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President Hugo Chávez

Top stories this week are likely to include: Venezuelans continue to await news on Chávez; Bolivian soldiers are released but tensions remain; Cardinals meet to discuss possible papal candidates; Argentina offers to issue new bonds for defaulted debt; and Mexico’s PRI ends its opposition to private investment in the state oil company.

Bolivian President Evo Morales stopped in Caracas on Tuesday to visit President Hugo Chávez on route to New York City for the inauguration of the International Year of Quinoa.

Thousands of members of both Hugo Chávez’ Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) and the opposition are marching in Caracas today in simultaneous demonstrations since January 23 marks the end of Venezuela’s 1945-1958 military dictatorship.

Heads of state of Mercosur member countries are meeting in the Brazilian capital today, marking the first time that Venezuela will participate as a full member in the South American trade bloc after Paraguay’s suspension in June paved the way for its membership.

A large crowd of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s supporters blocked a main road near an airport Wednesday prior to the arrival of opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’ government has intimidated, censored and prosecuted critics and opposition leaders, according to a Human Rights Watch report released yesterday.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department said Wednesday “it would be deeply regrettable” if Venezuela were to leave the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).