Venezuela's Hugo Chavez celebrates 12 years in power

 

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) greets children in a classroom during a broadcast of a TV show to commemorate his 12th anniversary as president, in Caracas February 2, 2011. Chavez was inaugurated as President of Venezuela on February 2, 1999. REUTERS/Ho-Miraflores Palace

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has marked his 12th anniversary of coming to power by urging supporters topress ahead with his socialist revolution.

Feb 2 (KATAKAMI.COM / BBC) — Mr Chavez asked Venezuelans to forgive any “mistakes” he had made in office.

But he said his government had lived up to the hope his first election victory inspired, highlighting achievements in education and poverty reduction.

Mr Chavez, 56, added that he was confident of winning another six-year term in elections in 2012.

He said the electoral campaign had “already begun”, and was going to be “a tough one and a good one”.

He said the challenges ahead included providing every Venezuelan with a home following last year’s devastating floods, and tackling high levels of violent crime.

CriticismVenezuela’s opposition has yet to select a candidate to stand against Mr Chavez in 2012.

But it has grown in confidence after winning around half of the votes in congressional elections last September.

The opposition accuse Mr Chavez of squandering Venezuela’s oil wealth and mishandling the economy, causing a long recession and high inflation.

They also say he has failed to control soaring rates of violent crime in Venezuela, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

A constitutional reform passed in 2009 allows Mr Chavez to stand for reelection indefinitely.

But the left-wing leader once again dismissed critics who say he is turning Venezuela into a dictatorship.

“”I have read a lot of news stories saying that Chavez has been in power 12 years and is trying to cling to power,” he said in a televised speech to mark the anniversary.

“But let’s keep something in mind. There have been elections here. We have won them, over and over, with complete transparency.”

The anniversary was also marked by supporters of Mr Chavez in Cuba, Bolivia, Argentina and other countries in the Americas and Europe.  (*)

Photostream : Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez meets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L), Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (2nd R) and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, during a reception for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Planalto Palace in Brasilia January 1, 2011. Rousseff is the first woman to become Brazil's president, taking the reins of an emerging giant with a booming economy, vast new oil reserves and growing international diplomatic clout. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, second left, shakes hands with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, right, next to Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and Chile's President Sebastian Pinera during the inauguration ceremony of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, unseen, at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L), Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (2nd R) and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, during a reception for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Planalto Palace in Brasilia January 1, 2011. Rousseff is the first woman to become Brazil's president, taking the reins of an emerging giant with a booming economy, vast new oil reserves and growing international diplomatic clout. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, speaks with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez during the swearing-in ceremony of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, unseen, at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011. The man at center is unidentified. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Chavez to Reject US Ambassador Nominee

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks during a meeting with United Socialist party members in Caracas, December 17, 2010. Venezuela's parliament gave President Chavez decree powers for 18 months on Friday, outraging opposition parties that accused him of turning South America's biggest oil producer into a dictatorship. The move consolidated the firebrand socialist leader's hold on power after nearly 12 years in office, and raised the prospect of a fresh wave of nationalizations as the former paratrooper seeks to entrench his self-styled "revolution." (Getty Images / REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout )

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December 19, 2010 (KATAKAMI / VOA) — Venezuela’s president has vowed to reject the U.S. nominee for ambassador to the South American country.

Hugo Chavez said Saturday in a televised speech Larry Palmer will not be allowed to take up his post because the diplomat has been critical of Caracas.

Palmer upset the Chavez administration when he told a U.S. senator that morale was low in the Venezuelan military. Palmer also expressed concern about Colombian rebels finding refuge in Venezuela.

President Chavez says he has told Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro to detain Palmer if he tries to enter Venezuela.

The U.S. Senate is expected to confirm Palmer’s appointment soon.

On Friday, Venezuelan lawmakers voted to allow Mr. Chavez to bypass parliament and rule by decree for 18 months. That move was denounced by opposition rivals and the U.S. government.  (*)

Russia lends Venezuela $4 bln to buy weaponry — Chavez

 

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November 28, 2010. (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Moscow has recently loaned Venezuela $4 billion to buy Russian military hardware, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said.

Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate 90 years of Venezuela’s Air Force on Saturday, Chavez said the sides reached the loan agreement during his visit to Russia in October although no official statement was made at the time of the visit.

“We were in Russia not long ago and the Russian government gave us a $4-billion credit to help us with [building up] our defense capability,” the president said.

Moscow has already provided Caracas with several loans to buy Russian-made weaponry, including a recent $2.2-mln loan on the purchase of 92 T-72M1M tanks, the Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems and other military equipment.

Russia has also exported 24 Su-30MK2 Flanker aircraft, over 40 Mi-17 Hip transport helicopters and 10 Mi-35 Hind-E gunships as well as three Mi-26T Halo heavy transport helicopters to Venezuela.

Chavez did not specify the types of weaponry Venezuela was going to buy from Russia in the future.

He justified big spending on arms by his country’s need to defend the nation from potential external threats.

“We are simply doing the task of defending the fatherland from the threat of [U.S.] empire and its allies,” Chavez said.  (*)

MEXICO, November 28

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