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

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Business  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
E-Commerce
Economy
Market Data
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 09:32 GMT
Venezuelan banks break deadlock
Empty shopping malls in Caracas
Shoppers have been faced with empty shelves
Venezuelan banks are to end their nationwide strike on 3 February to meet the demands of their business and private customers who have returned to work.

The banking sector said it would resume full seven hours days, instead of the three hours per day they have been working since the strikes began.

This is the result of demands from the public and deposit holders

Nelson Mezerhane, Federal banking group president

The eight-week old protests led by right-wing business groups and trade unions, which began on 2 December, were aimed at forcing Mr Chavez from office.

But the strike has faltered as many companies, faced with bankruptcy, reopen for business.

The "Friends of Venezuela", a grouping of six nations is due in the capital Caracas on Thursday to help broker an end to the conflict.

Led by Brazil and the US, as well as diplomats from Mexico, Chile, Spain and Portugal will receive proposals for a settlement from the opposition.

Dwindling enthusiasm

The National Banking Council and the Venezuelan Banking Association said they have decided by a two-thirds vote to restart normal operating hours from Monday.

"This is the result of demands from the public and deposit holders," said Nelson Mezerhane, president of the Federal banking group.

"Banks don't belong to their presidents but to their deposit holders."

Support for the near-two month strikes had been starting to wane in the non-oil sectors, as businesses were forced to reopen to avoid bankruptcy.

On Wednesday, port pilots returned to work allowing cargo ships to dock for the first time in Puerto Cabello near Caracas since the strike began.

The strikes have forced Venezuelans to queue for cash, food and gas, and sparked angry protests in which at least seven people have been killed.

Management at shopping centres, restaurants and schools were also reportedly planning to return to work next Monday.

Oil strike continues?

But oil workers at the heart of the opposition campaign vowed to continue.

More than 5,000 Venezuelan oil workers have been fired since they began their strike.

And oil production has almost ceased in Venezuela - the world's fifth largest oil exporting country - helping to send crude oil prices two-year highs.

The strikes have so far cost Venezuela more than $4bn (2.4bn) and some analysts are predicting the economy will shrink by 25% in 2003, after contracting by 8% in 2002.

Venezuela's Finance Minister Tobias Nobrega said on Thursday the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) budget would be cut by a third, or $2.7bn, to absorb the fall in oil export revenues.

Opposition leaders are trying to change the constitution to shorten Mr Chavez's term in office from seven years to four.


Key stories

Background

TALKING POINT
See also:

30 Jan 03 | Media reports
28 Jan 03 | Business
27 Jan 03 | Americas
22 Jan 03 | Business
Internet links:


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

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


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business 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