Venezuela Update

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Sat Dec 21 19:50:55 MST 2002

*****   BBC News World Edition
Sunday, 22 December, 2002, 01:21 GMT
Venezuelan tanker forced into port

The Pilin Leon had been sitting idle in Lake Maracaibo The Venezuelan
Government has commandeered and steered into port an oil tanker, in
an attempt to break a general strike that has led to severe petrol

The ship, the Pilin Leon, sailed into port in Lake Maracaibo on
Saturday and began unloading its cargo of petrol.

The ship had become emblematic for the opposition, after its captain
joined the strike and moored offshore, refusing to dock.

The move comes as opponents of President Hugo Chavez took part in
another march in the capital, Caracas, to demand early elections.

The 20-day-old strike has crippled oil production in Venezuela - the
world's fifth largest exporter of crude.

On Friday, government forces boarded the Pilin Leon and detained its crew.

On Saturday strike-breaking workers took the ship to the oil terminal
of Bajo Grande.


Local media say distribution to petrol station in western Venezuela
should take place over the next two days.

The chairman of Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA, has described
this as a victory for the government

The chairman, Ali Rodriguez, said the authorities would shortly move
other striking tankers....

<>   *****

*****   Business News Americas
December 23, 2002
LENGTH: 229 words

BODY: ( - Venezuela's banks will return to their
normal business hours of 9:00-16:00 on Monday after opening for half
days during the last two weeks, banking regulator Sudeban director
Irving Ochoa told BNamericas.

Banks have opened from 9:00 to 12:00 since December 9 because of a
nationwide strike. The banks will open for a full day next week
provided shopping centers, which house about 28% of bank branches,
return to their normal schedule.

Only one bank, which Ochoa declined to name, has remained closed
without authorization during the strike and will be fined....   *****

*****   BBC Monitoring International Reports
December 21, 2002
LENGTH: 89 words

BODY: web site on 20 December

The government has signed a contract with Russian tankers to deliver
gasoline to Venezuela as a part of delayed emergency and contingency
plans aimed at solving growing shortage at the gas pumps. A
government spokesman says rationing will be introduced until things
are back to normal.

At the pumps consumers can buy a minimum amount of gas and a special
service will be set up to cover hospitals, the police and public

Source: VENews web site in English 20 Dec 02   *****

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