- - Monday, June 27, 2011

VENEZUELA

Chavez’s brother talks of armed struggle

CARACAS — One of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s brothers said Sunday that backers of the hospitalized leftist leader should not rule out armed struggle in the future, though they prefer to maintain power at the ballot box.

Adan Chavez made the statement as speculation mounted about the health of the president, who has been convalescing at an undisclosed location in Cuba after reportedly undergoing emergency surgery June 10.

Hugo Chavez’s elder brother said Venezuela’s ruling party wants to retain power by defeating foes in elections, but he told government supporters that they should be ready to take up arms if necessary.

“As authentic revolutionaries, we cannot forget other forms of fighting,” he said during a prayer meeting for the health of his 56-year-old brother in the leader’s home state of Barinas.

Quoting Latin American revolutionary icon Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the president’s brother added: “It would be inexcusable to limit ourselves to only the electoral and not see other forms of struggle, including the armed struggle.”

Adan Chavez is a mild-mannered former university physics professor who has a close relationship with the president while maintaining a low profile. He did not explain why it might be necessary for the president’s backers to consider guerrilla warfare, and the statement seemed to clash with Hugo Chavez’s assertions.

The president, a former paratroop commander, led an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow government in 1992. Since 1999, however, he has repeatedly beaten his adversaries in elections and has long insisted that he is an authentic democrat who rules out violence as a means of holding on to power.

Despite numerous domestic problems such as soaring inflation and widespread crime, Hugo Chavez remains Venezuela’s most popular politician and has vowed to win re-election next year.

PERU

Protesters end blockades after deadly clash

LIMA — Thousands of indigenous protesters opposed to mining lifted their blockades in the remote Peruvian region of Puno, residents said Monday, after a deadly clash prompted the government to give them more control over natural resources.

Peru’s mining ministry issued a rule over the weekend that requires companies to consult with mostly Aymaran Indians in southern Puno before building new mines or oil projects.

The government also revoked the license of Canadian mining firm Bear Creek on Friday in a bid to persuade the protesters to allow stores and roads to reopen.

The company’s shares were down 22 percent Monday as traders dumped the stock because it lost its license.

Protests in Puno turned violent Friday, and five people died in a clash with police.

Conflicts over natural resources — which have killed nearly 100 people over the past 3&mfrac12; years — have marred departing President Alan Garcia’s term, as poor towns demand a bigger slice of Peru’s lucrative mining boom or try to halt projects that they said would cause pollution.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Premier shakes up Cabinet, names new energy minister

PORT OF SPAIN — Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister has shaken up her Cabinet, reducing the role of an aide embroiled in a soccer bribery scandal and naming a new energy minister in the Caribbean’s top oil and gas producer.

In an announcement late Sunday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she was separating the Transport and Works Ministry headed by Jack Warner, who recently resigned as vice president of FIFA amid a cash-for-votes scandal in soccer’s world governing body.

She also tapped a former parliamentary secretary, Kevin Ramnarine, to head the Energy and Energy Affairs Ministry, suggesting that the country was not doing enough to benefit from its rich energy resources at a time of higher global oil prices.

“We know that our citizens expect more given the extent to which they have been denied the quality of life which an economy like Trinidad and Tobago should have provided during the years of plenty,” she said.

“It is in response to fulfilling these expectations that I have undertaken a review of portfolios and have made certain changes.”

Mrs. Persad-Bissessar has faced calls from opposition leaders to fire Mr. Warner, a popular politician who quit FIFA last week. Mr. Warner will continue to lead the Works Ministry after the Cabinet reshuffling.

Before Mr. Warner stepped down from FIFA, he was being investigated in a bribery scandal linked to the failed FIFA presidential campaign of Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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