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[...] these figures are a dramatic increase from 2008's estimate of between 537 and 612 abductions in all of Venezuela. Haiti recently completed the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) through economic reforms aimed at implementing comprehensive poverty reduction initiatives, improving debt management, and developing strategies for economic growth.
BRIEFS 8 Venezuela Research Associate Lincoln Wheeler THE COUNCIL ON In the foothills below the Andes Mountains, the state of Barinas is best known as the birthplace HEMISPHERIC of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and the place where his family members are still deeply en- trenched in all levels of politics. However, Barinas, which is already the poorest state in the country, is AFFAIRS 1250 Connecticut Ave. NW now also developing an ominous reputation for an alarmingly high kidnapping rate. Its recent crime Suite 1C Washington, DC 20036 wave indicated that Venezuela’s kidnapping rate has surpassed that of Mexico and Colombia. It is reported that nationwide there are about 2 abductions for every 100,000 citizens, while Barinas’ rate phone: 202.223.4975 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org fax: 202.223.4979 issn: 1275-559 is about 7.2 according to Venezuela’s interior ministry, its officials assume that many more cases go unreported. The disturbing level of violence is not attributed to one group, but rather is perpetuated Washington Report on the Hemisphere by local criminal gangs, guerrilla and rebel groups, and even corrupt police officers. Many attribute © 2009 Published Biweekly Barinas’ abductions as a means of extorting funds from families who have earned significant revenues (23 Issues per Year Including Index) from the oil industry, but the violence has proliferated to a point that now even the poor live in fear. by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs The governor of Barinas, Adán Chávez, the President’s eldest brother, admits that the state has a se- July 30, 2009 Vol. 29 No. 14 rious problem with violence and abduction. However, he insists that “with each day that passes, Bari- Founder, WRH: Robert Nachman, Ph. D. nas is safer than before.” New statistics show 454 kidnappings have occurred in the first six months Chairperson: Judith Chiara of 2009, 66 of which occurred in Barinas. In fact, these figures are a dramatic increase from 2008’s Editor-in-Chief: Larry Birns estimate of between 537 and 612 abductions in all of Venezuela. It seems that the Chavez family faces Managing Editor: Christina Conell a significant domestic humanitarian challenge, and ther e is little evidence that the situation may be Associate Editor: Britt Schneider improving. Illustrator: Margaret Scott Haiti Trustee Editorial Board: Peter G. Bourne, M.D., former member of Carter White House; Charles Research Associate Mo Wong B. Dale, former President, The Newspaper Guild; On June 21, Haitians went to the polls in a run-off election to fill 11 vacant seats in the 30-seat Sen- Roger Wilkins, former editorial board member, ate. The first round of voting in April was inconclusive, as none of the candidates earned an outright The New York Times, Washington Times, Washing- majority. Haiti, the poorest and least developed country in the western hemisphere, had isolated but ton Star intense protests in the weeks prior to the elections. Student protesters sparred with UN peacekeeping Senior Research Fellows: Sean Burges, Ph.D; forces, angered over President René Préval’s refusal to sign a bill that would raise the minimum wage Richard P. Claude, Ph.D; Frank Kendrick, Ph.D; from 70 gourdes ($1.75) to 200 gourdes ($5) a day. Other riots stemmed from supporters of the
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