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Take 5 Venezuela: Prisoner Wives, Cheap Gas, Maduro On Maradona
Aurore Barlier and Pierre Labainville

We shine the spotlight this week on Venezuela:

PRISONER POLITICS

Plenty of glowing foreign press coverage of the arrival in Caracas of former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, who came to support opposition leaders who've been jailed by the government of President Nicolás Maduro. But El Correo del Orinoco, a state-owned daily, wrote that the vast majority of Venezuelan people "rejected the presence of the former Spanish prime minister in the country," and criticized his interference in internal affairs. Gonzalez's visit is part of a growing movement to challenge the government's policy of jailing political opponents, with Italian daily La Stampa reporting on a group of wives of imprisoned government opponents who call themselves the "Women In White." The group has also denounced the lamentable economic situation of the country and demanded transparent presidential elections.

SAVE THE CONDOMS

The Center for Biological Diversity has sent 12,000 unusually packaged condoms to Venezuela. The women's monthly Cosmopolitan writes that the condoms feature endangered species pictures on their packaging, as a way to raise awareness of nature conservation while responding to a well-publicized shortage of condoms the country has been experiencing. Last February, the media reported that Venezuela was running out of condoms which had led to skyrocketing prices and raised serious health concerns.

CHEAP AND EMPTY

Venezuela is a new favorite destination of young people who do not want to go broke on their holidays. But although you can buy a beer for a few pennies and find a decent hotel for $5 a night, Reuters says that last year's approximately one million tourists is four times fewer than in Colombia for example. In people's mind, Venezuela remains a place of crime and frequent shortages.



GAS GUZZLING

In Caracas, gasoline for your car is actually cheaper than water: $0.015 per liter ($0.26 per gallon). Prices are even 40 times lower on the black market. With such low prices, Venezuela's carbon footprint is South America's biggest, and is an opportunity for bootleggers who sell the gasoline in neighboring Colombia. According to the Venezuelan newspaper La Calle, the government is considering raising prices, which surprisingly is supported by 59% of the population, according to a recent poll.

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Photo: Sdi-jr/GFDL

MADURO ON FIFA

After the recent soccer scandals that forced FIFA chief Sepp Blatter to resign, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has made clear his preferred candidate is a certain No. 10 from Argentina. "(Diego) Maradona should become president of FIFA," Maduro declared. "He has been denouncing FIFA's abuses for years and all he's got in response were threats and ridicule." Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chavez, was a close friend of Maradona.

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Geopolitics

How South American Oceans Can Sway The U.S.-China Showdown

As global rivalries and over-fishing impact the seas around South America, countries there must find a common strategy to protect their maritime backyards.

RIMPAC 2022

Juan Gabriel Tokatlian

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — As the U.S.-China rivalry gathers pace, oceans matter more than ever. This is evident just looking at the declarations and initiatives enacted concerning the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Yet there is very little debate in South America on the Sino-American confrontation and its impact on seas around South America, specifically the South-Eastern Pacific (SEP) and South-Western Atlantic (SWA). These have long ceased to be empty spaces — and their importance to the world's superpowers can only grow.

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