BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Spanish Portuguese Caribbean
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Americas  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 02:18 GMT
Chavez defies oil strikers
Chavez addressing a crowd at the weekend
Chavez refuses to give in to calls for his resignation
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has made clear his determination to defeat the four-week-old strike crippling the country's oil industry.

Mr Chavez broadcast his weekly address to the nation from a re-opened petrol distribution depot near Caracas on Sunday.

President Chavez receiving the first foreign shipment of petrol on Saturday
I've got no plans to back down. My plans are for an offensive

President Hugo Chavez

Speaking as crowds of supporters cheered strike-breaking fuel trucks driving away, the president accused protest organisers of stabbing the country in the heart by targeting its oil industry.

But as he spoke, tens demonstrators again filled the streets of Caracas to demand the president's resignation.

During his address Mr Chavez blamed the turmoil on a wealthy elite and said he would not accept demands for early elections or a referendum on his rule.

"I've got no plans to back down. My plans are for an offensive, an attack," he said.

Mr Chavez also said the worst was over, and that the long queues of people waiting in their cars for petrol would begin to dwindle.

Foreign help

The strike began on 2 December and has cut daily oil production from three-million barrels to less than 200,000, according to protest leaders.

Cars queuing for petrol
Many drivers have spent days waiting for petrol
The stoppage has forced the authorities to buy fuel, as well as food, from abroad.

Government officials have said fuel shortages will soon be overcome, thanks in part to 525,000 barrels of petrol imported from Brazil and a further 400,000 due to arrive from Trinidad.

However striking oil executives have said some five million barrels are needed for the country to get back to normal.

The strike leaders also dispute the figures of oil production given by the government.

According to the head of the state oil company, PDVSA, Venezuela's normal production of 3.1 million barrels a day is down to about 700,000 barrels.

Anti-Chavez rally in Caracas
Protests will continue, strike organisers say

But the opposition says the figure is much lower - about 150,000 barrels.

The strikers have vowed to continue the stoppage until President Chavez - whom they accuse of mismanaging the economy and of authoritarianism - steps down.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of Venezuelans took part in another anti-government demonstrations in Caracas, marking the 28th day of a general strike.

Addressing the crowd, union leader Carlos Ortega said Mr Chavez has "declared war on Venezuelans".

"They're going to have to kill us to stop the people," He said. "Absolutely no one can stop this strike."

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Nick Miles
"You're more likely to see protestors on Venezuelan streets than cars"

Key stories

Background

TALKING POINT
See also:

27 Dec 02 | Americas
23 Dec 02 | Business
21 Dec 02 | Americas
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes