May 16, 2006
The U.S. government has tried to block particular transactions in the past, most notably involving Spain, but this is apparently the first time that this has been made into a general, standard policy. This action was justified on the grounds that Venezuela has failed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. Chavez has escalated his defiance by voicing support for the regime in Iran, declaring that no country has the right to prevent any other country from acquiring nuclear energy. In response to the U.S. action, he now says Venezuela will consider selling its U.S.-built F-16 fighter jets to Iran. See CNN.com. Indeed, based on the ties between Chavez and guerrilla groups in Colombia, there is good reason to suspect that he may be actively promoting the terrorist cause. Venezuela launched a major arms buildup last year, causing grave concern in Washington; see Feb. 13, Oct. 24, and Nov. 25. It is quite ironic that the Reagan administration sold the F-16s to Venezuela in 1982 (when they were state of the art) in large part as a gesture of support for what was then one of the only democratic regimes in South America. How things change!
Coincidentally, or not, Chavez announced that he will pay a visit to Libya, with which the United States is about to resume diplomatic relations after a lapse of over twenty years. Chavez is in the middle of a tour of European capitals, including London and Vienna. See CNN.com. This will me an interesting meeting: Will Gadhafi persuade Chavez to shun radicalism and support for terrorists, or will Chavez persuade Gadhafi to backtrack on his reform?
I was digging through my slide photo archives from my trip to Central America in 1989, and scanned some of the best ones. Just click on the adjacent image to go to the new Guatemala photo gallery page. (Photos from Belize and Honduras will be posted in the near future.) I have noticed that the dyes in slides last much longer than the dyes on printed photographs, allowing for much richer colors.
While doing some fact-checking, I came across some interesting Guatemala Web sites, so I put the links to them at the bottom of the Guatemala page.