to a cycle, but whose text is far from representing an ultimate proposal to pave the way for an electoral solution. Once again, political expertise is to be tested, as politicians will have to try to fulfill the expectations of the majority. While "some shortcuts lengthen," as the Canadian separatist poet Gilles Vigneault says, and as Venezuelans learnt during that awful month of April, that is no excuse for the leaders not to act inspired by the historical responsibility they have in this unfortunate time. Therefore, the current work of politicians must be thoroughly considered.

A recall referendum to terminate the mandate of President Hugo Chávez will only be possible if opposition leaders show a real sense of unity and focus -beyond speeches- on such goal. It is distressing to see that, while Venezuela is breaking into pieces, some political leaders and parties are still betting on individualist projects, even though it is apparent that no leader alone will be capable to put an end to this nightmare.

It is necessary to understand that despite the inexperience of apolitical leadership, pure politics -in its traditional way- cannot be the only answer to the new totalitarianism facing Venezuela. More creativity and diversity is needed to face this danger without the guilty feelings that have prevented adequate actions from being adopted. In addition, contrary to what has been said so far, perhaps the citizen's efforts have not been enough and perhaps the society's supposed sacrifice and learning have been overrated. It is vital to have a bigger political expertise!

Lawyers say cancellation of US SAIC contract was a simple business decision

Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Monday, June 23, 2003
By: Reporters

Venezuela Today's Washington D.C. Bureau reports that Venezuelan lawyers have laid out their full case against Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) with the government side claiming that SAIC has been involved in "a pattern of half truths and lying in regards to the actions of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as they relate to a now defunct Intesa/SAIC joint venture. San Diego (California) SAIC is reportedly heading into bankruptcy.

According to lawyers the ending of the contract with SAIC was "a simple business decision ... the work could be done for less" with another company, and the relationship was terminated. Furthermore, the Venezuelan government adds that, in June last year, SAIC had been made fully aware of the decision to end the relationship in order to allow SAIC plenty of time to cease its activities in Venezuela. The lawyers also disputed a SAIC claim that its workers had been locked out of their facilities in Venezuela, unable to claim their personal possessions.

These dispute comes on the heels of another debacle between the Venezuelan government and Canada-based Enbridge Inc. where the government says Enbridge walked out of an agreement which was canceled in clear default.

The Chavez Frias government is adamant that it needs to encourage foreign investment and continues to strive towards maximizing foreign investment while working to use economic investment to help the less fortunate in Venezuelan society. The nation's economy is still recovering from a crippling national stoppage orchestrated by anti-government business and labor sectors ... the stoppage hurt Venezuela to the tune of $4.7 billion and has economic growth back dramatically.

Veteran baseball commentator helps big leaguer Miguel Cairo out of political gaffe

Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Monday, June 23, 2003
By: Patrick J. O'Donoghue

Venezuela's senior baseball commentator and columnist, Juan Vene, who lives in the USA, has been attempting some damage repair to help major league baseball player, Miguel Cairo quoted as saying that he is afraid to return to Venezuela because of public insecurity.

Cairo had told Vene that he would be prepared to play for the Cardenales de Lara in Venezuela's winter league for less money but put his big foot in a quagmire commenting that if anyone says anything against the Venezuelan President, s/he runs the risk of being kidnapped and murdered ... "afterwards they'll say it was a crime of passion ... The President is the only one who rules in Venezuela ... insecurity will be problem for all baseball players."

Vene's piece obviously caused a downpour of angry emails and Cairo says his family in Anaco (Monagas) is very worried as a result ... "a friend in Barquisimeto asked me whether I didn't want to come back to Venezuela."

The first thing Vene clarifies is that the Venezuelan government has prohibited no one from entering Venezuela ... " people talk and exaggerate because there is freedom and democracy inVenezuela."

Retracting on his political gaffe, Cairo says he doesn't like party politics and just wants to play baseball in Venezuela.

Vene supports Cairo, saying that " we are all responsible for the horrible situation that has gripped Venezuela ... we have to respect each other ... the ideal is that I, for example, am interested in the Chavist process and support it ... my wife is completely against it, while her brother is open to talk and discussion ... that's what will make Venezuela great ... what ruins things is the uncivilized way of discussing things head on or with guns."

The respected baseball expert and father figure forecasts that Cairo will play in Venezuela this winter and his action will encourage other players to lower their economic aspirations to get the winter league back on its feet again.

Venezuelan Tourist Minister Wilmar Castro says tourism picking up slowly but surely

Venezuela's Electronic News
Posted: Monday, June 23, 2003
By: Patrick J. O'Donoghue

Venezuelan Tourist Minister Wilmar Castro has invested 30 billion bolivares into Venezuela's depressed tourist industry to promote participation from the private sector.

Castro admits that the industry has suffered a 46% drop in international tourists. " The good news is that movement of national tourists increased 17% in Carnival and Easter Week but the spending power was definitely down from last year."

* The relatively light increase is partly due to the facts that airlines have been getting preferential dollars ($1/1,600).

Tourist High Council (Consuturismo) president, Alvaro Montenegro reports that hotel occupation is experiencing a steady recovery .... "from 15% occupancy in January hotels are currently reporting a 30% occupancy in the provinces and 45% in Caracas ... the reduction in hotel prices in bolivares has helped."

5-star Eurobuilding Hotel operations manager Miguel Angel Marino say the reduction of tariffs and increase in room occupancy has resulted in sales 50% less than for the same period last year.

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