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Hugo Chavez optimistic Venezuela's economy to emerge from recession

CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez expressed optimism Sunday that Venezuela is about to emerge from a recession, even describing its oil-dependent economy as robust. Chavez suggested state television should broadcast a series of programs focusing on the strength of the economy as a way to debunk what he called erroneous predictions from analysts of more economic problems on the horizon.

“They say that Venezuela's economy is in shambles,” Chavez said on his weekly television and radio program.

In addition to the decline in economic output, Venezuela is struggling with the highest inflation rate in Latin America — 30.5 percent. The economy shrank 5.8 percent in the first three months of 2010 from the same period a year earlier. It was pulled down by a 5 percent decline in the oil sector, a 6 percent decrease in the private sector and a 27.9 percent fall in private investment, Venezuela's central bank said. That followed a 2.9 percent decline for all of 2009.

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