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Power shifting in Latin America

Dan Grech Jan 9, 2007


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Investors from the U.S. and other nations who have businesses in Venezuela may be getting a little nervous. Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez says he plans to nationalize power and telecom companies. Chavez will be sworn into a third term on Wednesday. That term won’t end until 2013.

Nicaragua also swears in its new President tomorrow. Daniel Ortega was a leftist that first ruled the country in the ’80s. Back then he was allied with the Soviet Union. Now he’s close to another thorn in the side of the U.S. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Dan Grech has more.

DAN GRECH: The U.S. is sending four officials to Daniel Ortega’s inauguration. Neighboring Costa Rica is sending three.

But word is Venezuela is sending a delegation of 150.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez makes no secret of his close ties to Nicaragua.

Mark Weisbrot is with the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He says Chavez has used his oil riches to spread his influence throughout America’s backyard.

MARK WEISBROT: This is really an epic-making change. The United States has lost an enormous amount of influence in the region. We haven’t seen anything like this in 150 years.

Nicaragua is the hemisphere’s second-poorest nation after Haiti.

Chavez is expected to announce an economic aid package worth billions. It will include cheap oil, agricultural machinery and health and education programs.

I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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