International Politics ///

Venezuela and Brazil again dominate Latin American energy politics. The region feels neglected by the US; it was the only area not mentioned in President Bush’s State of the Union Address. Venezuela suffers worst political crisis in decades. The political/economic battle has escalated to such a dangerous degree that the US, UN, OAS, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Portugal and Spain have been mediating between President Chávez and the opposition, to find a solution. Venezuelans have not seen a worse crisis since they adopted a constitutional democracy in 1958. Last year, the economy contracted 8%. Analysts predict that it could decline 25% or more this year, if conditions worsen. Unemployment has hit 17% and is rising.

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