jueves, 21 de noviembre de 2013

Colombia's centrist President confirms would seek a second term in 2014

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón confirmed on 19 November that he would be a candidate in presidential elections due on 25 May 2014, confirming he intended to push on with the social and political reforms that have increasingly provoked criticisms from right-wing sectors. Several Left or centrist parties were expected to support him under the umbrella U or Unity movement that has backed Mr Santos and the last president, Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Mr Santos said in a televised address that he was "convinced" a country of "prosperity and peace which we all deserve" was within reach, and he intended to help Colombia reach that goal if elected, Europa Press reported on 21 November. The Government would meanwhile continue peace talks with the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), begun in late 2012 and intended to end five decades of intermittent civil war. The next round of talks in Havana were scheduled for 28 November, while the President's election campaign was to begin on 25 November, Europa Press reported. Of the two country's two historical parties, the Liberals appeared ready to support Mr Santos, while the Conservatives remained uncommitted. The Liberal Party leader Simón Gaviria Muñoz suggested in comments made on 20 November that President Santos could effectively expect his party's support. Mr Gaviria, son of the former president César Gaviria, said his party would "eagerly" debate its possible support for Mr Santos at a coming conference in the resort of Cartagena de Indias, El Espectador reported on 20 November. The President of the Conservative Party Omar Yepes Alzate said in turn that the announcement was no surprise but re-election would be difficult for the opposition of the former president Uribe and his allies, El Espectador reported. Mr Uribe remains one of Colombia's most popular figures though his electoral support had yet to be tested; he is thought to have many sympathisers among the Conservatives. Mr Yepes said the party would clarify its electoral stance at its convention on 26 January 2014.

Venezuelan opponent urges protests against new Presidential powers

Venezuela's leading Government opponent and Governor of the state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles Radonsky, called for a "day of protests" in the country for 23 November in reaction to the Enabling Law and extraordinary powers parliament voted for President Nicolás Maduro on 19 November. The powers were ostensibly to protect the economy against sabotage and fight corruption. "We're going to show Maduro that force is with the people," Mr Capriles told a press conference on 20 November. The new law would not resolve shortages in certain foods and consumer goods, Capriles said, and he accused the Government of using strong-arm tactics to have the law passsed, after an opposition legislator was barred from voting for alleged corruption, Europa Press reported on 21 November. Mr Maduro was expected to issue on 21 November the first two "anti-corruption" decrees with his new powers, the broadcaster Globovisión reported on 20 November, citing the President's comments on the website Twitter. Mr Maduro wrote there that he would also take part on 23-24 November in inspections of shopping centres intended to "consolidate Fair Prices against Capitalist Usury." This was a reference to the Government's recent campaign to control prices in certain consumer goods including audio-visual equipment.