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Venezuela's Ambassador to France: "extraordinary optimism in the air" ahead of Sunday's local and regional elections!

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VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: In an exclusive telephone interview with Venezuela's Ambassador to France, former Foreign (MRE) and Environment (MinAmb) Minister, Jesus Arnoldo Perez, the senior diplomat said that, from his own observations, nationally and in the locality of the President's family ranch in Barinas State (where he is presently visiting), he can only say that there's an "extraordinary optimism in the air" ahead of Sunday's local and regional elections.

"There are many elements coming together that allow us to look forward optimistically on the results ... "there is a mobilization of Venezuelans who have decided to live in democracy and who are decided to vote en masse on Sunday for their preferred candidates and NOT for a return to the past ... they will continue supporting the reforms we began 10 years ago ... President Chavez' candidates in their regions and in the mayoralties are going to have fruitful outcome!"

VHeadline: But in Europe and in the United States there has been a lot of criticism of what President Chavez is doing...

Ambassador Jesus Arnoldo Perez: "Well, of course, I think that much of the criticism in the United States and Europe comes from the massmedia and the big international newspaper and broadcasting organizations -- they have been on our backs for the last ten years ... they've been saying that Venezuela is on the edge and they are looking for the fall of Chavez ... but first of all Wall Street fell, by the Americans themselves ... and Vneezuela, on the contrary, continues developing economically, reinforcing democracy and, for this, they say in the United States, in the big newspapers, CNN, in Europe, EuroNews TV and the big newspapers like El Pais (Spain) and Le Monde (France) ... they only tell perhaps a tenth of it

VHeadline: On the other hand, there's a lot of confusion over what will happen to the Las Cristinas gold mine; Minister Sanz said first, but later denied, that he wanted to give it to the Russians! What is the real situation?

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Ambassador Perez: "Well, according to the information I have and seeing what I have also read in the media, you have to be careful because there is a lot of false reporting (on the subject). While there is no official statement, I would prefer to wait until after the elections before I give out any more information in that respect."

VHeadline: The Russian President arrives in Venezuela shortly and there has been a lot of debate about over what the government, the Basic Industries & Mining (MIBAM) Ministry and the Venezuelan Guayana Corporation (CVG) plan to do about it. Is it really possible that the government of Venezuela will abandon the contract they have with Crystallex International?

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Ambassador Perez: "No, surely never! The visit by the Russian President and our dealings with Russia are purely strategic ... it is simple P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S!

VHeadline: But the situation is, should people have confidence in Minister Sanz and the government of Venezuela that they should live up to the terms of the contract (on Las Cristinas with Crystallex International)?

Ambassador Perez: "Yes, of course, they can have confidence in Venezuela ... there is no way ... ours government is serious (in what it does) and you can have confidence in the government's serious intentions."

Ambassador Perez says that it is NOT Venezuelan government policy to renege on contracts and that all will be clarified in due course. He adds that there are "dark forces" at work to negatively influence Venezuela's political and economic progress but that the Venezuelan government will continue to act in all seriousness, of course, with the best interests of the Venezuelan people uppermost in mind.

In conclusion he assures that it is "inconceivable" that Venezuela will simply renege on a properly signed contract (specifically Crystallex/Las Cristinas) and says that there has been a lot of "disturbance" (probably corrupt influences inside and outside of the government) that have affected an early outcome.


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Roy S. Carson is veteran foreign correspondent (45+ years in the business) currently editor & publisher of VHeadline Venezuela reporting on news & views from and about Venezuela in South America -- available for interviews -- call Houston (more...)
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