Venezuela: Financial and energy agreements signed with China
On April 17, Chinese officials visiting in Caracas signed financial accords with Venezuela, providing for $20 billion in initial financial support for “diverse works of development.” The new loan, China’s largest foreign financial commitment in 60 years, complements earlier bilateral investments worth $12 billion. Agreements were also reached on cooperative oil extraction projects and construction of four supertankers. Venezuela is on track to become China’s fourth largest oil supplier, eventually delivering one million barrels of crude oil daily, according to VTV News. Thanking China for confidence in his country’s future, President Hugo Chavez identified “this newest bilateral tool” as “opening the road” for regional assistance. Chinese Energy Minister Zhang Guobao spoke of “elevating the Chinese-Venezuelan strategic alliance to the highest level.”
Hungary: Reactionaries win
In parliamentary elections on April 11, the center-right FIDESZ party took 52.8 percent of votes cast, while the ruling socialists could muster only 19.3 percent. FIDESZ will likely achieve a two-thirds parliamentary majority after second-round voting on April 25. The report on rebelion.org attributes the socialists’ decline to the generalized assumption that foreign lenders have the upper hand in an economy that last year contracted by 6.3 percent. In a surge fueled by 11 percent joblessness and full-throated anti-Gypsy, anti-Semitic rhetoric, the nationalist Jobbik Party took 16.7 percent of the votes and probably 26 parliamentary seats. The Hungarian Communist Party, reeling from a government-backed anti-communist media campaign, gained a mere 0.11 percent. Many young adherents switched allegiance to Jobbik.
Tanzania: Historic decision on refugees
“One of the world’s most protracted refugee situations” ended April 16 when Home Affairs Minister Lawrence Masha announced the granting of citizenship with “all the rights of every Tanzanian” to 162,000 internees, those identified as the “1972 Burundian refugees.” After fleeing civil war violence that killed 200,000 people, the mostly Hutu refugees lived in three specially reserved areas in Tanzania. As part of naturalization processes that began in 2008, 50,000 Burundians chose repatriation. Joining Masha at the Katumba settlement for ceremonies, top UN refugee official António Guterres lauded Tanzania’s “unprecedented generosity and courageous decision.” The UN News center indicated that in the wake of regional civil wars, by 2000 Tanzania “had the largest refugee population in Africa with 680,000 people in camps.”
Photo: Member of the controversial Hungarian Guard, wearing paramilitary-style uniform, listens to the election results at the headquarters of Jobbik, Hungary’s far-right party, in Budapest, April 11. (AP/Timea Fauszt)