January 9, 2007 [LINK / comment]
On the eve of his third inaugural ceremonies, Hugo Chavez declared that Venezuela would nationalize the electrical and telecommunications utilities, some of which are owned by U.S. companies. This was presented as part of his campaign to transform into a socialist state. "We are in an existential moment of Venezuelan life. We're heading toward socialism, and nothing and no one can prevent it." Basically, he is striving to reverse all of the privatizations that took place in the 1990s, when the government was struggling to regain solvency. As soon as he is inaugurated again, Chavez plans to travel to Nicaragua and discuss plans with new president Daniel Ortega. Venezuela will provide resource "loans" to pay for a variety of infrastructure, health, education, agricultural, and housing projects. CNN.com
After OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza took exception to the license of Radio Caracas Television not being renewed (because it favors the opposition), Chavez called him "stupid." In response, OAS foreign ministers rallied to Insulza's support, led by Chile. As a result of these latest verbal outbursts, the stock market in Caracas dropped by nearly 19%. See El Universal. Chavez probably isn't too worried about the capital markets, figuring that he can do anything he wants with all that oil money coming in. Somehow, he is managing to sustain the momentum of radical anti-imperialist, keeping people agitated by heated words and ever-more precipitous policy changes.
Meanwhile, in the U.S.A., Joe Kennedy has been appearing on television ads for CITGO, drawing attention to the fuel oil assistance program. Too bad it's been such a mild winter so far...