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Chavez: "US troops invading Haiti"

It's another year and another verbal skirmish in the will-they-won't-they relationship between Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and the U.S.  President Chavez claimed today that the decision to send U.S. troops to Haiti amounted to a covert invasion. Around 5,000 troops have been sent to Haiti to control increasing violence after the earthquake that destroyed Port-Au-Prince.

Venezuela's kidnapping express

CARACAS, Venezuela — Driving home one recent evening from a meeting in an affluent neighborhood of Caracas, a Venezuelan businessman was intercepted by two identically colored SUVs. Eight men carrying guns emerged, ordered him out of his car and bundled him into one of the 4x4s. The businessman, who requested anonymity for fear of being identified, would spend the next eight hours lying in the back of the car with a gun held to his head and his white shirt stained with blood from his broken nose. Meanwhile the men were negotiating a ransom with his family.

ALBA member states behave as bloc at Copenhagen

There's an interesting postscript to the article we did this week about the rise of ALBA, a Latin American socialist alliance started by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. The news from the Copenhagen climate talks shows that ALBA member states — especially Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua — behaved almost as a single bloc, leveling vehement criticism at the U.S.-backed agreement that eventually emerged.

Travel restrictions crimp shopping sprees

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelans accustomed to leisurely shopping sprees abroad now face a new annoyance: President Hugo Chavez wants to know exactly where they are going, what they are buying and how long they’ll be gone. Citizens must now tell the government where they are traveling and save their receipts to provide proof of how they spent the money. Violators may see their credit cards turned off.

The rise of a southern axis

How a socialist alliance outlived a free trade agreement and helped cement Chavez's status.

Newly rich, now under attack

CARACAS, Venezuela — They made their money by sticking close to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. And now they are under attack. The Venezuelan government has so far apprehended 10 businessmen in a corruption purge. Those arrested once seemed untouchable because of their relationship with Chavez’s revolution.

Venezuela to ban violent video games

CARACAS, Venezuela — At a video arcade in the center of Venezuela’s capital, the sound of tapping buttons and the rattle of virtual gunfire fills the room as young boys battle mercenaries and zombies on games such as "Target: Terror Gold" and "House of the Dead 2." But in a few months this busy arcade will likely stand silent and empty, thanks to a new law here that would ban the sale and playing of violent video games and toys.

Facebook: A tool for cops and robbers

CARACAS, Venezuela — It has taken Venezuela by storm, but it seems that Facebook and other social networking sites also come with their perils. Police here revealed that a pair of students at a private university in Caracas had been robbing their virtual friends’ homes using information they had compiled using Facebook.

Soccer team's murder leaves villagers scared

CHURURU, Venezuela — This sleepy town on Venezuela’s border with Colombia has been “candela” — or “on fire” — after a local soccer team was massacred. Two weeks ago, 12 men — 10 Colombians, one Peruvian and one Venezuelan — were kidnapped from a soccer field on the main road between Tachira state capital San Cristobal and Barinas.

No watching "Family Guy" in Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela — He’s a pot-smoking toddler who fantasizes about killing his mother and he’s the latest American figure to rile the Venezuelan government. Stewie Griffin, the animated character from the hit cartoon "Family Guy," has caused offense here in Venezuela by singing a ditty lauding marijuana’s restorative properties.
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