March 23, 2006
U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield protested that pro-Chavez mobs prevented him from entering a social club outside of Caracas earlier this week. He noted that many of the protesters arrived in buses and were provided with meals, which are obvious signs that their actions were state-sponsored. (CNN.com) Perhaps this was in retaliation for the ambassador's recent comment that "The United States could survive with its economy intact without Venezuela as an oil supplier." (So we're not "addicted to oil"?) For his part, Chavez has not let up in his series of childish insults and taunts of President Bush ("Mr. Danger") and the U.S. government. Chavez may be stirring up trouble as a means to squelch a nascent secessionist movement by Chavez opponents in the oil-rich region of Zulia in western Venezuela. It's probably not serious, but the mere possibility is too much to tolerate.
With the election less than three weeks away, populist former military officer Ollanta Humala holds a slight lead over the conservative candidate, Lourdes Flores Nano, according to the latest polls. APRA leader and ex-President Alan Garcia is in third place. During a recent campaign stop in the highland city of Huancavelica, some of Humala's supporters threw rocks at Flores, but she was not hurt. Humala has been whipping up resentment among the poor (mostly Indian) people of Peru during his campaign appearances, and the political and economic establishment in Peru are becoming fearful of what might happen if he wins the election. Since it will probably go to a second round, the main question is whether APRA would throw its support to an even more dangerous demagogue than Alan Garcia or put the interests of Peru first by supporting the conservative Flores. (Caretas)
The news chronologies on the Peru and Ecuador pages have been updated, and both now have relatively complete coverage of the news in those countries since the turn of the millenium.