Gregory Wilpert is a German-American sociologist, who grew up in Germany and spent most of his adult life in the U.S. and most recently in Venezuela. He studied sociology at University of California San Diego (B.A. in 1988) and at Brandeis University (Ph.D. in 1993).
Oliver Stone’s documentary South of the Border — about Venezuela and its President Hugo Chávez — was trashed in the New York Times in a feature story by correspondent Larry Rohter. Rohter complained the film was full of mistakes — but supporters of the film point out that he made far more errors in his brief article. Here, Gregory Wilpert, co-founder of the Venezuelanalysis.com Web site, responds to attacks on the film and on his particular role in it.
Reacting to announcement that the U.S. would no longer sell weapons to Venezuela because Venezuela is “not cooperating fully” in the “war on terrorism,” numerous Venezuelan government officials, starting with President Chavez, reacted to the announcement with indifference and derision.
The main artery that carries traffic from Caracas to the country’s main airport and to one of the country’s main ports, La Guaira, had to be closed indefinitely today because one of the artery’s bridges could collapse. The closure of the freeway will increase the time it takes to get to the airport by at least one hour, using alternate routes through the mountains that separate Caracas from Venezuela’s northern coast.
The singer, actor, and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte visited Venezuela this week, leading a delegation of 13 other prominent activists from the U.S. During their visit, the delegation toured the complex of cooperatives, known as the Endogenous Development Nucleus Fabricio Ojeda, visited with ministers, Venezuelan community leaders, opposition leaders, and Venezuela’s President Chavez.
Chavez’s party, the Movement for the Fifth Republic (MVR), won 114 or 68% of the 167 seats in the new National Assembly, according to preliminary results that MVR deputy William Lara announced this evening. Pro-Chavez parties won all 167 seats in the new National Assembly.
Following bitter arguments between the opposition and Venezuela’s Electoral Council about whether Venezuela’s voting system is secret, the Electoral Council decided yesterday to withdraw one of the voting system’s more controversial elements, the fingerprint scanners. Venezuela is scheduled to hold elections for its legislature, the National Assembly, this coming Sunday, December 4th.
Venezuela’s Attorney General, Isaias Rodríguez, issued arrest warrants for four prominent individuals in the case of last year’s assassination of state prosecutor Danilo Anderson. According to Rodriguez, the four masterminded the conspiracy that led to Anderson’s assassination with a car bomb.
In an interview with Latin American print correspondents, U.S. President George Bush said that he could accept Venezuelan acquisition of a nuclear reactor, as long as it adheres to “international safeguards.” The statement came a bit as a surprise, following off the record comments by Bush administration officials over the past few weeks that the administration would not favor a rumored Venezuelan purchase of a nuclear reactor from Argentina.
In a joint announcement, the General Secretaries of three of Venezuela’s main opposition parties, said that the opposition must defeat Chavez at the ballot box and not with a “rapid exit,” such as the “activation” of article 350 of Venezuela’s constitution, which specifies that Venezuelans have the right to reject an undemocratic government.
Uruguay, the country that currently heads up the four-member Common Market of the South, known as Mercosur, informed the public yesterday that Venezuela is scheduled to become a full member of the organization in December. Currently, Mercosur’s full members are Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
Following initial denials about that Venezuela had actually transferred its foreign currency reserves, Venezuela’s Central Bank director confirmed that several months ago the Bank transferred $20 billion of its slightly over $30 billion in foreign currency reserves from the U.S. to Basilea, the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland.
Venezuela reached separate agreements with Brazil and with Argentina to invest in refineries in the two respective countries. Venezuela’s President Chavez announced the plans were during a summit of the Community of South American Nations (CSN), which took place last week and was attended by the leaders of Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina.